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Accounting firm rolls out cloud-based service


By: John Cropley

COLONIE — A local financial management firm is rolling out a cloud-based option for companies large and small that want to outsource their accounting operations.

The business model has found growing acceptance nationwide in recent years, but BST & Co. said it is the first in the Capital Region to offer it.

The first client will go live on BST’s new Virtual Business Solutions on May 1.

“It’s really an entire package of outsourcing an accounting department,” said Kristen Berdar, who is leading the new service. “We are coming in, and we are overseeing the entire ledger for them.”

This includes accounts payable, invoicing for contractors, inventory management and payroll management.

Virtual Business Solutions is similar in some ways to CFO For Hire, a local company that BST acquired earlier this year. The goal is the same, but the tools to reach the goal are very different.

As the name implies, CFO For Hire puts a financial manager in the client’s office for as many days a week as is needed.

Virtual Business Solutions creates a real-time dashboard that monitors the financial functions of the client company; managers can access that dashboard remotely, around the clock. Personnel at the BST office handle the actual accounting and financial management functions.

The service is based on software created by Intacct and adapted for BST by Berdar. It is designed to save clients money on salary and office space while still giving them access to the expertise of the accounting firm behind the software.

Berdar said it is priced at a flat monthly rate that will vary greatly based on each client’s needs, circumstances and size.

“The ultimate savings to the client could be 20 to 30 percent of what the employee would cost,” she said.

If it was simply a computer program, one might suspect such accounting could be outsourced to Bangalore, India, at a savings of 75 percent, instead of to Wolf Road in Colonie at a savings of 25 percent. But there is a significant human aspect to Virtual Business Solutions.

“It’s still very personal,” Berdar said. “There’s still that weekly, monthly, quarterly meeting.”

Before launching a client into virtual accounting, BST will examine the client’s needs, circumstances, goals and strategies, then tailor the solution to fit the business.

“It’s more than just paying their bills and writing their checks for them,” Berdar said.

After the launch, the computer program contains automatic alerts that flag problems or signs of danger for both the client and the support team back at BST.

Fraud detection is another benefit, as well as advice on how to minimize future tax liabilities and ensure current tax liabilities are fully met.

One of the biggest benefit is the constant stream of information flowing through the client’s dashboard. This, Berdar said, allows a manager to “stop using yesterday’s information to make tomorrow’s decisions.”

BST targets Virtual Business Solutions to companies with less than $50 million in annual revenue, which describes most companies in upstate New York. But the company said it is particularly suited for professional services companies, nonprofits, and franchises or other businesses with multiple locations.

Managing Partner Ron Guzior said BST expects to add accounting personnel as it expands its virtual client base, but not to the extent of some larger firms that have created centralized processing facilities for such services. The point is to be a business partner and adviser through high-tech tools, not to crunch maximum amounts of data.

BST has a total of 105 employees at offices off Wolf Road and in offices on Long Island and in New York City.


Posted on April 13, 2017 at 11:07 AM