Reviewing accounting and financials

Q&A with Michele Shuster of Mac Murray & Shuster

Mac Murray & Shuster is a nationally recognized boutique firm focused on consumer protection and privacy regulatory compliance and litigation. With a team led by former state regulators, including an Ohio Attorney General and three Consumer Protection Chiefs, their attorneys bring an intimate knowledge of these laws that only comes from having helped shape the regulatory landscape themselves. They provide comprehensive counsel to businesses of all sizes in highly regulated industries, including financial services, healthcare, teleservices, automotive, insurance, consumer marketing, and charitable contributions. Mac Murray & Shuster is a client of Keep Financials.

We recently sat down with Michele Shuster, Managing Partner of Mac Murray & Shuster, to discuss the role that accounting management and financial reporting has played for the firm and what advice she has for other entrepreneurs.

What was the accounting setup before working with Keep?

A combination of QuickBooks and accountants we had conversations with maybe twice a year. We had an office manager who had other full-time duties doing the monthly accounting with the assistance of those accountants.

How did you start working with Keep Financials?

I was frustrated with not being able to get reports that were useful to me. I felt like the information was old by the time I got it, and it didn’t give me the ability to make the decisions I needed to make. When we brought Keep in to assist, they provided financials at the beginning of the following month (not two months later) and were able to identify KPIs to determine if we were on or off track.

Michele Shuster

The most significant assistance Keep provided was moving us from a cash-based system to an accrual-based accounting system. Before, we made decisions primarily based on what was in our checking account (and my Spidey senses). We knew things were coming up, planned for them, and had budgets from the previous year, but now we’re comparing the budget to what is actually happening. This change facilitated much better planning and allowed us to make strategic decisions based on measurable KPIs. It took away the worry of future expense and cash flow because we no longer relied on it.

Now, I can predict our balance in the bank because we’re looking at the amount billed this month, which is our revenue, and next month we have the facts and know our percentage of billed time. We can make informed decisions. It’s everything from identifying what our revenue will look like and unexpected expenses to clients at risk and opportunities. We discuss all of those areas with Keep helping to make proactive decisions instead of being reactive to finances.

Aside from reporting, what other frustrations did you have?

Before working with Keep, I lacked confidence in the numbers we were producing and what I like to call the “unknown unknowns.” When I have a partner that can make sure I don’t have those blind spots, that is a huge relief. That’s something that allows me to sleep easy at night, and that’s what Keep has done for us.

If somebody was starting a new business and you were counseling them about their accounting and finance, what would you tell them?

Find a professional to set them up correctly from the beginning. Obviously, revenue generation and expense control are one of the most important factors when starting a new business. Get it right from the start with a professional who has experience with other companies similar to yours, so you don’t have to waste time and energy making mistakes, and even more importantly, worrying about whether you’re making mistakes. Having a solid partner like Keep eliminates a considerable amount of worry and wasted time for entrepreneurs who are busy starting their companies and scaling their organizations. The expense associated with retaining Keep Financials versus the value we’ve gotten for the services, there’s just no comparison; the value far outweighs the expense.

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