Modern-day accounting and business reporting often test levers such as accurate bookkeeping, regulatory compliance, operational improvements and financial controls. To make record keeping and operating decision making a success, corporate managers reach out to accounting consultants, who may issue advisory notes on subjects as varied as financial reporting, international standards and operational data completeness.
The term "accounting advisory" has two meanings. It may relate to a note a consultant -- or corporate accounting professional -- issues to clarify a topic in matters as diverse as financial reporting, accounting, bookkeeping and transaction fiscal treatment. Accounting advisory also may cover the medley of services management consultancies and public accounting firms provide to various clients, running the gamut from government agencies and academic institutions to businesses, sports teams and charities. Advisory services typically cover anything a company does to right its bookkeeping ship, address cases of poor record keeping and make regulatory audits a welcome and happy piece of news and not a major operational nightmare.
Tone at the Top
For accounting advisory services to be productive, the top brass of an organization must wholly embrace the idea of accountability, financial transparency and operational performance data accuracy. Without a supportive senior establishment, advisers' stipulations and strategic conclusions may never see daylight. The tone at the top includes things like senior management's leadership style, the company's culture and human resources policies, the hierarchical clout that accounting and financial reporting functions wield, and corporate directors' involvement in accounting and risk matters. For directors, the idea is not just to have long meetings and huddle behind closed doors until the wee hours of the morning -- but to visit the corporate accounting department during working hours, understand what financial managers do, and ponder how best they can implement accounting advisory recommendations.
Decision-support systems include equipment, technology and process a company relies on to determine whether it needs accounting advisory services, why it can't figure out solutions and implement remedial procedures on its own, and how much the services ultimately will cost. These systems range from financial analysis software and internal accounting memoranda to risk management controls, legal department's advisories and enterprise resource planning applications.
Companies hire accounting advisers to review internal processes, recommend the best way to abide by regulations, and help top leadership devise policies and action plans aimed at recording accurate transactional data. Accounting regulations range from international financial reporting standards and United States Securities and Exchange Commission edicts to generally accepted accounting principles. Other important pronouncements include American Institute of Certified Public Accountants opinions and paper positions from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.