Brittany Russell: Transforming the Outsourced Accounting Industry

Meet Brittany Russell: Revolutionizing Outsourced Accounting

Originally from Connecticut, Brittany has since established her home in South Carolina. Her passion for numbers led her to embark on a career at a prestigious Big Four firm, PwC. Fueled by a desire to create her own business, Brittany took a leap. She left her secured well-paid job to grow an outsourced accounting firm, SAOS (Strategic Accounting Outsource Solutions). Motivated by the vision of being the 'good guy' who works behind the scenes to assist and uplift others, she discovered true fulfillment in applying her accounting expertise to help other businesses thrive. 

Established in 2012, SAOS has rapidly grown to a team of over 30 professionals. Specializing in outsourced accounting services, SAOS caters specifically to family offices and non-profit organizations.


Family Offices & NonProfits, a core business for SAOS

Brittany explains her journey and the core focus of SAOS:

As we were working with our nonprofit clients, we began to interact with board members and individuals involved in nonprofits. It became clear that, much like nonprofits, there had been a surge in the creation of family offices due to successful family business exits. Their involvement in nonprofits made us realize that the family office niche and the non-profit niche complemented each other exceptionally well.

“Family offices are exploring various avenues for expanding their operations without complicating their accounting structures. The key lies in leveraging technology the right way, and we enable them to do exactly that!” - Brittany Russell 

As we ventured further into family office services, we saw abundant opportunities for mutual growth. Niche specialization has been a significant aspect of our approach. Both domains present unique complexities from an accounting perspective, and we've chosen software solutions and developed the necessary skill sets to meet those challenges effectively. 

Family offices are always on the lookout for more efficient and streamlined ways of conducting their operations, and technology plays a pivotal role in this quest for greater speed and ease. Many are recognizing that the path to a smoother future involves increased reliance on technology and reduced dependence on manual processes. However, it is important to note that even with advanced technology, you still need skilled individuals who can effectively navigate and master these tools. The landscape of Fintech is continually evolving, and it demands professionals who can not only use existing technology but also drive innovation in this field.

The Biggest Challenge of Being a Business Owner

The human aspect is the most challenging part of running a business because, without the right people, you cannot do it all unless you want to remain a consultant and work with just a few clients.

“Our goal is to keep expanding and helping more clients, and as a result, we've made the Inc. 5000 list for the last two years, and we hope to achieve it again for the third year. To facilitate this growth, we have to find the right people. Therefore, I'd say the most challenging aspect of owning a business is recruiting, training, and maintaining the right culture to retain our team members.” - Brittany Russell 

Our philosophy has always been to prioritize our people. We learned this from a coach a long time ago – if you put your people first, focusing on their needs, growth, and learning, they, in turn, take care of the clients because they are deeply committed to their roles and responsibilities. This approach has not only worked wonders for our team but also resonates with our clients, as they feel engaged by our dedicated team.

Shifting Dynamics: Trends in Outsourced Accounting

What we see on the ground is that companies, families, nonprofits, and various organizations are increasingly open to outsourcing. Even major players like PwC, which previously did not invest into outsourced accounting, are now venturing into it. However, mastering the intricacies and scalability of outsourced accounting brings up challenges: it requires a dedicated team, distinct from audit and other functions which other firms struggle with but SAOS has our team solely focused on the clients.

There is also a noticeable industry push towards seeking talent internationally. The difficulty in finding skilled individuals domestically contributes to this global recruitment trend. 

“Outsourcing abroad is currently a hot topic, with some organizations more receptive than others. Remote work has also become more widely accepted in the U.S., and our entire team is located in the U.S. and working remotely without the need for physical offices.” - Brittany Russell 

The ability to work effectively from any location fosters a favorable environment for outsourcing. The increasing willingness of organizations to embrace remote work and leverage technology is a significant catalyst for the ongoing changes.

At SAOS, we recognize that the key growth in the next 5-10 years lies in harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI), automating tasks, and reducing reliance on manual efforts. 

Looking ahead a decade, I envision us continuing similar endeavors but with a focus on achieving tasks more efficiently and swiftly through the integration of AI and cutting-edge technologies. 

Staying abreast of the rapidly evolving tech landscape is a challenge, and my goal in the next two years is to transition into a role where I can focus on strategically steering our company toward technological advancements. Already, we're implementing solutions, eliminating manual tasks that were previously a source of frustration for our team. As I contemplate the next decade, I envision not just contentment with our lifestyle and career but a continuous pursuit of refining and optimizing our operations.

Choosing Technology: Meeting Client Needs in a Sea of Options

Our reliance on industry standards is significant. As a CPA, I am part of the  AICPA, which sets benchmarks for best-in-class technologies relevant to our field. This includes established tools like Sage Intacct. 

For nonprofits and family office operations, Sage Intacct proves to be the optimal solution, especially for those involving a high volume of entities and dimensions needing to be tracked. Our commitment to this product is grounded in its ability to address industry trends, particularly the need for streamlined processes in managing large quantities of transactions. 

We found FISPAN by looking outside the box for additional technologies to add onto Sage Intacct. Over the years, a primary source of frustration within Sage Intacct was the poor quality of data we received from bank feeds solutions. Without giving names, the existing processes left room for errors, missing entries, and unnecessary duplication. It struck me as inefficient and in need of a better approach. 

FISPAN’s approach of directly connecting to banks has proven to provide extremely reliable bank feeds on a daily basis. It was a no-brainer for me to give it a try. 

“Since FISPAN was integrated into Sage Intacct, it has exceeded my expectations, alleviating my concerns about missing data, duplication, and operational inefficiencies. I can confidently say that FISPAN is ten times more reliable, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone facing similar challenges. It has significantly enhanced our day-to-day operations.” - Brittany Russell 

FISPAN has notably accelerated the speed at which we can conduct reconciliations, optimizing our workflow. The efficiency gains are remarkable, eliminating the issues of duplication and triple entry that we used to encounter.

The core benefit is the efficiency achieved through FISPAN, allowing us to redirect our focus from mundane day-to-day cash reconciliations and payments to more valuable tasks. Now, with reduced time spent on routine cash operations, we can dedicate ourselves to more strategic endeavors, such as analyzing investment reconciliations and addressing client issues that contribute to process improvement.

 

*FISPAN plugin helps businesses integrate Sage Intacct with their banking services to improve the efficiency of various financial processes, such as payments, reconciliation, and account management.

 

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