Allevia is a community services organisation that provides a range of services to the community and its most vulnerable members.
Since 1978, they have provided disability support services and assisted many people to achieve lifestyles of their choice in the community. They are passionate about serving the community and have a strong sense of social justice. But their accounting skills did not match their achievements in the community sector.
Allevia was recently asked to complete a merger with another organisation. And it was the due diligence process that started to raise alarm bells about their financial position.
“We lacked a focus on compliance with accounting standards and fell short of accounting good practice.
We didn’t have confidence in the accuracy of financial data being provided to the CEO and the Board,” CEO Philip Petrie explained.
Timeliness and completeness of reporting to the CEO and the Board were not up to scratch. And so began their journey with Accounting For Good.
“We had to take a voluntary solvency review to try and get an independent assessment of our financial position and structures. This was very important given the impending NDIS rollout and the shift from state-based grants funding to user pays.
The auditor made recommendations regarding our accounting practices and other internal procedures and structures. And it was clear that without a major change in our finance department we faced the possibility of insolvency under the NDIS model.”
The board evaluated the auditor’s recommendations and determined that in order to comply and secure Allevia’s future, additional financial intelligence skills and resources were needed. So they set about researching their options for upskilling.
“We felt we had two main options,” says Philip. “Get these skills from an external provider or employ a suitably skilled CFO. We chose the first option based on a cost-benefit analysis.”
“Our discussions at a Board level resulted in us determining it was cheaper to outsource key parts of the financial management system. We would retain an internal Finance Officer to do the in-house work and provide a key link with Accounting For Good.”
This relationship has proven to be of key importance and has been highly successful for Allevia and AFG.
The role of a CFO was deemed to be unnecessary for their needs – the Board and CEO have high levels of financial literacy.
It was confidence in the financial data that they really needed.
“AFG won our tender. Immediately, the collaboration of our financial management saw a quick shift to better accounting systems, practices, data and planning. AFG has ensured that budgeting is very well informed and as accurate as it can be in the chaotic world of the NDIS. And the Board gets to talk to the key AFG managers who know our business and provide advice and direction on financially based discussions, planning and decision making. That advice is indispensable even when considering risk, quality and client support – all of our decisions have a financial component.”
One of the key problems Allevia faced early in their journey to improve their financial management practices was getting an accurate total of their leave liabilities.
Philip recalls, “With the introduction of Attache Payroll, Emplive and Xero, along with good advice from our Accounting For Good Account Manager, we were finally able to get a true picture of what we owed our employees. The result was a difficult EOFY deficit. But a rapid change in our accountancy practices and HR practices saw us better managing our employee entitlements – getting people to take their leave for their personal benefit and achieving levels of liability which no longer threatened our liquidity.”
Allevia suffered a scare when their server was crypto locked recently. But there was a happy ending.
“Thanks to the security provided by our accounting data being hosted in the cloud, we were not affected, and within six hours we were fully operational again without loss of data or cash.”
Now that their finances are in good hands, Philip is looking forward to the future.
“Our strategy for the next three years is to grow and diversify – both revenue and services.
From a financial perspective, our key criteria are to preserve and enhance our liquidity, sustain the cost of doing business, build our cash reserves and build on capital assets.
To do this we need accurate and timely financial data, informed forecasting and budgeting and great advice on how to use the money we have in furthering our mission.”
With Accounting For Good by their side, Allevia is firing on all cylinders.