Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

That's One of the Most Important Skills

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

That's One of the Most Important Skills

Article excerpt

From technical expert to coach: In 17 years at Clark Nu-ber, my role grew from technical expert to communicator and coach, where I provide a broad range of advice to both nonprofit management teams and board members. They're two types of clients--management and board members--that often need different things from the external CPA. Particularly for board members, the external CPA can provide coaching and training on topics like financial assessments and the unique risks and operating environment for nonprofits. I need to talk at a technical level with management but then communicate that information in layman's terms in the boardroom. As accountants, we're not born to be good public speakers. But frankly, that's one of the most important skills to have in the nonprofit world.

Helping not-for-profits face unique challenges: When we look at quality and transparency of financial reporting, one area that's been a long-standing challenge for nonprofits, particularly those receiving grants and contributions from donors, is communicating the liquidity and the financial stability of the organization. FASB's new accounting standards, which nonprofits will adopt soon, should help us better report how the nonprofit is doing, particularly how liquid our balance sheet is.

Strengthening policies: I work with my clients to strengthen their policies and procedures in key areas. A key area of focus for many clients is cash reserves, including ensuring they have enough cash to pay the bills, that they're establishing and maintaining a liquidity or operating reserve, and saving for future investments in the organization's operations. …

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