Bringing Reliability and Consistency Through Outsourced Accounting

Client Profile:

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans continues to honor the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity. Their mission is to encourage young people to pursue their dreams through higher education. The Association brings the “Horatio Alger Heroes” of today together with those of tomorrow by bestowing the Horatio Alger Award each year, and by awarding more than $5 million annually in college scholarships to young people. The Association also provides its scholarship recipients with financial aid counseling, internship and job placement assistance.

The Challenge:

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans has outsourced all of its financial functions since 1988. Their growth and operational changes have attributed to the financial functions becoming increasingly more complex over the years. The financial statements became more difficult to complete in an efficient and timely manner. Terrence J. Giroux, the Executive Director, decided to look for more sophisticated outside assistance. To assist the association’s accounting functions, Giroux turned to Halt, Buzas & Powell (HBP). “Initially, more than anything else, we chose HBP because of their location – their offices were in the same building as ours, one floor down,” explained Giroux.

The Solution:

HBP’s Steve Halt knew that Terry Giroux needed to stabilize Horatio Alger’s accounting and financial management functions quickly, deliver timely and reliable reports to the Board of Directors, and prepare for the annual audit. He also knew that the organization would benefit from a higher level of financial analysis and advice than the previous outsourcing firm was providing. HBP quickly transferred all of Horatio Alger’s accounting information to their Great Plains software platform. In addition to being ideal for non-profit accounting, Great Plains offers the added value of being Internet accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. This Internet accessibility gives HBP’s outsourcing clients a high level of comfort knowing they have direct access to their financial information at any time. Great Plains has a solid performance track record and great local customer service support in the greater Washington area.

As HBP got Horatio Alger’s day-to-day accounting system in order, the firm’s management team also developed a customized Financial Policies and Procedures Manual for the organization, which they still follow today, to the letter. The manual includes a monthly processing checklist, which ensures that all of the required accounting functions for the organization are completed each month. It also provides for consistent, organized two-way communications with the client.

The Result:

Together, Halt, Buzas & Powell’s skilled management team and the superior functionality of the Great Plains software gave Horatio Alger the stable, reliable and sophisticated financial management structure the association needed.

Reduced Operating Costs:

Outsourcing its accounting to Halt, Buzas & Powell has resulted in significant cost savings to Horatio Alger. In order to complete all of the accounting services that HBP currently provides for the organization, Horatio Alger would need to employ four to five full-time employees. Instead, Horatio Alger does not have any employees that are solely responsible for its accounting functions. Their employees are able to dedicate their time to fulfilling the Horatio Alger mission.

High Ratings from Auditors:

“A big issue for us every year is our audit by KPMG,” Giroux explained. “We have received extremely high ratings by KPMG over the past several years because of the expert management of our accounts by HBP. Specific examples of their management: HBP helped the Horatio Alger Association move from issuing paper scholarship checks to the electronic transfer of funds. They now totally manage our scholarship disbursement process. HBP has also been most helpful when the association has shifted responsibility for the management of its assets with different investment firms.”

 

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