Company Profile: Abstract Group Inc. is a design and architecture firm specializing in the design of airports, particularly airport terminals. Abstract is a smaller firm but one that has doubled in size every year since its inception in 2017. The selection process for designing an airport is a lengthy one — averaging about a year — so it can take a while for firms to win a project. The Abstract team was selected for their first job in 2018. Chris Donahue, a principal of the company, had a personal connection with Matt at BradyRenner CPAs. Having watched his friend’s career grow, he knew he was the right person to turn to when he needed a business accountant.
Initially, Abstract was simply looking for someone to do its taxes. Since then, however, the relationship has evolved into BradyRenner absorbing most of the finance-related activities of the business that hold little interest for passionate designers and architects who want to focus solely on their projects. Abstract actively looked to create meaningful relationships with partners that could handle particular aspects of the business with more expertise, including HR, legal, and accounting. BradyRenner stepped into the role of the company’s chief financial officer (CFO).
BradyRenner runs the books for Abstract on a day-to-day basis. They do the quarterly updates, and even help with the technology strategy and additional financial aspects of the business, such as employee benefits and 401K plans. The partnership has grown from a simple book-keeping contract to a much broader relationship, encompassing all financial aspects of the business and freeing up Chris and his team to focus on design.
The Unique Challenges in a Design and Architecture Firm
One of the specific challenges faced by Abstract is that they have to go through a rigorous auditing process when working with state agencies and federal agencies. Because of the nature of the work Abstract does, the audits all have to be completely independent. Absent their partnership with BradyRenner, Abstract would have been faced with the choice of preparing for the audits themselves or sourcing external assistance.
Another unique aspect of Abstract’s particular business model is that payments fall outside the standard methods. Compensation for Abstract’s designs is far from conventional, meaning they needed an expert to help them navigate the various metrics tied to their processes, which include compensating people working on the projects. To pass the aforementioned audits, Abstract needs to stay within the bounds of certain overheads. This requires complex calculations, with results depending on fluid factors such as when particular invoices hit and when payments arrive.
BradyRenner CPAs Provide a Full Accounting Solution
BradyRenner, as an outsourced accountant team, was able to step in and help guide Abstract through the audit journey, positioning them for success. Although BradyRenner cannot perform the audits, they can ensure that Abstract is fully prepped and confident in passing them. BradyRenner helps remove the stress and anxiety around audits by coaching the company through to a state of thorough preparedness. When it comes to handling payments, BradyRenner helps Abstract fully balance all the complex factors, making sure all parties are compensated as agreed.
BradyRenner consistently demonstrates responsiveness to any urgent issues that come up or any new fiscal concerns that Abstract would like them to handle. Chris at Abstract was also impressed to see that it wasn’t just him getting this level of care due to his existing relationship with Matt. He noticed that the whole team at BradyRenner provide personalized service and a thorough understanding of any problem that arises. Chris is always impressed that, no matter the issue, if he needs to speak to someone, he will get a call back in no more than 45 minutes to address the concern.
The service level is above and beyond that of other accountants Chris has worked with. The whole team goes the extra mile, and importantly, they recognize that their clients aren’t accountants. They take the time to work through issues to ensure the client fully understands what’s going on and the solution. Chris noted that if he gets communications from the IRS or forms to fill out, he can simply pass the document straight to the BradyRenner team and they will take over and do what needs to be done. The team is very clear on what Abstract as a company has to do and makes sure they are aware of relevant deadlines and any other pertinent information to remain financially compliant.
A Meaningful Impact – Consistent Growth and Focus
Chris from Abstract says, “I take my hat off to Matt [of BradyRenner] for putting up with us for having such complexity.” Despite the complex and unusual accounting processes surrounding the finances of this design and architecture firm, BradyRenner CPAs have easily taken on the fiscal responsibilities, allowing Abstract to keep growing, year after year. Chris feels able to get on the phone with a last-minute invoice, and the team at BradyRenner will immediately run through the various scenarios and how this will affect the overhead and any possible tax implications. Staying compliant positions Abstract Group Inc. in the market as a company that can be trusted, helping them win back existing clients, create relationships with new clients, and bid for even more lucrative design work.
Chris states that the most significant impact is that BradyRenner allows Abstract’s employees to do what they do – and do it well. Architects can focus on being architects. Chris and his team don’t have to learn to be accountants as well as designers. They know they can trust BradyRenner to take care of those fiscal responsibilities and to give the right advice when needed. Working with BradyRenner frees up the team’s time at Abstract to do what they love to do.
If you’d like to know how BradyRenner can empower your company to be the best in its market, consult with one of our CPAs today.