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NGLCC - Supplier in the Spotlight

Audits are rarely glamorous, but having a good internal auditing firm on your side can streamline your business and make your company more cost-efficient. Aviva Spectrum was founded on the principle of delivering the best experience to its clients, while still adding value to their financial process. NGLCC sat down with Sonia Luna to ask her a few questions about starting her certified LGBTBE, Aviva Spectrum, and a few tips for LGBT entrepreneurs looking to improve their companies.

Aviva Spectum in the Spotlight

  • Name of business: Aviva Spectrum LLC
    • Name of founders: Sonia Luna
    • Date founded: 06/09/2004
    • Date certified: 2008
    • Location of business: Los Angeles, CA
    • Number of employees: greater than 10
  • 1. What is Aviva Spectrum?

    We are a revolutionary internal audit, book keeping, and BlackLine systems implementation consulting firm. We leverage the latest online power cloud software to streamline the internal audit and account reconciliation process. We are the leader in aligning internal audit functions with financial transformation concepts and results. We can achieve over 50% automation to the financial close process and reduce compliance risk at the same time.

    2. How did you get your concept or idea for your business?

    I was flying back to the U.S. from South America after attending a wedding, when my idea hatched! I wanted a better work life balance but still loved my compliance auditing profession. I had only known what it was like working with big public accounting firms, and I’m grateful for the experience, but I always felt there was something else. That’s where Aviva Spectrum was born. I listed out my pro and cons of starting my own business. My then-girlfriend, Natalia, who is now my wife, gave me such optimism and support that I felt this was my chance to start my own firm with my own rules. My friends at the time kept saying "Good luck!" or "Gosh, that’s risky!" during my first two years being on my own. It was tough, because I had no clients and had to find them all on my own, but now it’s been over 14 years running my own consulting firm.

    3. What is unique about your business?

    I often get asked, “What makes our firm unique, while still delivering similar services as your competitors?” My response: “It’s my team!” We solve big compliance and financial close problems and can actually save our clients money over and over again with our proven track record. Our staff have the work/life balance they always wanted and they are happy and yes, very productive professionals. We have some of the highest ranked and recommended staff on LinkedIn because we deliver on our promises to our clients.

    4. What were you doing before you founded your business?

    I was working as an audit manager at Ernst & Young LLP in Woodland Hills. I had a great team and support system. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned at Ernst & Young and wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I’m still connected to the firm through my volunteer service on the EY Alumni Council of Los Angeles.

    5. What are your goals for your business?

    I have several goals for the business. I want to provide more and comprehensive benefits to my employees. I want to add and leverage technology that aligns better with our client service model. We’re getting there but it’s slow moving because we allow all employees to have a say on what we’ll buy and how it will work. We have a lot of ‘lessons’ learned when we have tried different types of technology to help us streamline our business. We’ve tried countless online storage programs, accounting packages, project management software. You name it, we’ve probably have tried it, but the great thing about our team is that we’re constantly learning new ways to improve our performance.

    Another goal is to have everyone participate in the sales cycle of the firm. We share, communicate and train our team members about the entire sales cycle so they can understand how we can identify, attract and service our client. This gets everyone excited about how they can participate in growing our firm, including having input about our sales strategies. We work really well when we need to pivot away from something that clearly isn’t a fit for our organization.

    6. How has being a member of the LGBT community impacted your business?

    Being a member of the LGBT community makes me stand out from the crowd. I feel counted and heard. Our economy and quite frankly our US culture was built on leveraging our diversity. I have been invited to participate in subcontracting opportunities because of my NGLCC certification and I’m proud that I also volunteer to help certify business located in Los Angeles County. I’ve been volunteering for over 6 years by getting new businesses certified and offering free advice on what they should do next after their certification gets approved.

    7. How has being a Certified LGBTBE through NGLCC impacted your business?

    We have now received one major contract with a very reputable Big 4 firm because we are both highly qualified and NGLCC certified. It has been one of the best years we had as a business, and I look forward to entering into more contracts like that in the near future.

    8. What advice would you give to an LGBT person starting a business?

    The advice I would give to an LGBT person starting their business is to be true! Be true to who you are. Be true to your customers. Be true to the service that you are passionate about delivering. Delegate those activities you know you struggle with like book keeping or sometimes human resource activities. As soon as you can, start identifying those areas you know you are weak in or you simply can’t stand. Find a great service provider and let them handle those mundane things that drag you down. You’ll find that when you do this, your mind becomes clearer on what you’re really good at and this will inevitably give you more time to focus on your core strengths.

    The original article can be found here

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    Aviva Spectrum BlackLine System Admin Live Event Overview

    At Aviva Spectrum's August 30th BlackLine Live Event, we took a deeper dive into the three Admin roles of BlackLine. We answered the question: How do you make the most of some abilities and best practices of these roles to have an optimized and customized BlackLine environment at your company? We all would agree change is inevitable, but the knowledge of what to change and why empowers you- the admin. This session not only answered questions about role based administrations and some new features introduced by BlackLine, but also provided a must have task list for administrators to follow through for standardizing routine activities, use of BL reports to analyze the trends and performance to optimize your user activity, and improve your accounting teams efficiency. All of this comes together to give you a much smoother accounting close.
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    Tackling Growth: Real Stories of Success


    In this Interview with CFO of Zendesk, Elena Gomez, we focus on growth organizations. We cover some key concepts, including strategies for top employee retention, dealing with in-flux operations, a shift in the accounting function, and advice for growth situations. We will also tackle how to hire the best BlackLine Implementation Consultants. ..

    Top 3 Skills ROBOTS CAN'T take away from CFOs!

    By now you’ve heard me and probably others talk about Financial Transformation and Continuous Accounting. My interview with financial transformation expert, Gayle Edwards, Managing Director of Professional Accounting Solutions (PAS) discusses the top three skills CFOs execute to transform their accounting departments from loss leaders to strategic advisors. These are the same skills that can't be run by pure software or artificial intelligence which has been written and talked about because of a recent MIT and Boston University study. This study concluded "1 Robot Eliminates 5.6 workers". Here are the three executive skills robots CAN'T Take AWAY!

    Skill #1: Take the LONG VIEW


    CFOs need to have a 360-degree focus. When implementing new technology and heading towards automating your accounting function, make sure you take the long view. The most successful CFOs include different stakeholders to be involved during the planning, selection and execution process. Allowing team members from different departments gives strategic CFOs a better understanding of what's meaningful to measure key outcomes. If you don’t get buy-in from everyone, you will certainly have some major bumps in the road.

    Skill #2: Being aware of Roadblocks. Inevitably when implementing software there are unforeseen problems that get in the way. You may have an issue with an employee that is afraid of losing his job and is stalling to achieve the next project milestone. Perhaps you don't have full cooperation from IT. You might have other projects or software installations, that get in the way. Taking an inventory of what roadblocks have been presented and what's a priority is key to addressing these roadblocks in a timely fashion. The most strategic CFOs also budget the extra effort when they do face these road blocks such as the cost to hire a temp consultant. Once they budget the extra effort, they actually weigh the other option be, if they didn't go with their initial plan to face the road block. In short, what would happen if the road block isn't fixed? These CFOs not only know what Plan A is going to cost them, but they also know what's going to happen if Plan A isn't implemented to remove their road blocks. This gives them more information to present to the CEO and gain the respect from the team to remove these road blocks. ..

    Calculating the Best Lending Fit for You


    Financing in the U.S. is undergoing an evolution that you will want to be prepared for. Whether your organization is looking to finance or refinance, or if you’re a lender or compliance professional who wants to make a better impact when advising clients, there is always ways to improve. In this compelling Compliance Expert Radio Show, Sonia Luna interviews the President of QuickFee, Kyle Redding. Learn the most important tips on how to advise CEOs on the upcoming lending compliance changes and finding the best fit for you.

    What we are Going to See in the Next 6-12 Months and Beyond

    • Massive shift in technology
    • Means easier loan origination, completely paperless
    • Shifting to the Cloud for real-time underwriting data
    • Fraud prevention and detection for lenders
    • International credit reporting creeping into the U.S.
    • Big difference for international companies in the U.S. and the commercial lending space
    • Easier, faster, and better for both borrower and banks
    • Breaking News: EquiFax just bought Australia’s largest credit reporting agency, Veda.

    Advice for Compliance Professionals When Advising Clients on Financing Options

    • Most important: Asking the RIGHT question and UNDERSTANDING the needs, objectives, and plan of clients
    • Shopping for the lowest interest rate is NOT always the best
    • Look at opportunity costs overall
    • Ask: Do you have time to wait for cost capitals?
    • Finding the right lender is key, as some are more flexible than others
    • Do your research on what platforms can draw in the right financing
    • Kyle’s Insider Tip: Biz2credit – allows a broker/CPA firm to find the best deal by plugging in the key terms of what their client is looking for, and allows them to see 2,000 lenders around the country instead of just local ones

    Considerations Organizations Should Evaluate When Choosing a Financing Options

    This is the crux of putting the deal together, so make sure to consider the following:

    • Interest rate
    • Covenants
    • Pre-payment penalties
    • Personal guarantee – potentially dangerous
    • Understand the lender – type of business they usually do
    • Reputation of this lender – do you know what their specialization is? Do you know anyone who has used them?

    Metrics Most Organizations MISS When Choosing a Financing Option

    CORE: 3 C’s of credit

    1. Character – references, credit score
    2. Capital - collateral
    3. Capacity – to make the payments

    In between those lines, these metrics could easily missed:

    • A call on outstanding balance including interest at any given time
    • What is the definition of default?
    • Release of any collateral you put up to get the loan
    • If you are a good borrower and you didn’t get the best deal – whether it’s refinancing or a new deal lenders will extend more deals to you in order to make money off the interest

    Need help strategizing on Compliance, Automation, or Financial Transformation? We invite you to learn more by emailing us at info@avivaspectrum.com

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    More about Kyle Redding

    Listen to Entire Interview

    Kyle is a CPA & President of QuickFee, Inc. He started his career with EY, working in both the US and Australia, and transitioned into the early stages of QuickFee Australia, where he grew the business from 50 to 700 firms, including 70% of the Top 100 Accounting firms in Australia and the Big 4. Kyle moved back home to California to establish QuickFee USA and quickly gained notoriety by being published in Accounting Today, Accounting Web & CPA Practice Advisors. QuickFee was recently recognized by Accounting Today as one of the “2017 Top New Products” for their unique payment portal that offers clients of professional firms a “fee financing option” directly alongside ACH payment & Credit Card payment.

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    Which BlackLine Product to Buy First?

    Once you have decided to invest in BlackLine, the next item to consider is what modules or product suites you’ll need to invest and implement first. Your decision to purchase which products is best when you engage key stakeholders on what they believe would yield the best benefits to the organization first.  ..

    How Long is BlackLine Implementation?

    Like any other system implementation, BlackLine requires a full cycle of system deployment activities. These include planning, implementation, testing, training and final close out procedures. Your decision on “when” you move forward on your implementation will be dependent on your budget, timing of other priorities, and your available resources. 
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