Author Archives: Rosalina Lopez

Preparing for the Future

Rosalina Lopez

After hearing our plans to create a new platform, a number of our clients have inquired about what they can do to prepare for the future. It is smart of them to be asking this now.

Adequacy of Your Data

One question we like to hear from clients is, “What should I be doing to prepare for conversion to the new platform?” This is a good question because the steps you take now will make your later work easier and allow the performance reports you receive in the future to be more meaningful.

To prepare for conversion, we recommend clients examine the quality of the data they have already recorded in FN. After all, this is the data that will be converted to the new platform. If the qualify of your data is good, you will be well positioned for success in using the new system. Conversely, if the quality of the data is poor, you may be disappointed with some of the reports the new platform can produce.

Accounting vs. Performance Data

A little background can be helpful here. FN 9.5 has extensive capabilities, but many clients use it primarily as an accounting system. Therefore, the data in the system often ends up being just accounting data. To ease the on-going task of entering data, clients often summarize that data and take other shortcuts, as long as the cash account reconciles to the bank or custodian balance.

The new Asset Vantage platform provides accounting but also offers other capabilities, including calculating investment performance at many levels of asset classification. For financial performance calculations to be accurate and meaningful, the underlying data must be more detailed and precise than for basic accounting.

For example, consider the different ways a FN user can track dividends received. Many of our clients simply lump all dividends together and record one amount at the end of the month as dividend income, with a corresponding addition to cash. For general accounting purposes this approach works fine. And, if you only wish to report performance at the portfolio level, this practice for recording dividend income is acceptable. However, if you want to analyze performance by each security, this method will not be suitable.

Alternatives

If your data is not sufficiently detailed, there are three alternatives to consider:

  • Accept the Situation – You can accept the fact that certain performance calculations for past time periods will be unavailable or inaccurate because the data you have is not as detailed as needed.
  • Improve the Data Yourself – You can go into FN 9.5 and edit the FN data to make it more accurate and detailed. You can do this on a selective basis and only add data where it will have a significant impact on performance calculations.
  • Have FNI Improve the Data – We are beginning to develop special services where we can assist our clients to correct or improve their data. If you ask, we can give you our assessment and a fee estimate for us to do the work needed to bring your data to the level of accuracy required for the new calculations. This approach will allow you to gain the full benefit of the new platform.

Any of these three alternatives can certainly provide a satisfactory solution. Each client will have to decide which approach will best meet their specific needs.

More Detail Moving Forward

The best news is that the new platform has a number of techniques for capturing the detailed data required for precise performance calculations. As a result, the issue of getting sufficient transaction data into the system should not be a problem in the future.

Internet Connectivity

The other question we are asked by clients is, “Will I need to change my Internet connection?”

The new platform is a cloud-based system that will only operate over an Internet connection. Fortunately, the system is designed so that it does not require a very high speed Internet connection to work well. A connection with a minimum speed of 20mbps (megabits per second) for downloading data and 5mbps for uploading should be satisfactory. Of course, a faster speed will provide a better experience for users because the reports and screens will display more quickly.

The key requirement should be that your Internet connection is reliable and not subject to outages, since the loss of your connection would prevent you from using the new platform.

7 Steps for Closing out the Year and Creating a (Happier) New Year

Rosalina Lopez
By Education, Family Office

First published Nov. 16, 2015. Updated Nov. 11, 2016

Tips for improving your internal year-end procedures

As the current year winds down, it is a good time to look ahead. We are always trying to help our family office software and accounting users increase their efficiency, so here are some tips for improving your internal year-end procedures for closing out the books and creating a new year in Financial Navigator 9.5. Please note the order of the following steps is simply a suggestion and could vary for some users.

  1. Reconciliation
  2. Enter Adjusting Entries
  3. Test and Correct Files
  4. Limit Access with Closed Period
  5. Create a Backup
  6. Begin a New Year
  7. Re-Update Starting Balances

Step 1: Reconciliation

Verify all your bank, broker and credit card accounts as of December 31st, or as of the end of your Fiscal Year, by ensuring all transactions are entered and then reconciling Financial Navigator’s records to the statement from the bank or custodian.

Of course, many users may need to begin the new year before completing their reconciliations for all the accounts, but there should at least be a priority on reconciling those accounts with the most outstanding transactions, like checking accounts. This will allow you to identify the outstanding items and transfer them to the new year, where you can track them as they clear.

Step 2: Enter Adjusting Entries

Enter adjusting entries as of the end of the year. These transactions include accrued items, bond amortization adjustments, depreciation, etc. Other adjustments, such as tax and K1 income adjustments, may be entered either in: (a) the new year, as the information is received; or (b) the prior year, and you can carry forward the revised ending balances by using our Update Starting Balances feature. Please refer to Step 7 of this article to find more information on how to change prior years.

Step 3: Test and Correct Files

Run the utility “Test and Correct Files” to correct any corrupted data before creating a new year.  This utility can easily be found in the drop-down menu under “Utilities” from the main Financial Navigator menu.

The Test and Correct Files utility re-computes the account balances for the current year by summarizing all the transactions.  Any errors caused by unsupported changes to account balances will be eliminated when this utility is run.  It is also a good idea to run this test periodically throughout the year.  Of course, you should always create a backup file of the entity’s data before you run this utility.

For instructions on how to run Test and Correct Files, please see Testing and Correcting Files in our online Customer Support Center.

fni-fn95-410Step 4: Limit Access with Closed Period

Utilize our “Closed Period” feature to lock the year and prevent any further changes. This function will disable the transactions grid, so no further entries or changes can be made to the closed year.  However, the user will still be able to see all transactions for that year.

This function can be found in the drop-down menu under “Transactions” from Financial Navigator’s main menu.

For instructions on how to set Closed Periods, please refer to Setting Closed Periods in FNI’s online Customer Support Center.

Step 5: Create a Backup

Create a backup file for each entity by using the “Back Up” function and then store them in a safe place, preferably off-site.  Backing up your entities at the end of each year, and periodically throughout the year, will protect you from losing data in case something unexpected happens to your network or computer.

The Back Up function is located in the drop-down menu under “File” from the Financial Navigator main menu.

For instructions on how to create a backup file, please read Backing Up Entity Data in our online Customer Support Center.

Step 6: Begin the New Year

Create the new year by using the “Begin a New Year” function to transfer your information from the current year to the new year.  You do not have to worry about making closing entries since our system automatically performs this tedious process.  In Financial Navigator, creating a new year includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  • Transferring balances of asset and liability accounts
  • Zeroing out income and expense accounts
  • Adding the old year’s net income to either a cumulative or a separate net income equity line item
  • Transferring last year’s budget or actual amounts to serve as a budget for the new year
  • Transferring outstanding transactions

The system also performs many other actions automatically when creating a new year.  For a complete list, please see Beginning a New Year in our online Customer Support Center.

This function can be found in the drop-down menu under “Utilities” from Financial Navigator’s main menu.

Step 7: Re-Update Starting Balances

Because users often need to make monthly payments in the new year or to just continue with their day-to-day work, it is common to create a new year in Financial Navigator before all the above steps have been completed for the old year. In such a case, when all the above steps are finally completed, the old year’s ending balances may have changed from what they were when the new year was initially created.

The utility function “Update Starting Balances and Update Asset & Liability Info” will enable you to update the starting balances for the new year to the proper amounts if the prior year’s ending balances have changed.  This function is located in the drop-down menu under “Utilities” from the main Financial Navigator menu.

For instructions on how to use this function, please refer to Updating Starting Balances in our online Customer Support Center.

We hope the above tips help you to avoid problems and achieve a smooth transition when closing out the current year and starting a new one in 2016.

Ready for Assignment!

Rosalina Lopez
By Services

oneview-sleevesStaff turnover, illness or even a special project can cause your accounting department to fall behind on its regular work. More recently, the strains of tax season may have resulted in work backing up in your office. The recovery process from this situation can be arduous, often characterized by late reports, late nights, coffee-stained errors and burned-out personnel. Such stress can be exhausting as staff members struggle to manage their ongoing workload while also catching up on the backlog.

It does not have to be that way. There is a painless solution for getting back to normal: Outsource the excess to Financial Navigator’s experts until you get back on schedule. After all, FNI is not just a software company. With our technical support and outsource services, we offer a complete solution for all our clients’ accounting and financial reporting needs.

Why Now?

Today, the process of outsourcing data management work is simpler than ever:

  • Sharing computer files is quick and easy.
  • Most investment data is available online from electronic sources.
  • The work can be performed remotely, so there is no disruption in your offices.

Who Can Help?

You could hire additional staff but, if the problem is only temporary, that would make no sense. Alternatively, AccounTemps could provide someone competent, as could your outside accounting firm. However, neither would have much experience with your accounting system. Consequently, an experienced person in your office would have to train the newcomer, meaning neither one would be very productive for at least a couple days. Only Financial Navigator’s experienced staff can step in and get to work with minimal instruction.

The FNI Advantage

In addition to providing seasoned accounting professionals with extensive relevant experience, FNI’s outsource services provide the following important benefits:

  • Efficiency – There is no learning curve. Our in-house accountants are already expert users of Financial Navigator software, so you don’t waste time training them.
  • Flexibility – Engagements are tailored to your needs and can be for as long or as short a time period as you require.
  • Confidentiality – Your license agreement with FNI already includes our commitment to the confidentiality of your information. You can rely on us to keep your sensitive data private.
  • Cost effectiveness – Our in-house accountants use their intimate knowledge of the software to provide great value to you at competitive rates.

In short, think of Financial Navigator as an extension of your own staff, ready to pitch in and provide relief when the work starts to pile up. Just give us a call. Our team is ready to go to work for you!