Allan Mundell Director Nolands - The case for having auditor act as an interim CFO.

When should a company hire a CFO? It is a difficult question to answer said Nolands director, Allan Mundell but it usually came down to size and whether the business owner is serious about growth and sustainability.

If a business owner was not happy bringing in someone on a permanent bases, Mundell said they should also consider turning to their auditors to assist in duties as an interim CFO until the business can justify a permanent position. "It's so important for auditors to add value to their clients. Many auditors are not good at selling their consulting services."

Mundell said auditors tendto know a lot about the businesses they audited and so were well placed to give insight into making them more sustainable. This model of offering advice to smaller entities has worked well for Nolands as over the years it had helped turn small up and coming businesses into large companies.

Mundell said this capacity to provide business advice stemmed in part from its motto: "not your ordinary auditorOur aim is to always add value to the service we provide to our client. Fortunately for Nolands, the demand for a more all-encompassing service offering is on the risedue to an increasingly demanding regulatory environment. Under recently passed legislation, businesses now had to be in keeping with amongst others the new Companies Act, black empowerment legislations as well as laws to protect the rights of consumers.

Nolands director, Jeremy Petersen's advice to start-up companies on remaining compliant was to get a professional from the start. "They have to walk the walk with an auditor or professional accountant from day one." It might seem like they were saving money not bringing in an expert but in the end it could cost them dearly for not complying with a raft of new laws. "What seemed to be expensive up front is cheaper in the long run," said Petersen.

"There is no doubt that compliance has become an issue for smaller companies," Mundell said. It made sense for these companies to outsource these burdensome jobs rather than to try to do it themselves. "They should bring in professionals to take care of the specialist functions." Though having an auditor acting as consultant could be useful to the business it was working with, Mundell was not blind to the dangers of an auditor being both watchdog and advisor.

He said Nolands took precautions against confusing these roles like assessing its risk around the possibility of a conflict of interest, using staff that were not part of the audit to consult and making sure that the fees coming from consulting did not out strip those derived from the audit. Mundell said Nolands just recently walked away from a job due to a possible conflict of interest.