Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read June 2021 — CLM Advisors is a fiscal management firm that builds business strategies to help their clients meet long-term goals. In an interview with Invest:, CEO and Principal Consultant Charlie Muracco discusses the firm’s differentiators in the region. “We help business owners think with the end result in mind and we build a financial roadmap to get there,” he said.
What separates CLM Advisors from similar firms in the region?
Two main ideas: first, we are educators at heart. We have a firm full of professionals who come from diverse places – from private industry, from public accounting, from banking and finance, from tax advisory – but the common theme is that we all love to use what we’ve learned to make our clients better business people. And we throw ourselves into that, every day. The second differentiator is we act like we are in business with our clients. In fact, we say “we” quite often when talking to our clients about their business. Our clients appreciate the sense that “we” are in this together.
Accounting is still the basis for everything we do, but accountants typically look at things historically. While history is important, we are more interested in the future of the business, and we use accounting data to bring the future into focus. That may mean diving deeply into our client’s unit costs and pricing. It may mean analyzing when and where the business will need more labor. It may mean figuring out the best compensation structure for the sales team to incentivize the behaviors that the business needs in order to grow. In fact, it usually means all of those things and more. And, in order to tackle those kinds of questions, we need great data. The only way we can get great data is by ensuring that our clients have well-staffed, well-trained accounting departments. That’s a process in which we exert tremendous influence and control. Whether it’s a staff of one or a staff of ten, part of our mission is to identify skill sets, instill proper controls, and train, train, train.
By the way, when we talk about developing the client’s accounting department, we have a certain philosophy: build an accounting system that works for the client – not one that just works for us. Typically, we are not dealing with large public companies who are required to use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in their financial reporting; we serve small and middle-sized businesses. Those business owners need customized reports that reflect key business metrics, leading to faster and better decision-making ability. So, we often invest a lot of time in this area, and we’re constantly tinkering with new ideas to provide better and more useful information over time.
By bringing all of those ideas together – education, forensic study of the business, close consultation, building a great accounting department – we can help our clients clearly define their profitability model and then test it, adjust as necessary, and constantly stay on course to achieve their business goals.
What makes the South Jersey region an attractive location for you and your firm?
In our business, you want to be in a place where people feel like they have opportunity. That shouldn’t be taken for granted – there are regions of our country that have been hard-hit economically, and that can have a psychological effect on business owners. South Jersey has kept growing through the years; obviously our proximity to a major metropolitan city and to the Jersey Shore are big factors. We’re based in Gloucester County, and the big story there has been the enormous growth of Rowan University over the past 10-15 years. Its transformation into a top regional university is one big driver of commerce in this area; plus, it feeds the skilled labor pool as well. We may grow our geographic footprint over time, but as long as there is positive opportunity here, South Jersey will be our home base.
What are the main challenges your clients and businesses are facing with regard to fiscal management right now and how should they tackle those problems?
As we emerge from the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, there are a couple of lingering problems – and they are big problems. The first is the state of the labor pool. Over and over, I’m hearing my clients complain that they can’t find good people. I understand some of the safety-net measures that the government put in place to help keep people on their feet, but we also must recognize that the overall work ethic has diminished. Good-paying jobs are available, but the motivation of the labor pool hasn’t quite returned yet. Very large businesses are just going to invest in more automation, but the small businesses can’t do that as much. We want to help our clients think through this problem and be ready to offer attractive compensation packages. People will come back to work, but first their incentive to stay home will have to be reduced.
The second major problem is the supply chain. These are strange times – availability of products and materials can vary widely, and that is causing some distortions in the economy. To run a small business now – especially in manufacturing and distribution – you have to accept some unusual trade-offs and plan ahead as much as possible. Many businesses have cash on hand, and they need good advice on how to deploy it to take advantage of opportunities whenever they arise.
For more information, visit: https://www.clmadvisors.net/