As the end of the year approaches, there are several crucial tasks that need–and should–be completed to ensure you enter 2024 well-prepared. Some are accounting/financial, some are strategic, but all are important!
Here’s a quick overview of steps to help prepare for a smooth year-end process for your agency and your employees:
- 🔎 Review your financial statements. Examine your Income Statement and Balance Sheet, and ensure all transactions are accurately recorded. Scrutinize subledger details for areas where you can reduce costs and optimize income. Are you duplicating expenses by having overlapping services? Are you using the most cost-efficient vendor (for example: are you using a stand alone vendor to run MVRs, or are you using a carrier portal)?
- 🔎 Budget review. Did you create a budget for 2023? Are you running reports with budget to actual comparisons? If not, do it now. Identify areas where you were over/under budget to help you prepare for next year’s budget. And if you didn’t create a budget for this year, reviewing your financial statements for recurring income and expenses can help you create and plan a budget for next year.
- 🔎 Tax planning. Work with your tax professional to identify additional deductions and credits, and explore opportunities for tax savings. This is also a great time to review local, state, and federal tax regulations to make sure your agency is compliant and up to date on your filings.
- 🔎 Accounts Receivable. As a part of your month end process, it is best practice to run and review your receivables report. Staying up to date on outstanding customer balances is better when done routinely; however, year end is the time to review in detail and look for accounts that should be written off or more aggressively pursued.
- 🔎 Accounts Payable. Just like with your other financial reports, staying up to date on reviewing your payables should be a part of your monthly process. If your agency processes any agency bill, ensuring your company payables are clean, current, and accurate is an important year-end step. In addition, it is vital to review your other liabilities (such as loans) to verify the current balances are correct, and interest expense has been properly reported.
- 🔎 Payroll records. Whether you run payroll manually, outsource to a bookkeeper, or use a full service payroll provider, a thorough review of your payroll expense and payroll liabilities should be completed. Are there any outstanding employee or employer taxes that need to be remitted? Have all 401k contributions been processed? Are W2 commissions and regular wages properly allocated (if applicable)?
- 🔎 Vendor review. It is important that you have complete vendor information ready for the end of the year, especially those vendors subject to receiving 1099s. It is best practice to have a current W-9 on file for each vendor and a current email address. This information is all you need to file 1099s, and make sure your vendor receives an electronic copy. In addition, spend some time reviewing your 1099 producer disbursement details to verify that you have tracking gross commissions and reimbursable expenses–they should be split out on your ledger–so you can accurately report gross commissions in lieu of net commissions (gross commissions less expenses reimbursed by the producer back to the agency).
- 🔎 Performance reviews. How are you tracking performance management? Conduct performance reviews for employees, and make sure you recognize achievements and address areas for improvement. For your producers and account managers, take a few minutes to review their compensation structures and their production goals.
- 🔎 Document retention. The end of the year is a great time to review your document retention policy and purge any files–digital or paper.
- 🔎 Strategic planning. Reflect on the agency’s performance over the past year. Set goals and objectives for the upcoming year, and develop a strategic plan to achieve those goals. Spend some time reviewing your profit share and contingency commission agreements, and plan how to best optimize eligibility for the upcoming year.
Now through the end of the year, we will delve into some of these tasks in more detail. While some may seem time-consuming, many are best practiced more frequently. As you prepare for 2024, make sure you build in time on your schedule to do these things more often.
Stay tuned for more insights and tips!