When I started BILL over 15 years ago, the accounting community was a key part of the foundational structure of our mission to “make it simple to connect and do business.”
That focus continues today as we deliver on our vision of an all-in-one financial operations solution for small and mid-sized businesses. The combined power of BILL and Divvy, a BILL company, already provides businesses with visibility into 100% of their B2B spend— and as accounting firms expand their advisory services, the opportunity this presents is tremendous. That is why I’m so pleased to announce today that we have expanded our long-standing relationship with CPA.com, the business and technology arm of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), to include Divvy as their exclusive partner for expense management, corporate card*, and spend management.
What does this mean? Adding Divvy’s spend management capabilities, which includes the Divvy corporate card and expense management software to seamlessly manage card transactions, to our partnership with CPA.com is an intentional strategy. Since the beginning, CPA.com and BILL have shared a common goal of bringing together the services, resources, and technology that helps accounting firms solve financial challenges for their clients. Technology is a pivotal area for firms looking to automate manual tasks and switch to a more advisory focused practice. By helping businesses automate their spending and payment processes, we can continue to support our customers—accounting firms and their clients—and deliver value for them.
In conjunction with today’s announcement, I sat down with CPA.com President and CEO Erik Asgeirsson to get his first-hand perspective on the broader spend management category, the opportunity this presents for firms, and how our expanded partnership can support them with this effort:
René: Erik, this is an exciting time for our two organizations, as well as the accounting firms we both serve. We’ve spent years combining our resources to bring the best tools possible together to help accounting firms thrive.
With this announcement, we’re able to offer the next generation of technology solutions — combining what BILL brings in payment and approval processes that make it easy to pay and get paid with Divvy’s capabilities in expense management and budgeting. This means businesses can have insight across 100% of B2B spend, and accounting firms have a line of sight into their clients’ spend that creates a tremendous advantage. How does this help accounting firms as they are building their client advisory services?
Erik: You’re right, René – we have a long history of success with BILL and know first-hand your commitment to the accounting profession. It was over a decade ago we established the client advisory services (CAS) category, and BILL was a key partner with us in doing this. And now, we’re leading the charge together into CAS 2.0, the next evolution of services that accounting firms are already starting to adopt and offer their clients. Adding Divvy’s capabilities in expense management combined with their corporate card to what BILL already offers in bill management supports this initiative.
In fact, we’re seeing that spend management is viewed by finance leaders as the future of expense management. It’s a more strategic sourcing of company funds because it brings all spending into one place for smarter decision-making, compared to expense management which has been historically decentralized by department.
You mentioned it already: having insight into 100% of B2B spend. That just isn’t happening today with traditional expense management offerings. It’s a gap that needs to be filled in the marketplace, and that’s why this partnership is so important.
René: You mentioned that spend management is the future of expense management. We obviously agree, but I’d love to hear your perspective on why that is. What’s the difference here and why is this such a pivotal change for accounting firms and their clients?
Erik: This one is simple: expense management is a retroactive approach to managing finances – the expense occurs and then the invoice is paid and recorded. The work to manage expenses happens after the money has already been spent.
With expense management, businesses have little control over their budgets and no visibility into real-time spending. The responsibility falls on the accounting team to verify the expense after it has occurred, which means chasing down missing receipts from employees. It’s no wonder that expense management is considered more of a time-consuming, although necessary, function of their clients’ financial back office.
The spend management capabilities Divvy offers are proactive. Decisions are made before the money is spent. Companies leverage technology and a corporate credit card to get businesses access to credit and provide a real-time view of finances. And firms can help their clients set budgets and controls to manage spends upfront, allowing for more accurate reporting and forecasting against budgets.
In addition to the deeper controls, firms have been looking for ways to streamline back-office expense operations, which is imperative to delivering better client insights and services. Firms that offer advisory services in the spend management category will have a competitive advantage against those who don’t and a strong differentiator in their CAS offerings.
René: Speaking of their CAS offerings, we hear all the time from our accounting firm customers that the bill pay workflow is one of the staples they need to automate to enable client advisory services. Our partnership with you at CPA.com has helped bring that solution to them.
And now across both the BILL and Divvy platforms, businesses have full visibility across their spend management. Client advisory services, as you mentioned, have been around for over a decade, and you’ve recently introduced CAS 2.0 —a holistic approach to delivering next level advisory services. How has CAS changed over the last few years, and how does this new insight into spend factor in?
Erik: Demand for client advisory services, ranging from outsourced business processes (the "virtual back office") to virtual CFO and controller services, has grown exponentially in the last few years. We released our CAS Benchmark Survey recently, which showed that CAS services grew more than 20% YoY and it’s not stopping there. It’s the fastest growing area for accounting firms.
There are a number of reasons for this rapid growth, not the least of which is that firms played a crucial trusted advisor role in helping clients navigate through the pandemic. Many firms stepped outside of their usual services to advise on PPP loans, education and much more. And true insight into their clients’ cash flow was critical for all of it. Businesses are still looking to their CPAs and accounting firms more than ever for that next level of advisory services. They want deeper business insights, proactive advice and a true partner in their trusted advisor. Firms have an opportunity to lead right now, and those who level up their CAS offerings to meet the expectations, such as adding spend management as a service, will have a tremendous edge in the market. This growth-oriented focus is a key aspect of our CAS 2.0 approach.
For us at CPA.com, we provide firms with expert guidance on CAS strategy & execution, including research on emerging trends, in-depth skills and practice development, practice assessment and benchmarking, and of course, the best-in class technology solutions.
Spend management is part of this evolution and a natural extension of the CAS practice.
René: What excites you about bringing Divvy to the table as your exclusive partner in this newly broadened category?
Erik: Divvy is the best-in-class solution. This is an emerging strategic category, and we select solutions that can lead innovation as our preferred technology partners. Our preferred partners have a demonstrated commitment to the accounting profession, they’re future-focused. BILL, and now with the addition of Divvy, meets all of that criteria and more.
While this move builds on our long-standing relationship with BILL, we also recognized the unique capabilities that Divvy brings to expense management. In addition to the real-time visibility and insight into B2B spend, businesses can have enforceable budgets with real-time tracking and spend controls, enabled by corporate cards and the software to manage them. And let’s not forget, the software is free. That offers a savings for businesses upon signup. When you add in the dedicated partner and firm training, rewards programs for businesses and more, it’s an incredibly robust offering that will have real impact on businesses and on firms looking to offer higher-value advisory services. With the addition of Divvy, we can more fully and deeply support the accounting community, which includes 44,000 firms in the U.S. alone.
René: Thank you, Erik, for sharing this news together. I’m looking forward to the opportunities ahead to serve this important community.
And we’re not the only ones excited about today’s news. Hear what accounting firms are saying about the opportunity in spend management and how the Divvy solution fits into their firm and helps their clients:
“As a CAS leader at UHY and member of the CPA.com CAS council, we’re actively looking for the next generation of tools for our clients that can build on the proactive services that are the hallmark of advisory work. Most companies struggle to contain costs and expenses and rarely have the transparency needed to manage budgets. A spend management solution like Divvy definitely fills a need in the marketplace. Instead of reconciling money already spent, advisors can help their clients set budgets and protocols upfront, which gives businesses foresight and more control over their cash flow. This creates increased profitability for businesses and deepens the trusted advisor relationship. It’s a win-win for firms and clients.”
— Kane Polakoff, National Practice Leader, Client Accounting Advisory Services, UHY Advisors, Inc. and BILL
“Divvy puts the power in the business owner’s hands when it comes to managing spend. Especially after the last two years where cash flow was so critical and a remote workforce added layers of complexity, businesses need tools that make it easier for them to operate at their best. Divvy’s spend management solution starts with putting the right controls on budget and expenses in place and makes it simple to onboard new employees without losing that control. And with the partnership and support that BILL and Divvy have always delivered, this is truly a best-in-class solution.”
— Nick Pasquarosa, Founder & CEO, Bookkeeper360
“Divvy changed our methodology and approach to how we were communicating with clients. Now, instead of being reactive and chasing and harping on people each month, it turned into a proactive conversation about cash management solutions for the company.”
– Dan Luthi, Partner at Ignite Spot | case study
Interested in learning more?
Join CPA.com, Divvy and a firm practitioner, for a free-CPE live webinar on March 30 to learn best practices for delivering advisory services around business spend management, a core component of CAS firm offerings.
Learn more about the Divvy Accountant Advisor Program today.
* Card issued by Cross River Bank, Member FDIC