Fiducial in the Back Office

By Patricia Fusco | Posted October 07, 2003

Literally speaking, fiducial should be taken as standard of reference. A fiduciary relationship is one founded on faith or trust. Capitalize the "F" and you have Fiducial, an outsourced financial planning service for small businesses.

Founded in 1970 in Europe, Fiducial crossed the pond by way of a series of acquisitions, entering the U.S. market in 1999. Today, the company is the 9th largest accounting firm in the U.S. — the 13th largest in the world.

This week, the company debuted a new payroll-processing program as the latest addition to its lineup of tax, financial, and business consulting services for small enterprises. With its new processing center up and running in Columbia, Md., Fiducial's U.S. network of 600 neighborhood offices can now tap into a powerful portfolio of administrative services for small business.

Yves Morard-Lacroix, Fiducial's head of U.S. operations, said the addition of payroll processing capabilities makes it a veritable one-stop shop for outsourced back office services.

"We provide the centralized backend processing for small- and mid-sized businesses, while our local-level financial consultants stick to the business of helping small businesses," Morard-Lacroix said.

Morard-Lacroix said that the company's focus is on serving very small businesses across many different industries.

"Our members provide small businesses — those with 1- to 10-employees — with consulting, accounting and financial services, tax and financial management, and now payroll processing services," Morard-Lacroix said. "From beauty salons and auto shops to design studios and restaurants, we simplify complex administrative processes so owners can focus on their core business."

Morard-Lacroix said Fiducial added payroll processing to its assortment of back office services because small businesses demanded it.

"The number one thing we hear from small business clients is that they are drowning in a sea of back-office functions and have too little time to devote to their actual business," Morard-Lacroix said. "Our new payroll processing center simplifies what can be a time-consuming and complex process, to a single phone call, fax, or e-mail each pay period."

Fiducial's new payroll processing center is a full-service, Web-based tool that accurately handles each aspect of payroll processing for small businesses. Once the client data is received, the program tracks the payroll schedule, processes all payroll information, produces paychecks, creates and files state and federal tax returns, and provides a complete payroll report each pay period. According to Fiducial, it also costs less than competitive payroll products.

There is an initial, one-time start-up fee based on the number of employees a small business has. After that, its costs about $4 per employee per pay-period, to tap into Fiducial's payroll processing services. For example, servicing 10 employees on a bi-weekly basis costs $40.80 per pay period. When compared to hiring a bookkeeper to do the payroll or taking time out of your schedule to do it yourself, the savings are obvious.

Saving money is a particular challenge for small business startups. NVS Kitchen & Bath, with projects sales of about $10 million this year, grew out of a three-person painting business established by Glen Miracle in the mid-80's. Miracle attributes much of his success to an advisor he selected early on that became a pseudo businesses partner with the company — Bill Duvall, an advisor with Fiducial.

Duvall runs a Fiducial practice in Manassas, Va. Throughout their 16-year relationship, Miracle focused on running and growing his business, while Duvall managed the accounting, payroll, and taxes.

"I knew how to work with customers," Miracle said. "But I needed help with the business basics — like making sure we were set up correctly and filing the proper taxes and returns." That's when Duvall's team entered the picture.

"The relationship grew. Bill grabbed onto my dream and became my personal business counselor," Miracle said. "It's unbelievable how much guidance Bill Duvall and his Fiducial office have given us over the years.

Today, Miracle has 40 employees and serves high-end custom builders and remodelers. Maybe Miracle's name helped, but he credits Duvall and Fiducial with providing a different level of skill and dedication that made NVS Kitchen & Bath thrive.

Morard-Lacroix said Fiducial's combination of Web-based technologies with localized services is just what small businesses ordered.

"We use cutting-edge technology to deliver Web-based back office services," Morard-Lacroix said, "but we still believe in human, localized contact with small businesses. That way, we can deliver highly personalized services."

Fiducial now supports small businesses in five areas — accounting and bookkeeping, tax services, financial services, business counseling and as of this week, payroll services. But it's not about to stop there. The company has plans to rollout human resource, information technology, and legal services in the next 6-months.

For those small business owners that find they are drowning in a sea of back-office functions, Fiducial offers a lifeline of support services and tools than can help small business owners to stay afloat.

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