For some, working in the corporate world is a safe and secure space: job security, competitive pay, and benefits are just some of the opportunities these careers can offer. For others, a long run in this type of environment can lead to pivotal moments in life that provoke a passion to start something of their own.
After 30 years in the corporate world, Mary Ferry, owner of Advantage Insights, took a different path in her career after her corporate job at Conagra Foods was set to relocate. Although she enjoyed the process development and services she provided to her company leaders, Ferry realized small business owners have the same needs as larger companies without the ability to hire as many employees. To provide the level of support needed for these proprietors, Ferry took key concepts from her corporate work and combined information with budget and financial planning to launch Advantage Insights.
Founded in May 2017, Advantage Insights serves more than 60 clients across the country. With a focus on clients who make less than $10 million in revenue, Ferry said bookkeeping is the primary service she and her small team of five provide to its growing clientele. “Most business owners don’t think they need someone like me until there’s a pain point,” Ferry said. “Whether it’s getting their taxes filed or understanding their financial information, that’s when they decide they need our services.”
Aside from helping clients understand the foundation of their financials, Ferry and team use specific software programs to assist with budget management and analytics. With this comes key performance indicators, which enable clients to align their objectives and ensure they are meeting and understanding monthly performance goals. “We tailor the processes around it, streamline, and make it as efficient as possible so they don’t have to spend any more time with their accounting than they need,” Ferry said.
Advantage Insights breaks its services down into three key levels. Level one is Essential Insights, focusing on bookkeeping to ensure each business transaction is properly recorded. The company also provides payroll as an add-on service. The next level shifts to Progressive Growth, which concentrates on budgets, financial analysis, and includes monthly meetings to review financial information. This allows business owners to dive into analytics including cashflow management, sales, and accounts receivable monitoring, and management performance reporting for their business. The final level is Advanced Performance, which Ferry described as Advantage Insights functioning as a client’s accounting department. Ferry acts as a chief financial officer, and the team takes care of anything needed from an accounting perspective.
“Everybody always tells business owners they need a lawyer and an accountant, and they only think they need the accountant for their tax returns,” Ferry said. “But they need a management accountant if they want to do something more with their financial information than pay their taxes.”
With over 30 years of experience, Ferry brings her knowledge, education, and background to help business owners figure out what they need, bring their financials into focus, and improve overall company performance. While business owners may have an idea of what these necessities are, Ferry said Advantage Insights helps verbalize these needs through professional advice, strategic planning, and a unique process that designs customizable solutions so executives can reach their goals.
“The enjoyment I take from having my own business is helping others be successful and watching them grow, meet their goals, and be a part of their success,” Ferry said. “That’s what keeps me going.”