11 Helpful Habits of our (Financially) Healthiest Clients
St. Joseph Financial Services
At a recent all-SJFS team offsite, we carved out some time to reflect on what our most financially healthy clients were doing to be successful. Our clients encompass Catholic Dioceses, Schools, Parishes, and Apostolates. We felt that sharing this information is both useful to all our current clients and future clients. In no particular order, here are 11 habits that form the basis of a financially healthy client.
Financially Healthy Clients:
Are Open to Change – Financially Healthy Clients recognize that the “way we’ve always done it” is not sustainable in a highly technological and connected marketplace. Like other lessons on humility, admitting there is a problem and asking for help are the first steps to improvement.
Realize Human Capital can be Repurposed – One of the biggest concerns that we encounter is that if you sign up for outsourced accounting services somebody must get fired. Our Financially Healthy Clients realize that there is a backlog of projects at the Diocese, School or Parish that can finally be completed when the bookkeeping is seamlessly handled every month. One of our clients was able to take their Evangelization Program to the next level because they had a solid employee that they wanted to keep, who also enjoyed Evangelization.
Have Uniform Diocesan Standards – When we’ve worked with Parishes and Schools that have standards in place their onboarding is smoother and creates a solid foundation. The foundation allows us to improve our onboarding time for multiple locations in a Diocese, improving the experience for our clients.
Have Operating and Capital Reserves – As in our personal lives, having rainy day funds demonstrates the preparedness of Financially Healthy Clients.
Limit Hiring Until a Budget is Approved – We’ve seen that our clients that hold to this discipline perform better in the long run. In order to sign that amazing hire, do your part to contribute to the budget process in order to get it approved.
Have a Budget Process – It is key to have a documented budget process or let us lead you in the process. We see many Catholic Schools and Parishes without a repeatable budget process due to high turnover of Finance Councils and being unaware of key considerations for the new fiscal year. Where there isn’t a strong budget process, we have the experience to assist.
Have a Strong Developmental Role – Our Catholic non-profit clients that have a strong fundraising system in place send benefits to downstream activities. Staying current with development trends and hiring the right people has an exponential effect on your organization. We like to tell our clients to get donors involved early and often, especially when starting a new organization like a Catholic high school.
Stress Value over Discounts – It may seem counterintuitive, but Catholic Schools that have gotten rid of discounts and raised tuition prices can flourish financially. The common fear is that if you raise tuition prices then people will leave. Catholic Schools need to stress the value they bring to families which will help parents’ concerns for cost.
Are Always Looking to Implement Best Practices – Clients who ask themselves “what could we do better” are better off financially versus those that become complacent. Technology, when applied correctly, can eliminate mundane and repetitive tasks. We truly believe that clients should have “More time ministering and less time administering.”
Ask Questions – An easy trend to spot is that our clients that participate, show up to meetings and ask questions are the ones that are the financially healthiest. Nobody is expected to know everything and our Client Advisors enjoy new challenges and answering tricky questions. We’ve seen a lot in the Catholic Accounting space, so your crazy question might not be so crazy to us.
Have a Vision – Our clients that are succeeding are already looking out 3-5 years, something that isn’t always easy when you are focused on next month’s close. Sharing the vision with SJFS allows us to plan and scale our operations hand in hand with our clients ensuring smooth operations for all.
St. Joseph Financial Services is solely dedicated to serving Catholic organizations and the Church’s Mission. We want all our clients to be fully financially healthy. Which of these habits do you want your organization to improve on? Which of these areas is your organization doing well? Are there any other areas that we missed?