Putting golf club accounts to the fore with KW Accountants
Kirkwood Wilson Accountant’s, Caroline Wilson, knows what it takes to ensure a golf club’s accounts are above par. A keen golfer herself, Caroline was enlisted by her local private member’s club to get a grip of their finances and the results were truly impressive, as you’ll hear in this in-depth interview.
Whilst it may seem at odds to seek the professional guidance of an accountancy firm – in the current client of decreasing membership numbers and the rising cost of maintaining high quality facilities – astute financial planning has never been more important for the survival and prosperity of golf clubs in Britain today.
It could be the best investment a club could ever make. Particularly when that accountant has extensive knowledge of the practical running of a golf club, just as Caroline Wilson does.
Hi Caroline. First of all, what experience do you have of dealing with golf clubs?
I suppose you would say experience from the inside. I have acted as Finance Chair and been very closely involved with the practical running of the financial function of a private members’ club.
What are the financial issues that you see facing golf clubs?
It is well reported that private members golf clubs are seeing a decline in membership numbers, particularly for women. More clubs are offering different types of membership deals, such as five and six-day membership packages, and these inevitably impact on income.
There is also a lot of competition for green fee income and clubs are faced with the decision of whether to enter the ‘cheap golf’ market or keep up their prices in a bid to retain some prestige.
And of course, many clubhouses are ageing and require significant investment to keep on top of the wear and tear. Increasing regulation for health and safety, and fire risk, results in constant expenditure requirements.
This regulation also extends to course expenditure and every year it appears that another health and safety ruling must be applied. Members also demand the highest standards in drainage, irrigation and appearance of the course and all of this must be funded amid the challenging climate of stalling income
So how were you able to help your local golf club?
We decided to use a standard Sage accounting system but also developed some bespoke management reports to give us the level of detail that we required. We were able to monitor the monthly management accounts both against previous year and against budget and on a monthly and year-to-date basis.
In addition, we introduced a number of reconciliations to double check the accuracy of the recording function. Because of the accuracy of the monthly accounts, the year end accounts were produced quickly and without any changes.
How do these solutions help golf clubs to make the most out of their finances?
These types of systems ensure golf clubs have better control of their finances.That means that expenditure can be planned in a much more proactive way, on the best facilities for their members, and issues can be flagged and discussed as soon as they arise.
It also helps to make the golf club more professional in its approach to financial control. Many golf clubs have had a secretary who essentially had to do all of the club’s administration. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to find people who have all of the necessary skills, without having to pay a fortune in salary.
With the system above, however, the golf club only needs a basic bookkeeper to input the entries into Sage. The rest of the accounting function can be outsourced, leaving the secretary to deal with the all-important golf club matters.
Have these measures led to any unexpected savings for golf clubs?
Yes they have in my experience. We would strongly recommend that clubs should simply have a look at their constitution and carefully examine what currently happens. For example, some clubs still have an audit of their records, even though the audit threshold was increased many years ago and they therefore do not need one.
If not an audit, then there will almost certainly be an ‘independent examination’ of the records. If the production of the accounts is outsourced to a reputable, qualified firm of accountants, then these costs could very well be saved and invested towards the club’s facilities and daily running costs.
For more information about Kirkwood Wilson Accountant’s accountancy services please contact us or speak to one of our dedicated team members today on 01704 546000.