Clubs in Collaboration: A Productive Discussion on Revising the USFRC

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A select group of 28 talented club professionals assembled at the inaugural HFTP Club Forum late last month in Sarasota, Florida USA. This executive-level event was designed to explore pressing industry issues and, specifically, to collaborate on the eighth edition revision of the Uniform System of Financial Reporting for Clubs (USFRC) that is currently underway. The focus of their strategic discussion was a SWOT-driven review of the current manuscript with an eye to future needs.

“[The Club Forum] was a great meeting of club finance executives with a common purpose to use their combined experience and give insight to the purpose of the USFRC and how it is used in practice,” recalled forum attendee and CFO of River Bend Golf & Country Club Stephanie Anderson, CHAE, CPA, CGMA.  “The collaboration really focused on providing direction to the committee by making suggestions on how to make a useful reference guide for financial presentations and a common guideline for comparison purposes that can be used by new and experienced professionals in an ever-changing environment.”

The meeting’s facilitator was Larry Ross, Ph.D., who is the project manager for the USFRC eighth edition revision and is professor emeritus at Florida Southern College. He was equally pleased by the meeting’s success. “I was moved by the focused enthusiasm and professional input that we generated during the forum. The result is a dramatically reorganized project for the eighth edition of the USFRC. I believe that the feedback that was channeled into a more practical and user-friendly reference text will benefit the revision committee’s work and ultimately improve the quality of the finished product.

“The forum participants were outstanding partners in the effort to revise the USFRC and the proof is in the mission statement for the eighth edition that was generated early in the discussion.”

Prior to the forum, participants submitted responses to a survey designed to assess the expectations, uses and reasons for lack of use of the current edition of the USFRC. The results of the survey and a brief survey of the revision committee were the jumping off point for the discussion.

The forum participants then engaged in a review of the reference book’s current strengths and weaknesses. During the first part of the discussion, one of the forum participants (also a member of the revision committee) suggested that the purpose behind the publication of the USFRC was not clear. This led to an impromptu discussion of the need for, and the lack of, a stated purpose.

The agenda was revised to develop a purpose statement and the appropriate language to use. The facilitator shared a published statement of purpose for a similar reference used in the lodging industry, the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI). It was developed in April 2015 following the publication of the 11th edition of the USALI. Many of the participants were familiar with and/or use the USALI and believe that it is a relevant model to follow for the current USFRC revision

The discussion focused quickly on changing the lodging-related terminology to reflect club industry terms. This was followed by a brief discussion that resulted in a shorter and more focused statement of purpose. It was the unanimous opinion of the forum participants to recommend adoption of this statement by the USFRC revision committee before proceeding with the editorial process.

USFRC Statement of Purpose:
The principal purpose of the USFRC is to establish a responsible and uniform financial accounting and reporting system for the club industry which enables all users to compare the performance of a particular club to other organizations within the sector.

The participants then returned their focus to the discussion of current strengths and weaknesses. The results of this discussion and the corresponding consensus are outlined in the following paragraphs. The suggestions for resolving weaknesses are of particular value to the revision committee and may help to guide their work.

Key strengths of the seventh edition that were identified include: Significant credibility arising from the co-publishing by HFTP and the Club Management Association of America (CMAA); standards that allow peer benchmarking; a basic structure provided for financial reporting; and the inclusion of cumulative knowledge from dozens of experts over nearly a century of use.

Forum participants determined that possible enhancements to the seventh edition should include: Consideration of an open-source format; more opportunities for user feedback; extra clarity to help define specific metrics in the expense dictionary; the generation of club management buy-in and advocacy; strengthening the section on information technology; and consistent application in actual club benchmarking scenarios.

Following the determination of strengths and weaknesses, the participants developed an analysis of the seventh edition appendices. This activity was very productive and ultimately led to a revised structure and table of contents for the eighth edition revision.

The discussion proceeded to further consideration of the proposed statement of purpose, followed by a close examination of the departmental schedules to identify gaps, as well as a comprehensive review of the organizational structure of the book.

The final activity of the day involved a review of all of the suggestions and comments offered during the forum discussion.

In conclusion, the HFTP Club Forum participants reset the strategic direction for the USFRC seventh edition by thoroughly reconsidering the format of the text consistent with the newly proposed statement of purpose.

It is now in the hands of the USFRC revision committee to take these discussions into consideration, to ratify the statement of purpose consistent with the revised workplan offered by the project manager, and to continue their work producing a coherent, purpose-driven USFRC eighth edition revision. The USFRC revision committee is comprised of working professionals from HFTP, CMAA, and the largest industry accounting firms.

Briana Gilmore is the HFTP communications coordinator.
Briana can be reached at Briana.Gilmore@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4017.

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