But while there are close to a dozen cloud accounting systems on the market, most bookkeepers — thankfully — will only need to know their way around three: Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks. If you’re looking for a course or training resource on these programs we have a combo offer.
Quickbooks now providing superior options for filtering and scheduling bookkeeping reports
ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about cloud accounting software is that your data is live, which means, providing your reconciliations are up-to-date, you get a complete snapshot your business’s performance and financial health regardless of the day, week or month you run those reports.
That’s all changed now that the reporting features in QuickBooks have been given a major upgrade, giving business owners more power and flexibility to monitor their business’s performance. Here are just a couple of the things you can — and should! — do with the updated reports feature in QuickBooks.
Filter sales by services / products
If you’re like a lot of businesses, you probably offer a couple of different products or services, and, like a lot of businesses, there are certain products or services that are more profitable to your business — and, therefore, should be a major focus — to sell.
Now that QuickBooks offers the ability to customise and save any of its reports into your management reports tab, you can filter your customer sales reports by services or products, and also run them across multiple periods. If you have multiple sales people, you can also filter your reports by sales people, too.
Schedule email reports
In addition to being able to customise and save your management reports, so you don’t have to keep filtering out the data you don’t need and adding in the stuff you do, you can also setup a schedule so your preferred reports are automatically emailed to you (and your business partners or other stakeholders) as required.
QuickBooks gives you the option to select which reports you’d like to see, and the frequency at which you’d like them — daily, weekly, monthly, twice a month, or custom. This’ll mean you won’t have to keep asking your bookkeeper to run them for you, nor will you need to go in to run them manually yourself. It’ll also give you a better idea of whether or not your bookkeeper is really paying close attention or not!
Maybe you haven’t taken a good look at the capabilities of Quickbooks for a long time — check out the options available with our Quickbooks online training courses to take you up to speed. Alternatively, you can ask your bookkeeper, and they should be able to customise, save and schedule a report that suits your needs to a tee.
Businesses have been able to set up payment gateways in their accounting software for sometime, using PayPal (or Stripe or Braintree or many more in the US), for sometime. The downside, of course, is that you’re charged a fee each time your customer uses one of these services.
This is fine if you run an online shop, because you can incorporate the fee into the price of your products. It’s not so great if you offer professional or other services that may vary in price customer-to-customer, project-to-project. Hence, the PayPal-QuickBooks partnership was such a game changer.
Again, this option has been around for a while, with Xero and QuickBooks especially, but was only recently added to MYOB. It’s not dissimilar to the payment gateways feature we mentioned above, only it enables customers to pay your invoice securely and quickly directly from your invoice, with just the click of a button.
These are the latest players in seamless payments, and they specifically relate to payments made by tapping or waving mobiles devices (smartphones, tablets, smartwatches) at a EFTPOS machine.
Currently, the Apple Pay is only available to AMEX customers, while Android Pay is available to customers of the ANZ, Bendigo Bank, Macquarie Bank and most credit unions.
If you accept credit card payments in person, and you’re EFTPOS terminal has the option for customers to tap or wave their cards to make a payment, you can also accept them from connected smart devices.
Wiise, which is owned by the deep pockets of KPMG and will operate under a strategic partnership with Microsoft and the Commonwealth Bank, will combine cloud accounting, job costing, workflow scheduling and inventory management, payroll, sales and marketing and customer relationship management into one system.
Pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but it’s understood Wiise will operate a tiered model, costing businesses between $60 and $200 a month.
The software will integrate with all major Australian banks, but added functionality will be given to CBA customers, such as access to working capital and financing options.
Businesses that have outgrown their cloud accounting system
Although Wiise will target SMEs; founders KPMG, Microsoft and CBA say the software isn’t competing with MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks for customers.
Rather, the Wiise software will suit complex businesses that have outgrown traditional cloud accounting systems, because their business operates in more than one location, has a complex supply chain, various legal entities or high transaction volumes.
The Wiise software will suit complex businesses that have outgrown traditional cloud accounting systems.
Wiise will also appeal to businesses that want to use one piece of business software, rather than multiple separate systems or cloud-accounting add-ons.
That said, it’s probably a worry to MYOB, which signalled it would grow market share by pursuing bigger and more complicated businesses; acquiring the enterprise reporting system Greentree in 2016.
As a general rule, most small businesses want to spend as little time worrying about compliance as possible, which is as it should be. Simple businesses with straightforward tax and compliance requirements typically stick with simple cloud accounting systems.
So there’s value in bookkeepers that typically services larger, more complicated businesses learning more about Wiise, but probably not for bookkeepers that look after smaller, straightforward businesses.
Who’s Managing Your Business Accounts?
If you’re a business owner trying to decide on an accounting system, speak with your bookkeeper or tax agent to determine the best option for your business.
If you’re looking for a reliable bookkeeper or tax agent to manage your business accounts, visit the National Bookkeeping website to find someone professional, able to work in your office, or remotely, to suit the needs of your business.
I HAD THE PLEASURE of being invited to meet with some fabulous registered BAS agents at a recent function for VIP’s before this week’s QuickBooks Connect Conference in Sydney’s Intuit head office.
The VIP event included presentations from lots of App developers who provide Bookkeeping and Accounting Apps which integrate with QuickBooks Online (and also Xero and MYOB) as well as practice and workflow management systems like Practice Ignition and HubDoc which help bookkeeper’s assist their clients.
These BAS agents have been bookkeepers for decades, yet rather than sit on their past practices, they are constantly learning and improving their knowledge of software, systems and apps and talking to them about this new technology seemed very natural. This actually surprised me because I thought I was the only one who was right into this stuff — well, not the only one, but I can get very passionate about it! But I digress.
These BAS agents are a growing number of Certified bookkeepers with plenty of knowledge AND experience, and who are willing to share that knowledge by training anybody who is keen to learn about bookkeeping on a one-to-one or face-to-face basis. They are:
Tracey and Sharon are part of National Bookkeeping and, as such, they have access to training on all software programs as well as the tools to help them teach small business managers and owners how to use the software in their own businesses.
Combined with their experience and training, Tracey and Sharon are part of a growing trend of bookkeepers who are willing to share their knowledge to help business owners do as much of their own bookkeeping as possible. Here are some quotes from clients who used their services in May 2018:
Thank you Natbooks! The training was excellent. Tracey was a great teacher and we had a lot of fun. I learned a lot as different scenarios were popping up all the time and Tracey was able to take me through solving them in the time we had together. I’m so glad I chose one-to-one training because I would not have been able to do the setup. Group training would not have taught me how to do this. With one-to-one I found it was relevant to my business only and could straight away apply what I was learning in real time to my business instead of a trial business. Many thanks!”
— Donna Larder, Administrator, BOULDER WALLS & BOBCAT HIRE PTY LTD
What’s stopping YOU becoming a Bookkeeping Software Trainer?
Performing one-to-one training on all aspects of computer software was how I got started in the training business in the early 1990’s. It’s great fun if you love using and learning about technology and I recall hundreds of times when I went to someone’s house or office to teach them how to use software and technology to do things that were important to them; from file transfer, working with images or mastering MS Office. It was very gratifying.
Since those early days I discovered that when you use great accounting software, and you use it properly, it saves you hundreds of hours, keeps you efficient, makes it easier to find information and ensures you remain compliant every quarter.
Thinking about getting started? If you want to find out more about how you can train other business people in how to use accounting software, speak with the digital marketing team at National Bookkeeping and Pre Qualify.
Can you make real money by selling stuff on Amazon?
NOW THAT AMAZON has launched in Australia, one of the hottest work-at-home opportunities is to become an Amazon seller, especially if you become part of the “fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program”, which is due to launch in Australia in 2018, along with Amazon’s “fresh” program.
In the FBA program, there are no upfront costs, and sellers don’t hold any stock or have to worry about shipping products to customers — they just have to find items to sell on Amazon.
How the FBA program works
Amazon collects products from sellers and stores them at their fulfillment centres (currently, just one centre based outside Melbourne, with another planned for Sydney). When a product is sold, Amazon ships it to the customer.
Amazon fees and charges are subtracted from the sale (sellers only pay Amazon to collect items and bring them to the fulfilment centre, not to ship to customers) and the remainder is deposited into an escrow account for a few weeks before it’s released to the seller.
Amazon vs. eBay
The Amazon FBA program is unlike any offering on rival marketplaces. Besides, not dealing with the logistical side of selling products online, Amazon sellers don’t create product listings and don’t deal with customers in any way.
By contrast, people who sell items on eBay are not just responsible for holding their own stock and shipping it to customers, but they also deal with customers every step of the way — from questions about the product through to shipping and disputes. It’s a time consuming process.
It’s similarly time consuming for buyers, who have to navigate a minefield of listings and seller pages; checking prices, shipping and seller ratings to make sure they’re getting the best deal. On Amazon, you search a product, click on the listing, and decide to buy. It’s as though you’re buying directly from Amazon.
Will the Amazon model work in Australia?
Amazon’s FBA program (and its marketplace in general) has been extremely successful in the United States (Amazon’s share price is trading above $1,100 U.S., after all), but the U.S. is a huge and very different country to ours. Each state has different sales taxes; prices for simple household items like toothpaste can vary state-to-state, and there are hundreds of large- to -medium department stores that operate in some states, but not in others.
The Australian market is far more homogenous. We have one national sales tax (GST), prices are fairly uniform across each state and territory, we have a half dozen department stores, and they operate nationally; we’re also a much smaller market.
Since Amazon’s launch in December (it’s FBA program hasn’t launched yet, though there are plans to), most shoppers reported being underwhelmed by the offering — it was limited, expensive, and shipping times too long. Items were often more expensive on Amazon than to purchase elsewhere. This could just be teething issues, due to the rushed launch, but it could be illustrative of how the Australian retail market had prepared for Amazon’s impending launch by tightening up their own offerings, and making it a lot harder for Amazon sellers to compete.
How to find goods to sell
People go to Amazon to find items they’d traditionally find at a department store, only much cheaper. That’s Amazon’s game: cheap. If you’re going to sell goods on Amazon and be successful at it, you need to be really good at procuring items that are in high demand, but can be sold far cheaper than anywhere else.
Amazon is the place you go to for books, music, DVDs, household appliances, shoes, clothing, toys, and so on. It’s not the place for unique one-offs — you want that; go to Etsy. Or if you want it secondhand, then eBay, Facebook Marketplace or good old Gumtree. On Amazon, you sell anything, whether you have a personal interest in it or not; if there’s a margin that’s favourable, sell it.
On Amazon, you sell anything, whether you have a personal interest in it or not; if there’s a margin that’s favourable, sell it.
Most people who sell on Amazon in the U.S. make money by engaging in retail arbitrage (an Amazon app lets sellers can scan the barcodes of items in retail shops to see whether it’s worthwhile reselling them on Amazon), but this would be hard to replicate in Australia.
Retail stores in Australia have higher prices due to the cost of employing staff. We have a national minimum wage remember, and the U.S. does not. In some U.S. states, the minimum wage is as low as $6 an hour, while others may be as much as $12 an hour. In California, where people earn $12 an hour, goods in shops cost more than in a state where people earn $6 an hour. This presents an opportunity for Amazon FBA sellers in the U.S. that is unlikely to ever exist in Australia.
How do you make money?
There are lots of online training courses promising to train you in the ways of Amazon’s FBA program. Some even promise to help you find inventory that’ll always be profitable — typically private label items, rather than via retail arbitrage — and teach you the dark arts of Amazon promotion — so you’re one of the top sellers on the site. (This has nothing to do with seller ratings, which don’t exist on Amazon.)
Starting out with private label items can be dicey, and it’s probably only a good idea if you’re already selling your own items on eBay, but you’re looking for an easier alternative. Again, Amazon is a good place to sell books, video games, clothing, toys, etc; handmade jewellery, clothing or furnishings: not so much.
TSheets is a cost effective way to manage and track your time
TSheets, THE TIME MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE, is a great way for independent and remote contractors to manage their client’s projects. It’s especially useful for contractors who are collaborating remotely with other contractors and businesses on one project.
But back to TSheets. TSheets was recently acquired by Intuit, the parent company of QuickBooks. Both TSheets and QuickBooks shared 12,000 customers in common and the time management system had been developed to work specifically with QuickBooks. Deeper integration with QuickBooks can be expected now, following the acquisition.
If you were to think about the top three cloud accounting apps in terms of the types of businesses they appeal to, QuickBooks would appeal most to micro businesses and independent contractors. Check out an earlier blog post where we assess two main factors: User Experience & Ease of Use, and Reporting Tools in a comparison between MYOB and Quickbooks for small businesses.
Fast forward a decade, and Xero is now the preferred accounting software in Australia and New Zealand, with 692,000 subscribers compared with MYOB’s 585,000 paid users. (Overall, Xero claims 1.2 million subscribers worldwide.) In the 2016/17 financial year, Xero’s revenue increased 43 percent year-on-year to $295.4 million NZD ($271.7 million AUD); during the same period, MYOB’s revenue increased 13 percent to $370.4 million AUD.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice Xero has more paid subscribers than MYOB, but its revenue is about $100 million AUD behind. That’s largely due to differences in the price of both products.
So you can’t tell which one of Xero or MYOB is the true market leader — yet.
How Xero is growing their subscriber base
Basically, they’ve reached an impasse. There’s not much opportunity left in Australia and New Zealand (there are other players, like Intuit’s QuickBooks and Zoho competing the same space, too) to grow your subscriber base — unless you’ve a carrot to dangle under their noses that’ll lure them away from your competitor.
[Xero has lured people away from competitors via their] suite of apps, plug-ins and integrations [they’ve] added to their offering through acquisitions and partnerships — anything that would make Xero a one-stop-shop for small businesses…
Meanwhile, MYOB’s strategy for market share
To its credit, MYOB has pursued a similar strategy, acquiring payment firm PayCorp last year, which followed the launch of the company’s PayDirect Mobile and PayDirect Online payments service in 2014 and 2016 respectively, as part of MYOB’s push into payment processing technology.
MYOB also acquired Reckon’s accounting practice software last November for $180 million AUD. The company said the acquisition was part of MYOB’s strategy to see accountants become business advisors, rather than tax and compliance experts.
MYOB chief executive Tim Reed sees automation as being critical to the company’s ongoing success, as it pursues a “connected practice strategy,” which brings transaction processing, compliance and business advisory together and sees accountants become more like business coaches.
“They will be like personal trainers in the gym, but for business,” he said. “This is starting today. Accountants are already working down this process and what I’m seeing is the pace of change start to increase.”
And unlike Xero, which is simultaneously pursuing overseas markets (the U.K., North America, Southeast Asia), MYOB is content to stay focussed on its home market — Australia and New Zealand. (It’s also pushing deeper into big businesses with its enterprise software Greentree, acquired in 2016.)
Accountants and the cloud accounting ecosystem
With Xero pursuing code-free accounting, MYOB pushing into “connected practices,” and Intuit beefing up its own ecosystem of apps and integrations to simplify the bookkeeping and accounting process for small businesses, where does that leave accountants and bookkeepers?
Better off, actually.
Bookkeeping is a necessary step in the overall accounting process. But it’s the most time intensive one. There’s reconciling bank accounts, entering receipts, coding transactions, invoices, and so on. Small business owners don’t — or won’t — do it, so they outsource it to a bookkeeper or accountant, who has a preferred or in-house bookkeeper.
Despite being a time intensive task, it’s lower skilled work — like untangling a jumble of coat hangers; almost anyone can do it. And so it commands a lower rate of pay than other tasks, like financial forecasting, business planning and filing activity statements.
Automating elements of the accounting process, in particular the coding of transactions, eliminates inefficiencies and time wastage. Bookkeepers and accountants can charge their clients the same hourly rates, but they’ll spend much less time doing it.
More apps, more services
And with access to more apps — like a payroll plug-in — they can begin offering more services.
Just as QuickBooks, MYOB and Xero have become more valuable to their customers, by positioning themselves as a one-stop-shop for small business, accountants and bookkeepers can do the same.
Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?
Food for thought: Why would a business need to engage a data entry bookkeeper, a tax or BAS agent, and a payroll company when they can hire just one individual to manage all of these tasks efficiently in one cloud accounting program?
And just as MYOB boss Tim Reed stated: Accountants and bookkeepers have already cottoned onto this.
But it means bookkeepers and accountants need to become more skilled at what they do; they need to possess a greater understanding of a wider array of softwares and systems in order to remain competitive.
And even though Intuit, MYOB and Xero have all acquired or partnered with companies that offer payroll platforms, there are still plenty of third parties businesses can choose to connect to their accounting system — that’s democratised accounting for you — so you need to watch the market, and keep your skills up-to-date.
Where to from here?
The cloud accounting space is certainly in flux. There’ll be more acquisitions, more technologies, and definitely more automation. There’ll also be more global companies, as more businesses export their goods and services overseas — and more fintech companies pursuing growth outside Australia.
KeyPay is one such company. It’s based in Wollongong in NSW, and last December announced it would expand its services to the U.K. — a pre-release was slated for January this year, with a full launch due in April.
According to CRN, the company grew 53 percent last year (though it didn’t specify what or how that “growth” was calculated; as a private company, it doesn’t disclose financials or its share of customers). And KeyPay’s co-founder Richard McLean said the company decided to enter the U.K. market because 60 percent of businesses there outsource their payroll to a third party company.
The company intends to rollout its automated payroll system in the U.K. first, with an Australian launch due later in year, and also plans to expand to New Zealand and Southeast Asia.
An industry association membership may be just what you need
IF YOU LIKE BOOKKEEPING, but you’d like to provide additional services to your clients, the next step is to become a BAS agent. BAS agents provide businesses with a range of services, including the lodgement of business activity statements, registering and advice on all GST matters, assistance with PAYG, and a number of other services.
Association of Accounting Technicians — affiliate members must have Certificate IV in Financial Services or at least two years experience and no formal qualifications; membership fees: $295 for three months ($1,180 per year).
Australian Bookkeepers Network — no requirements to join; membership fees: $462 annually.
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers — Affiliate members must have Certificate IV in Financial Services or complete an ICB assessment; membership fees: $264 annually. (After achieving 12 months experience Affiliates can become Associate members; membership fees for contractors $432 annually.)
Other industry associations BAS agents can join, include:
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ANZ
Chartered Accountants ANZ
Institute of Public Accountants
New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)
Many associations run their own webinars and in-person seminars (for an additional fee), which count towards your CPD hours. (BAS agents must complete 45 hours of CPD over a three year period.) Some of them will help you with the running of your own bookkeeping business, while others will take you through new trends in bookkeeping (single touch payroll) or changes to the Act and relevant legislation.
Each time you complete a webinar or some other form of approved CPD training, it’ll be counted towards your CPD hours. You can also complete CPD training through an accredited training organisation. (Check with your industry organisation to see which training institutions you can learn with.)
Choosing an industry association
Not all industry associations are the same. Some are geared more towards the accounting industry (CPA, Chartered Accountants ANZ, etcetera) and accountants; others cater specifically to bookkeepers. Even within the group of associations that cater only to bookkeepers, some provide a range of services (updates on the industry, CPD training), while others offer very little (discounts on professional indemnity, a newsletter).
As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you want to pay very little, you’ll get very little in return from your industry association. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot either. Have a look at a few of the associations we’ve listed above, and see which one suits you best.
The Association of Accounting Technicians offers affiliate memberships, which provides affiliates with access to a number of discounted fees on training courses to help them develop their skills and progress to a “member” level membership — and then register as a BAS agent with the TPB at the reduced 1,000 hours of experience concession.
They also offer discounts on professional indemnity insurance and bookkeeping journals and publications. And they offer a range of online webinars to help members get their CPD hours up.
EzyLearn’s online training courses are accredited by BAS agents, accountants and bookkeepers — those we deem to be the industry’s “high water mark” for bookkeeping work. These people are the highest qualified individuals operating in the accounting and bookkeeping space. If they believe the content of our courses is genuinely of high quality and relevant to the bookkeeping world, then this is the accreditation that should give our students peace of mind.
I found the EzyLearn Xero course great — a comprehensive step-by-step learning tool to add to my resume and a new tool to use in my Bookkeeping Practice.”
— Patricia Darby Registered BAS Agent and Bookkeeper, High Quality Bookkeeping