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.
However, I’m going to talk about it again because there are still too many talented people out there who don’t think they have what it takes to go into business for themselves. And I’m here to tell you, you do, and we’ll help you!
Register as a National Bookkeeping licensee before 30 June
As it’s nearing June 30 and the end of this current financial year, it’s a great time to kick-start your own business, by registering to become a National Bookkeeping licensee. Their license fee is a hundred percent tax deductible due to the large component of training courses included in the fee, so if you register before the end of June, it can go towards reducing your taxable income straight away.
The reason I became interested in National Bookkeeping is because I felt it provided just enough structure for new business owners to get their business off the ground, but also the right amount of flexibility for those business owners with the desire to take their business (and incomes) to the next level by providing addition services, such as content marketing, virtual assistant services, or even financial planning.
I think that in order to be successful in business and for your business to have longevity, you need to be open to new opportunities and to be able to constantly update your business model and offerings. Particularly now that we’re in an age of great technological change, staying abreast of changes to the way people work and do business is the key to staying in business, period.
…Now that we’re in an age of great technological change, staying abreast of changes to the way people work and do business is the key to staying in business, period.
New technologies mean new opportunities
There are many business analysts and economists who see the reduction of permanent jobs as a bad thing – and to some extent, they’re probably correct – but I see it as an opportunity. New technologies have made it easier for people to work at home, wherever their home may be – a city, a beachside town, outback Australia – so long as they have access to a reliable Internet connection.
Now, people who have previously been excluded from the job market have an opportunity to earn an income. That’s great news for workers and for the economy, and it’s why the government has spearheaded a move to encourage working from home, or teleworking as it’s officially known, among businesses and their staff.
We continue to need bookkeepers
Bookkeeping is a necessity for all Australian businesses, as it’s a fundamental requirement of Australian tax law to keep accurate business records. Hiring a contract bookkeeper to take care of their business’s bookkeeping allows business owners to go out and find more work and grow their business, rather than having to worry about keeping up with all of their administration and book work.
With continued training your business grows as your client’s business does too
As their business grows, the bookkeeper will become busier too and they may even be asked to provide more services – BAS services, tax services, financial planning and advice, even one-to-one training — the list goes on. The more training you have, the better you’ll able to service this client yourself and the more business you’re business will grow as a result. (Want to read more about what’s required to become a registered BAS agent?)
It’s not uncommon for a bookkeeper to start out providing simple data entry and reconciliation services to business, and then wind up providing full financial advice and planning services, providing, of course, they’re qualified to do so. And these are qualifications you can acquire while already providing services to clients and earning an income.
When you become National Bookkeeping licensee, you’re free to continue your studies so you can eventually progress from a bookkeeper through to a financial planner and adviser, and with clients to help them grow their business, just as you did yours.
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.
IN ONE-TO-ONE training sessions, your job, as the trainer, is to help your client (the student) achieve their individual goals. This is very different to classroom or group training, where the purpose is to get students through the prescribed course content in the prescribed time.
Now that it’s well-known that nearly every person learns at a different pace to the person sitting next to them, online training has become popular because it allows an individual to learn at their own pace, rather than trying to keep up with the rest of the class.
Online vs. one-to-one training
Online and one-to-one training are similar in many ways. They both allow students to learn at their own pace, to pick and choose which modules they start and end with, and to practice until they feel confident that they’ve learned the content thoroughly.
But one-to-one training provides students with something online training can’t: guidance from an expert. This is important for some people who don’t feel comfortable learning on their own, or who need the added motivation of having a trainer with them.
The question for trainers is whether they can make it worthwhile printing out workbooks, driving to their client, finding parking, and spending their time training students in-person.
Combining online and one-to-one training
Some students will only require guidance on certain modules or at certain points during their training. For instance, most people need help getting started with MYOB, but only require help during the advanced modules of Excel. That has a lot to do with each individual person’s soft skills, and experience with the software package in question. (Most people are already very familiar with Excel, for example, but have almost no knowledge of MYOB until they start learning.)
The benefits of combining one-to-one training with the structure of an online training course
I’ve been a Bookkeeper for more than 20 years and find more and more business owners are asking for training because today’s bookkeeping tasks aren’t quite as easy as the software companies make out. Learning how to use bookkeeping software one-to-one combined with an online course is a great way to learn because, as a trainer, I cover all the topics my clients need in a logical order which follows the flow of the course and which will also help them in their daily operations, but clients can also learn what they need to specific to their own situation.”
— Tracey O’Neill, Registered BAS Agent and Bookkeeper, QuickBooks Pro Advisor
TAX TIME IS NIGH and it might be a good time to think about whether there are any assets your business may need, and try to get them in before June 30 rolls around. Whether it’s new computers, tablets, office furniture, a new car — as long as each item costs less than $20,000, you can deduct it immediately, rather than depreciating it over time, as was the previous method for assets over $1,000 in value (depreciation still applies for asset purchases above $20,000) — but only until and including 30 June 2018.
The small business tax breaks were introduced by the Abbott-Hockey government, but having already been extended, they will cease on 30 June 2018. Following this date, any big ticket assets for your business (and of course there are some exceptions) can be used to reduce your taxable income immediately.
Pick an asset, any asset…
There are a lot of items you can deduct, with the exception of some small items, such as horticultural plants, software that’s allocated to a software development pool and some capital works, which have special depreciation rules. If you’re not sure of what you can claim, it’s wise to ask your account or financial adviser first, particularly if you have a penchant for horticultural plants (perhaps try artificial ones?), otherwise make sure to keep your receipts!
After 1 July 2018, the asset threshold will reduce back to $1,000. After then, any asset purchase you make that’s greater than $1,000 will have to be depreciated, using the traditional methods of depreciation, which you can read about in this blog post.
Australia is a services nation
While you’re thinking about starting a business, don’t forget to consider starting a business within the leading four service groups, identified by Australia’s Chief Economist Mark Cully:
Professional and support services
Information and communications technology (ICT) and the digital economy
Trade, transport and logistic services
Professional and support services, in particular, is currently experiencing a phase of high growth, largely because starting a business in this sector is both low risk and cost. Most businesses operating within the professional and support services sector are home-based, providing vital services to other businesses located across Australia and, sometimes, the world.
Starting Your Own Bookkeeping Business
One such profession currently in high demand is bookkeeping, specifically BAS and tax services. As more and more Australians start their own businesses, there becomes a greater demand for bookkeeping, BAS and tax services. EzyLearn recently partnered with National Bookkeeping to help registered BAS and tax agents to start, growth and develop their business, by becoming National Bookkeeping licensees.
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.
IT’S NEVER REALLY a good idea to work for new client or potential new clients for free, particularly if you’re an established business. But it’s also difficult getting a client to feel comfortable that you’ll do a good job for them, when they don’t know you from the proverbial bar of soap.
Aside from making you look professional and organised, it’ll also make your job easier because you’ve clearly outlined how you operate, what’s expected from the client in order for you to do your job, and what happens after you’ve finished your work.
For example, is BAS lodgement included in your fees, or is that additional? Do you follow up late payers on your client’s behalf or is that additional?
It’s a good idea to look at how much knowledge your new clients have of bookkeeping and the software you’ll be using (Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks, etc). Carry out some quick needs analysis during your consultation, so that if there are any areas they are unfamiliar with you’re both prepared and able to give them a quick overview. Further, in-depth training is a potential source of additional revenue, so be careful not to spend too much time here. All of this will help you form your bookkeeping business strategy and, in particular, ensure your rates are competitive, yet sustainable.
If you’d like to start a bookkeeping business, then visit our online bookkeeping directory, National Bookkeeping. You can find information about how to start your own bookkeeping business, promote yourself through our directory or become a licensee.
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.
In the past, most industry associations would refer BAS agents to a number of partner training organisations that provided relevant training courses. However, industry associations, such as the ICB, have increasingly started running their own training courses, both online and in-person.
CPA’s conflict of interest
Although the TPB provides guidelines for the types of training courses that will be accepted as evidence of CPD, industry associations still possess a considerable amount of oversight. If a BAS agent is a member of an industry association, the TPB doesn’t question their CPD training because it’s supposedly been approved by the industry association.
Recently, questions have been raised about CPA Australia’s potential conflict of interest as the organisation also operates a financial planning business, CPA Advice, as an affiliate of the industry body.
But new rules that will come into effect in 2024 stipulate that to provide financial advice, you must be a member of a monitoring body or professional association (such as CPA Australia), but that the professional association cannot be an Australian Financial Services licensee or an affiliate of a licensee.
Is providing and overseeing CPD training a conflict?
EzyLearn, until very recently, used to be an ICB partner. When the ICB started offering their own training courses, their promotion of partner training providers, like EzyLearn, reduced considerably in favour of promoting their own training courses and seminars.
In other words, in many ways, the ICB started competing with their partner organisations. Our return on investment (ROI) had never been great anyway, so EzyLearn decided to cancel our corporate sponsorship as it seemed the ICB had a conflict of interest. Although the TPB may not see it that way.
What about the Business Support Program?
For $396 a year, the ICB also offers businesses that do not have a bookkeeper doing their books, access to training materials and information on how they can manage their own bookkeeping on their own without a bookkeeper.
That’s despite charging BAS agents and bookkeepers as much as $480 annually in membership fees, which they promise will help them to get clients — and the sponsorship fees to partner training providers that provide the same or similar services.
Membership with an industry association is not compulsory
Joining an industry association can be incredibly useful, but membership is not compulsory. And as industry associations try to find new ways to extract revenue from the industry — through paid memberships, sponsorships, training courses and even undercutting their members and sponsors by directly offering services which help businesses do their own bookkeeping — they stop being a critical resource for professional bookkeepers and BAS agents working in the industry.
Instead, bookkeepers and BAS agents can complete their CPD training anywhere. For $175 a year (or $15 per month), EzyLearn offers a membership called the Bookkeeping Academy, which gives members access to a complete library of content, including instructional videos, on how to carry out common bookkeeping tasks in MYOB, QuickBooks and Xero. Visit the Bookkeeping Academy website for more information.
EzyLearn’s course content has always focussed on real world scenarios, whether that’s in our case studies or in the exercises students are asked to complete. That’s because we want our students to get a thorough grasp of the kind of work they’ll be expected to do during the course of their job.
That’s especially true for students of our MYOB, Xero and QuickBooks training courses, who either are, or will work, as bookkeepers for a number of different clients from different industries. So instead of including generalised case studies and exercises in our course work, we include ones that relate to specific types of businesses and transactions you’ll encounter working as a bookkeeper.
Software companies and their developers do a great job at creating accounting software to manage a business’s accounting needs. But they don’t always know which different accounting scenarios will apply and when. Bookkeepers who understand Australian tax do, however.
EzyLearn doesn’t teach Australian tax law or procedures, but because our courses are developed by accounting practitioners, they’ll show you where different tax procedures apply.
A lot software training organisations are partners with a provider, like Xero or MYOB, and the train students according to how MYOB or Xero recommend them to. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of training, particularly if you’re only in need of a quick refresh or a general software skills.
Software partners vs. bookkeeping practitioners
Most software partners are companies that understand software and cloud computing first, bookkeeping and accounting second. But training companies that offer courses developed by practitioners have set the new benchmark in software training.
Over the six years that EzyLearn was an ICB-accredited training organisation, we found that it wasn’t our industry association accreditation that brought students to our courses, it was the content, grounded in real-world scenarios, that did.
And this is not about shaming or pointing the finger. Getting behind in your bookkeeping happens to some of the best businesses. It can be because an inexperienced person has previously been handling the books; you didn’t have the right systems in place to keep on top of it; or maybe your data file was set up incorrectly.
Diagnosing rescue bookkeeping
If your business has any of the following issues, you probably need rescue bookkeeping:
Your bank balance in Xero or MYOB doesn’t match with your bank statements
Bills have been paid, but they’re still showing as outstanding
There are many different reasons why people get behind in their bookkeeping. If it’s because the business owner lacks the time and let their bookkeeping pile up, it’s usually easy rectify, though it is time consuming. (There’ll be months and months worth of transactions and receipts to code and keep records of.)
If their data file was set up incorrectly, it’s sometimes a little harder to diagnose and it’s even harder to fix. It’ll need to be set up again and all of your transaction data re-entered; again, there’ll be months and months worth of transactions and receipts.
What happens during a bookkeeping rescue?
When you first meet with a bookkeeper, they’ll review your records to determine what your problem might be, and what needs to be done to get your bookkeeping up-to-date and in shape.
Given the volume of work and the complexity of it, your bookkeeper might not be able to tell you exactly how long it will take to get your accounts under control. They’ll generally have a ballpark idea of how long, but nothing concrete.
When your bookkeeper starts working on your accounts, they’ll be in fairly regular contact. You’ll need to be available to respond to emails or phone calls during this time.
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.