How Accountants Can Remain Competitive

See yourself as a personal trainer — for business

man on treadmill carrying weight wearing business suitACCOUNTANTS DO GREAT WORK for their clients (so be sure to see our EOFY checklist and our EOFY series of blogs for tax preparation for how to keep ’em happy). Accountants find ways to help them save money, make money, and improve the profitability of their businesses. But too many accountants spend too much of their time on compliance work, when they should be focussed on the kind of work that will help their clients grow successful businesses.

When cloud accounting software entered the market, many accountants thought it signalled the end of the bookkeeping profession. However, plenty of bookkeepers have in no way lost out to accountants (and we’ve given reasons as to why and how in previous blogs) but, rather, have found myriad ways to stay relevant.

Just some of these include becoming BAS or tax agents, providing software training to their clients and focussing on niche industries. And as more people start their own businesses, bookkeepers are as relevant as ever. It’s accountants who aren’t!

Talk to your clients about growth

As an accountant you understand numbers and what a business needs to do to grow. These are insights many business owners lack because they’re too close to their business to see that there are different ways of doing things. Instead of providing run-of-the-mill compliance services to your clients, offer services that will help them to focus on the ways they can grow their business, whether it’s by focussing on different KPIs or by establishing new processes.

Your role, here, is to work out the projects to be implemented and tested, then setup the systems to measure the results. It’ll be up to you to monitor the results and hold the client accountable. Think of it as being a personal trainer, except for businesses not people.

Help your clients manage cashflow

Cashflow is a huge problem for a lot of businesses, and it’s most often caused by poor credit management processes. However, in some cases, it’s also caused by businesses they spend more money than they make, or that spend money on areas of their business that isn’t revenue generating.

In each instance, as the numbers person, this is something you should be able to spot from a mile off, but which may not be obvious to your client. A lot of business owners also don’t see how inefficient credit management processes can adversely affect their business, when their business is profitable. Help your clients to understand the difference between cashflow and profit.

You need to evolve to be relevant

In a digital economy, no profession is safe from disruption. Just as bookkeepers had to evolve to stay relevant in an era of cloud accounting and DIY bookkeeping, accountants must too.

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Think about the value you can bring to your clients’ businesses, and focus on providing those services — the ones they can’t do themselves or hire someone else to do for them cheaply — as opposed to spending your days knee-deep in compliance work.


Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points

EzyLearn Excel, MYOB and Xero online training courses count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for bookkeepers and accountants. EzyLearn online training courses are endorsed by accountants, BAS agents and  bookkeepers. Find out how CPD points can be of benefit to you.


 

How Bookkeepers Can STOP Losing Out to Accountants

Or is it just BAS Agents who are losing out?

Good experienced Xero, MYOB Finance Manager and bookkeeper for local bookkeeping - Natbooks LogoTHE BURDEN ON Australian small businesses to stay compliant with the ATO is immense. A lot of that is to do with the Government not distinguishing between a small business with upwards of 20 staff, and a micro business which may have 5 or fewer staff — sometimes even no staff.

All of this compliance — bookkeeping, activity statements, payroll, superannuation, and so on — is costly and time consuming, so most business owners outsource this work to a professional contractor. Before the Government changed the tax laws, it was bookkeepers who small or micro business turned to.

Prior to 2010, a bookkeeper could complete and lodge your BAS and tax returns without needing any formal qualifications — that’s since changed.

Accountants kill two birds with one stone

Even though few small or micro businesses actually need the services a financial accountant provides — financial planning, say — a lot of tax accountants are picking up clients that would have, prior to the law change, gone to a bookkeeper, and it’s usually because they are scared of getting something wrong and then getting slapped on the wrist about it. 

Small businesses (SME’s) want the cheapest and easiest way to stay compliant, and dealing with one person is easier than dealing with multiple people, especially if there are any issues with how one person has worked, and the business owner winds up stuck in the middle.

If a business is large enough, a Finance Manager can be employed to systemise the work and then manage the low cost junior bookkeeper, and the accountant and provide the business owner with the results and reports they need and want. 

[box] In the new bookkeeper induction for new members of National Bookkeeping we take students through the formalities of signing up a new client, defining the type of clients they want and the category of bookkeeper they want to be and we find it helps them get into the systemising mindset.[/box]

 

BAS agents and accountants charge the same

If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.

If you’re only hiring an accountant to complete and lodge your activity statements, they’ll only charge you to do that. This rate is similar to what most BAS agents charge, only BAS agents generally charge a lot less for bookkeeping tasks, while in my experience accountants charge BAS service rates for more junior bookkeeping tasks.

Junior bookkeepers can win business they’d normally lose to an accountant by becoming a qualified BAS agent, or going to work for an accountant where they’re allowed to perform all of the bookkeeping and BAS work because they’re being “supervised” by an accountant.

Finding the middle ground

The middle ground for people who want to start their own bookkeeping business and become a contract bookkeeper is often to perform bookkeeping tasks that involve more than just data entry, but less than the tasks covered under the tax act as a BAS Service, like credit management. It’s also important to be emotionally intelligent.

This involves data entry and accessing customer information but also communicating with late payers, difficult customers and problem solving for complex sales transactions. This work requires a bit more bookkeeping experience AND life experience and it’s very important to the financial health of the business.

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To learn more about the kind of accounting professional your business needs, visit the National Bookkeeping website.

You will find a number of professionals — from bookkeepers to BAS agents, to Chief Financial Officers — who can provide the right accounting services for your business at an affordable price.

What is BankLink and Why are So Many Accountants Using It?

Your accountant can access your records easily via BankLink.
Your accountant can access your records easily via BankLink.

As we have freshly rolled out our new Reach Accounting course, as well as our new Xero Accounting coursein addition to our existing and ever so popular MYOB training course — we have been speaking to a number of different accountants across Australia to find out how they currently manage their clients’ bookkeeping needs.

What we’ve discovered during this R&D process is that an increasing number of accountants have told us that they use a service called BankLink, so we thought we’d take a closer look at BankLink to see how it works and what it means for the bookkeeper.

BankLink for Bookkeepers

BankLink is an accounting service that delivers bank transaction data from banks and financial institutions and directly to an accountant, which the accountant then uses to code their clients’ transactions.

For any uncoded data, there are number of online tools that allow an accountant to request additional information from their clients; the coded data is then used for GST, end-of-year tax reports, management reports and various other reports required for tax compliance.

In short, BankLink eliminates all of the data entry usually performed by a bookkeeper, and in June of 2013, BankLink was acquired by MYOB to further facilitate accountants as they manage their clients’ books.

For sole traders and very small businesses that have neither a bookkeeper, nor the time to manage the data entry side of their accounts, their accountant can now manage this for them easily and efficiently, without the added cost of employing an external bookkeeper.

One accountant, extolling the virtues of the BankLink software on the MYOB website calls Banklink his “extra employee; one that never makes mistakes, gets lots done and doesn’t cost much.”

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BankLink is being billed as the future of accounting; the inexpensive future of accounting, where people are being replaced by machines and pieces of software.

So what might that mean for the humble bookkeeper? We look at this in our next post.

EzyLearn Enrolment Vouchers: The Perfect On-Sell for Your Customers Who Would Benefit from MYOB Training!

EzyLearn enrolment vouchers: perfect for on-selling to your clients who would benefit from MYOB training.
EzyLearn enrolment vouchers: perfect for on-selling to your clients who would benefit from MYOB training.

As Australia’s largest provider of online MYOB training courses, we work with people who are looking to start their own bookkeeping business, find a bookkeeping job and even people who just want to learn how to manage the books for their own business. But did you know we also offer enrolment vouchers?

Who’s A Perfect Candidate for our Enrolment Vouchers?

We sell enrolment vouchers to training organisations and accountants who want to be able to provide their customers and clients with the option of taking an MYOB training course. Our enrolment vouchers are offered at a discounted price when purchased in bulk.

Other Training Organisations

A typical scenario might be a training organisation which buys enrolment vouchers because they don’t offer a MYOB course but think it would be of benefit to some of their students. In this instance, they can purchase vouchers from us, which they can then on-sell to any interested students.

Accountants

For accountants with clients who want to be able to do their own bookkeeping, they can also purchase enrolment vouchers from us and on-sell them to their clients.

Each voucher is valid for 12 months from the date that the training organisation or accountant purchases them, giving you 12 months to sell them to your clients and customers, who also get a further twelve months to use the voucher.

For more information, including pricing, please feel free to contact the EzyLearn team, who’ll be able to answer any of your questions.

Friend or Foe? The Bookkeeper-Accountant Relationship

Bookkeepers and accountants can be allies.
Bookkeepers and accountants can be allies.

IF YOU’VE RECENTLY COMPLETED our MYOB course, or perhaps started your own bookkeeping business, or thinking about starting one, the word ‘accountant’ can sometimes make you feel a little nervous. Particularly if it’s hurled at you in a sentence like: “I’m going to check that with my accountant!”

It is unfortunate, but many people aren’t aware of the important function a bookkeeper can play in a business. Bookkeepers are often relegated to being “the accountant’s poor cousin” (not dissimilar to the way nurses are seen in comparison to doctors); while for some people the only bookkeeper they’ve heard of hangs out at the dog track!

Don’t Fear Your Accountant!

But the word ‘accountant’ really doesn’t need to put the fear of God in you. The fact is a bookkeeper provides valuable services that many accountants simply can’t; and nearly all accountants are more than grateful for the work bookkeepers do.

To work as a professional bookkeeper, you must show you are amply qualified in areas of Australian tax, payroll and sometimes, basic accounting. As it happens, there are many qualified accountants that work as bookkeepers — as is the case with bookkeeping firm, Build on Bookkeeping.

Since most business owners will find themselves an accountant first and a bookkeeper second, if you have a good working relationship with all of the accountants you deal with, they will more than likely refer clients on to you.

So if you can work well with your client’s accountants — by getting your EOFY analysis done in time and the relevant reports to them quickly — you may find yourself a personal advocate for your business.

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So don’t live in fear of the accountant — embrace them. Read our tips on keeping the accountant happy come EOFY and you’re well on your way to a prosperous working relationship with the accountants of all of your clients.