Bookkeeping Incumbent, MYOB Versus Cloud Innovator, Xero
MYOB HAS LONG BEEN the preferred accounting software of choice for accountants, but a lot of small business owners have now come to prefer Xero. It’s easier to use, and they can access it anywhere — their desktop PC, tablet or smartphone.
Meanwhile, the rise of cloud-based accounting software, which was pioneered by Xero, has made it a lot easier for bookkeepers to base themselves from home.
Throw in other technological innovations — cloud storage, bank feeds — and a remote Xero bookkeeper has become the more appealing choice for businesses, too.
As a general rule, every business needs at least two finance professionals working on their business accounts, but which two professionals you’ll need to hire depends on your business needs. If you’re not sure who you need to hire for your business, here’s a cheat sheet to help you out.
Bookkeepers (not registered with the TPB)
An independent bookkeeper not employed by an accountant and not registered with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB) may only perform basic bookkeeping services, such as the entering of receipts, coding financial transactions, generating invoices and, possibly, some accounts receivable work. If you hire this type of bookkeeper, you’ll still need an accountant.
BAS agents must, by law, register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), which certifies that they are qualified and have completed the necessary continuing education requirements to perform the tasks of a BAS agent, which involves carrying out most of the bookkeeping tasks mentioned above, in addition to preparing and lodging business activity statements on a business’s behalf.
If your business is registered for GST, you will need to file regular activity statements. If you hire a BAS agent, you’ll also need an accountant. In some instances, you may find a BAS agent who’s also a registered tax agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.
Although tax agents, like BAS agents, must also register with the Tax Practitioner’s Board (TPB), a tax agent is focused on income tax — how much income you have to declare, how much you can claim back, etc.
This is distinct from a BAS agent who is concerned with the day-to-day financial tasks of your business (bookkeeping and BAS lodgements). That said, some tax agents will also perform some the basic bookkeeping tasks on a regular basis, though they primarily specialise in lodging tax returns.
If you’re not registered for GST, and your tax agent will also perform regular bookkeeping tasks (or you can do it yourself), you may not need to hire an accountant. In some instances, you may find a tax agent who’s also a registered BAS agent and vice versa, who may be able to take care of all your taxation needs.
An accountant is mostly concerned with planning and strategy. Unlike bookkeepers and BAS or tax agents, an accountant will assess and advise you on what actions you should take to maximise your income. Great accountants will get involved with planning the direction of your business and ensure it’s been structured properly and that you’re meeting any additional tax obligations.
They’ll also help you to make strategic purchases for equipment and machinery, and work with your BAS agent or bookkeeper to ensure these decisions are reflected in your daily financial records. An accountant is also able to prepare and lodge tax returns on your behalf.
How much should I pay a bookkeeper?
Check out the National Bookkeeping Directory, which features the details of bookkeepers, capable of doing data entry and clerical tasks, through to high-level accounting work as undertaken by BAS agents, accountants and CFOs.
You can also see the National Bookkeeping rates page to find out what level bookkeeper your business needs.
A basic, yet vitally important, report for every business owner is a profit and loss (P&L) statement. A profit and loss statement, as the name suggests, shows whether a business is running at a profit or a loss over a given period. We’ve written about why running multi-period P&Ls before in QuickBooks and MYOB is a good idea for businesses with inventory, but single period P&Ls are equally important for all businesses.
If you’re a bookkeeping newbie, a profit and loss statement, which sometimes goes by other names — income statements, earning statements, revenue statements, operating statements, statement of operations, or statement of financial performance — is a basic report you’ll learn to run in our Xero Daily Reconciliations Course. If you’re planning to work as a contract bookkeeper, you should get in the habit of running P&L statements for your clients regularly (if you’re a business owner, ask your bookkeeper to run them).
P&Ls are required by law
Depending on how a business is structured, it may be required by law to complete a P&L. A P&L shows how the revenue of the business is turned into net income by subtracting all expenses from income. They’re also useful for understanding a business’ net income, which helps with the decision making processes. A business will also need a P&L if they’re applying for a small business loan.
The contents of a P&L
Although the process of running a P&L differ between accounting software packages, they usually all contain the same elements, depending only on the business itself. In the first section, the cost of sales is subtracted from the revenue, which highlights gross profit. The business’ operating expenses are then subtracted from the gross profit, which leaves the operating profit. Now, all of the non-operating revenues and expenses must be factored into account, after which the business’ profit or loss will be displayed.
Because P&L statements are often used by a business’ owner to make financial decisions, to inform shareholders of the business’ performance, apply for a business loan, or as proof of income in the sale of a business, it’s important that you understand how to create one correctly. Our Xero Daily Reconciliations Training Course covers P&L statements, and much more. Visit our website to learn more or to enrol.
In its decade of existence, Facebook has built up a wealth of data about its users, data that it likes to sell back to those who need it, in the form of targeted advertising. Facebook advertising, though similar in its approach, is very different to Google Ads in what it delivers.
When stricter requirements were introduced by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) for anyone responsible for signing off the financials that are lodged at BAS time, the bookkeeping industry started to go through the type of regulation that has been in place for financial advisers and accountants for many years already — to continuously maintain their education regarding their industry.
How CPD points are calculated
I originally thought there was a universal method of calculating CPD points, but very soon after exploring how our online courses can help students with their CPD, I realised that the world of continuing professional education is varied. The best explanation I could find was actually from a 2008 document relating to the changing requirements for licenced real estate agents. You can get a copy of it from our “Selling Your Property Guide” Page.
That real estate industry document takes you through the method of calculating how to earn 1 CPD point, 2 CPD points or 3 CPD points and it’s centred around the type of training institution you use for your education. Government events or university courses earn the highest points while ordinary courses earn the lower points — there’s also a significant different in the price of these events 🙂
1 hour equals 1 CPD point
The most common method of calculating the amount of CPD points you’ll earn for an education activity is based on the time you spend learning. A 1 hour webinar will earn 1 CPD point while a one day course may earn you 8 CPD points, so we provide estimates of the time to complete our online courses based on how long they use to take in a classroom environment and you can learn about them at our CPD page.
The other interesting thing I learnt was that as long as you can justify that the learning you participated in applies to your industry, you’ll be able to put it on your CPD record form and present it to your industry association to confirm and apply to your CPD register.
Tax Practitioners Board makes the rules for bookkeepers
The TPB as they are fondly know as sets the rules and manage their compliance through Recognised Professional Associations. If you go to their association website you’ll find that there are a number of associations you can join to make certain you are compliant with the TPB requirements.
These are some other interesting links you should probably know about if you’ve reached this far in the blog and are still interested!
Real estate agents must complete CPD training courses to be compliant
I recently wrote about the similarities between bookkeepers and real estate agents and in doing some research our team came up with the CPD requirements for real estate agents and you can see that, along with a Certificate IV level qualification both professions need to maintain their continual education and keep evidence of it!
Most real estate agents in Australia are sales agents and they must comply with the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act. The regulations for property ownership are different in each state and because sales agents receive deposits in their trust accounts and have a fiduciary responsibility to the people they act as an agent for, they must maintain professional standards just like accountants. Because real estate agents can misappropriate their clients deposits it is important that they maintain a good professional standing and be a person of good character.
Ongoing lifelong education is an important part of that process because it ensures that agents are familiar with the rules and regulations as they change over time but training is important for lots of reasons and one of them is to help real estate agents be better at what they do – even with their digital marketing.
We can help with your Accountant, Bookkeeper & Real Estate Agent CPDPoints
With 2013 now come to a close, many of you may be thinking about how you will work in 2014. Now is a better time than ever to start a home-based bookkeeping business! It’s why we offer online MYOB training courses, in addition to Reach and Xero, so you can learn how to use the most popular accounting software in the world. But now, let’s give you three tangible reasons why NOW is one of the best times you could start your own bookkeeping business, working from home:
1. Health and Well-Being Reasons
The reasons for starting a home-based bookkeeping business are many and varied, but some of the first are to do with your own physical and mental health. In a post we published earlier this year, we listed five reasons why you should start a home-based business; we’ve also discussed the benefits to your health that working from home can bring, particularly in reducing your stress. Working from home has never been easier, and it’s a trend that’s fast catching on, particularly in the accounting and bookkeeping industry.
2. Cloud Software and Low Capital Investment — Creating More Opportunities
Cloud-based accounting software is also creating more opportunities for home-based bookkeeping businesses. According to market research firm, IBISWorld, in the five years to 2013, revenue in the bookkeeping and payroll industries has reached $2 billion, with an increasing trend among companies to outsource bookkeeping functions due to the higher level of connectedness — thanks in part to cloud-based accounting software.
But there’s even better news for people looking to start their own home-based bookkeeping business: capital investment is extremely low, and for every dollar spent on capital, the industry spends an average of $26.25 on labour. This is largely due to capital investments being small, and usually only include, computers, access to the internet, accounting software and office furniture.
Due to the industry becoming increasingly fragmented — in 2013, there were some 1,892 registered bookkeeping businesses operating in Australia — there’s a huge demand for bookkeeping services, particularly among SMEs, who usually don’t have any payroll or bookkeeping staff employed full-time.
3. LOTS of Work Available — And Accounting Services Growing
According to ABS data, 96 percent of the businesses operating in Australia are small businesses, of which the largest number operate within the construction industry (16.2 percent), followed professional and scientific services (11.7 percent), and rental, hiring and real estate services (10.5 percent). For bookkeepers that are highly skilled in these industries, there’s no shortage of work. That’s why we also offer a Small Business Management Course, to provide bookkeepers, virtual assistants, or simply anybody who wants to work for themselves, with comprehensive training in what you need to know to run or manage a small business.
But for those bookkeepers hoping to strike up a working relationship with a local accountant, there’s good news on that front, too: the accounting services industry has recorded annual growth of 2.9 percent in the four years since 2009, and annual revenue totaling $16 billion, according to IBISWorld.
If you’re a bookkeeper and you’ve been thinking about starting a bookkeeping business, you know better than anyone that the numbers don’t lie — the time to start that business is now!
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.”
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.
The Difference between Public Relations and Marketing
For some reason, marketing and PR are two activities that are often confused with one another. Perhaps that’s because many companies combine their marketing and PR departments, or maybe it’s because people don’t really understand what PR is.
At its most basic PR is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation and it’s public. Marketing, on the other hand, is the business of promoting and selling products or services, which includes market research and advertising.
It’s important to keep these two definitions in mind when undertaking either activity, because if there’s one thing PR is not, it’s selling, which is the ultimate goal of marketing.
That doesn’t mean that PR won’t result in eventual sales, but it shouldn’t be the primary objective of a PR campaign, (although it’s not uncommon for many established PRs to forget this subtle nuance between the two).
If it’s done right, PR is a great way to generate buzz about a new business or product, particularly for small businesses that may not have a huge marketing budget.
Simple Ways You Can Create a Buzz for Your Small Business
For a home-based bookkeeper or virtual assistant just starting out, PR activities to generate interest in your business could include holding an event with other home-based bookkeepers or virtual assistants and inviting local business owners along so you can educate them in the benefits of employing a remote worker.
The goal for an event like this would be to build relationships with your “publics” — people that may come to employ or use your services—but not necessarily to win new business on that particular day.
Alternatively, you could contribute to a few online business publications on what it’s like being a remote worker, or seek opportunities to be quoted in those publications.
Ultimately, that’s the goal of any PR campaign: to gain exposure for yourself or your business by educating and informing first. The selling part comes second, which is where PR differs substantially from marketing, of which the ultimate goal is to promote and sell.
If you’re a remote worker, why not give your business a PR boost in addition to your regular marketing activities — contact us and tell us your success story. In fact, this very blog is always looking to hear how our students are doing since completing one of our courses, so if you’re now working remotely as a bookkeeper or a virtual assistant, get in touch! It’s great exposure for your business.
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 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.