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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.


 

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Does the ICB Have a Conflict of Interest?

a registered BAS agent wanting to join an industry association

How to get your CPD points

a registered BAS agent wanting to join an industry association
Membership with an industry association, even if a registered BAS agent, is not compulsory and you don’t have to rely on them as a source for obtaining your requisite CPD points.

NOT LONG AGO we published a post about industry associations, such as the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), and how they were useful for would-be BAS agents because a membership makes it easier to register with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

Industry associations also help registered BAS agents, who are required to complete a minimum of 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) within a three year period, to maintain their CPD hours by providing them with access to “approved” training courses, webinars, seminars, and so on.

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.

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Online bookkeeping accounting training courses for CPD points

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What are Practitioner-Created (and Endorsed) Training Courses?

women studying accredited training course online in MYOB Quickbooks Xero

Learn from the professionals living and working in your industry

women studying accredited training course online in MYOB Quickbooks Xero

YOU HEAR A LOT about industry association-accredited training courses and internationally accredited training couses; which are typically training that’s delivered by an industry association at a prescribed time, in person, or delivered by a third party provider.

EzyLearn chose to be an Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)-accredited training provider for six years until this February, when we pivoted to focus on practitioner-created training courses instead.

“Real world” training courses

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.

The same is true for our Excel training courses, where you can learn how to use Excel to estimate the return on investment (ROI) on a granny flat, among other real-world exercises.

The “practitioner-created” difference

We’re able to do this because our training courses are created by bookkeeping and accounting professionals, not by software companies.

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.

Industry association courses

Membership with an industry association or associations can be a popular choice for some registered BAS agents and they often provide training to their members as part of their continuing professional development (CPD). This training usually takes the form of in-person seminars, which may discuss legislative changes or feature a product demonstration from a software company; and webinars that discuss similar.

For in-depth software training, most associations — the ICB, for example — refer students to an accredited third-party training organisation. This third-party accredited organisation will have chosen to become accredited with the ICB and pays an annual fee to them in order to have this accreditation and be able to share this fact on their website.

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.

EzyLearn has always offered practitioner-created training courses, and now we’re going to work with more practitioners to create more courses, and more content for existing courses.

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.

Practitioners create high watermark

Instead of learning how to create a pivot table in Excel, or other data sources you can use to create a pivot table, containing any old data and for any old reason, our practitioner create — and endorsed — Excel training courses give you a real-world example exercise to work from, so you understand when and why you will need to use a pivot table.

That’s important because Excel, as anyone who’s used it at an advanced level will know, is a complex maze of tables and graphs and formulas. So when it comes to Excel skills, you either use them or lose them. By grounding our Excel training content in real-world examples, it makes it just that much easier to hold on to what you’ve learnt until you do get to use them.

(If you do happen to lose them, students enrolled in our lifetime access courses can always go back and refresh their skills whenever they want.) By the way, we’ve written previously about the mighty Excel pivot table.

Continuing professional development courses

If you’re a bookkeeper or BAS agent used to working with one software — MYOB, say — you can update your skills with our Xero or QuickBooks training courses, which can be counted towards your continuing professional development (CPD) hours.

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Find out more about the online training courses we provide and those helping to create, endorse and who are benefiting from our courses.

learn to use excel online training course videos cheap best

Learn Microsoft Excel from scratch or brush up your Excel skills, at your own pace, with our affordable Excel online training courses — where you get THE LOT (that’s 9 courses in total) for ONE LOW PRICE — everything included! Volume corporate discounts are available and our courses count towards CPD Points.

Creating and managing databases is included as part of our Advanced Microsoft Excel training courses — and you receive access to ALL OF OUR COURSES, including ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. You can even start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course Workbook. Read more about our beginners’, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


 

 

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The Lowdown on the National Accreditation of Software Training Courses

What is a nationally accredited bookkeeping course?

walking on a pathway to a profession with a nationally accredited online training in bookkeeping courses
If your training is deemed a pathway to a profession you may be able to get national accreditation for your course.

EZYLEARN IS OFTEN ASKED whether our Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks training courses are nationally accredited bookkeeping courses.

They’re not. In fact, there’s no nationally accredited training course for Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks or any other accounting software.

That’s because software skills are all the same, regardless of the program you’re using. (You won’t find any “nationally accredited” training courses for Adobe Photoshop or WordPress or Microsoft Office either.)

Nationally accredited training courses are for professions

The government only grants accreditation to training courses for professions, not individual skills. In other words, a Certificate IV in Financial Services is nationally accredited because it’s a pathway to a profession.

For an institution to offer nationally accredited training courses, it must be a registered training organisation (RTO), which means they comply with a number of requirements set by the government, and they keep up that compliance to maintain their accreditation. You can read more about RTOs at the national accreditation page of our website.

BAS agents can complete CPD anywhere

For six years, until part way through 2018, EzyLearn was an Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)-accredited training organisation.

Bookkeeping industry accredited accreditation associations companiesThat meant that students could complete an EzyLearn course and get a free ICB student membership. The ICB charged us $1,200 a year, which we thought was a good investment, as it gave aspiring BAS agents a foot-in-the-door with an industry organisation, so they could continue their career development.

However, during our six-year stint as an accredited training provider with ICB we came to realise that very few students ever joined the ICB. And the ICB referred very little traffic to our site. Furthermore, we don’t need to partner with, or be recognised by, an industry association to provide CPD training.

BAS agents can complete their CPD training at any training provider, so long as the training is approved by the TPB — which is pretty much anything that relates to being a BAS agent. That includes things like Excel and Word training. (BAS agents should just make sure to keep a log of their training, in case the TPB ever requests it.)

Is industry association-accredited training really any better?

For the six years EzyLearn was an ICB-accredited training provider, our organisation was never assessed, nor were are training courses ever evaluated or reviewed. The ICB is one of the industry’s leading associations.

woman wondering whether national accreditation makes for a better online training course
During the 6 years EzyLearn was a “nationally accredited” by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), our courses were never evaluated or assessed by this organisation in any way.

Because we provided relevant training, the onus was on EzyLearn to ensure that students completed our training courses with the skills they needed to provide MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks bookkeeping services to their clients.

Since we ceased being an ICB-accredited training provider, our course content hasn’t changed — well it has actually; it’s gotten better as it continues to always get better because we continue to keep adding new modules and courses to our Xero and MYOB training. But the standard of training hasn’t slipped — it, too, has only gotten better.

CPD is mandatory, but industry associations aren’t

Industry associations are a great idea, but it’s not mandatory for BAS agents to join them. As long as you keep up your CPD to remain certified by the Tax Practitioners Board (CPD), you may not find any need to join an industry association.

Unless you would like discounts off in-person training and seminars and a discounted subscription to an industry publication or journal, you can completed all of your CPD hours with online training courses, just like the EzyLearn CPD courses.

Practitioner-endorsed training courses

We found that, rather than spend $1,200 a year to be “accredited” by the ICB — or any industry association, for that matter — we’d rather become endorsed by BAS agents. By providing practitioner-endorsed training courses, it means our content is grounded in the real world. Anything a BAS agent would be required to do in MYOB, Xero or QuickBooks for a client, is included in our training courses, making them more relevant and more practical to students.

For people who choose our training courses offering lifetime access, they can go back a review different modules whenever they like — whether it’s a month, six months or two years later! Visit our website to learn more about our lifetime access courses.

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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 we trust will give you peace of mind as well. 

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

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What’s the Role of Industry Associations for BAS Agents?

An industry association membership may be just what you need

a registered BAS agent wanting to join an industry association
Joining an industry association can help towards things like CPD points, but it pays to make sure you’re getting market rate for any courses and that the ongoing fees are of benefit to you.

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.

There are a number of requirements to becoming a registered BAS agent. For starters, you need at least a Certificate IV in Financial Services, and then you need to have supervised experience working as a BAS agent so that you can become certified by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB). (If you’re not TPB certified, you can’t work independently as an unsupervised BAS agent.)

How industry associations help

There are a number of recognised bookkeeping industry associations in Australia. To register with the TPB, you must have a minimum of 1,400 hours of supervised experience with another BAS agent, unless you’re a member of an industry organisation — then you only need 1,000 hours of supervised experience.

Industry associations help BAS agents keep abreast of changes to the industry, including new legislation that make affect clients, as well as change to the Act that may affect BAS agents. They also administer or oversee continuing professional development (CPD) training, which the TPB requires BAS agents to undertake each year to keep their certification and continue working in the industry.

Industry associations BAS agents can join

Bookkeeping industry accredited accreditation associations companies

There are a number of industry associations a BAS agent (or aspiring BAS agent) can join, each with different membership requirements and joining fees. They include:

  • 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
  • CPA Australia
  • Institute of Public Accountants
  • New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA)

Industry associations and CPD training

A key reason to join an industry association is to gain access to training that goes towards your mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) points, which every individual working in the financial services industry — whether they’re bookkeepers, BAS agents, accountants or financial advisors — must complete annually. We have written before about the type of education the TPB requires in order to get your CPD points.

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.

BAS agents can also complete software training, in MYOB, Xero or Quickbooks, as well as Microsoft Excel or Word training; they can even complete cyber security training, so long as it’s approved by the TPB.

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.

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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

 

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Ray White’s Amber and LJ Hooker Compete with Purple & Jim’s Real Estate Play

Woodrising a sign for Toronto Ray White Amber Agent

Real estate agents are seeing purple!

Woodrising a sign for Toronto Ray White Amber AgentTHE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY IS undergoing substantial disruption. Only the real estate agents and agencies that decide to innovate will make it out the other side.

A big part of that means letting go of the traditional model and embracing a new, transparent real estate sales model, but many agents are still reluctant to change.

And that’s a mistake.

Disruption to the real estate industry coming from many sources

Although much of the disruption is coming from technology companies, such as REA Group and Domain Group in Australia, as well as the tech giants Facebook and Google, other established players, recognising that the timing is right, are entering the fray too.

Together, these businesses are changing the way real estate in this country and across the world is bought, sold and rented. If real estate agents aren’t proactive about this change, they’ll end up being reactive. And they’ll miss out.

One of the Case Studies in our Digital & Social Media Marketing Courses centres upon a McGrath agent based in Sydney’s Cammeray. This agent, Derek, comes to realise his own personal brand is as powerful with local residents as the McGrath brand because he is a hard-working agent and his vendors love him.

Via the virion Digital Agency we were able to help Derek create a website and social media campaign to further hone and build his brand as a property expert.

Jim’s to cut agents’ grass

Jim Penman's Jims Group getting into low cost low commission real estate agency model - tradies might pass on vendor sales leads - AFRTake Jim’s Group, the franchise group known for mowing lawns and fixing broken antennas. Last week, they announced their intention to enter the real estate fray with a new, low-cost service for both agents and homeowners.

The division, which is being headed up by a Jim’s Group veteran and the former sales director of low-cost real estate service Hello Real Estate, will charge agents a flat $1,800 a month franchise fee.

Homeowners will also be able to suggest how much commission they’d like to pay the agent to sell their home. (It’s understood there’ll be a threshold for how low commissions will actually go.)

Jim’s agents will work remotely from their home offices — or their cars — as most Jim’s franchisees currently do, and they’ll have substantially lower overheads so they can provide the same service to homeowners as a traditional real estate agent, only for less.

As an existing and trusted franchise group in Australia, they won’t have to overcome the same barriers like name recognition and trust that new entrants to the market — your Purplebricks, say — did. (Of course, the Purplebricks service is also quantifiably different to the proposed Jim’s service.)

Agents who don’t think Jim’s will make a serious dent in the industry may be right. But that misses the point; the franchise model is about giving business owners a cushion between them and flying solo. Plenty of people work in franchises — real estate is the most franchised industry in this country — but not all of them do. There’s plenty of room for independent agents to take this idea and operate their own agency the same way — and keep their $1,800 franchise fee while they’re at it!

Proptech sector friend or foe?

That brings us to the biggest source of disruption in the real estate industry: the proptech sector. In Australia, agents need to be cautious of

  • REA Group,
  • Domain Group,
  • Purplebricks,
  • BuyMyPlace,
  • Facebook and
  • Google.

But they also need to be wary of any new entrant that puts an “Uber” spin on the sector. (Domain recently opened up its developer APIs to encourage tech startups to use their data to create disruptive new services.)

At the moment REA Group and Domain are focussed on moving closer to the transaction, but they’re also heavily investing in tech to ward off any disruption from tech titans Facebook and Google, which they consider the biggest threat to the real estate industry in this country, and the world. (eBay-owned Gumtree also shouldn’t be excluded from this conversation.)

Would you advertise with a competitor?

Mortgages

Both real estate groups have acquired (or launched through partnerships) their own mortgage broking businesses — Domain’s Domain Loan Finder is a JV with online broker Lendi; REA Group acquired mortgage broker Smartline, and launched its own white label service in conjunction with NAB, called realestate.com.au Home Loans.

Trades & Everything Else!

They each also own stakes in tradie sites Oneflare (Domain) and hipages (REA), connection services Compare & Connect (Domain) and Beevo (Domain), property data and mapping firm PriceFinder (Domain), real estate CRM MyDesktop (Domain) [read more about the best real estate agent CRM’s], and property inspection app Homepass (Domain); Domain will also launch insurance comparison service Domain Insure and real estate agent training and education program Domain Academy.

And REA Group is busy building robots and virtual assistants, which can respond to customer enquiry — requests for Section 32 documents, schedule inspections, and so on.

Neither Domain nor REA are likely to bite the hands that feed them by introducing a real estate agency service or cutting agents out of the picture entirely — this year, REA Group posted revenue of $633.5 million from its Australian operations, of which $538.2 million was derived from agents advertising on its site.

Agents need to innovate NOW

But by owning the real estate “ecosystem”, they make the role of the real estate agent much less vital — and ripe for a new service to come in (like a Jim’s Real Estate) and say, “hey we can do it better.” Before long, that’ll become the “traditional” real estate model, just as the classified websites that usurped newspaper classifieds are now considered the “traditional” model of buying and selling stuff online.

To stay ahead of disruption, agents need to educate themselves. Continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory part of staying licensed in every state or territory. Provided agents undertake recognised training and keep their CPD points up, they can study anything relevant to the business of real estate.

Digital marketing is a fundamental part of real estate. Agents who understand how to market themselves online to get new business and demonstrate transparency about how the process works will stay ahead of the curve. Derek Farmer used educational videos and blog posts to explain the buying and selling process, and share market news and analysis.

This makes a sales agent an indispensable source of knowledge and a trusted advisor to buyers and sellers throughout the process, which can’t be replicated by a robot, virtual assistant or app. Virion also helps agents create a digital market strategy for their business, and to fill up their website or social media pages with content that provides information to buyers and sellers they’re currently getting from … Domain and realestate.com.au!

Agents should create their own property ecosystem

Domain and REA are doing their darndest to keep people on their sites for longer. They’re sewing up the entire property buying and selling process with complementary services (insurances, connections, mortgages) and they’re pushing more and more into content (videos, journalism, content marketing); Domain is particularly innovative in the content space, thanks to its Fairfax roots.

As a result, buyers and sellers are coming to agents forearmed, and again, the role of the agent is diminished. But agents can stay in home buyers and sellers minds by creating their own property ecosystem: start a website, fill it with good quality content, use a CRM to manage your lists of buyers, sellers, tradespeople — who have become one of the most important players in the sales process — and pump messages out your database regularly.

Finally, look at introducing a different fee or commissions structure for certain types of property or across the board. This is where the industry is heading and fighting it will only leave you in the same position the newspaper industry was in with the advent of online classifieds; cable TV providers with the rise of VOD services; music labels with streaming services, and so on.

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Visit the EzyLearn website to learn more about our continuing professional development (CPD) training courses. To create your own property ecosystem with a digital marketing strategy and content, visit Virion’s website for more information.


 

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Is Xero Better than MYOB for Bookkeeping Businesses?

Bookkeeping Incumbent, MYOB Versus Cloud Innovator, Xero

MYOB or Xero online accounting course training videosMYOB 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.

Good bookkeepers have a corporate background

Many experienced bookkeepers (around level three upwards) have a corporate background. They’ve typically worked for big accounting firms, and are possibly qualified accountants or BAS and tax agents, familiar with all the available ERP systems on the market.

As much as they know MYOB as the big robust accounting software for medium-sized businesses, a lot of these ex-corporate bookkeepers are also well aware of how Xero benefits small-to-medium businesses: It’s less confusing to use and it’s cloud based; things that make the bookkeeper’s job easier, too. But there’s no guarantee they’ll recommend Xero purely because of that.

Their experience with a range of different ERPs, makes them just as likely to have a subscription to more than one accounting software so they can recommend, with firsthand knowledge, the right accounting software for your business — be it Xero or QuickBooks or, yes, even MYOB.

Bookkeepers can grow their business

National Bookkeeping - How to Earn More MoneyOf course, one reason Xero has become the preferred accounting software, over MYOB or QuickBooks, for a lot of ex-corporate bookkeepers is because of the Xero partner program which enables them to earn ongoing income by recommending Xero to their clients.

Billed as a way for Xero bookkeepers to grow their business, the program lists certified partners in the Xero Advisor directory, which is used by businesses looking for a Xero-certified bookkeeper to manage their accounts. To become a Xero partner, bookkeepers must successfully complete a Xero skills test. When they do, they’re listed on the directory.

The more Xero clients a bookkeeper brings in under the Xero Partner program, the higher their status and the greater their rewards — free Xero memberships, marketing help, and big discounts on subscriptions for their clients.

It’s incredibly appealing for ex-corporates who want the flexibility of self-employment, but want to grow their business with a client-base of substantial mid-sized businesses — and fast. So the more business a bookkeeper can bring Xero, the more business Xero can bring the bookkeeper. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to go.

Universal access with Xero

But Xero Partner or not, far and away Xero’s popularity is really due to its technology — and its commitment to using technology to improve the way businesses stay compliant with the tax office.

That all started with universal access. Businesses that use Xero can invite anyone in their team — their admin assistant, bookkeeper, accountant, their entire sales team — anytime they like, as part of their Xero subscription. Here are a few more reasons:

  • Invoices can go out as soon as a project is finished or a sale is made; likewise for estimates and customer statements.
  • It also means that a business owner can monitor their cash flow in real time, while their bookkeeper is keying transactions and their sales people are sending off invoices.
  • And because the software is in the cloud, these people don’t even need to be in the same building, never mind the same city, state or country! (Xero is the rare low-cost accounting program that supports multi-currency.)

It’s all about the Xero tech

Xero also integrates with more than 500 third-party apps. Some popular integrations include Gmail and Hubspot, the marketing and sales platform. These two integrations alone turn Xero into a complete business management platform and enable it to scale up to the services provided by mid to large sized ERP systems.

Businesses can import data to Hubspot based on customer spend or products and services sold, and send those customers tailored marketing messages. The Gmail integration gives users a complete snapshot of previous conversations with customers — salespeople can see if there are outstanding invoices, or problems with a customer’s account, for example.

Gold standard in bank feeds

Although bank feeds are accurate most of the time, they’re not perfect. MYOB has been know to be particularly temperamental, but Xero has a reliable bank feeds function. Again, that’s a lot to do with Xero’s commitment to tech. 

Setting up bank feeds in any accounting software is as simple as clicking a few buttons, giving a few permissions, and voila! Your bookkeeper has just saved themselves hours each month. Bookkeepers much rather spend as little time as they can keying and coding transactions.

[box type=”info”] This time is better spent doing bigger jobs — lodging activity statements, reporting, payroll — so they’re going to recommend an accounting program with bank feeds.[/box]

Plus, business owners won’t have to wait for their bookkeeper to enter their transaction data each fortnight or month to see how their cash flow is tracking: Bank feeds give business owners a complete picture of their business’s cash flow and financial health because transactions are imported in real-time.

Xero courses provide Bookkeeper CPD points

EzyLearn Online Course CPD points for bookkeepers and marketing professionalsEzyLearn gets lots of enrolments in our Xero training courses and we’re an accredited training provider with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. The ICB requires its bookkeepers to continue developing their skills and knowledge as a bookkeeper in order to retain their membership (this is known as continuing professional development, or CPD).

Many bookkeepers and accountants do EzyLearn’s Xero courses to earn their annual CPD points. EzyLearn offers a number of different training courses as continuing professional development (CPD) for bookkeepers, including our Microsoft Excel, Xero or MYOB training courses.

Our Bookkeeping Academy training courses start at $99 — for Xero or MYOB — and allow you to learn what you want, when you want, entirely at your own pace. Visit the Bookkeeping Academy website for more information or to enrol.


 

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When Does Your Bookkeeping Need Rescue Work?

If you’re 3 months or more behind, call in help!

find rescue bookkeeper
Hmmm, so much to do, so little time…

WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BUSINESS ACCOUNT KEEPING, unless you’re a bookkeeper, bookkeeping is probably your least favourite thing. However, it’s also a fundamentally important part of running a business.

We provide business people with a number of courses in Xero accounting software and we know firsthand that, aside from the legal requirement to lodge regular activity statements, keeping your bookkeeping up-to-date also helps you run a more successful business. This is because it allows you to run regular balance sheets, profit and loss statements and many other financial reports that’ll give you a clear picture of how your business is performing.

However, not every business owner has the procedures in place to manage their bookkeeping regularly. It’s ok, it’s not your fault — you were meaning to, but you were busy running your business and time marched on. Now you have to lodge an activity statement, and you’ve just realised you haven’t done any bookkeeping for three months!

When you need rescue bookkeeping

If you have three months or more of bookkeeping to do before you can lodge an activity statement, then you’re in need of a bookkeeper who can perform rescue work. Some of the common bookkeeping problems rescue work covers includes:

  • Bank accounts or credit cards that don’t reconcile with statements
  • Old un-presented transactions in the bank account or credit card
  • Trade debtors and trade creditors don’t balance with the balance sheet
  • Dealing with outstanding invoices and bills that have already been paid, but still showing as outstanding
  • Incorrect previously lodged BAS
  • Incorrect information showing in payslips, tax tables, super guarantee contributions calculations, payment summaries, etc, due to payroll systems being set up incorrectly
  • Unreliable inventory figures.

Not all bookkeepers are able to take on rescue work, because it’s lumpy and it requires them to perform a lot of work in a short space of time, which can conflict with their other regular bookkeeping work.

Rescue bookkeeping is often more expensive

Because rescue bookkeeping requires a lot of manpower in a short period of time, it’s often a little more expensive than have your bookkeeping attended to on a regular basis. In most cases, you will be asked to prepay for a minimum of 10 hour’s work or however long it’s estimated it will take to get your bookkeeping up to speed.

Do you need help with rescue bookkeeping work?

find a local bookkeeper

We have bookkeepers, BAS agents and accountants located across Australia, available to help businesses in need of rescue bookkeeping work. Visit our online directory of local bookkeepers and bookkeepers who work ‘in the cloud’ at National Bookkeeping for more information. Here you will be able to see the different bookkeepers’ rates or request a quote.


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. We’ve been an accredited training provider of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers ever since the organisation started in Australia. Find out how CPD points can be of benefit to you.


 

 

 

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You Need To Be a Job Hopper To Do Well In Your Career

When it Comes to Your Career, Hopping Around is OK

job-hopping-to-success
Those who hop may be the most successful, career speaking.

For many years, young people, particularly Generation Y, were cautioned about changing their jobs too often — or being a “job hopper”. It would give the impression they were flaky or disloyal or unable to commit, they were told. You want to find a job where you can stay there for at least 10 years, where you can grow and progress through the company. That was the advice handed out just a decade ago, perhaps even more recently than that.

But the tide is now rolling the other way. People of all generations and work experience are now being advised to change their jobs, not just every decade, but every 3 years, or 5 at a minimum. Do that and, rather than being seen as a liability, you’ll be seen as an asset. 

What Job Hopping Gives You

All those different jobs, at different companies and in different industries, cultivates skills and attitude that’s highly sought after by a range of employers. Changing jobs shows you’re willing to adapt, able to move with the times, and that you possess many different skills that you wouldn’t had you been left to inevitably go stale in the same old job for a decade or more.

However, besides acquiring a new skill, there are other benefits to changing jobs regularly. People who change jobs will typically earn up to 50 percent more than if they stayed in one job. That’s because the economy isn’t what it used to be, and the days of being rewarded with a fat pay rise each year are pretty well over. And even if your company still regularly gives their staff a pay rise, it’s unusually anything more than between 3 and 5 percent — but 50 percent? Keep dreaming.

Job Hopper or Continuing Professional Development?

If you’re a person who can change jobs frequently, it indicates that you’re probably a quick learner. You’re the kind of person who can pick up on new systems, processes, procedures, and even workplace cultures, and that makes you incredibly valuable for prospective employers. In many ways, this job hopping could be considered a new skill itself, an informal type of continuing professional development. Sound like you or someone you know?

Continuing professional development has become exceedingly important to many employers in the last decade because of how quickly new technologies have been introduced into the workplace, as well as the changes to many industries themselves. In the bookkeeping profession, for example, there have been numerous software changes, as well as changes to  industry regulations that now require all tax agents to register with the Tax Practitioners Board (TCB) and hold a minimum Certificate IV in Bookkeeping from TAFE to provide tax-related services; bookkeepers are also required to engage in continuing professional education in order to renew their registration with the TPB.

Just as it’s important for employees to show they’ve got the latest training in software that’s been introduced into their industry, it’s equally important to show that you possess other skills that usually aren’t taught in a classroom (or on an online content management system!) — such as, being receptive to change, quick thinking, personable, and being engaged by your work. That last one, the one about engagement, is super important, because it’s now believed that the learning curve tends to flatten after 3 years.

Flattening Out in Your Job

job-hopping-changing-jobs-regularly-a-good-thingIn other words, after you’ve worked somewhere for 3 or more years, you stop learning things, stop picking up new skills, and, usually, stop being engaged at work. You’re now just going through the motions because your job has become second nature to you. These are not sought after qualities in an employee; worse still, after 3 years, the skills you learned early on in the piece are probably close to being outdated, if they aren’t already, anyway.

Plan for the Next Three Years of Your Career

Think about where you’d like to be three new iPhones from now (one that’s waterproof, hopefully), and plan your career accordingly. Think about whether you’ll need to update your education in the future, too. Don’t forget that, with new technologies and new processes for using that technology in the workplace, you’ll need the skills to match if you’re going to be able to compete in the job market.

‘Think about where you’d like to be three new iPhones from now… and plan your career accordingly.’

In fact, the majority of students who take our online MYOB and Xero training courses, do so because they’d like to improve their skill sets to help them get work, or so that they can begin working for themselves as independent contractors, and they’d like to be able to offer bookkeeping services to businesses, regardless of the accounting software they use.

If you’re looking to improve you current skill set or you’d simply like to learn a new one, visit our website for a full list of our training courses and details on how to enrol. If you enrol in any of our MYOB, Excel, Word or WordPress training courses, you’ll receive Lifetime Membership to our course materials. This means you can stay up-to-date with each new version of software that’s released for no additional cost!

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CPD points are available for our MYOB, Xero and Microsoft Excel courses

Earn CPD points to maintain your certification

Continuing professional development and education for registered and certified bookkeepers and BAS agentsIT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR again and many students are asking us if they can use our courses towards their annual CPD point requirements — the answer is yes and you can see how many points at the links below.

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.

 

Continuing professional development CPD record form for accountants and bookkeepers from Chartered Accountants Australia

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!

  1. If you are a professional bookkeeper you are required to know about the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 including the Code of Professional Conduct.
  2. A maximum of 25% of your CPD points can be earned from professional reading and here are their other guidelines on what is acceptable for CPD — they refer to it as CPE (for Education)
  3. This is how the TPB expect you to keep your records for CPE attendance.
  4. TPB’s main landing page for Continuing Professional Education.

What about Accountants?

Chartered Accountants also have their CPD requirements and you’ll want to check their CPE pages out:

Chartered Accountants Australia CPD Requirements

Association of Taxation and Management Accountants

CPA Australia CPD requirements

IPA Institute of Public Accountants CPE requirements

ICB in the UK!

 

CPD Continuing Professional Development and Education applied to bookkeepers and real estate agentsReal 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!

CPD Requirements for Real Estate Agents in NSW

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.

 

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EzyLearn Online Course CPD points for bookkeepers and marketing professionalsWe can help with your Accountant, Bookkeeper & Real Estate Agent CPD Points

EzyLearn has helped Accountants & Bookkeepers learn about accounting software and spreadsheets and even marketing for their own businesses. We’ve also helped Real Estate Agents stay ahead of their competitors with Google, Facebook and other Digital and Social Media Marketing Courses.

Check out the total hours to complete our CPD courses and include that in your records.


 

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Will vs Skill: How Desirable are Your Employees in the Workplace?

Employees possessing both will and skill are the most desirable in the workplace.
Employees possessing both will and skill are the most desirable in the workplace.

At EzyLearn, our flagship training course is the MYOB training course, which is sort of like an induction into the role of a bookkeeper in that it provides students with an overview of the duties typically carried out by a bookkeeper. Most of our students take our MYOB training course because they both want and need to know how to use the software in order to find work as a bookkeeper.

In the world of business training and coaching, this is called the Will vs. Skill Matrix. Employees who have both the will to succeed and the skill to succeed are highly desirable in the workplace.

Transparency, Will and Skill

Employees who have only one of those attributes, however, are less desirable. Helping staff maintain both the will and the skill to succeed in their jobs has a lot to do with how transparent you are as an organisation.

We’ve mentioned transparency in business before, notably in relation to induction training programs. Induction training programs are a highly efficient way to communicate easily and efficiently with your staff, while also testing their will and skill to succeed at their jobs.

While most induction training programs are used to merely address the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act, or to induct contractors and consultants to a business’ premises, induction training programs can also be used to further your employees’ professional development.

Furthering your employees’ professional development can be done by providing your staff with online training courses that are relevant and useful to their jobs, such as a Word or Excel training course. By delivering this content online, it allows your staff to complete the course at their own pace, in an informal environment – at home or at their desk at work, rather than in a dedicated training centre on a dedicated day – and it also allows you to monitor their progress.

As the business owner, by being able to see how your employees are getting on with the training courses can illuminate areas where your staff could benefit from further training; it can also highlight those staff member who possess the will and the skill to succeed.

Those staff members who are have both the will and the skill to succeed in their jobs also happen to be highly engaged, and as we mentioned in a previous post, more productive.

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If you’re looking for ways to keep your staff highly engaged with your business, we can help you tailor and deliver highly engaging induction training courses to your staff. Visit our website for more information, or contact us today for a quote.

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Is the Death of the Bookkeeper Imminent?

Happy New Year to all our readers! And take comfort in knowing that we think the death of the bookkeeper is FAR from imminent! Read the post to find out.
Happy New Year to all our readers! And take comfort in knowing that we think the death of the bookkeeper is FAR from imminent! Read the post to find out.

All right, so it’s not the most joyful heading we could have gone with on New Year’s Eve, but it’s not actually meant to conjure up doom and gloom! We have  researched and developed new online training courses for Reach Accounting and Xero, which have now been added to our suite of training courses that include the flagship MYOB training course. In the process we’ve spoken to a number of accountants to see what software they’re using, to ensure we’re providing the training courses you need to get a bookkeeping job. This is good news because you can then rely on us to inform you what more you may need to offer clients.

Throughout this process, we’ve come across a number of accountants who are using BankLink, an accounting service we’ve written about previously, which streamlines and automates the data entry portion of managing a client’s account.

The ‘In-House’ Extra Employee

For many accountants the BankLink software, which was acquired by MYOB in June of this year so they could further extend their reach into the accounting space, is being billed as an “extra employee” that never makes mistakes and is comparatively cheaper than the additional in-house bookkeeper or admin person headcount.

The big question for us is: Does this spell the end of the bookkeeper? For instance, think of the way personal computers did away with the need for the office stenographer working in a steno pool? The answer is that this is indeed possible — but this is only if data entry is the sole service you offer. Like most professionals today, the more specialised you are and the more services you can offer, the more likely you are to experience career longevity.

At the end of the day, software is only as good as the person who uses it. If you’re a highly experienced bookkeeper in a particular industry or possess a number of highly sought-after accounting skills, you’ll find BankLink a dream come true in that it eliminates the tedious, time-consuming data entry from your job.

BankLink: Giving You More Time

With more time on your hands, you’ll be able to grow your client-base — a goal for most small businesses and previously only available if you miraculously grew a spare set of hands, or employed a spare set of hands, at least. You may even be able to move your business out of the narrow bookkeeping space into the small business management space.

With the number of new small businesses increasing, the key to their individual survival in a highly competitive marketplace is good management — and who’s more suited to that job than someone with a thorough understanding of account keeping?

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So while BankLink may spell the end of tedious, time-consuming data entry, for the experienced bookkeeper it presents more business and career opportunities — not less. Upskill and enjoy greater career success as a result.

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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.