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

 

Ratings, Reviews, Testimonials, Recommendations

Why you can’t beat old-fashioned word of mouth

social media ratings reviews online word of mouth referrals
Online ratings and reviews have a role to play in buying decisions, but sometimes you just can’t go past traditional word of mouth to find good workers.

ONLINE RATINGS AND REVIEWS ARE a great way to determine whether a business is trustworthy or whether they products and services they provide will suit your needs. TripAdvisor and Yelp have transformed the hospitality and accommodation industry, for example. And Airbnb is doing similar with short-term rentals.

But as we’ve previously discussed, online ratings and reviews can be easily faked and sometimes biased or devoid of useful information

Looking for a local? Ask around!

While recently working on a home renovation in Newcastle, I came across a carpenter who had seven employees working for him. Jimmy the Chippy in Belmont has been in business nine years, has no website or online presence — but his business is booming.

How does he do it?

The old fashioned way! He does exceptional work for his customers and clients, who hire him again and again and refer him to friends, relatives, colleagues and so on. He also made a point of networking with local builders and plumbers in the area, who contact him when they have work to do, and refer him to other builders and plumbers as well.

Use word of mouth

If you’re looking locally, and the online ratings and reviews of the businesses you’re trying to decide between aren’t helping, asking a friend, relative or work colleague if they know any of the businesses.

If no one in your social network knows the business, you can also google an online forum like Whirlpool, where members frequently provide fair and balanced opinions of businesses they’ve dealt with — and if they don’t, they’re usually called out for it.

Testimonials are helpful, too

Real estate agents, accountants and many other businesses — EzyLearn included — use testimonials rather than ratings or reviews (except on Facebook), so you shouldn’t discount these just because they’ve been vetted before going online.

And don’t be put off if a business has received the odd bad review. Look at why they’ve received the review and what the business has done or said to address the bad review. Some businesses with a less than perfect record may be more trustworthy than those with reviews and ratings moderated by the businesses themselves.

At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We ask each student whether it is ok to publish these beforehand. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice.

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At EzyLearn, we’re committed to helping students of our online training courses, be it in in Xero, MYOB, Excelsocial media or other courses, gain employment as bookkeepers, generally better their businesses, or even start their own bookkeeping business. To this end, we provide you with a Lifetime Access option to our cloud accounting training courses.


cashflow reports in xero and excel

Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


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!

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.


 

What Type of Education Does The TPB Accept For Its New CPE Requirement

Type of Education for CPE Requirements of the TPB

What Type of Education Does The TPB Accept For Its New CPE Requirement

Earlier this year, the TPB changed the requirements of the tax and BAS agent registration renewal process, now making it essential for all BAS and tax agents to participate in some form of education under its new continuing professional education (CPE) requirement.

According to the TPB, tax agents must participate in a minimum of 90 hours of CPE over the standard three year registration period, while BAS agents must participate in a minimum of 45 hours over the standard three year registration period. The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers have enabled completion of our Microsoft Excel Training Courses be accepted for CPD points.

Types of study approved by the TPB

As you’ve probably guessed, for your study to be recognised by the TPB and go towards your CPE registration requirement, the study has to relate to your area of work as a BAS or tax agent. While a short course on DIY home maintenance wouldn’t be covered, a seminar conducted by a qualified accountant who specialises in the building industry would be recognised by the TPB, even if it’s being led by a colleague at the firm where the BAS agent works.

The TPB has specified a number of activities that they consider relevant to tax advice, BAS and tax agent service you may provide:

  • Seminars, workshops, webinars, courses and lectures
  • structured conferences and discussion groups (including by phone or video conference)
  • tertiary courses provided by universities, registered training organisations (RTOs), other registered higher education institutions or other approved course providers
  • other education activities, provided by an appropriate organisation
  • research, writing and presentation by a registered tax (financial) adviser, tax or BAS agent of technical publications or structured training
  • peer review of research and writing submitted for publication or presentation in structured training
  • computer/internet-assisted courses, audiotape or videotape packages
  • attendance at structured in-house training on tax related subjects by persons or organisations with suitable qualifications and/or practical experience in the subject area covered
  • attendance at appropriate Australian Taxation Office (ATO) seminars and presentations
  • relevant CPE activities provided to members and non-members by a recognised professional association
  • a unit of study or other CPE activity on the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 (TASA) including the Code of Professional Conduct (Code).

If you’re a member of a recognised professional association

The second-to-last activity included in that list, you may have noticed, accepts any relevant activity provided by a recognised professional organisation. There are quite a few professional organisations recognised by the TPB, as you can see on their website, but the one probably most relevant to bookkeepers is the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), with which EzyLearn is also a training partner.

The ICB is an association established to support bookkeepers and BAS agents by regularly holding seminars and training workshops, giving members access to marketing materials – such as customisable e-newsletter templates and unique email addresses – listings on the ICB directory and IT support, among many other things. Because they’re also accredited with the TPB and recognised by the ATO, they also possess a fair bit of influence with both organisations, making the lives of its members much easier.

In this case, being a member of the ICB, gives you access to a number of TPB-certified continuing professional education courses, seminars, lectures and workshops that can be counted as part of your CPE quota; members can also access a CPE register within the ICB dashboard to record their CPE activities.

Courses you can study as an ICB member

As a member of the ICB, you’re able to take any of the courses that they consider relevant to your profession as a bookkeeper and BAS agent, and which they consider to be continuing your professional education. This would include any of our MYOB or Xero training courses, but would also include our Excel and Word training courses as they’re both used to assist you in doing your job as a bookkeeper and BAS agent.

If you’re a BAS agent and your registration with the TPB will come due on or after July 1, 2016, you will be required to have participated in CPE to be eligible for renewal. Joining the ICB and taking advantage of the many free and discounted seminars, workshops and courses, like one of our online training courses in MYOB, Xero, MS Excel or Word, is a good way to ensure you remain compliant with the TPB’s tax and BAS agent registration terms.

To find out more about joining the ICB, visit their website. Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about starting your own bookkeeping business or working as a home-based bookkeeper, subscribe to our blog for all the latest news and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Why Continuing Professional Education is Important for Bookkeepers

CPD for Bookkeepers is Becoming More Important

CPD CPE and ongoing education is very important to the Tax practitioners board TPB for Registered BAS AgentsEducation is obviously something we think is very important, whether you’re changing careers, starting a new business, or looking to upskill for a promotion. But what about education to keep your current job? The Australian Government thinks that’s equally important, especially for BAS and tax agents.

In March this year, the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) changed their renewal process to now include continuing professional education (CPE) as a mandatory for all registrations after July 1, 2016. Between now and June 30, 2016, it’s sufficient for BAS and tax agents to merely show they have read and understood the new CPE policy to renew their registration, but this arrangement can only be used once; moving forward those BAS and tax agents will still need to complete further education to register again as a BAS or tax agent the in the future.

Are You a Currently a BAS or Tax agent?

Over the last few years, the Government has introduced a lot of new measures that BAS and tax agents have had to comply with in order to continue to offer their services to clients, namely the changes in 2010 that made it mandatory for all BAS and tax agents to hold a minimum qualification of a Cert IV in bookkeeping.

The new CPE requirement could seem like just another measure that BAS and tax agents need to comply with just to be able to keep their jobs. It’s not. CPE has been introduced to ensure that BAS and tax agents continue to understand, not just their own industry – that of tax and finance – but also how other industries are changing too.

There are more people leaving their jobs as employees and starting to work for themselves as consultants and freelancers and contract workers, across a wide array of industries. Marketing professionals, for example, no longer simply come up with marketing hooks for companies; they also have to understand how to create websites and how SEO works and social media. In some cases, they even become unofficial spokespeople and sales reps for the companies they’re consulting with, leveraging their contacts on their clients’ behalf.

CPE makes BAS and tax agents more valuable, not less

This vastly complicates a marketing professional’s tax if that marketing professional’s job now encompasses the roles of several other professions within it. Similar changes have been observed in bookkeeping, with registered BAS and tax agents now providing more operational and administrative-type services, in addition to just bookkeeping.

The point, then, of CPE is not to make it more difficult for tax and BAS agents to renew their registration with the TPB, but to help tax and BAS agents to remain as highly skilled as they’ve ever been, in an ever-changing labour market. And the better skilled you are as a BAS and tax agent, particularly those self-employed BAS and tax agents, the more value you’ll be able to provide your clients, and the more work you’ll get from them in return.

To learn more about continuing professional education for bookkeepers, visit the TPB website. Otherwise, to read more about bookkeeping, particularly starting your own bookkeeping business, continue reading our blog.

Are you a Writer and Want to Work from Home Blogging for Businesses?

I write about marketing professionals because they are increasingly important in small businesses as businesses grapple with getting discovered online.  I recently wrote about Blogging for Business and our new training course to help businesses with their content marketing strategy and tasks because it’s something that my team are spending more and more time on. It’s also an area that is evolving every month and requires writers to learn about and adapt to new technology.

Enrol into the Blogging for Business Course now and take advantage of it’s current cheap price. We’ll soon be adding real life exercises where blogging students will be asked to create content and have it edited and published so they can participate in a real world business blogging project!