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Podcast Ep. 56 Justine McLean - Is it time to break-up with your bookkeeper or accountant?

blog bookkeeping business finance May 15, 2022
Justine McLean, a woman with long blond hair, wearing glasses, a bright pink top and black jacket, smiling, hands raised up pointing, on a light blue background

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Because sometimes it’s not you, it’s them!

When we make the decision to start a business, it’s usually because we want to share our skills, creative talents or kick-arse new product range with the world. Sure, we know there’s behind the scenes stuff involved in running a business, but if we’ve got killer branding, a working website and our socials game is strong, then surely the rest is going to be a breeze.

And that’s were so many business owners come unstuck.

Apart from all of the fun to-do stuff, there’s a lot of other less fun stuff we need to deal with; permits, insurances, legals, systems and processes and of course finance. We’re usually motivated to find help to do most of the un-fun stuff in our business, but when it comes to finance, certainly in my experience, it gets left on the back burner. We either ignore the finances completely or reluctantly outsource to someone who seems like they’ve got a handle on it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s a disaster. 

Over the last few weeks I’ve had strategy calls with a number of prospective clients and I soon found a common theme in all of my chats; business owners don’t feel comfortable with their current finance professional but they don’t know how to walk away. In a nut shell, they want to break-up, but are reluctant because...they’re afraid; don’t want to be mean; are unsure of the ‘unknown’; worry that there’ll be repercussions; believe that maybe the accountant is right, they’re crap with money and need to run their business better, or it could be due to a crazy sense of loyalty to someone who hasn’t provided good service, for years.

If you’re reading and nodding along and with the end of financial year looming large, maybe it’s time to consider finding someone new. The reality is sometimes it’s not you, it’s them!

So, if you’re thinking of making a change here are some things to consider: 

  1. Your finance partner should be just that, a partner; dictators need not apply!
  2. What sort of finance partner do you need?

Well at the very least, I believe that every business should use a good accountant. Your accountant will process your end of year returns, provide holistic advice that takes into account your business and personal financial circumstances, can help you set goals for your business and troubleshoot any issues you may encounter. Their expertise comes because they understand all aspects of the tax legislation and can use that legislation to maximise their client’s tax position. Accountants may also take on the processing of your monthly or quarterly compliance and the day-to-day bookkeeping, although invariably they will outsource the latter or have staff take on this job

In conjunction with your accountant, hiring a BAS Agent can be a great decision for your business. A BAS agent can do the day-to-day bookkeeping including payroll services, but in addition can prepare and lodge your compliance obligations – Business Activity Statements, IAS returns, PAYG, Single Touch Payroll, Government Grants and TPAR returns. They can also speak to the tax office on your behalf. Generally using a BAS agent will be more affordable than using an accountant for your compliance and day-to-day bookkeeping.

BAS agents can now also provide advisory services, help you set business financial goals, and provide virtual CFO services such as budgeting and cash-flow forecasting.

Bookkeepers can provide day-to-day bookkeeping and reconciliation services, payroll services and accounts payable services. However, bookkeepers are not able to provide compliance services.

3. Make sure you’re using a registered professional. Accountants and BAS agents must be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board. The TPB have stringent conditions around education, insurance, continued professional development and you must be a person of good standing to become registered. Before hiring someone new, check the TPB website and ensure your finance professional has up to date registration.

Bookkeepers are not required to be registered at this stage but should have the minimum educational requirements to perform bookkeeping services so ask for their qualifications and experience.

4. Ask around for recommendations. Often a word of mouth referral is the best way to find a new finance professional. But remember, just because another business owner loves their person, it doesn’t necessarily make them a good fit for you. I suggest booking a discovery or strategy call before making any decisions. Ask how they can help grow your business, who they currently work with and what sort of experience they have.

5. Read testimonials. Most business owners, including finance professionals, will have lots of client testimonials they can share so don’t be afraid to ask to see them.

6. Using a pro will save you time and money, and financial services are a tax deduction. Think of the time you’ll save outsourcing work you either don’t understand or don’t enjoy doing to an expert. While they’re working on the books, you can be working on other money-making activities that require your expertise. If you’re concerned about the cost, you can ask for fee estimates up front. Some finance professionals will offer set monthly or service fees while others will charge an hourly rate.

7. Remember though, the relationship you have with your finance professional can make a huge difference to your business, but it only works if you enter with an open mind, share your thoughts and are prepared to implement the suggestions offered as part of the ongoing services. Like anything, if you want to see a positive change in your business, you need might need to do things a little differently.

Last word.

Breaking up with your accountant, BAS agent or bookkeeper doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s your business, you make the decisions and can choose to engage someone new.

However, if the break up isn’t something you feel comfortable with, talk to your new finance partner. Often your incoming finance professional can contact the outgoing professional and do the breaking up on your behalf. Ah, if only all break ups were that simple, right?!

If you need a new BAS agent or bookkeeper, or perhaps you’re keen to get a cloud accounting system in place, here’s some more information about the services we provide at Flossi Creative.


This episode is brought to you by

Flossi Creative and Business Money Magnet 
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