Most people assume that bookkeepers and accountants get along very well. The reality, however, is they tend not to share a lot of information with one another. Bookkeepers and accountants should dance around with each other to realise the best possible outcomes for their clients. But why are such harmonious and effective relationships hard to achieve most of the time?
Many bookkeepers limit their job scopes to bookkeeping, so they prepare the books their way and hand them over to the accountants who will “fix them”. At the same time, many accounting firms don’t equip their staff with various software skills which can help with identifying and solving issues. The lack of communication is another issue. We have had clients who had to act as intermediaries between their accountants and us. One of my clients sent us a long e-mail to explain, on behalf of his accountant, the issues with his books. Several back-and-forth e-mails ensued such that we realised that it would have been more efficient if his accountant had communicated with us directly. Our client subsequently invited us to his year-end meeting with his accountant and what was initially an “issue”turned out to be a matter of miscommunication.
Many relationships between bookkeepers and accountants aren’t strong because both parties are not familiar with one another, and most importantly, there is a lack of trust. Here are my tips on ways to strengthen the bookkeeper-accountant relationship:
1. Keep the roles of accountants and bookkeepers separate. If there are overlaps, a lack of clarity will result;
2. Maintain regular communication. Clients should organise joint meetings with both their bookkeepers and accountants at the start, middle and end of the financial year;
3. Work towards the best interest of the client by using best practices, being upfront about the pros and cons of each software, and tailor solutions to fit the client’s business environment;
4. Plan ahead so that all parties are less stressed when deadlines approach. Aim for a year-end tax preparation by April so that you leave enough room to make adjustments to your clients’ accounts before 30 June;
5. Lastly, sharing is caring. All of us have limited time and skills, so let’s work with one another. We often invite experienced accountants to facilitate training and work shops for our staff on different topics such as tax accounting. In return, we send our Xero experts to other accounting practices to update their staff on new software features.
At Tailored Accounts, we build strong, serious, and sustainable relationships among our clients, our clients’ stakeholders and us. We live in a sharing economy, so let’s work towards a successful marriage between bookkeepers and accountants!
Harry Hoang is CEO of Tailored Accounts
“The Accounts Department of Small and Medium Business”