Help…. how do I select a Bookkeeper?
Your business is doing well and you are getting more and more customers every month. Soon, you may find yourself so busy that you haven’t got time to do the books on your own any more. It’s time to engage the services of a regular bookkeeper. Choosing the right bookkeeper for your business is an important decision and one you want to get right. When you buy a car, do you buy the cheapest one? Not necessarily. Top notch bookkeeping services will add efficiency and value to your business by meeting these key factors:
Trust and Integrity
This must be the first item on your list when selecting a bookkeeper/bookkeeping service. Your bookkeeper will have access to your confidential information, business information and personal information. You need to know that the person you select is trustworthy and honest. A bookkeeper who is serious about their services should also offer some type of confidentiality agreement; if they don’t, ask them for one – protect yourself. When engaging a bookkeeper for the first time, ask your business associates to refer you to one. You cannot get a better seal of approval of a bookkeeping service than through the recommendation of someone who can vouch for their services! Word of mouth is without a doubt, the best source.
Attention to Detail
Your bookkeeper generates financial records and data that represent you and your business’ financial state. You need to rely on these figures to make important financial decisions. There is no room for error here. Attention to detail is crucial – a small data entry error today can cause a big headache many months down the track. Keeping up to date with current practices and legislation is especially important for bookkeepers who submit BAS statements (see our article – What is a BAS Agent?).
This goes without saying; your bookkeeper needs relevant experience and qualifications in all the areas you require. If you pay GST, your bookkeeper must be experienced in coding and calculating GST and lodging BAS returns. BAS agents are bookkeepers by profession – you would be wise to engage a BAS agent from the outset as BAS agents have specialist knowledge of the particular reporting requirements that your business must meet to fulfil your BAS and GST obligations.
Must be registered
By law, contract bookkeepers have to be registered with the Tax Practitioners Board to provide BAS services, or practice as a BAS Agent. Contract bookkeepers who lodge BAS returns (or BAS agents) must comply with a strict Code of Conduct and legislative requirements when rendering BAS services. If you are thinking of employing a bookkeeper in-house to complete your BAS returns, they do not need to be a registered BAS Agent, but keep in mind that your employee bookkeeper should be knowledgeable in meeting the current BAS legislation on your behalf.
Questions to ask prospective bookkeepers
Think about what your requirements are – would your future bookkeeper need to manage all of your accounts, or only some parts? Will you be entering invoices or do you need your bookkeeper to do that too (accounts receivable)? Will they be responsible for ensuring your bills are paid (accounts payable)? Who will complete your payroll and superannuation? Here are some questions you could ask prospective bookkeepers that will help you to select the best person for the job:
- How long have you been a bookkeeper? OR How long have you been working as a contract bookkeeper?
- What affiliations, registrations and memberships do you hold? (if they are a BAS Agent, ask for their registered BAS Agent number – you can verify this on the Tax Practitioner’s Board website)
- What accounting software do you specialise in? (make sure they have current experience in your particular software package)
- What agreements and confidentiality documents could you provide me with? (you need to ensure that your confidential information and your intellectual property is protected)
- How will you assist my business through growth/development periods?
- What happens if my requirements change (e.g. times/days increase or decrease)? Do you offer a scalable service to meet these demands?
- What value can you add to my business?
- How and what do you charge? Is there a minimum hourly charge?
- Are you willing to train me/my staff on how to keep records, use accounting software, reporting requirements, etc?
- Are you familiar with the payroll requirements of my industry?