Here’s a question we get asked a lot:
“Should I be talking to you about this? Or should I speak with my accountant?”
It’s a good question.
There is a degree of overlap between the work that accountants and bookkeepers complete, and both play a key role in the accounting process, of course. But there are important differences.
An accountant will generally provide high level review and discussion such as:
offering tax strategy and planning
preparing your corporate tax return
advising on key management decisions around growth, product planning, hiring, etc.
A bookkeeper helps keep your granular financial data up to date. You can use this information to make the key decisions described above. This can include services such as:
keeping your general ledger, and accounts payable and accounts receivable sub ledgers current
processing payments to vendors and payroll for staff
completing your sales and payroll tax returns
providing suggestions and tools for making your accounting process as efficient as possible
preparing reporting that helps both you and your accountant make key decisions and prepare your corporate tax return
The degree to which a bookkeeper is involved in your organization varies based on your industry, how much internal support you already have in your organization, and the services that your bookkeeper provides.
So how do you maximize the work that your accountant and bookkeeper do for you and take advantage of each of these services?
1. Make introductions
Your accountant and bookkeeper should be working together. Information should flow back and forth. Questions should be answered together. A quick introduction and clarification of roles will help avoid silos and duplicated work.
2. Ask questions
Your bookkeeper can tell you a lot about your business. They understand the roles and responsibilities in your organization - they have to in order to get the info they need! They see how information flows through the organization. They see where the money comes from and where it goes. Ask your bookkeeper question about what is working in the flow of information, what can be improved, and where they see opportunities for efficiencies.
3. Stay in touch
The key to maximizing the value of your financial data is to return to it over and over. Only by returning to this information can you build skill, understand changes and make projections. If the reports you are receiving don’t provide the info you need, then let your bookkeeper know. And if you aren’t sure what you need to know, then talk to your accountant and bookkeeper together.
65% of failed business owners blame financial mismanagement for their downfall. So if you aren’t getting what you need to manage your organization, ask questions, engage your players, and take charge!