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How can a small business benefit from a bookkeeper? Interview #5 with Wendy Scott

This month I caught up with Wendy Scott from In Balance Accounting for my quarterly interview.

Jeff: Welcome Wendy. Can you please tell me exactly what services a ‘bookkeeper’ provides?

Wendy: A bookkeeper organizes the company income and expenses into a format so that the company has a balance sheet and income statement. He/she can calculate payroll and assist in filing all government tax filings such as GST, PST,WCB and payroll deductions. They then pass this information on to the Certified Professional Accountant to file the company tax return and provide formal financial statements to the shareholders. In the case of a proprietorship the information is filed on the owner’s/partner’s personal tax return.

How can a small business benefit from a bookkeeper? Greenfeld Financial Management, Delta, BC

Jeff: When should someone hire a bookkeeper versus an accountant? Wendy: An accountant can do the same things a bookkeeper does, but they will charge significantly more to do this work. There is also a more personal relationship between a bookkeeper as they would work more closely with the owner. Jeff: What credential/experience should I be looking for when hiring a bookkeeper?

Wendy: There isn’t a formal credential for a bookkeeper but there is now a nationwide organization that will test and certify a bookkeeper’s knowledge. The owner of a company should definitely look at the bookkeepers’ number of years of experience and also speak to some of their clients to see what the reviews are like. Jeff: What is the biggest advantage of hiring a bookkeeper? Wendy: The biggest advance to hiring a bookkeeping is personal service. Jeff: Many small business owners feel their spouse can handle the bookkeeping. What mistakes/misconceptions can become problematic when going this route? Wendy: There are many rules and regulations that someone needs to know about in order to correctly do the bookkeeping. If the spouse is not trained in bookkeeping costly mistakes can happen when they claim the wrong amount of GST or if they miss a filing deadline. Just like in any job it is best to leave the work to someone with experience. If a small business owner wants to have their spouse do some of the work they should still work with a bookkeeper to make sure things are done correctly. Jeff: When using a bookkeeper, what is the easiest way to keep the cost down? Wendy: If the paperwork comes to the bookkeeper already sorted and organized this will definitely help to keep the costs down. This is one area that a spouse can greatly assist the small business owner. Jeff: Is there a difference in the bookkeeping cost between digital vs paper documentation? Wendy: There is definitely a cost difference. If the business owner wants to use some of the new software out to input their expenses digitally this reduces the amount of work the bookkeeper has to do. Again though it depends on the owner’s knowledge (or spouse’s knowledge) about what to categorize their expenses to and what is acceptable expenses. If the bookkeeper has to still review these expenses it will not result in the reduced cost. If the paperwork comes to the bookkeeper organized they would be knowledgeable enough to input this work more quickly than someone without the knowledge so in the end it depends on several factors. Jeff: How do you charge your clients and how is the fee calculated? Wendy: Initially I have to charge my clients an hourly rate until I can determine how much time it will take us to get the work done. After we have done a couple of month’s work we can set a monthly fee that we honour for a year period of time, unless there is a significant increase in the amount of work that needs to be done.

Jeff: Thanks so much Wendy. That was very helpful. I can say from personal experience, that using In Balance Accounting has been a huge help to my business operations.

If you would like to contact Wendy, here is her information:

Wendy Scott, In Balance Accounting (604) 469-0060

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