Written by Stephen Beard, Managing Director of Plyo Bookkeeping, a Vancouver-based bookkeeping firm.
Choosing the right bookkeeper is a crucial decision for any business, irrespective of its size. A skilled and reliable bookkeeper can contribute significantly to the financial health and success of your enterprise. Navigate the crucial steps of ‘How to select a Bookkeeper in Vancouver, BC’ with this comprehensive guide, empowering you to make informed decisions when choosing a bookkeeper, and ensuring the integrity of your financial records.
Question 1 – Hire directly or outsource to a bookkeeping firm?
The first big decision you face is whether your company needs an in-house bookkeeper or is better off outsourcing the work to a bookkeeping firm. If your company is new or not large enough to justify a full-time bookkeeper, then it’s often easier and cheaper to outsource. If your company needs a full-time hire and/or has more bespoke financial and admin procedures, hiring in-house is usually a better option.
As a small business owner, it’s also worth considering whether you are comfortable hiring and managing an internal bookkeeper. Outsourced bookkeeping firms are more likely to be up to date on the latest technologies, legal requirements, and best practices than individual employees. If you plan to hire directly then make sure you’re comfortable with reviewing and overseeing the work of your bookkeeper.
Question 2 – What qualifications should I look for?
Qualifications and experience can be hard to judge for those not working in accounting and bookkeeping. Certain qualifications are positive indicators, but be warned, that experience matters more than qualifications. For example, a CPA qualification could have been earned by someone who’s never used a cloud-based accounting system and who doesn’t know how to leverage its automation features.
Likewise, a Quickbooks advisor qualification demonstrates that someone has completed approximately 8 hours of training on the QBO platform and passed a 50-question multiple choice exam – it’s a helpful course but hardly a guarantee of competence. Having said all that, you can still count it as a positive when you see that your bookkeeper has qualifications such as a CPA, CPB (Certified Public Bookkeeper), and/or QuickBooks Advisor/Xero certified. Weight these qualifications alongside their work experience.
Question 3 – How do I judge a bookkeeper’s experience?
Judging the experience of someone is tricky, but here are some useful things to look out for on CVs.
- Have they used cloud-based software? Or is all their experience with larger companies using older systems like Oracle/SAP/Dynamics? While huge multinational companies run on these older systems, they are generally set up so that staff deal with just one aspect of the bookkeeping process, such as just Accounts Receivable or Accounts Payable. This means some bookkeepers (including those designated with CPAs) can have had less exposure than expected to full cycle bookkeeping.
- Have they managed full cycle bookkeeping for other companies, and what systems have they set up and run? It’s usually easier to take over an existing accounting system than to set one up from scratch, so if you have a new company, you’ll want someone who’s experienced in setting up finance systems from the ground up – preferably on the cloud.
- Industry-specific knowledge is invaluable when it comes to bookkeeping. An experienced bookkeeper who has worked with businesses similar to yours will likely be more familiar with the specific financial nuances and challenges of your industry.
Question 4 – Are they tech-savvy?
This question will be applicable for most hires you make nowadays, but it’s essential for bookkeeping. The hardest part of bookkeeping is keeping up with all of the latest apps, understanding how they plug together, and recognizing which ones to use to streamline and automate a client’s workflow.
Question 5 – Have they got a good reputation?
For outsourced bookkeeping firms, you can check online reviews or ask existing clients how they would rate the service. For potential employees, you can check their references, but there are contradicting schools of thought on whether employee references are of much help. Most people’s former employers will give them a reference as a courtesy, so it’s hard to know how much you learn from references.
Question 6 – Do they communicate well?
In bookkeeping there is no getting around it, you have to communicate a lot. There will always be transactions that require additional information, documents that need to be filed, and financial information that needs to be presented. Make sure that your bookkeeper is good at explaining financial concepts, doesn’t use too much accounting jargon, and isn’t shy about asking questions.
Choosing the right Bookkeeper in Vancouver is a decision that should not be taken lightly. By considering the qualifications, industry experience, technological proficiency, and other key factors outlined in this guide, you can make an informed decision that aligns with the unique needs and goals of your business. A competent bookkeeper is not just a recorder of financial transactions but a valuable partner in your business’s financial success.