Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to outsource your bookkeeping. But how do you know your new bookkeeper has the skills you need to provide you with the best support possible?
With no industry requirements, anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper. Even someone with little to no experience.
That’s a scary thought when you consider the responsibility that a bookkeeper has in your business.
Have no fear, we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 questions to ask before starting with your new bookkeeper so that you have confidence they are what’s best for your business.
6 Questions To Ask Before Starting With Your New Bookkeeper
1. What organisations are you a member of?
This is one of the best ways to find out how seriously your bookkeeper takes their ongoing education. There are continual updates in the world of IRD, ACC, MBIE and beyond. How are they keeping up to date with them?
What organisations should you be expecting them to be involved with?
Institute of Certified New Zealand Bookkeepers
ICNZB is one of the key organisations your bookkeeper should be a member of. There are varying ranges of membership. From Certified Bookkeeper (for an individual or freelancer) to Accredited Bookkeeping Business (for an agency).
One of the benefits of ensuring your bookkeeper is a member of ICNZB is the knowledge that their membership holds them accountable for their continuing professional development (CPD). They have a responsibility to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
As a voluntary membership, you can be confident that your bookkeeper takes the service they offer seriously.
Registered Bookkeeper with IRD
To apply for bookkeeper status with IRD, your bookkeeper needed to meet a number of criteria set by IRD. These include:
- A minimum of 10 clients
- Ensuring their terms of engagement meet IRD requirements around gaining authority to act
- Being in good financial and personal compliance standing with IRD
As a registered bookkeeper, your bookkeeper will be able to link to your IRD accounts with ease. This will stop you from having more forms to fill and save precious time.
Many great bookkeepers also provide tax agent services. So, while more targeted to accountants and tax agents, if your bookkeeper is also a member of ATAINZ you can have a degree of confidence in their work.
Much like ICNZB above, ATAINZ members are subject to a code of ethics and ongoing CPD requirements.
2. Do you know how to reconcile my balance sheet?
This question may well seem like a different language to you, but it is vital for ensuring you will always have an accurate up to date view of your accounts.
Reconciling each account on your balance sheet is the process of verifying entries are recorded and coded correctly. Best practice would see all the accounts on your balance sheet being reconciled each month.
It’s not enough to get a simple yes/no answer to this question. Ask your potential bookkeeper how they will do this for you.
Key things to listen out for in their answer include:
- Comparing all balances to source documentation. For example, bank balances to bank statement balances.
- Cross-checking balances with other areas of your accounting system. For example, the GST return vs. the GST figure on your balance sheet.
- Making adjustments as needed. It’s not enough to simply find the issues, they should fix them too. This can save your accountant a lot of time and energy at end of financial year.
3. What software systems do you work in?
There are pros and cons to bookkeepers who operate in only one system.
They obviously love the system they use and have an in-depth knowledge of how to operate it. This is great if this is the system that you currently use. However, sometimes it can lead to bookkeepers only advocating for the one system, not considering which system is best for your business’ needs.
Beyond the main accounting software options, it is also a good idea to understand what add-on systems they know. Quite often your accounting software can only take you so far, so you need an add-on to gain better efficiencies in your accounts.
This can range from products like PlusOne to automate part of your accounts payable process to more specific software to your industry.
4. How much bookkeeping experience do you have?
Qualifications are important, but do not be fooled by a piece of paper. The best bookkeepers have a tonne of experience. They will have encountered some grizzly issues. As a result, they will have an excellent problem-solving process for when these do (inevitably) arise.
5. What happens to my bookkeeping if you’re out of action?
This is especially important if you’ve decided to work with a freelance bookkeeper.
One of the benefits of working with a bookkeeping agency is the built-in cover within the team.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with a freelance bookkeeper. But it always pays to know they have a contingency plan in place ‘just in case.
6. Who owns my data?
We recommend all businesses hold their own software subscriptions, so they retain ownership of all their data.
Bonus questions: What else should you ask?
Some other key questions include:
- Do you hold professional indemnity insurance?
- What checks and balances do you have in place to ensure the accuracy of my accounts?
- What information do you need from me?
- How frequently will you be updating my accounts?
As a business owner, investing in a bookkeeper is a smart decision. There’s a certain element of security in knowing that your finances are under control, freeing you up to focus on what you do best.
If you’re interested in finding out how working with a bookkeeper can take some pressure off you, then get in touch with us here at Admin Army today. We’re happy to answer all of the above questions and plenty more.