So, your accountant is proposing that you change bookkeeping systems. What should you do?
The key question is “is this in the best interest of your business?”
Many accountants have one bookkeeping system that they prefer and their goal is to get as many of their clients as possible to use it as this is more efficient for them when it comes to doing your end of year accounts. Some will even offer their system to you ‘free’ to encourage you to switch (it is of course not really free as the provision of it is built into the fees you pay them).
If until now you have been using excel spreadsheets and you are starting to work with an accountant for the first time then this is probably an offer worth taking advantage of as it will improve your processes and your accountant will be familiar with the new system you are moving to and this certainly has advantages.
If however you have invested time and effort to learn how to use your current system, designed your invoices on it, taught staff how to use it and understand how to manage your business using it then it may well be worth standing your ground and requiring them to use your system. This probably equates to several days of your time to set up a new system plus learning over six months or so how the system really works day to day. Afterall you are the one using it regularly, they are using it only annually or quarterly if they are sorting out your VAT for you.
Your accountant is part of the financial team who is supporting your business and this is how it should feel. Not you dancing to your accountant’s tune!
So here are a few things to consider, questions to ask and discussions to have with your accountant:
– Why does your accountant recommend the system that they prefer?
– What percentage of their client base is using it?
– How does this make the service they offer you better?
– What are the key features you like about your current system? e.g. Do you have favourite reports?
– Do you use particular features such as connection to your emailing system (e.g. mail chimp), PayPal, VAT submission that you would require of any new system?
– What would you have to re-learn if you changed systems? Would you have to input your whole product list again? Would you have to re-input all your customer details again? Set up your invoice layout? Set up reports for monthly sales?
– How long might this take you? Perhaps 2-3 days initially and then some extra time over the first six months?
– How will you access last year’s numbers if they are on a different system?
– Will you still be complying with HMRC rules if you no longer have access to them (you need to keep data for 7 years after the annual submission)?
– If you wanted to compare the monthly sales pattern from last year to your progress this year or your plans for next year how would you do it?
There are of course times when this is an investment worth making. It is however worth ensuring that your accountant is recognising the commitment and the switching costs you are incurring and that this is matched by their own commitment to your business (and not just them arguing for what suits them without considering the impact for you). If it is simply a matter of the accountant looking after their own efficiency and this profitability then perhaps you should consider changing accountant not bookkeeping system!
If you would like a list of MyCake friendly accountants drop us an email to email@example.com. We partner with The WOW Company as we know they are focused on helping small creative businesses thrive not just on their own bottom line!