10 things to look for in a Contract Bookkeeper – Part 1

10 Things to Look for in a Contract Bookkeeper – Part 1 of 2

Entrusting the management of your business financials is not something many people find easy. Who do you trust? Who can you rely on? How do you know if you are choosing someone that best fits your business? Not all bookkeepers are created equal, so how do you sort between the milk and the cream of the industry? There are few factors to take into consideration that can help steer you in the right direction – but remember to always meet with your prospective bookkeeper to ensure you are compatible and can work together.

The relationship you have with your bookkeeper should be a clear one and with an open line of communication. If you are starting out looking for your first bookkeeper, or perhaps replacing and old one, consider some of the following points.

1. Are they a Registered BAS Agent?

Once upon a time, not long ago, anyone could do bookkeeping for a fee and have no qualifications or experience. Thankfully that has changed, and there it is now a legal requirement for a person offering bookkeeping services particularly in the area around GST and BAS services for fee or other reward to be a Registered BAS Agent.

Unless the bookkeeper is employed by you as an employee, they could be deemed to be providing BAS services for day-to-day bookkeeping activities such as tailoring accounting software for a businesses’ needs, working out default GST codes, deciding on the codes to apply to tax invoices, FBT collection and recovery, preparation of payroll or PAYG withholding obligations including the annual payment summaries – and would need to be registered as a BAS Agent with the Tax Practitioners Board. Penalties for carrying out BAS services without appropriate registration can incur penalties from $42,500 for individuals or $212,500 for corporate entities.

2. Education

It is important to ensure that the person undertaking your bookkeeping has some level of formal qualification. An educated bookkeeper is going to have undergone hours of formal study in the field of accounting or bookkeeping to gain their qualification. This will provide some assurance of their knowledge. Qualifications are also a necessary requirement to become a Registered BAS Agent, with a minimum of Certificate IV Financials Services in Bookkeeping or Accounting with an approved certificate in GST/BAS Taxation Principles and completed a unit in Establishing and Maintaining a Payroll System.

The education shouldn’t stop there. To maintain registration as a BAS Agent, a bookkeeper must undertake a minimum of 45 hours of professional development over a 3 year period with a minimum of 5 hours in each year. This ensures that they are keeping their knowledge current, and keeping up to date with changes in legislation and software developments relevant to their industry.

3. Experience

There is only so much that can be learned from a textbook. So much more is learned from real life situations. Ensure your bookkeeper has experience. Experience frequently may come at a higher price point, but that bookkeeper usually brings skills enabling them to work faster and smarter than someone with less experience.

Experience also can bring alternative ways of looking at problems, and can seek efficient and accurate ways to manage your processing and compliance. Another requirement of becoming a Registered BAS Agent is ensuring that a minimum of 1,000-1,400 hours of relevant experience can be proven in 4 years prior to registration. This sets the bar ensuring that your bookkeeper has the necessary exposure to bookkeeping

4. Professional Body Memberships

Ask your bookkeeper if they are a member of any professional bodies. Professional bodies can require certain criteria to be met before membership will be granted, and may have minimum requirements to maintain ongoing membership particularly in ongoing professional development.

Professional bodies frequently have a code of conduct for members to adhere to and provide opportunities for bookkeepers to keep their skills and legislation changes current through networking events, training sessions, workshops, newsletters and frequently provide support services around technical queries members may have in relation to their profession.

Tashly Consulting Xero Bookkeepers Adelaide are Registered BAS Agents #86318001 and we are dedicated to providing seamless, high-quality, transparent bookkeeping services – If you would like any further information please contact us via telephone: (08) 8121 4424 or via email.

Tashly Consulting Xero Bookkeepers Adelaide – Not your average Bean Counter!

Disclaimer: All or any advice contained in this blog/newsletter is of a general nature only & may not apply to your individual business circumstances. For specific advice relating to your specific situation, please contact your accountant or other professional adviser for further discussion.