Adding value when finishing-up

For busy accountants, under time and fee pressure, the temptation is always to put the current job to bed as quickly as possible and, once the final accounts have been agreed, it is easy to then just move on. However, it actually makes sense to start thinking about next year’s work now.

Two big factors determining how much work will need to be done for next year’s accounts are the quality of the records that will be provided by the client and whether the adjustments made this year are posted-back into the client’s accounts. You can control both of these factors by taking time to finish the job off properly now.

Feedback to the client

If you’ve spent a lot of time finding and correcting bookkeeping errors made by the client it’s important to try make sure that you don’t have to address the same issues again next year. Unless you tell the client what was wrong and educate them on what you need, it’s almost certain that the records you receive next time will show no improvement.

So, when completing the job, you should take time to provide your client with detailed feedback that they can act upon as soon as possible. Traditionally, this has been difficult and time-consuming but software now exists to automate this.

Your feedback to the client should be focused on making sure they understand and do not repeat the mistakes made this year and should cover:

  • All of the accounts areas that you found issues in
  • A list of every individual issue you found
  • A summary of the effect of your adjustments on the accounts
  • A list of every individual adjustment you made

Armed with this information, most clients will easily grasp the scope, scale and complexity of the review and correction work that you had to perform. If you set aside some time to talk your report through with the client, you can demonstrate your commitment to helping them and also go a long way towards making sure you get better records to work with next time.

You could record your work and adjustments in an Excel workbook, and then copy and paste details into a report to your client, but far better to use software that can automatically produce a Word document that you can send as is, or further customise easily.

Posting-back your adjustments

Clients are notoriously bad at processing the year-end adjustments provided to them by their accountants. Having said that, not all accountants take the time to actually provide the adjustments. When the job comes in next year, the opening balances position will be wrong and will need to be corrected before work can start on the current year. The key here is to use software to make this process easy and quick, for both you and the client – then it will get done.

Sending a list

You could provide the client with a document, listing the adjustments that you want them to enter into their software. This is easy for you to do (usually a simple copy and paste from your Excel working papers) but hard, and error-prone, for the client to process.

Updating electronically

It is preferable to use technology to make the sending and processing of adjustments back into the client’s accounting software quick, easy and error-free.

For desktop software, you should provide the client with an import file in the correct format for their software. Use a CSV format for Sage clients and IIF format for QuickBooks clients.

  • Importing to Sage https://my.sage.co.uk/public/help/askarticle.aspx?articleid=24220
  • Importing to QuickBooks http://www.my-quickbooks-expert.com/import-quickbooks.html 

Remember that a list of journals may have worked for you, from an accounts production point of view, but is unlikely to work completely when posting-back into the client’s software. For example, journal entries into control accounts (Debtors Control for instance) may be prohibited by the software or, if allowed, may cause errors and inconsistencies. You should therefore take care to convert your journals into equivalent transactions (say a Sales Invoice or Credit Note) before sending the file to the client for updating.

For clients using cloud accounting software, your aim is to send the adjustments directly into their software from your software via the cloud software’s API. The same care needs to be taken as regards transactions being sent in place of journals to control accounts.

Added value and win-win

By taking the time and care to finish your year-end work properly you will be seen to add value by your client and they will feel looked after. The client will appreciate not having to wrestle with entering adjustments and will see real benefit in understanding what they can do to improve their record keeping.

Since the same work also means that you will be more efficient and profitable when working with next year’s accounts, this is a win-win situation.

How Checkmybooks can help

Checkmybooks is the quickest way to get from the client’s trial balance to yours. After automatically reviewing your clients records and reporting on matters needing your attention, the software lets you easily post adjustments then export the final numbers to your accounts production system.

You can also add value by sending the automatically produced report of all work done to your client, together with a correctly formatted data file which makes posting back your adjustments into their software a simple task for them.