If you haven’t seen your accountant in the past couple of months or got your tax planning in place, it’s not too late to get started. Getting ready for the transition from financial year-end to the new financial year with your accountant can potentially save you thousands of dollars and set you on the right path for FY 2013 – 14.
Here are the top five tips for making the most of your accountant in the lead up to June 30.
1. Meet with your accountant before financial year-end.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it doesn’t actually help your accountant provide you with valuable advice or save you money when the financial year has finished. Meeting with your accountant prior to the end of the year to discuss your financial results and other matters can potentially save you time and dollars. Topics to discuss may include superannuation payments, negotiating pay changes with family members on the payroll, dealing with loans, acquisitions of assets, paying of dividends and the signing of any trustee minutes.
2. Get organised.
For your accountant to be able to provide good advice, they need your records to be put together in a logical way. By this I mean it is best practice to provide them with ordered paperwork. Keeping paper and electronic copies of key documents is essential, as is ensuring your accounting system it is up to date and accurate. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask your accountant how they would like your documents captured and delivered.
3. Communication is vital.
You might be surprised how often a business or even personal matter might appear irrelevant but it actually has an impact on your tax or financial affairs. Accountants have often told me how a casual throwaway line has prompted a re-organisation of a client’s tax affairs, leading to significant savings. Family business owners and managers can gain valuable information and advice on many areas of their business if you trust and communicate well with your accountant.
4. Adopt technology to drive productivity.
Technology continues to change the way in which we communicate, capture and store information. Consider using a cloud-based accounting system so your accountant can access, review and work with your information on a more regular basis (weekly or monthly). Using cloud accounting features such as bank feeds – where business bank transactions are fed automatically into your accounting system – can make a big difference to your productivity and to administrative pressures. Just ensure your provider guarantees highly accurate, reliable and secure data feeds. This eases the workload of you and your accountant.
5. Optimise your relationship.
The relationship between an accountant and their client varies. It can be as simple as working with your accountant for compliance and tax reasons only, or it can be as comprehensive as working with your accountant on aspects such as cash flow management and growth strategies – A relationship where you see them as a trusted business advisor.
MYOB’s Business Monitor research found SMEs who use their accountant as a business adviser rather than only for compliance purposes have a greater likelihood of financial success. In fact, those whose accountant was also an adviser were 31 per cent more likely to see an earnings uplift in the past year. They were also more optimistic about revenue expectations in the year ahead and had significantly more work in their pipeline for the next three months.
With this in mind, is your family business’ accountant still the right one for your needs?
Be willing to engage with them to discuss how the relationship between you will operate; to define your working relationship. Ask questions like “when will the work be done and who will do what work” – will you or your accountant prepare your regular BAS? This will ensure the expectations between you and the accountant are clearly defined. It will also provide a great foundation for building a long-standing, healthy and productive relationship.
Adam Ferguson is MYOB's Accountants Division General Manager.