As Australia heads into that lovely time of year when we must get our tax papers ready for filing, it’s a good time for me to cover the one topic that most accountants get defensive about and most taxpayers tend to procrastinate on. It’s that time when you need to go and pay your accountants a visit and have them prepare your taxes. Would you like me to reveal your accountants’ secrets and save on your accounting fees?  Whilst there may be some minor differences for USA, England, etc the principals remain the same. An accountant is an accountant irrespective of location.

The latest bill from your accountant just arrived. You open the envelope and almost die of a heart attack! You ask yourself “How on earth can the accountant justify the size of the fee” (after all, you only run a small business). If you have ever been in that position – then check this out.  Then next time you get an invoice from your accountants, you will be in a better position to understand whether the invoice was reasonable and fair for the work they’ve done for you or whether they are simply “profiteering” from you. Most likely, the thing that runs through you head is, “Should you change accountants to save on your accounting fees?”

Love them or hate them, there’s one thing that many agree on – Accountants (and lawyers and other professionals) charge way too much for their services! Sometimes you go to your accountants at the end of the tax year and then you just start praying that the bill you’re going to get isn’t going to break the bank! It seems to go up every year even in a recession and even if you seem to be doing more and more of the paperwork each year. However, you do not want to change accountants just to save on your accounting fees – you want a good accountant that provides VFM (Value For Money).

Whatever you do, do not change accountants just to save on your accounting fees. I’m a firm believer that if you “pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.  However, you must also remember that paying lots of money does not mean it’s good advice. Bad advice can cost money too! The question will be – how can you tell? Most are not qualified to determine if the advice provided by their accountants is good advice.

By the way, I’m not against accountants. Some of my best friends are accountants. I’m an accountant myself! 😱 – at least, I used to be before I saw the light! I operated an accounting practice for over 20 years in UK and then Australia but often felt I was just a slave to the IRS or Tax Office working under the threat of penalties if I don’t do my job “properly”. My role was to work out for you what you owe in taxes and making sure you pay it on time, every time! – although I’m sure current practising accountants will vehemently disagree with me! Some say accountants are just pseudo employees for the IRS or Tax Office although you may or may not agree with that especially if you’re an accountant. For me, the best compliment anyone can pay me is to tell me that I don’t talk or act like an accountant!  So, I’ve earned the right the tell you your accountants’ secrets and show you how you can save on accounting fees.

As a partner in a law firm once pointed out – many of these issues can be traced back to the concept of time-based billing. This is a system whereby you are charged dollars per hour for the time spent on your work. The issue is highlighted in a cult novel for disgruntled lawyers written by ex­lawyer Richard Beasley called Hell Has Harbour Views. In this book one of the characters manages to record more hours on his time sheet than there are actual hours in the day! (Don’t laugh – we’ve seen this ourselves with employees who turn up for work at 9am, take their 1-hour lunch break, go home at 5pm and somehow miraculously manage to clock in a 9 hour day!)

Do time-based charging promote inefficiencies and hide stupidity? Needless to say, this method of charging clients for work done can be abused (as with any other system) and can lead to you, the client, being charged for inefficiencies by the relevant staff member – which may or may not sometimes include the partner too! Having said that, accountants are aware that an increasing number of clients look at what accountants do, rather than what accountants try to charge per hour – and sometimes, it does not compute.

I was going to list down everything you needed to know in this article. However, it became apparent that it would be too long as a post here. If you understand HOW accountants actually work, it can save you money – a LOT of $$. You see, If you know how your accountants work, you can work with their system and give them the annual tax records in the format they prefer. This in turn speeds up the time it takes them to attend to your work. Time is money.  Saving time will therefore save on your accounting fees.

I ended up summarising it into a small easy-to-read eBook How to Save on Accounting Fees. In it I revealed all your accountants’ secrets – how they work out what they charge you, how they do what they do and more. If you’re on the lookout for a new accountant, I will tell you how to find one. Changing accountants is not as difficult as it seems. Whilst many accountants like to give the illusion that it will cause you a lot of heartache (and headache) that is simply not true. Any good accountant will be able to pick up your case and run with it. It’s not that hard.

At the end of the day, knowing what you don’t know and knowing what to ask your accountants can save you lots of money. Or it may even give you a greater appreciation of the value provided by a good accountant. The book will explain you how you can keep your accounting fees down. And if you’re not happy with the latest bill you just received from your accountants, it will give you suggestions as to what you can do.

To get a your copy of my free eBook, on How To Save on Accounting Fees just contact me. Enjoy!