Are they trained and supervised by a CPA?
In a prior post, I listed the 10 questions you should ask when hiring a bookkeeper or accountant. In this post, I’ll discuss the second question – Are they trained and supervised by a CPA? Or are they trained and supervised by an accountant or other bookkeeper?
When you hire an outside or outsourced bookkeeping service, training and supervision matter. Although accounting basics haven’t changed, technology is changing all the time. A bookkeeper could have training in outdated bookkeeping methods or accounting software. Training allows them to stay current with the latest trends and software applications. For example, I often talk to small business owners who have a bookkeeper who is doing their bookkeeping manually (yes, manually! That means pencil and paper folks!). I also talk to small business owners who have a bookkeeper who is spending a lot of time manually entering transactions into their accounting software. Many transactions can now be downloaded from financial institutions – which cut down on data entry time.
Supervision matters also. A bookkeeper should be supervised by a more senior accounting professional and their work should be reviewed to ensure that it’s error free and that it meets quality standards. When a CPA reviews the work of a bookkeeper, the CPA looks at the books from a bookkeeping, accounting, tax, and financial reporting perspective – well beyond what the bookkeeper focuses on. Proper supervision ensures the quality of your bookkeeping.
Another reason why quality matters is that a bookkeeper who freelances or works independently may not get very much training and no one is supervisng their work. This could lead to potential errors. In fairness to all bookkeepers, I must stress that there are many qualified bookkeepers. Your job is to ask the right questions so that you can make the right decision when hiring a qualified bookkeeper.
Here is a list of questions to ask an outside or outsourced bookkeeper.
- Are you trained or supervised by a CPA?
- Is your work reviewed by a CPA or another staff person at your company?
- What processes do you have in place to ensure the quality of your work?
How to verify your bookkeeper’s or accountant’s qualifications
It is important to verify a bookkeeper’s or accountant’s qualifications. Ask about degrees and certifications they hold. Verify the information they provide you if necessary.
The bookkeeping hiring test
There are useful bookkeeping tests that you can find online. Look up “Bookkeeper hiring test”. You can find a free bookkeeper hiring test at the American Institute of Bookkeepers.
Ask for references and look up testimonials
Ask the bookkeeper for references and call those references. Ask questions about the bookkeeper’s quality of work, how quickly they completed the work, whether they were easy to work with, what problems they helped to solve, whether there were any problems with the bookkeepers, and what they liked about the bookkeeper. Ask the questions that are important to you.
Look up the bookkeeper’s website and look for testimonials. If they are certified in QuickBooks, look them up in the QuickBooks ProAdvisor website. Are there any testimonials about their work? Are they favorable testimonials?
Take the time to ask these important questions and to check out the bookkeeper’s credentials.
Here’s an infographic for you to download and save: