12 Things Your Accountant Wish You Knew

Laurie-Ann Vallieres
June 8, 2024

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Learn our invaluable tips to ensure you're getting the most out of working with your accountant.

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Outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping is a proactive step toward efficient financial management. But are you making the most out of your partnership?

We tackled this question by asking the team what they wish our clients knew, and the insights we gathered are definitely ones you’ll want to hear.

In this post, you’ll learn some of our most valuable tips to ensure you're getting the most out of working with your accountant. 

1. Plan for Taxes, Don’t Just React

Many clients come to us with the primary goal of minimizing taxes. 

The best way to do this is through proactive tax planning. 

Share your long-term plans and big decisions with your accountant well in advance. 

This allows us to make informed decisions and take advantage of tax reduction methods that are fully compliant. 

Once decisions are made without prior notice, our options become limited due to deadlines and the structure of the tax system.

2. Work as a team with your accountant

Your relationship with your accountant should be a collaborative effort. 

While you’re hiring someone to manage your financial services, the responsibility cannot be completely abdicated.

Support your finance team by providing necessary information, answering questions, and being responsive. 

This teamwork approach ensures that all tasks are completed accurately and efficiently.

3. Communicate regularly

Open and frequent communication between you and your bookkeeper is vital. 

Regular communication allows for prompt identification and resolution of issues. 

Your accountant is your financial ally, so make sure to provide all necessary context and ask questions. Without the full picture, your accountant can’t provide proper advice for your business. 

Discrepancies in the books can also be quickly addressed before they escalate into significant problems. 

Over-communicating is better than leaving out critical details.

Finally, your accountant should communicate with you in a way that is helpful, succinct, but also provides context into the “why” of matters. If that’s not the case, make sure to address your expectations clearly for better collaboration. 

4. Set clear expectations

Effective communication is key to a successful partnership.

Before diving into your finances with your accountant or bookkeeper, take the time to clarify your expectations and needs. These will likely be changing as you grow, so ensure you discuss them with your accountant and reassess as needed. 

Make sure you’re clear on how often you'll communicate, which means of communication you’ll use and any other specific requirements that can enhance your collaboration.

Setting clear expectations from the outset leads to a smoother and more productive relationship. 

This clarity ensures that both you and your financial professional are aligned in your approach, ultimately leading to better outcomes for your business.

5. Leverage Your Accountant’s Wide Knowledge Base

Your accountant works with many other businesses and gets to see all of the nitty gritty details inside of them.  

Make use of this and ask your accountant for their advice or to share their experience about more than just taxes. 

They may surprise you with great advice on business strategy, useful technology or even marketing tips!

6. Embrace Taxes as a KPI

Paying taxes means you’re running a successful business.

None of us want to pay more taxes than we have to, but taxes can be a positive thing. They form the structure that supports the society we live in. 

Negative connotations and complex tax avoidance schemes distract you from a far more profitable endeavor: Building a successful business. 

Successful Companies Pay Taxes. It’s a simple truth.

  • In Canada, we have a tax system that favours small businesses.
  • We enjoy very low tax rates for small business. 
  • There are attractive incentives to build a business and sell it one day.

Despite the great tax rates and other benefits of owning a business in Canada, it still hurts to give a portion of your income to the government (especially considering the waste that’s often reported in the news). 

Well, it’s time to get over it, or at least change your thinking about it. What’s that saying about accepting the things you cannot change? Well, let’s take that a step further and start calling your tax bill your #1 key performance indicator. Why? Because only unprofitable businesses pay no tax. 

7. Consider a Non-December Year-End for Your Corporation

December year-ends are the most common, which means accountants are often busiest during this time. 

You may get the sense that accountants want to push you off the calendar year. You may also get the sense that this is for purely selfish reasons in that it’s the busiest time of year for them.

That is true to some extent, but it would be kind of like Costco telling you it might not be the best idea to come in on a Saturday afternoon. 

You can do it, and Costco isn’t going to be mad at you for it, but you might not have the best customer experience.

Choosing a different year-end, such as August 31st, can help you receive faster service as it falls into a slower period for your accountant. 

This can lead to a better overall experience.

8. Keep Detailed Receipts

Keeping your receipts organized is crucial for taxes and accurate bookkeeping. 

Make sure each receipt includes the date, amount paid, vendor information, a description of the goods or services purchased, and any applicable GST/HST. 

This level of detail helps your bookkeeper categorize expenses correctly and is vital during CRA audits to support your tax claims. 

A bank statement isn't quite enough information in CRA’s eyes, so it’s best to keep receipts organized from the start.

9. Simplify your chart of accounts

Tracking your spending becomes much easier when you maintain a straightforward list of transaction categories. 

Keeping your chart of accounts simple reduces the likelihood of mistakes, speeds up the bookkeeping process and will help with financial reporting. 

Generally, you want to glance at your financial statements and understand where your money is coming from and where it is going.

Having too many transaction categories will only make it harder for you to read and understand your statements. 

Check out our bookkeeping guide for more tips on how to categorize your transactions. 

10. Understand the Importance of Bank Statements

Bank feeds are great for your accounting—they automatically bring your bank transactions into your accounting software, saving you time and reducing errors.

But sometimes, they can miss things or duplicate transactions. That's where bank statements come in.

Sharing your bank statements to your bookkeeper helps eliminate many questions and misunderstandings.

Or even better, if you don't want to send statements to your bookkeeper each month, you could set them up with read-only bank access.  Then they can grab the information anytime they need it without bothering you!

This proactive approach will save you and your bookkeeper a significant amount of time. 

With everything in hand, your bookkeeper can thoroughly review transactions, minimizing unnecessary back-and-forth.

11. Stay on top of CRA correspondence

If you’ve signed up for emails from CRA, you’ll only get notifications when CRA sends you new mail. 

But you still need to log in to either your CRA MyAccount (for personal taxes) or CRA MyBusiness (for corporations/sole proprietors) to read them.

Often, CRA sends important mail that needs your attention within a specific time frame. So, it's crucial to check your CRA messages regularly. 

Failure to respond to the CRA inquiry in time can mean having to hire a professional to reinstate claims, when a routine response would have been the better option.  

You can ask your accountant to sign up to receive email notifications about business-related mail, but this feature is not yet available for personal tax. 

Keeping up with CRA correspondence probably isn’t high on your priority list, but it’s crucial to prevent any unnecessary complications that could cost you more time and money in the long run.

If I had followed this advice sooner, I would have saved $500 in interest for missing installment payments. So, stay on top of your CRA messages and save yourself the headache (and money)!

12. When it comes to bookkeeping, it's best to avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen

While we appreciate your involvement and interest in managing your finances, allowing us to handle the bookkeeping entirely ensures a smoother and more efficient process. 

Too many hands in the pot can lead to confusion and errors, ultimately hindering our ability to provide you with the best possible service. 

It's perfectly understandable to want to review the information and ensure everything is in order, and you should always feel comfortable asking questions if you have doubts or concerns. 

However, trusting your bookkeeper to handle the details allows for a more streamlined and efficient process. 

Delegating this task also means you’ll have more time to focus on running your business. 

What’s Next

Now that you've got these handy tips, you're all set to make the most of working with your financial partner. 

If you're still on the lookout for financial help or are looking to make a change, check out our step-by-step video on how to hire the right financial partner for your needs.

And if you're ready to take action, see what services we offer to help your business thrive.

What is your goal today?

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Article by
Laurie-Ann Vallieres
Originally published
June 8, 2024
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