Online Accountants In Canada: Who Are They and How Are They Different?

Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
March 18, 2019

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This guide will explain how online accountants are different from traditional, bricks and mortar accounting firms. It will also list and compare some of the well known online accounting firms in Canada.

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Guide to Online Accountants in Canada

(Updated May 6, 2020)

You might be wondering why a firm of online accountants is writing about other accountants! We want to be the first to recognize that we aren't going to be a perfect fit for every single business owner, but we still want to be of help to everyone. This guide will explain how online accountants are different from traditional, bricks and mortar accounting firms and compare some of the well known online accounting firms in Canada (besides us) we think are great!

Online Accountants vs. Bricks and Mortar Accountants

The majority of accountants in Canada still operate out of bricks and mortar offices, but the popularity of online accountants is on the rise. Online accountants embrace technology to work more efficiently and make accounting services more convenient for their clients.

Let’s look at some of the differences and similarities between online accountants and their more traditional bricks and mortar cousins.

Services Provided

Generally speaking, online accountants offer the same types of services as bricks and mortar accountants. This can include:

  • Corporate and personal tax returns
  • Preparation of financial statements
  • Advisory services
  • Audit and review of financial statements
  • Bookkeeping services
  • Accounting systems setup and training

Not all of these services are offered at every firm. If you’re looking for an accountant, you can check out their “Services” page or just inquire. You may also learn a bit about the responsiveness of your potential next accountant by reaching out through their website.

Accounting Credentials

One does not need to be a designated Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) to offer accounting services in Canada. You’ll find a variety of people offering bookkeeping and accounting services both through bricks and mortar offices or online.

Check out your potential accountant’s “About Us” page or LinkedIn profile to determine whether they are designated CPAs or have other experience and training.

Location, Client Base & Meetings

B&M - Traditional accounting firms and their clients are typically located in the same city. This is because most meetings happen at the accountant’s office or in a boardroom. It also helps to be nearby when you have to drop off and pick up paper copies of your tax documents.

Online - Online accounting firms are able to work with clients across the country. To stay connected with clients, meetings are held through video conferencing with software like Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype. These programs also allow accountants to share their computer screens to help explain financial reports and tax returns. It also allows clients to join meetings from anywhere without having to travel to see their accountant. Video calls are an exceptional business tool, find out all the reasons we love them.

Technology Used

B&M - You’ll see a wide variety of technology used in traditional accounting firms. Some have adopted cloud-based, paperless accounting systems while others are firmly planted in decades-old software and filing cabinets full of paper.

Online - Most online accounting firms will emphasize the use of cloud-based accounting software and paperless technology. It’s nearly impossible to operate an online firm without doing so. The goals are to use technology that makes clients’ lives easier, improve accounting processes and increase efficiency.

Fee Structure

B&M - The traditional hourly billing method is the standard for most bricks and mortar accounting firms. All staff members have a specific hourly charge-out rate and they keep track of their time on your file in six-minute increments (0.1 of an hour). You are sent a bill based on the time it took them to complete the work.

Online - Most online accounting firms use a flat monthly fee structure based on the services that you need. This tends to reduce your fear of being billed by the minute every time you want to ask your accountant a question. It also helps everyone agree on the cost up-front and avoids surprise bills showing up in the mail.

Above all, we want to make sure that our clients are always given the best value. You can check out our article on how much bookkeeping and accounting will cost. It lists the costs under both pricing methods and explains why we prefer the fixed monthly fee pricing method.

List of Online Accounting Firms in Canada

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between online and traditional accountants, we’re going to list some of the most well known online accounting firms in Canada. We’ll also provide some background for each of them including pricing method, services provided, and size of the firm.


Founded in 2003 LiveCA is one of the largest entirely online accounting firms in Canada and has a team of over 60 people.

Ideal Customer

Their website says the best value in their services comes from companies generating $1 million in sales or have runway of at least a year.


Staff members are located throughout Canada, but the firm’s address is in Toronto, Ontario.


Services listed on Live CA’s website include:

  • Financial statement compilations
  • Corporate tax filings
  • Tax planning
  • Budgeting and cash flow planning
  • Bookkeeping
  • Sales Tax
  • Payroll
  • Audit Support
  • Technology system implementations
  • Software training


LiveCA does not list their prices on their website, instead, they create custom package options after an initial consultation.


Connect CPA is another of the early adopters of online accounting technology in Canada, and currently, show more than 20 team members on their website.

Ideal Customer

Connect CPA’s team members work from various locations across Canada but the firm’s home address is located in Toronto, Ontario.


Connect CPA’s team members work from various locations across Canada but the firm’s home address is located in Toronto, Ontario.


Services listed on Connect CPA’s website include:

  • Notice to reader financial statements
  • Corporate tax returns
  • Review engagements
  • Payroll
  • Bookkeeping
  • Buying or selling a business (advisory)
  • Grants and financing work
  • Board and investor requirements
  • Personal taxes
  • Technology and system onboarding, design and support


I didn’t find pricing examples on their website, but they do offer fixed monthly fee packages instead of hourly billing.

Xen Accounting

Xen Accounting is another of the well known online accounting firms in Canada. They have 12 team members currently appearing on their website.

Ideal Customer

According to Xen they handle small business accounting.


Xen Accounting’s team members are located across Canada and the firm's home address is located in Montreal, Quebec.


Services listed on Xen Accounting’s website include:

  • Systems design (analysis, implementation, setup, training)
  • Tax planning
  • Bookkeeping
  • Accounting support
  • Business consulting


I didn’t find a price listing on their website, but they do offer 100% fixed fee priced plans. The website includes a chart showing examples of different service levels and a form that you can fill out to inquire about pricing.

Hawkins & Co.

Hawkins and Co. Accounting is a modern accounting firm with a bricks and mortar office and cloud-based accounting technology. Their website is currently showing 12 team members.

Ideal Customer

Hawkins and Co. handle a wide range of clients and lists services for personal taxes, business owners, nonprofits and registered charities.


The firm is based out of Windsor, Ontario with a staff member working remotely in Vancouver.


I didn’t find a specific list of services on their website, but there were sections discussing:

  • System setup
  • Business advising
  • Payroll
  • Sales tax
  • Financial reporting
  • Personal and Corporate tax returns
  • Setting targets and analyzing results
  • Non-profit and charity advising


I didn’t find any pricing examples on their website, but their mission statement says that they use transparent pricing with no surprise bills.

Ledgers Online

Ledgers Online is an accounting firm providing accounting and bookkeeping services to clients across Canada. They have been in business for almost 20 years but it’s unclear how big their team is.

Ideal Customer

Ledgers Online handles bookkeeping for small to large businesses and public practices. They can provide bookkeeping and accounting services for construction companies and franchises.


Ledgers Online has a home base in North Vancouver, British Columbia but they advertise services for clients across Canada.


Services listed on Ledgers Online’s website include:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Notice to reader financial statements
  • Income tax returns
  • Tax planning
  • Document hosting and management
  • QuickBooks hosting


Ledgers Online uses fixed pricing with different tiers for bookkeeping and hosting. Bookkeeping rates range from $250-$1450 per month, and Quickbooks hosting from $119-$299 per month. They also have custom pricing and hourly rates available by request.

Bench Accounting

Bench is America’s largest bookkeeping service for small businesses, they launched in 2013 and have 350 employees.

Ideal Customer

Bench works with a wide variety of small businesses and entrepreneurs based in the US.


Bench’s head office is located in Vancouver, BC. They previously served Canada and the US but have recently switched to only serving the US.


Bench is primarily a bookkeeping service but does offer tax filing for sole proprietors, business and business/personal filings.


Bench uses fixed fee pricing based on the volume of your monthly expenses. It is currently listed on their website as:

  • $139/month - your business has less monthly expenses less than $1k
  • $159/month - your business has monthly expenses from $1k to $7.5k
  • $179/month - your business has monthly expenses from $7.5k to $25k
  • $219/month - your business has monthly expenses from $25k to $50k
  • $299/month - your business has monthly expenses up to $50k to $1M

Avalon Accounting

Avalon Accounting is a growing online accounting firm with a team of fourteen working remotely and in a shared workspace.

Ideal Client

We specialize in working with small business owners with revenue of up to $1 million.


We are headquartered out of KWENCH in Victoria, BC but have team members across the country.


We offer services to help develop, focus, and grow a small business:

  • Corporate Accounting and Tax Returns
  • Bookkeeping
  • Small Business Advising
  • Personal Tax Returns
  • Accounting Systems Setup and Support
  • Payroll Setup and Support
  • Online Tax Filing Services


We offer fixed pricing with custom plans based on the needs of your business. We understand that every business can work a little differently so we offer a free consultation to break the ice and discover what you’re looking for.


Since the advent of cloud technology, the popularity of online accounting firms has been growing. You’ll find that it’s easy to sift through and find both traditional and online accountants to help with your small business bookkeeping and accounting.

Online firms typically embrace technology to make accounting more efficient and convenient for clients. They also tend to use fixed-fee pricing instead of traditional hourly billing to avoid unsuspected charges

We’ve listed some of the most well-known firms based on our experience, but you’ll certainly find more through a Google search.

We’d love to have you

Avalon Accounting is an online accounting firm and we would love to earn your business. Have a look around our site and see if our services fit your needs and if our values align with your own.

Reach out and Joe or Paul will be happy to answer your questions and provide feedback on how we may be able to help.

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Article by
Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
Originally published
March 18, 2019
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