Finance: Help your accountant to help you

By Jeremy Tauri

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At some point you've probably heard an accountant say, "Crap in equals crap out."

This is usually referring to the information that is provided by some clients to complete their end-of-year accounts and tax returns.

I can say this comfortably because now I have some statistics to back it up.

This is in no way a discussion about the quality of staff or clients. This is not about clients intentionally committing fraud. It's more likely that there has just been some inefficient accounting processes at play.

BankLink, a provider of transaction data and business software, has released some information confirming that 47 per cent of small and medium enterprises continue to input data manually.

Manual data entry is no longer necessary with the technology we have available. We can now get data feeds from the bank, and software exists that memorises transactions and makes the process much faster.

But remember, accounting systems need to be set up properly if they are going to work, so ensure your accountant is involved in this process.

Having an accountant involved will mean the 13 per cent of SMEs that need extra help with their end-of-year accounts and tax returns won't need that help any more - saving them on accounting fees.

Also, 43 per cent of businesses admit they are late with supplying information to their accountant. Being tardy with your end-of-year information has a cost, and not just in the way of more accounting fees or potential use of money interest.

Instead of meeting to discuss those financial statements to get an understanding of how business is doing, or to get some advice on what needs to change to make a buck, 65 per cent of SMEs are instead meeting with accountants to discuss and clarify transactions on bank statements.

Discuss your needs upfront and make sure you and your accountant understand when information needs to be provided, to ensure that you meet to talk less about that purchase from Shop X for $600.

Your financial statements are an invaluable product. They are used to determine insurance and ACC entitlements, are a historical base for planning and valuations, a reference for borrowing and, of course, calculating the tax you pay.

Come on, SMEs it's time to change the stats and get efficient.

- Hamilton News

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