The scope of a bookkeeper, whether it is an in-person or a virtual bookkeeping position can vary widely based on the client’s needs and budget. For example, what works well for an insurance brokerage company may not be a good fit for an architectural firm.
Below are just some of the tasks that may fall within a bookkeeper’s duties.
- Recording invoices to be paid
- Making payments
- Generating and recording sales invoices
- Making and recording deposits
- Administering and processing payroll
- Reconciling bank statements
- Creating and posting journal entries for all financial transactions
- Filing source documents
- Preparing financial reports, including cash flows
- Filing certain tax returns, such as payroll taxes and sales tax
Bookkeeping services are provided on a schedule agreed to with the client and could be on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on the client’s needs. All services are customized and tailored to the needs of the clients. The most successful relationship is based on regular communication, where expectations are established and met or exceeded.
In today’s workplace, most companies work in automated environments that facilitate or enable working remotely. As such, there is a greater demand for professionals that can work remotely or virtually.
A virtual bookkeeper offers the same services and benefits you would expect from a bookkeeper working on-site. The virtual bookkeeper would obtain access to the company’s systems, applications, and files remotely and would perform the same tasks and deliver the same reports as to when working on-site. The key to success is maintaining regular communication so expectations are understood and met. Ultimately, there is no difference in the benefits that a company will realize from the bookkeeper, whether the work is performed virtually (remotely) or on-site.
By entering an independent contractor arrangement, employers reduce payroll taxes, insurance premiums, and other costs associated with having a full-time employee on the payroll. Many businesses’ need for a bookkeeper can be cyclical so this arrangement can allow the business to ramp up the bookkeeper’s workload during busy times and ease off during slower times. Further, it is very common these days for staff to turn over frequently, often within 1-3 years, which is disruptive to an organization. Engaging an outside firm like CFO Strategies to handle your bookkeeping protects your company against staff turnover and the disruption and cost of starting over with a new bookkeeper.
From the virtual bookkeeper’s perspective, this structure can allow them to serve multiple companies anywhere in the country, giving them more knowledge of various systems and practices. That knowledge will be brought to bear at your company. Outsourcing your bookkeeping needs can provide a level of expertise that can otherwise be hard to get. Virtual bookkeeping firms and bookkeepers for hire often have quite a bit of experience in many different industries. Finding someone locally who can provide that level of experience while staying within the client’s payroll budget may be a challenge.
Businesses don’t need to provide office space, a laptop, or other supplies to the virtual bookkeeper. Virtual bookkeepers can often flex their schedules so long as certain critical tasks are completed by the assigned deadline.
Things to Consider Before Hiring A Bookkeeper
Because virtual bookkeeping requires the bookkeeper to have remote access to your business’s critical financial documents, data security is important. It may be necessary to strengthen your network firewalls and other protections before you allow your virtual bookkeeper access to this sensitive information.
You may also require the bookkeeper to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). This provides your organization with some protection against disclosure of its private data.
The average annual income for bookkeepers is approximately $60,000. This can vary based on factors like location, the volume and complexity of transactions, and the bookkeeper’s experience. If this figure is well beyond your organization’s budget, it may be worthwhile to look into part-time or on-demand bookkeeping. This allows you to pay only for the hours worked instead of having someone always on call. Many bookkeepers may prefer this arrangement, as it allows them to take on other clients.
CFO Strategies also provides in-person on-site work in addition to remote bookkeeping.
If you’ve decided that hiring a bookkeeper, whether a virtual bookkeeper or someone on-site is the best option for your organization, the next step is to interview and hire an independent bookkeeper or company that provides virtual bookkeeping. You should ask the candidate what types of accounting software they’re most comfortable with. If they’re limited to one type of software and your organization uses another, this may be enough to remove them from the candidate pool.
Other questions include whether they’ve served companies in the same industry and what type of communication they expect and need. Does the candidate prefer to work with little direction other than due dates and assignments? Or would they prefer an arrangement that provides a bit more direction?
During the interview, you’ll want to ask questions that give you comfort as to the candidate’s ability to handle the volume and complexity of transactions that your company has. In addition, you should inquire as to how the candidate manages time, including multiple tasks and their ability to meet deadlines. You’ll also want to discuss compensation. Do you prefer a payment arrangement where you pay per hour or a fixed fee? Some companies prefer to pay a weekly or monthly fee to remain “on-call” for your needs? Deciding this before the interview can help you eliminate candidates whose needs are not compatible with yours.
Once you’ve selected a bookkeeper, if they will work remotely, it is time to provide remote access. This includes access to the company systems and software that the bookkeeper will be using. Depending on the bookkeeper’s responsibilities, you may need to grant access to the bank accounts, payment processors, credit cards, or other payment platforms. Be sure to discuss with your IT company, the best and most secure way to provide access to the bookkeeper. Again, maintaining an open line of communication with your bookkeeper can be the key to a great working relationship.
Whether you’re hiring a bookkeeper as an independent contractor or an employee, it is important to outline your expectations in writing. The employment contract, or in the case of an independent bookkeeper, the service agreement or engagement letter, should cover issues like:
- How the bookkeeper’s hours will be structured. For example, you may want to assign a minimum number of hours per week or specify that work is on an “as-needed” basis.
- How the bookkeeper’s hours will be billed and paid
- How assignments will be provided and what steps the bookkeeper should take if they need clarification
- What the bookkeeper should do and how they should notify you if they are unable to meet a deadline
- Time off for vacation, illness, etc.
- Contingency planning, which includes a replacement or substitution, in the event the bookkeeper is unable to work for a period of time
- Any other company policies that may be relevant
CFO Strategies provides companies with accounting and financial reporting services, including all functions performed by the CFO, controller, and bookkeeping, both on-site and virtually. Our services are generally designed for companies that need these services on a part-time basis, but we can also undertake full outsourcing engagements as well. Our cost-effective options are customized to fit each business’s needs, including the ability for full on-site services, full virtual services, or a blend of both. We have many years of experience providing bookkeeping services for a range of industries, including but not limited to, construction, architectural and engineering firms, and nonprofits.
To learn more about the benefits and impact we have made for our clients, read our client testimonials.
Contact us today to set up your consultation or just learn more about the services we offer.