5 Reasons Why Armada Accountants Made The Right Choice To Offshore

An ideal scenario for any accounting firm owner or decision-maker is to get jobs flow in and out without encountering any blockage.

This can only be possible with the help of the right people: a topnotch team comprised of A players who will ensure that your firm has enough capacity and the proper mindset to turn in high-quality jobs quickly.

The lack of capacity can be a huge pain in the neck for businesses. It hinders growth; keeps firms maximizing the potential of its team members. More importantly, it keeps decision-makers from doing the one important thing they need to do: make beneficial decisions for the organization.

With the help of TOA Global, Pamela Taylor, director at Armada Accountants and Advisors, was able to generate enough capacity to manage their firm’s 80+ clients so well they were able to smoothly transition to offering higher value consulting work.

You, too, can enjoy these same benefits of building a global offshore team:

A much quicker job turnaround

The addition of business management specialists turned things around for Armada.

Their team members are so good they were able to contribute to the quick turnaround even while they’re still in training.

One critical aspect of offshoring is connecting firms with the most suitable candidates—the very thing Pamela was struggling with.

“We were having problems finding team members who were willing to get their hands dirty, do the mundane tasks, grow their skill set, and those who were eager to work their way from the bottom up,” states Pamela.

Finding employees who want to grow with the company served as the driving force for Armada’s director and thanks to their decision to offshore, they now have team members they consider superstars.

“By having a team here in the Philippines means the work can flow through me.” 

Pamela Taylor

Leadership team can focus on stuff that matters

Any firm that’s struggled with keeping up with work will understand how difficult it is to not be able to focus on tasks that matter.

Pamela, along with the leadership team, are now able to focus on higher level work, like consulting. Now, the firm is able to identify clients’ pain points and find and implement solutions—things they were previously unable to do.

More personal time for decision makers

Creating capacity will free up time for the leadership team. Now, Pamela says offshoring has given her more time to spend with her family.

Transition to higher level, value-priced consulting work

Armada was on the lookout for more efficient ways to enhance the service. With the help of a global offshore team, the firm was able to evolve their offerings and go from hourly-based packages to value-based packages.

Client satisfaction

At the end of the day, only one thing needs to happen: keep clients satisfied. Offshoring helped Pamela’s firm to find the resources to produce output and take on more work from clients, ultimately adding to their bottom line.

If you would like to know how your firm can scale or free up capacity within a short time, you can book a free 1-on-1 consultation with us. Our global team specialists are always ready to discuss solutions and services that can address your business needs.

 

 

Stop Crushing Your Team And Start Delighting Your Customers

7-minute read

For close to 12 years, Nick Sinclair, Chairman of The Outsourced Accountant, struggled in trying to run his accounting, bookkeeping, and financial planning firm. Hours were spent each day replying to emails, taking calls, managing calendars, and other admin tasks. They were slowly losing revenue because of the cumulative effect of them doing non-core tasks each day. With little to no time focus on revenue-generating tasks, workload piled up, and Nick and his team struggled to keep up. But Nick implemented the right tools and strategies and got his team out of the weeds. Here is our Chairman’s key insights on productivity and people strategy.

How Is Your Workflow Really Going?

accounting-firm-productivity-how-workflow-going

Take a step back and ask yourself this question: “How is your workflow really going?” If you feel like you don’t get enough work done, don’t worry. You are not walking this path alone. It is a fact that a vast majority of accounting firms the world over are buried in workflow.

Missed deadlines, outdated lodgments, incomplete paperwork, and what have you are common occurrences. One can think of many factors that you can attribute to these to but do you know the real reason why?

The wrong people are doing the wrong type of work. Many partners and managers do work that can be done by other people. Keep reading as we will elaborate which types of work we are referring to. The point here is spending a significant amount of time doing work that are not ‘dollar-productive’ means you are doing your accounting firm a disservice.

The best firms – meaning those who peak productivity to hit and even exceed profit margins – they fine tune their processes. This is to ensure that everything gets done on time and with the quality one expects from highly paid professionals.

Limiting Factors Crushing Productivity…And Your Team!

accounting-firm-productivity-limiting-factors

Did you know that accountants, accounting firm owners, partners, and managers spend 1 to 2 hours per day doing non-revenue-generating tasks? That is 400 hours billable hours per individual per year! These are admin tasks that have become limiting factors crushing productivity and, in the process, your team. They include:

  • Emails
  • Meetings
  • Calendar Management
  • Reporting
  • Client Issues

 

In poll taken during this webinar, 67% of attendees say that emails are the number one blockers that limit their productivity. While one might think that this is an isolated result, the truth of the matter is that emails have become one of the major hindrances to productivity.

Majority of the time partners and managers sit in front of the computer screen when they should be sitting in front of clients. Nick can attest to this while he was running his firm as he used to receive anywhere from 300 to 450 emails per day. Can you imagine that? If you’re a rainmaker, your work should be talking to clients, right? Then, why are you sitting in front of your computer?

Coming second and third in our poll were meetings and client issues respectively. It is a given that you should have internal meetings to align your team. But if they eat a large chunk of your day, then nothing gets done. Team meetings should be short and concise. The less time you spend in them, the better.

When it comes to client issues, accountants, owners, partners and managers shouldn’t deal with them directly. Someone in a specialized role can deal with them better so you can be more productive. Watch the webinar above to learn what this role is.

People Strategy: The Impact of (Not) Getting It Right

accounting-firm-productivity-people-strategy

Again, it comes down to the people factor of the success equation. It’s has become all too common for accounting firms to not have a people strategy. Ask yourself: When you last sat down to map out your firm’s objectives for a financial year, did you work out how may staff you need to achieve those objectives?

Most firms think they are under-resourced because they can’t find or keep the right staff. But, we typically see that most firms are over-resourced – they just have the wrong people doing the wrong work.

Having the right people strategy is critical to achieving your growth strategy. The crucial elements to an effective people strategy are:

  • Attracting, keeping, and growing the right people in the right roles
  • Having the right technology so they can fulfill their roles effectively
  • Implementing the right processes so they can do their work more efficiently

 

If just one of these three key elements is missing, you will have effectively doomed your firm to fail.

Conclusion

This is Nick Sinclair’s view specifically on productivity and people strategy. There are loads more insights you can learn when you watch the webinar. You will discover how the effect on customers and the referrals they send your way when you are too busy doing non-core tasks each day. Learn, if you haven’t already, about ‘The Urgent Versus Important Matrix’ that will help your daily time management. See our recommendations for apps that can help streamline your workflow as well as the four roles that will make a massive difference in increasing your productivity.

But one critical point to remember though. When we say, the right people, we mean A-players – those with the requisite skills, work ethic, and attitude that will help drive your firm towards sustainable growth. This is what we do best. We provide more than 300 accounting firms around the world with over 1,000 specialist accountants, bookkeepers, and financial analysts as well as marketing, sales, finance, and administration support staff that deliver the results our clients want.

Let us show you how we can help you build a championship team of A-players. You can schedule a FREE consultation with one of our global team specialists.

BOOK MY FREE CONSULTATION

Client Spotlight: Empowered With Time For Firm Growth

6-minute read

To gain the time you need to grow your firm, you need the capacity to do all the work that needs to be done. Debra Houghton of Gilligan Sheppard out of New Zealand has seen first-hand how building a high-performing offshore team can empower their local team with the time for firm growth. 

Why Build An Offshore Team?

For Debra, offshoring for them means that: 

  • They can have more employees. 
  • They can actually grow their business without actually having more resources in our office in New Zealand.  
  • They don’t have to have a disk, a computer and they don’t have to look after all of that extra stuff. 
  • They actually got an offshore team that can work just as well as they want and that is in contact with them all the time.

So, offshoring just makes sense to them. 

What made you choose TOA?

Gilligan Sheppard’s needs are definitely being met by the two administration team members that they have with us at TOA.  

 

“We love them. They’re definitely part of our Gilligan Sheppard family, and we include them with all of our decisions that we are making.”

Their two offshore team members visit New Zealand, come to conferences, and any team building that they have. 

How is your TOA Customer Experience?

 

“It was very easy to recruit, very easy to do the interview process via Skype. I think we’ve chosen really well. So, we’re really happy with that.”

Debra says that it has probably taken about a good six months to a year to get used to how they work and what they need to do to make the relationship easier and make it better both their local and offshore teams.  

But, she says adamantly that it would be the same if they had somebody in the office. It would take six months to a year to do that training to make sure they know their job fully. It’s just the same thing. Debra says that when you want to train anyone in your processes and procedures in-house or offshore, it’s the same amount of time. So as long as you recognize that, it’s fine. 

Arlyn, the administrative assistant who does collection for them, get to phone the clients directly. Debra doesn’t have to be involved in that. Arlyn has a script and she follows it very well, but she is also able to talk to the clients directly. When they ask questions, she’s able to answer them. Arlyn doesn’t need a script for those sort of things. She has her own mind, and she has her own way of talking, and that’s perfectly fine with Debra. 

Speaking about what’s great with working with Debra and the local team, Arlyn says that they have consistent communication, they do Skype calls every week. They even have training in New Zealand which is an opportune time to bond with Debra and the local team. They’ve gone boating and wakeboarding. Having more time to bond, they get to know more about each other.  

 

“They treat us like family. They don’t even treat us like employees. We’re understood. We’re that they are valued and welcomed.”

Since she does debt collection, Arlyn has learned a lot about having a good relationship with clients. Because of this, she has grown as a person and an individual, and Gilligan Sheppard has helped her achieve that. 

How would you describe your TOA Team Members?

They have chosen team members who interact well with the local team. So, their personality types are very friendly. They are very nice, says Debra. And they found that, when they came to New Zealand, that they are very brave as well. They’ve taken them out of their comfort zone, done different things that they probably won’t normally do in the Philippines. They’ve also found that the offshore team they’ve got can challenge them to be better, and that has been really good for  them. 

They actually did a two-day training that TOA did for them instead of them doing that. TOA trained their team. Immediately, they already knew the system, the database that they were using, and they were able to freely go wherever Debra asked them to go. That was incredible, she exclaimed!

What are the results of working with TOA?

Having a team at TOA has meant that Debra has more resources within her admin team back in New Zealand. So, because they are using TOA to house their administration the offshore team members do not get interrupted like their receptionist o other admin team members. They don’t get the same phone calls from clients. They don’t get the same interruptions as communications are via email or via Skype, and they can choose when they will answer those. So having more resources have allowed the local team to have more time to actually deal with clients and do more customer-oriented tasks. Debra is pleased about that. 

Would you recommend TOA?

If you’re making the decision to offshore using TOA means that you have more time and more resources within your own office to do the things that you want to do, Debra says. 

 

“So go out and see your clients, go out and do the things that you enjoy doing, and get TOA to do the things that you don’t necessarily want to do or the things that are more process-driven.”

One of great advantage that Debra had when she was thinking of  TOA was that she was actually told about it by other practices, and she was invited to come and visit our TOA Clark offices. She did that before she even came and organized getting the team that she wanted. 

Conclusion

So, if you want to gain the capacity you need to a have the time you want to grow your firm, start building your offshore team. We can help you do exactly that. More than 300 accounting firms across the globe have over 1,000 accountants, bookkeepers, and financial analysts as well as marketing, sales, finance, and administration support staff with us. 

Start taking back your clock by scheduling a FREE consultation with one of our  global team specialists. 

I WANT TO BOOK MY FREE CONSULT

Strategies for Accountants to Accelerate Business Growth: Key Insights from The Ignite 2018 Roadshow

strategies-for-accountants-accelerate-business-growth

6-minute read

 

With our Ignite 2018 Roadshow in the history books, Nick Sinclair, Chairman of The Outsourced Accountant, held a webinar which discussed the key strategies taken up during the events that can help accountants, bookkeepers, accounting firm owners and partners build thriving businesses. The webinar revolved around how you can futureproof your workforce to ensure that you achieve sustainable growth. Here are snippets of what was discussed: 

Attracting A-players

strategies-for-accountants-accelerate-business-growth-attracting-A-players

One of the biggest challenges accounting firms face is getting, growing, and keeping the best people that the industry has to offer – the A-players. But before you can attract the cream of the crop, you need to have the answers to two key questions: 

1 – How does your business look from the outside? 

Right from the get-go, your initial value proposition is how appealing your business looks. If your website looks dated or your office looks dreary with paint chipping away, the best people will not be inclined to work with you. So, if you want to attract A-players, spruce up your website and do a bit of office renovations. A little goes a long way. 

2 – What do you stand for? 

Quality team members want to work for business owners that know their ‘why’, have their values set, and are passionate about what they do. When A-players are engaged in something they believe in, they will go that extra mile. So, determine the reason your business exists and then set your business values, culture, and standards to get the best staff knocking at your door. 

What is your people strategy?

 

strategies-for-accountants-accelerate-business-growth-people-strategy

When you have managed to attract the best people, you need to have a plan to grow your team. Many accounting firms create a growth strategy but fail to align their people strategy with it. There is no use having A-players when you don’t have a plan on how to provide them with the right tools, processes, and training to help them succeed. What we found throughout the roadshow was that most firms either have:  

1 – The right people doing the wrong work. On average, accountants and support staff spend 400 hours per year doing administration-related tasks. 

2 -The right people but not the right technology. Many firms invest on technology that they are not maximising the full potential of or worse, not using at all.

3 – The right people and the right technology but do not have the training and processes to use them properly. 

What most firms do not understand is that, to grow their business, you need to grow your people too. In line with this, individual development and learning plans must be in place to enhance their core competencies and develop new skills. 

Evolution of An Employee

strategies-for-accountants-accelerate-business-growth-evolution-employee

Global industries are changing. With it, the way people work is changing as well. All aspects from the how, when, where, and even to why people work as has evolved and will continue to do so. As you can see in the infographic above, industries at large are shifting from traditional methods to new-age practices. This is predominantly due to the rapid change brought about by disruptions in technology and work methods. What was once relatively effective ways of doing work and business has now given rise to innovative concepts because of the real need for accounting firms to adapt or be left behind. 

The key thing that can be derived from this is that accounting firms should have greater focus on ensuring that people are given highest priority. Your team is a critical factor that can make or break your firm. But it is important to remember that having all the latest and best technology and the most effective accounting business strategies are worthless without the right people to implement them properly. Keep in mind though that people with high-level skillsets come at a premium. So, here’s where you find that balance in getting the right people with the right skillsets for the right roles and at the right cost. 

Keeping The Best Team Members

strategies-for-accountants-accelerate-business-growth-keeping-best-team-members

When you’ve managed to get the right team for you, now you must focus on making sure they stay. Here the key questions you need ask yourself: 

1 – What are you doing to keep the best team members? 

Taking measures to ensure your best team members stay is of the utmost importance. Try implementing a development and training program so your team can enhance their core competencies and develop new skills. This is a veritable win-win situation. By growing your team’s capabilities, you not only give them a reason to stay but you dramatically improve your workflow and service delivery. 

2 – Do you know if your team is happy? What is your communication strategy? 

Knowing what motivates your team will allow you to determine how to maximise their productivity. Create communication rhythms to align your team with not only the day-to-day operations but also with your overall vision for your accounting business. Make sure to sit and talk with them to fully understand how you can make their time with your firm a truly inspiring and fulfilling one. 

Conclusion

With the accounting industry in a state of constant change, there has never been a more crucial time to have the right team in your stead. These are just some of the key points discussed in the webinar. What you always have to remember is behind every successful business is a team of inspired and highly skilled people. Do what you must to choose your team wisely, understand what makes them tick, and create ideal situations for them to flourish. Do this and you will see your business vision realised in less time than you would imagine. 

Let us help you build a high-performing team that not only delivers the results you and your clients want but help you fulfill your vision. 

Schedule a FREE online consultation with one of our global team specialists.

Customer Spotlight: Get Rapid Growth By Hiring The Right People

Care Accounting has come a long way in its offshoring journey with The Outsourced Accountant. Thanks to an incredibly hard-working staff, Bernie Gore has seen her firm experience pretty rapid expansion in the last three years.

From working out of her bedroom, Bernie now has teams both in Australia and the Philippines, is about to introduce a bookkeeping arm, and a growing staff both here and Australia.

 

“They’re fantastic. They’re really good, accommodating, and delightful. They’re welcoming and really look after me.”

 

What were the motivations to try offshoring?

  • There’s not really any additional area there for expansion
  • It was difficult to find accountants willing to work in the suburbs
  • There was a need to stay relevant as an accounting firm

 

What were you looking for in an offshore provider?

  • One that’s predominantly just for accountants
  • Partner that has a strong ethical approach to the treatment of employees
  • Good facilities and competitive pay

 

What do you love about TOA?

  • Process is efficient and really good
  • There’s been a lot of touch points
  • Recruitment is a swift process and the team is always super accommodating
  • Provided access to a really good pool of candidates

 

What are the best things about your offshore team?

  • They enjoy coming to work
  • They enjoy working with the people around them as well as their clients
  • Very accommodating

 

“They’re an integral part of our practice and that’s what we really wanted to do.”

 

Working with an offshore team has helped Care Accounting experience rapid growth in clients. They’ve improved capacity so much that they’re now introducing a bookkeeping arm.

If your firm is experiencing capacity problems and you want to have a reliable offshore team to help you add high-value services, then book a free 1-on-1 consult with us. Our global team specialists will discuss with you the many benefits of building an offshore team.

Is Technology Really Growing Your Firm?

growing-your-firm-featured-image-edited

Achieving sustainable growth in an industry amidst rapid disruptive change is not easy.

Do you want to know the secret of the the world’s most profitable and high-performing firms?

They use a three-pronged approach: Technology, People, And Process:

Optimum use of the right tools and technologies, the right people in the right roles, and the right accounting business strategies and how-to methodologies are keys to your firm’s success.

Time For A Reality Check

During our most recent poll, we asked accounting firms “how helpful is technology in growing your firm?”:

  • 33% say they use some software but need to learn more
  • 28% say they have an IT stack but have not maximised all of it
  • 17% say they have just started building their IT stack
  • 11% say that they are learning just now

But the most important number is:

  • Only 11% say that their IT stack is very helpful and they are using it efficiently.

What this figure says is that there is a very low percentage of accounting firms who are using technology to its fullest potential. If your accounting firm wants to achieve its goals, you need to maximise the use of the technology available to you.

The Fact of The Matter

 

growing-your-firm-fact-of-matter

According to Ron Lesh, Founder and Managing Director of award-winning BGL Corporate Solutions, there are five types of accounting firms depending on when they started integrating technology.

  1. Innovators – The initiators and creators of better and faster ways to do things
  2. Early Adopters – The first to use the latest technology
  3. Early Majority – The firms that saw Early Adopter results and began using the technology as well
  4. Late Majority – The firms that started using technology relatively recently
  5. Laggards – The firms who haven’t, are just thinking of, or don’t want to use technology

Ron says that most accounting firms are heading into the Late Majority. But you would most definitely not want to be a Laggard because, in today’s digital age, accountants like you need to realize two things:

  1. You are no longer purveyors of information. Clients can ask Google.
  2. Clients know what you know. They have access to all their info and they know your competitors.

This is why it is very important to be ahead of the curve by not only using technology but to make sure they are all integrated. Most times, accounting firms use different software that don’t actually connect to each other.

Integration is the first step to automation. With automated systems, you can streamline workflow to increase efficiency and consequently enhance capacity.

The Benefits of Automation

Let’s say each year all your work takes 10,000 hours to finish. When you automate your systems effectively, you will see a:

  • 30% decrease in total number of hours after 2.5 years to only 7,000 hours
  • 60% decrease in total number of hours after 5 years to only 4,000 hours

Imagine what you can do with thousands of extra hours. You can use it to do extensive business planning. You can take on more new clients. You can train your teams. There is so much time you can save to focus on really growing your firm.

Time To Grow Your Firm

growing-your-firm-time-grow-firm

The pace by which leading-edge technology and best practices are changing is staggering. Rob Nixon, success mentor, coach, and facilitator to hundreds of accounting firms worldwide, knows this all too well. To grow your accounting business, he says that you need to do three things:

  1. FIX what is going on today. Technology wise, do an audit of what you use. If you are not maximising their full potential, ensure that you do or use something that you can. Then, start fixing your workflow, pricing, receivables, client mix, and all day-to-days.
  2. MINIMISE time and get more efficient. Look at every single technology you use. If it is not helping minimise time or increase capacity, use something that will. Mishandling of data occurs the more people it passes through. Automation cuts this. Gaining time and capacity will allow you to increase profits and achieve sustainable revenue growth.
  3. SCALE to your desired business size. When you have sorted out the first two, it is time to set targets and grow your business. Go into new niche markets. Expand your services portfolio and include value-added services.  

Rob says, “Let technology write the history and accountant make history.” Automate your processes so you, the accountant, can focus on serving clients. Pair this with effective implementation of the right accounting business strategies and you will have the formula for success.

“Your accounting firm can be whatever you want it to be. Your dreams, imagination, your desire to implement new ideas will make all the difference.”

How To Face Critical Challenges

Before your firm achieves sustainable growth, there will be hurdles you have to jump over. Our survey says that:

  • 55% of accounting firms consider technological advancements as their major challenge.
  • 39% say it is the high cost of labour
  • 35% say that it is meeting customer expectations
  • 31% say that it is the lack of team members with necessary skills
  • 14% say that is globalisation and integration of cloud technology

Build a highly skilled global accounting team and you can address a majority of these challenges. While you will gain the capacity you need, remember that this is a long-term play. You need to match this with the right accounting business strategies and how-to methodologies.

Low Risk And High Rewards

Offshoring is not a risky proposition as you might think. We at The Outsourced Accountant have worked with hundreds of accounting and they will tell you that the rewards outweigh the risks many times over.

By having a high-performing global team, you free up your local team to be more productive and increase workflow efficiency. So matching the right skills with the right people allows your local team to grow in the process.

Building Your Team

growing-your-firm-building-team

There are 10 clear-cut advantages of building your local team and a team in the Philippines:

  1. Full-time Employees – You will have a dedicated offshore team.
  2. Aligned with Your Time Zone – Your offshore team will work while you work.
  3. Highly Secure Data and Systems – You do not worry about breaches.
  4. Free Consult To Plot Your Growth – You have us to help you build your team and business.
  5. Full-time Offshore and Local Support – You have increased time and capacity.
  6. A-team for Long-term Investment – You gain a high-performing team to help achieve growth sustainability.
  7. Highly Skilled Talent Pool – You choose from the best-of-the-best industry specialists.
  8. Great English Proficiency – Your team will have one of the highest English proficiency rates in Asia.
  9. Low Employee Turnover – You can trust your team to stay and be loyal to you.
  10. Client Education and Peer Community – You have access to other firms on the same journey.

So if you want your firm to achieve true sustainable growth, a potent combination of the effective implementation of the right technology, the right people in the right roles, and the right accounting business strategies is key.

You can start by letting us show you how we can help build your own high-performing offshore team. The hundreds of accounting firms who are working with us are thriving.

Let us show you what we can do for you.

Schedule a FREE phone consultation with one of our global consultants.

Expert Insights On Building Capacity To Grow Your Firm

7-minute read

 

Firms looking to scale will benefit from one simple tip: think outside your comfort zone.

The solution to the challenges you’re experiencing may lie on offshoring.

One of the most common problems faced by firms looking to grow is the lack of qualified individuals. And it’s through offshoring that one of our clients, Measured Results, found the answer.

 

How to Build Capacity in 2018 with Offshoring - Tyler

 

In a previous webinar on How To Build Capacity Through Offshoring, Tyler McBroom, partner, shared his firm’s amazing journey on becoming one of the companies that successfully implemented this business model.

Firms get busy during tax season. It’s a challenging time and it’s important that accountants know how to adapt. There are obstacles, however, starting with being bogged down with compliance tasks to not having the right technology to speed up productivity and enhance efficiency.

 

How-to-Build-Capacity-With-Offshoring-Case-Study-600x339

 

With a steady stream of clients, the firm has one problem: they cannot find the right people to work on specific jobs. It didn’t help that their location isn’t very accessible.

But the shortage of skilled individuals won’t help them meet the workload assigned to them. They needed to deliver. And that is where offshoring comes in.

In the 12 months that Measured Result has been with The Outsourced Accountant, the firm has experienced rapid growth by expanding their team. In fact, they were able to double their staff.

Measured Result’s 12-month offshoring journey produced the following results:

  • 62% revenue increase
  • 130% pre partner profit increase
  • Bolstered growth for the business
  • More focus in training
  • Goal of hitting $1M growth

 

From having only four members, they grew to 12 team members. Now, they are looking into hiring more. Offshoring helped the firm find qualified staff.

They now have no less than three Certified Public Accountants (CPA). These are all highly skilled professionals who possess strong work ethic. McBroom recognises that these accountants are very sharp and do very good work.

Finding the right people to do the right job at the right price can have a tremendous impact on one’s business. That’s because you can have increased productivity and enhanced capacity. With the right people, your firm can meet client deliverables. And you don’t have to worry about accuracy and quality.

Assembling An Awesome Offshore Team

 

offshoring in the philippines

 

What’s great about offshoring is it allows you to tap into the huge pool of talents that are not available onshore. The Philippines, in particular, is a great place to offshore and recruit talents because:

  • It has a seriously skilled talent pool
  • Filipinos have a strong work ethic
  • Filipinos have a very strong affinity to the western culture
  • The Philippines’ time zone is aligned with yours

 

Furthermore, the Philippines is ranked high when it comes to English proficiency, making working with someone from the country easy because the language barrier is no longer there.

The work doesn’t stop with finding talent. You need to continually work on keeping your staff engaged and motivated because their mindset towards work will influence their performance.

Getting Your New Team Members Up To Speed

One of the key steps in ensuring success for your accounting firm is to onboard your talents properly.  

Getting your offshore team members ready entails investing time, effort, and thought because you need to ensure engagement from your remote team. Here at The Outsourced Accountant, we have a dedicated team for onboarding offshore teams called the client experience team.

Subsequently, you will need to train your new team members and get them up to speed with the business. It’s important to have a clear and outlined training schedule with very specific outcomes.

To get the best results, we highly recommend in-person training where you either fly out your team member to the onshore office or have a point-of-contact to go to the Philippines to provide training.

In this process, you will be able to walk the team member through the specifics of their role, the processes and systems, and, more importantly, to establish good rapport.

For Measured Results, McBroom shared that having their offshore team member flown to their Australia office yielded favourable results. Following recommendations from other people who’ve tried offshoring, they had their senior accountant sent over to Australia during their busy season. It turned out to be a huge thing because they were able to establish a good relationship, which also contributed to their capacity.

Another strategy is having a manager available to accommodate any questions from the entire team.

Welcome To The Future

Embracing technology is an important step to increasing capacity. As a huge enabler for offshoring, technology has transformed the way accountants work. It has made distributed workforce possible. Now, accountants can work anytime, anywhere by switching to the cloud.

There is a wide variety of software, apps and tools that have automated tasks from bookkeeping to generating reports, which significantly improved firm productivity and efficiency.

When Measured Results started offshoring, they transferred everything to the cloud. 80% of their clients are currently using Quickbooks Online. They also recommend that their clients go web-based. By switching to the cloud, their team members can now focus on growth-oriented activities.

Working with an offshore service provider will definitely pave the way for significant improvements for firms. While it’s not a magic pill, when done right, can yield the results you want. Offshoring can give you immediate capacity BUT know that it is a long-term play.

 

Subscribe to The Ledger to discover more valuable accounting business insights.

Check out our podcast at The Outsourced Accountant to learn the strategies and how-to methodologies to becoming a high-performing firm that delivers results.

 


Looking to scale your business by getting the right people to do specific roles? Call our global offshoring specialists at 1300 896 522 or click here to download our blueprint on how to build a global accounting team.


How To Futureproof Your Accounting Workforce By Building A Global Team

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce

The Outsourced Accountant Chairman Nick Sinclair recently held a webinar on futureproofing the accounting workforce. In this episode, he discussed various topics ranging from the current challenges facing the accounting industry to effective strategies firms can implement to some case studies of leading accounting firms.

Challenges Accountants Are Facing Today

 

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce

 

Globalisation

Globalisation is disrupting the accounting industry. By removing barriers in trade and business, it has made the world a lot smaller and has now made it easier for firms to tap into talents not present in a specific location.

This makes it possible for businesses to outsource jobs or create offshore teams. By having the ability to access new markets, businesses are presented with new opportunities to drive success to their firms.

Cloud computing

The ability to store large amounts of data in the cloud has provided accountants a better opportunity to deliver real-time information and add more value to their clients. This makes access to data easier and more secure.

Technology advancements

Evolving at a rapid pace, technology has made the accounting practice a lot easier by automating several processes. The problem is, not many companies are maximising its use and that it is the number one thing that’s bogging down firms. 

Customer expectations

These days, customers are demanding more. Customers want more; they want things done quicker. They want: proactive advice, to kept up-to-date with progress, and regular communication.

These expectations can, at times, be overwhelming for accountants, however. That’s because many of our accountants are bogged down with time-consuming tasks.

Skills shortage

There is currently a shortage of the “right talents” onshore. That means firms need to get the right people to do the right work for the right price. Building a global team offers a solution to this dilemma by providing the opportunity to tap into the skills of highly qualified individuals from another location, like the Philippines.

Cost of labour

Setting up a global team will allow businesses to save on costs. Hiring accountants (and other professionals) offshore come with greater savings: the cost of hiring four offshore team members costs the same as employing one onshore team member.

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce

 

Setting up a global team addresses these critical challenges. But while offshoring helps enhance a firm’s capacity, it’s important to remember that it does not offer immediate results; it’s a long-term play. But when done right, firms will notice impressive results.

Capacity Issues Are Bogging Down Firms Looking To Grow

Most firms experience capacity issues (80%). In fact, it’s the biggest issue for firms looking to grow. They don’t have time to plan because they are stuck with running the business. There is no time to rise above the day-to-day work.

Building a global team can help you build capacity. It will also do the following:

  • Improve team productivity
  • Help the onshore team to add significant value to clients
  • Find people with the suitable skills for specific roles

 

On Setting Up A Bookkeeping Division

 

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce

 

Most of the time, accountants dislike doing bookkeeping because it is messy and, oftentimes, time-consuming.

However, there is a huge opportunity to increase profits through bookkeeping. It is, in fact, the fastest growth area in our business. It is also effective in fencing clients in because when you offer this kind of service, you’re basically offering clients everything they need.

Running a bookkeeping division offers several opportunities:

  • Create additional revenue streams
  • Increase margins by taking care of compliance
  • Strengthen relationships between accountants and clients

 

There is a huge dynamic shift over the years thanks to cloud technology. Now, both clients and accountants can access data real-time. It’s possible to create a distributed workforce. Remote work is possible.

Because of this, accountants can now take steps to be more proactive, which is what clients want.

That means they can now become the trusted advisor. That is because, in most cases, the bookkeepers are considered the trusted advisors since they talk to the clients more often.

Why Should You Consider Outsourcing?

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce

 

Offshoring Myths And/Or Truths

Outsourcing is offshoring

Outsourcing entails obtaining services from a third party company which can be located anywhere. That means the service provider can be located in the same location as the business. Offshoring, on the other hand, means acquiring services from another country. This can also mean the re-location of certain aspects of a business to another country.

Security risk

Offshore service providers, like The Outsourced Accountant, employ strict security measures. Often times, the security risks come from the companies themselves, and not the service provider. A good example would be the staff accessing unsecured websites or logging into their work accounts from unsecured locations, like public wi-fi connections, etc.

There’s a lot less risk when you have your own global team.

Equates to lower quality of work

Offshore teams are some of the most qualified and talented professionals you can find. In fact, countries like the Philippines are teeming with highly skilled professionals. And that is one major factor why many businesses expand both their offshore and onshore teams.

The misconception about offshoring resulting in poor quality work stems from the early days when clients transfer work to a company only to get subpar work. We’ve pivoted the way we work. You are in control of how you run your global team so that everything is aligned with your processes, workflows, and systems.

New accounting concept

Offshoring accounting is not a new concept. This business model has been used by companies as early as the 1970s. In the 1990s, technology has allowed outsourcing in the accounting industry possible. Now, technology has become a huge enabler for offshoring and firms are starting to realise its benefits.

For the last 5 years, outsourcing has gone from “I am not doing it” to a majority of people wanting to do it. Now, it’s more about who is not going to do it. More and more firms are talking about and considering it.

Automatically means lower prices

In a lot of cases, the biggest reason accounting firms build a global team is for capacity. To do that, it will require you to get the right people to do the right work at the right price. When building capacity, it’ll be beneficial to have four offshore team members, the cost of which is equivalent to one onshore team member. That way, your firm gains capacity without spending a lot.

Offshoring only suits low-level tasks

The reality is we all have all types of levels of work for clients from compliance to complex business strategies. Anything done locally will probably be done in our global offices. The level of work done is significantly higher than people’s perception.

Team members cannot be client-facing

Some people will think that offshore team members are not allowed to face clients. It actually depends on the client. It comes down to the firm’s strategy. In most cases, offshore team members interact with the clients on a regular basis.

A fad that will eventually be replaced by artificial intelligence

Even with the advent of technology, it’s important to know that people will always be needed in the accounting industry. Artificial intelligence cannot wipe out the people component because the future of accounting will need actual accountants to audit the data processed by AI.

What Are Leading Accounting Firms Doing?

 

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce

 

How much of your time is actually spent on the computer screen instead of sitting in front of the clients or on the phone, talking to clients?

Their partners are running the business like a business. They have someone to take care of the routinary tasks, like managing emails. If you actually track your activities, you might be surprised at how and where you spend your time.

Accountants who are too busy will not have time to ring their clients. This can be traced back to the lack of capacity. Because they are bogged down with work, accountants are sacrificing the chance to build a relationship with their clients. But by implementing time-saving measures, like getting an executive assistant, you free up time so you can spend more time in front of clients.

Epic Tips And Action Plan

If nothing changes within your firm, then nothing changes. You cannot expect different results when you are not doing anything new.

Here’s a challenge: get your team to write down the key things they spend their time on.

 

Future Proofing you Accounting Workforce (1)

 

A lot of the philosophy around this is pushing the work down so you can push your team up.

How much of your accountant’s time is spent on doing administration?

Are they doing the right type of work?

Analyse the way you are spending your time and then figure out if it is the right way to spend your time.

 

Subscribe to The Ledger to discover more valuable accounting business insights.

Check out our podcast, The Offshore Accountant, to learn the strategies and how-to methodologies to becoming a high-performing firm that delivers results.


Enhance your firm’s capacity. Let us show you how to build your own offshore team. Call our global offshoring specialists at 1300 896 522.

Learn what it takes to build an offshore team. Download our FREE eBook NOW! Click here.


The Accounting Firm Hyper Growth Session

The Accounting Firm Hyper Growth Session

Getting Absolute Return On Your Time

Topics:

  • How to get an absolute return on your time
  • How firms can pivot from offering only tax compliance to adding value
  • How offshoring can benefit both local and offshore teams
  • How to add value and deliver more to clients

 

Insights and takeaways:

  • We can do any task behind a computer or phone
  • Offshoring presents an opportunity to free up local team members and get other people to do less value work (people who enjoy doing the job)
  • Local team will have more time to focus on the right type of work
  • Majority of firms today are too focused on compliance work. They are busy being busy.
  • Many firms are not set up to deliver services that can make the most difference to their clients because they are not doing advisory work.
  • Numerous firms do not have the time; they don’t have time for themselves and for their clients.
  • Eighty percent of revenue for an accounting firm is from tax compliance and audit work.

 

So What Do We Aim To Do?

We are here to help you change the lives of your clients. By utilising Rob’s knowledge and experience, you can start implementing new practices to your firm so you can have more time and add more value to clients.

Are You Delivering Value To Your Clients?

Firms that are truly adding value to clients are those that are willing to invest in everything they need to achieve their goals. These are firms that take the time to identify their client’s objectives and match them with the right services.

The accounting profession is bogged down in historical services (87%) which include tax compliance and audit. This is not what clients really want.

We previously ran a poll and asked firms what tasks consume their time. Here’s what we found:

Offshoring Challenges for firms

 

Insights From Business Owners

Years ago, Rob was able to interview 1,077 business owners on behalf of 126 accounting firms in a boardroom type setting where partners were also present. He discovered that:

  • Clients don’t know what they don’t know
  • Accountants are not systematically visiting their clients
  • Accountants are not helping clients find out what they need

 

Since they’re bogged down with compliance, accountants (and partners) are unable to really service their clients.

Is Compliance Really Dead?

To set things straight, compliance is not dead. It will, however, change. Technology, in particular, has dramatically changed compliance.

Compliance is not going away but it’s going to be different.

 

Do you want to know how your firm can make the most out of technology? Watch this video.

Learn how outsourcing benefits from cloud technology in this video.

 

What Successful Firms Are Doing

Firms that are doing well are those that sort out the workflow, client mix, technology, pricing, work-in-progress, deliverables, and day-to-day work. They are also looking for ways to build capacity through various means: offshoring, different systems, and people.

It’s important to note that these are firms that DO NOT hire more accountants locally.

The next step would be top-of-the-line revenue, grow the number of clients, the average fee per client, and the number of services.

Working In Vs. Working On

A phrase coined by author Michael Gerber in the book “The E-Myth” said that “businesses need to spend more time working on the business than in the business.”

What Does This Mean And How Does This Impact Accounting Firms?

Working in means doing what the business does while working on means working out things that will help grow the business.

Firms that are stuck in doing or working in are those whose accountants are very busy doing the compliance stuff. They spend most of their time on historical services, auditing, filing and lodging, and catching up on compliance work. These firms are time-strapped and, as a result, don’t get to work on actually growing the business.

They are, to put it simply, don’t spend their time wisely.

What Should Accountants Be Doing With Their Time?

Rob relayed a story that serves as a good example of how one should spend time. In an interview he was listening to, he learned how one executive was able to do more than she was actually doing by doing the following:

  • Keep a log of all tasks done in the day
  • Do it for one month and then stop when it starts repeating itself
  • Go back to the logs and find the highest dollar-productive activity during the past 30 days
  • Look for the second, then the third highest dollar-productive task
  • Focus on those three things

 

The executive was able to focus on growing the business and doubled her income.

The important takeaway in this story is: identify the best yield of your time. Do more of tasks that allow you to develop the business. Always remember what the best use of your time is. Always ask: what is the highest dollar-productive activity?

 

Need more tips on how you can get the most out of your time? Check out these reads:

Accounting Tips To Effectively Manage Your Time

Double Profits By Taking Charge Of Your Time

Improve Productivity: Are You Wasting Your Time?

Time Is A Big Excuse

 

It’s not that I don’t have enough time. It’s what I’m doing with my time. What are you actually doing?”

Rob Nixon, Mentor to Million Dollar Accountants

 

We all have the same hours in a day. The issue is in how people use their time. Saying “I don’t have time” is not an excuse to not touch base with your clients. It is important to push yourselves to get the most out of the time given to you.

Important takeaway: never use the excuse of not having the time.

What’s Holding You Back From Growing?

Complacency is what’s keeping most firms from growing. The accounting profession is profitable in itself. In fact, in some places, like the United States, it’s the most profitable business.

So How Has Complacency Kept Many Firms From Becoming Successful?

Many have remained reactive. They are content with what they are currently making, which is enough to give them a comfortable life. And since most accountants are too busy as it is, there’s no reason to add more tasks and become even more busy since they are already earning good money.

It affects the psychology of the person. There’s no reason to become more productive because they are already enjoying the good, comfortable life.

When it comes to growing your firm, having the right mindset is very important. When you are in the right mindset and have the right attitude, the rest will follow: tactics and strategies to double revenue, etc.

It all starts inside your head.

Motivation is crucial in building a business that actually helps clients make history, a business that can change their lives.

It starts with having that deep burning desire to succeed.

Starting Your Own Accounting Business

The world has changed. Starting a business doesn’t have to be as tedious as before. Thanks to technology, it’s easy to run your own firm even with limited resources. You only need a few things.

You can literally start your own business with just one laptop, a phone, and a couple of thousand dollars.

Getting clients also is easier, thanks to technology. Firms can look for clients in social media. That doesn’t cost money. You only need a few thousand dollars to get your own firm up and running. You don’t need to rent an office. You can do work inside a cafe or at home.

You can even set up a team for a very affordable cost through offshoring.

Do You Have A Global Offshore Team?

We ran a poll during the webinar and asked whether or not they already have offshore teams setup.

50% said they already have an offshore team while 21% said they still need to know more about offshoring. 13% said they have decided to do it but haven’t implemented anything yet. Interestingly, 10% of the respondents said they are against the idea.

Skepticism for offshoring is not uncommon especially for firms who are scared of losing jobs to people from a different location. But what you need to know is, offshoring, as a business opportunity, will not redundiate the local team. It will, in fact, free up their time, allowing them to focus on more client-facing tasks—those that can add value to clients. 

 

Subscribe to The Ledger to discover more valuable accounting business insights.

Check out our podcast at The Outsourced Accountant to learn the strategies and how-to methodologies to becoming a high-performing firm that delivers results.

 


Looking to scale your business by getting the right people to do specific roles? Call our global offshoring specialists at 1300 896 522 or click here to download our blueprint on how to build a global accounting team.


A Breakthrough Guide On Capacity Planning For Your Firm

Watch this webinar to learn the three key types of team members you need to build the ideal offshore team.

Speakers:

Nick Sinclair, Chairman, The Outsourced Accountant

Jamie Johns, CEO, Sky Accountants

 

Accountants are really working too many hours. Likewise, for that matter, owners of practices are also working a ridiculous amount of hours. Proportionally, they are also expecting a significant number of hours to be worked by their managers and their staff. Teams are getting absolutely pounded. Thus, there is no semblance of work-life balance. The term nine-to-five becomes nonexistent because of the massive amount of work that needs to get done.

The Undeniable Truth

 


We are seeing a lot of accounting firms paralyzed and their staff are just not engaged and happy because of these huge amounts of work they’re having to get through and most are struggling with capacity. So when we ask accountants if they’re up to date with their client work and if they can comfortably say that when a work deadline comes that they will always meet it and they don’t need to ask for extensions, very few firms could actually do this. A lot of the reason is just that they haven’t mapped out their workflow and they have the wrong people doing the work. In our recent poll, we found that 50% of respondents state that their capacity planning is below standard.

The Obvious Solution

 

 

On average, an accountant within an accounting firm spends roughly 200 hours a year on administration. When you look at that, you go ‘Why?’ when you could put your resources into a global team at a cost of a quarter to even as low as 20% of what that accountant is, take the administrative work off the accountant, and let them do what they’re trained and skilled to do which is accounting. What accounting firm owners don’t realize is that offshoring is definitely a viable solution to what has become a crippling problem for accounting firms at large – the lack of capacity.

The Ideal Team

Before building an offshore team though, accounting firm owners should understand that there are three key types of team members needed. These are three clear-cut roles that when fully understood, combined in a team, and utilized to their fullest potentials can become game changers.

The three key types of team members are the GRINDERS, the MINDERS, and the FINDERS.

Who Are The Grinders?

 

 

Execution is the main function of the grinders. Think of them as the soldiers on the frontline. They are the ones that do all the hard work that’s needed to achieve the business goals of an accounting firm. Grinders are in charge of the nitty-gritty of day-to-day work so to speak.

Here are some examples of Grinders:

  • Accountants
  • Bookkeepers
  • Digital Marketers
  • Social Media Managers
  • Graphic Designers
  • Receptionists

 

Who Are The Minders?

 

 

Operations is what The Minders are really good at. They are in charge of making sure all the systems and processes within an accounting firm are running smoothly. Minders are also the perennial firefighters as they usually get the perilous job of putting out small fires like dealing with problems with clients, repair and maintenance of office facilities, workflow process improvements, and the like.

Here are some examples of Minders:

  • Client Managers or Client Service Coordinators
  • Office or Facilities Managers
  • Administrative Team Members

 

Who Are The Finders?

 

 

Business development and account management are the bread and butter of The Finders. Their highest priority is to look more new clients and more new work from existing clients. Most times they are the owners or partners in an accounting firm. They have high stakes in the growth of an accounting business so they are more often than not at the forefront of creating and ensuring constant revenue streams and increase in profit margins.

Here are some examples of Finders:

  • CEO’s, COO’s, CMO’s, CFO’s etc.
  • Managing Directors
  • Senior Partners

Conclusion

All accounting firms should have a healthy mix of each type of team member. Each one is a crucial cog in the machine that is an accounting business that if at least one of them doesn’t work, the entire mechanism breaks down. With a complete understanding of this aspect of team building, an accounting firm can now start building an offshore team.

 

Here’s an example of the percentages of the accountability each key type of team member holds. As you can see, Grinders hold 70% of the responsibility of getting things done, Minders like client managers hold 50% of the responsibility to get things right, and the receptionist holds 40% of the responsibility to make sure that everyone, from the grinders, client managers, and clients get along. Of course, different accounting firms have different systems, processes, and people so percentages may vary. What’s important to note is knowing who’s in charge of what in streamlining the workflow process and thus increasing capacity.

Gain more valuable industry insights Subscribe to The Ledger now! You can also listen to our podcast series, The Offshore Accountant, to the get inside scoop on the latest industry news and updates.

 


Grow your firm by building your own offshore team now. Call our global offshoring specialists at 1300 896 522. Want to learn more? Click here to discover the blueprint on how to build a global accounting team.


Learn How To Setup An Offshore Team To Drive Your Firm To Success

Playbook how to set up an offshore team

3-minute read

 

This is an updated version of our March 29 webinar.

 

In our latest webinar, The Outsourced Accountant Chairman, Nick Sinclair, discussed the ways to drive success to your firm by setting up an offshore team. Among the topics covered were:

  • Profiles of accounting firms
  • Big issues in the industry
  • Your support to grow
  • Business case and models

Is Your Firm Ready For Outsourcing?

Drive success to your firm and set up an offshore team

 

In our March roadshow, we spoke to more than 200 accounting firms to help them learn the ways to drive success to their business by setting up an offshore team.

We asked participating businesses where they are with offshoring and found that:

  • 5% of firms already have an offshore team setup
  • 40% have decided to offshore but haven’t implemented the steps
  • 45% said that they still need to learn more about offshoring
  • 10% still don’t have any team setup but are already outsourcing some tasks

Bookkeeping Is Growing

  • There is a huge growth in the industry, particularly bookkeeping
  • It is one of the fastest growing aspects of running a successful accounting firm
  • Here in The Outsourced Accountant, we have more than 50 requests for new team members and 40% of those are for bookkeepers

Looking At The Profile Of An Accounting Firm

Setup an offshore team_accounting firm profile

 

There are different ways to run an accounting firm. There’s really no right or wrong way. Based on what we’ve seen so far, accounting firms are profitable. The only thing that stuck out and felt like an issue was cash flow.

That’s because the WIP days are taking way too long. In fact, it’s taking accounting firms, on the average, 52 days to get paid once they have completed the work. Most companies don’t even charge for the WIP, which means they are doing work but not getting any revenue for it.

New Or Existing Clients?

One of the things we wanted to know from firms is if they are focusing on existing clients or working on new clients to gain more business.

Most of the accounting firms don’t have the capacity to get all their work done on time yet they still continue to take on new clients.

The reality is we can’t even manage the ones we already have and yet we continue to add more. It all boils down to workflow and people management.

Big Challenges In The Industry

Setup an offshore team_Big issues

 

Many firms are still paper-based

  • Many companies still acquire and gather data through physical documents
  • Companies haven’t embraced digital signatures and technology that can automate processes
  • Using automating tools, like Receipt Bank, can save accountants between 4 and 8 hours

 

Too much technology

  • Too many choices for software and tools can lead to technology paralysis
  • Having too much options can cause confusion and overwhelm clients
  • Firms can either be given too much and not use it or not put in anything at all and risk not delivering any value
  • Look into using value-added technologies you can use

 

Limited time for accountants

  • Compliance tasks consume too much of accountants’ time
  • Having limited time can affect productivity and, in the long run, efficiency

 

No work life balance

  • Spending too much time on low-impact tasks can keep accountants from focusing on work that generates revenue
  • When accountants are too busy with compliance, they are more likely to spend more time inside the office
  • Busy accountants are susceptible to a disrupted work life balance

 

 


 

Fresh from our successful roadshow across the country, we are bringing to you the key insights from accountants who are working with offshore teams to drive success to their firms.

We’ll talk about the following topics:

  • Key insights from the 2018 roadshow
  • Performance profiles and opportunities for accountants
  • Key processes to target
  • Key metrics firms need to focus on

 

Secure your spot now by registering through this link.

 

Can’t Find The Right People With The Right Skills?

Skills shortage is a major concern for many businesses. While there are many professionals available, finding the talent that perfectly suits the role you need can be a challenge. The good news is there a huge pool talent in the Philippines that you can tap. Setting up an offshore team will connect you with the right people for your roles.

 

Looking To Scale Your Firm?

You need to enhance capacity to add more value for your clients, improve work-life balance and increase revenue. Bridge the gap between the time you want to spend with clients to the ACTUAL time you are spending with them by building an offshore team that will help grow your business.

Tune into this webinar to discover the steps to building your offshore team.

To unlock the secrets to setting up an offshore team, listen in on Thursday, 29 March 2018 from 12:00 NN to 1:00 PM QLD (AEST) | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM NSW/VIC (AEDT).

 

Reserve your spot today by registering through this link.

 

Get the latest accounting industry updates in your inbox. Subscribe to The Ledger blog now.  Or listen to our podcast series, The Offshore Accountant for first hand stories on offshoring journey.


The Outsourced Accountant is the leader in dedicated outsourcing for accounting firms. We help firms become more efficient and scalable  through insightful content like webinars, podcasts and articles.

To learn how to build a successful global offshore team and  improve workflow, download our ebook here. If you’re experiencing capacity restraints and looking to scale your firm, call our offshoring specialists today at 1300 896 522.


Mandatory Breach Legislation and 2SA: Get To Know The Details

Cybersecurity updates protecting client data in the cloud
[header_title add_title=”Cybersecurity Update For Accountants “]

Protecting Client Data In The Cloud

 

Speakers:

Nick Sinclair, CEO, The Outsourced Accountant

Jamie Beresford, Managing Director, Practice Protect

This webinar discusses the following topics:

  • Mandatory breach legislation
  • Xero’s Two-Step Authentication (2SA)
    • What/Why/When
    • What accounting firms need to know
    • What your offshore team needs to know

 

Cyber Fraud Is On The Rise

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_cyber fraud

 

Key takeaways:

  • There is a 35% increase in reported breaches each year
  • Cybersecurity breaches have been on the rise for the past three years now
  • These can be considered the glory days of cyber criminals
  • Small businesses with less than 20 staff are most susceptible to breaches

 

How Has The Government Responded To The Threats?

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_mandatory breach reporting

 

In the poll we posted during the webinar, close to half (46%) of the participants admitted they haven’t implemented anything yet while 20% does not even know what the legislation is.

The Mandatory Breach Reporting Legislation aims to make the custodians of data (accounting firms) responsible for in protecting client information. Under this law, which takes effect on February 22, 2018, firms will need to report any instance of breach to the Privacy Commissioner and their clients by putting it into writing.

Note: this is not going to be a good conversation with your clients because it runs the risk of losing their trust. In addition, it can have a negative impact on your reputation since word can get out in social media, print, etc.

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_poll results

 

We wanted to know if firms are ready for the mandatory breach legislation, which rolls out this March and found that almost half (46%) have made the necessary research but haven’t implemented anything yet.

It’s quite interesting how very few (3%) are prepared with the Two-Step Authentication while 20% of firms have no idea what the legislation is about.

Revamping Policy Issues For Better Protection

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_policy issue

 

Firms need to know that the risks for cyber hacks are not rooted from I.T. issues. In fact, this is more about the policies of firms. The switch to browser-based cloud accounting has changed the game in the way in which data is accessed. This is also one of the reasons why cyber hacks have become prevalent.

Firms can have the best firewall and security measures to protect the network but since people can access your data through browsers, it’s easy to acquire information regardless of location.

All somebody needs is your password.

The cloud has made it difficult for firms to keep the required level of password hygiene. There are too many passwords due to having too many accounts to maintain.

Fact: People have at least 20 different accounts across their business and personal lives. Having these many accounts will make people use passwords that are easy to remember.

The Big Browser War

Not many people are aware that risks for data breach is a browser issue. The war between the big browsers are not helping make this easier, either. How?

Since they’re competing for your business, they will offer ways to make your lives easier. One of them is password management. Browsers can save passwords so it’s easier for users to access their accounts.

What users are unaware of is, anyone who knows which settings to configure to see your passwords.

Other practices that can compromise your private data:

  • Synchronized passwords on various devices can pose a risk. When an employee logs in with their browser ID at the office, the passwords they use can be synced with the other devices they have logged on in the past (i.e. tablets, mobile phones, etc.)
  • Hackers infecting your computer with malware

Xero’s Two-Step Authentication (2SA) Process

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_xero two step

 

The Australian Taxation Office has released a new operational framework to all application vendors that integrate with their systems that hold sensitive data.

Xero has mandated this and will officially take effect on March 1, 2018. Under this policy, team members will now be required to use an authentication code in addition to their password.

The roll-out means shared accounts will no longer work. Firms are highly recommended to make the necessary changes prior to March 1.

For clients who are using Xero, here are some tips:

  • Perform the necessary changes days, even weeks ahead. You don’t want your entire team doing it all on the same day.
  • Get on top of your password control guidelines.
  • Find ways to centralise your password policy.

 

Question & Answer

 

Q: What are some of the common questions that you have received regarding the new rules at Xero and the new legislation coming into effect in two weeks’ time?

A: Questions about the actual data and how the legislation impacts that. If a firm has a revenue of more than 3 million, they aren’t included in the legislation unless they’re holding tax phone numbers which includes accounting firms.

 

Q: Do clients need to arrange the two-step process from their end?

A: Yes. All users [have to] so their clients will be mandated as well.

 

Q: If a client fails to implement the Two-Step process are we exposed to liability for any breaches?

A: They won’t be able to access their Xero files.

 

Q: Even if it’s not mandatory for MYOB, can we still set this up for our team members here at TOA?

A: MYOB might not have this available yet but if they do, we’ll certainly look into that.

 

Q: Does Practice Protect work on remote desktop log-ins?

A: It does.You can protect your server. It provides a single set of log-in to all your applications so you can restrict IP address and protect yourself against international access to your accounts.

 

Q: What is the difference between Practice Protect and LastPass? Is one better than the other?

A: LastPass is more of a password management tool. It hasn’t been built for security from the ground up, but we advise you to do your own research.

 

Q: Do you recommend cyber insurance?

A: Most definitely. It represents strong value for money.

 

Q: Our provider has a log-in to our system to help fix bugs and issues. Will this be an issue?

A: If they have their own log-in then they will need to set up 2SA just like everybody else.

 

Q: What is the biggest risk for our clients and people in the accounting industry?

A: Identity theft. If you have a tax file number, you can lodge a fake tax return, assume someone’s identity and take over their bank accounts.

 

Q: Should we merge the XPM log-in and how long will it take?

A: You should be getting a prompt when logging in to XPM. We strongly recommend that you go ahead and do this in your own time rather than wait for March 1st. Once you merge those log-ins you will be mandated to set up your two-step authentication. The whole process may take 10 to 15 minutes, so be prepared for that.

 

Q: What are your thoughts on third parties (i.e. non-employees, IT personnel) with access to your system?

A: There is certainly a level of confidentiality. The one thing we can’t control is the way your firm manages your passwords.

The Desktop 2SA Solution

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_toa 2sa solution for staff

 

The advent of technology has been absolutely wonderful for the industry. It has made remote work possible. But it carries one risk. Your staff now has access to your IP, database, client list and other vital business information.

This is risky when you look at it from a security point of view. Anyone who’s using a local wifi connection can get hacked. We highly suggest clients implement a policy where the staff can only access the system through certain IP addresses and locations.

Password management is becoming more and more crucial as the accounting technology is starting to shift to the cloud, so it’s of vital importance to look at your security management.

TOA has rolled out a clean desk policy as part of strengthening its data security. We are also working with Practice Protect to ensure all computers are installed with the security measures. Right now, there are more than 420 Xero users in our office and we will be sending out guides in the coming weeks about this.

What Do Firms Need To Do For Their Offshore Team?

Nothing. The TOA team will be taking care of installing all the necessary software in preparation for March 1. We have also sent out an electronic direct mailer last week which detailed the step-by-step process that we are following.

For Your Onshore Team, Here’s Our Recommendation

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_xero 2sa

 

For attendees who would like to receive a template for the third party access policy, we strongly suggest you head on to http://www.practiceprotectonline.com and sign up for an accounting security consultation.

A cloud security consultant will help determine the right agreement for your firm.

 

Cybersecurity update for accountants_practice protect

 

To get industry updates, expert tips and best practices for your accounting practice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up to The Ledger by clicking here.


If you are an accountant, bookkeeper or finance firm looking for solutions to capacity restraints, call our offshoring specialists at 1300 896 522 or click here to download our blueprint on how to build a global accounting team.


FREE 1-ON-1 CONSULTATION