'Get a good accountant.' When starting a new business you'll likely get sick of hearing those words. Why is it that partnering with the right accountant matters so much, when there's so much else to consider and manage? What exactly does a business services accountant do, anyway?
The core responsibilities of a business services accountant
Just like with any role, you can break down what a business services accountant does into a list of core responsibilities. The regulations around becoming a certified practising or chartered accountant make these a little easier to identify than for many other jobs.
At the base of what an accountant does are the following services:
- The production of financial statements which include balance sheets, profit and losses, etc.
- Preparing business activity statements (BAS).
- Preparation and filing of taxation returns by obligatory deadlines for all required entities.
- Being the liaison between clients and the Australian Tax Office (ATO).
- Providing tax and financial advice to clients, as well as recommendations around their business' legal structure and setup.
- Setting up new legal entities for clients, such as companies, partnerships etc.
- Answering taxation or financial queries.
- Creating cash flow reports.
These core responsibilities ensure your business is compliant with its tax requirements. They save your business time and stress, as well as helping make sure you are in the best tax position possible. However, the benefits a business services accountant brings to your company shouldn't stop there. A good accounting firm will offer so much more than simply preparing your financial statements.
The changing definition of an accountant
Many believe the list above doesn't acknowledge what accountants actually provide to their clients. In fact, Xero is pushing for the definition of an accountant to be changed to reflect how the role is growing.
Currently, the Oxford English Dictionary's definition states that an accountant is "a person whose job is to keep or inspect financial accounts". Gary Turner, who is a co-founder of Xero, believes it should be updated to read "a person whose job is to keep or inspect and advise on financial accounts'.
Modern accounting has changed so why hasn't the definition? We think it should.
We're calling for the @OED to change its definition of the word 'accountant' to better represent what the role means in 2019.
Sign our petition below!
— Xero (@Xero) 23 January 2019
There is good reason for this. As he observes in his open letter to the dictionary adjudicators, accountants have moved far beyond just crunching numbers. They analyse, forecast, and advise businesses owners on how to grow and manage their organisations.
SMEs see accountants as their most trusted advisors, and know they are important for business performance.
In fact, small businesses see accountants as their most trusted advisors, according to a study done by NAB in 2018. This isn't surprising when the same report shows accountants are the most important professional service provider for SME's business performance.
Beyond tax – the additional services on offer
Business advisory is where we believe accountants can bring the most value to their clients.
With the data behind them and the ability to analyse and interpret it for you, accountants can build a partnership with your business and offer you advice and knowledge. They are in a unique position to examine how you run your company and see where you can make changes to improve results, increase efficiency, and grow your business.
Great accountants don't just offer the above core services. They also provide their clients with benefits such as:
- Forecasting cash flow.
- Strategic planning.
- Risk management.
- Business development.
- Wealth management.
- Management consulting.
Running a business isn't a simple task. Having someone on your side who can help you prepare for the future and translate the financial side of your company into useable information is priceless, which is exactly what a business services accountant should do.
Here at WMC Accounting, we believe in offering so much more than just taxation advice to our clients. Our aim is to get to know the company and its goals, as well as partnering with our clients to help them achieve their objectives. If you'd like to talk to our team about how we can become trusted advisers for your business, reach out to us today.