Tools for Accountants and their Small Business Clients


in partnership with accountingWEB and receipt bank

Ok so you’re not looking to change much of what you do in your
practice, but you probably realize there are better ways to use your
time, deal with client questions, and stay efficient overall. This
guide will offer you eight very key ways that you can do all of the
above without breaking the bank.

Accountants, if nothing else, are realists; just because you can do
something, doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to. You are
the ones that ask your children, “If everyone at your school ran off
of a cliff, would you do it also?” You also teach them to have the
personal confidence and to stand up and be their own person.
In the same right, you’ve heard the benefits of working in the
cloud, being online in general and having real time information.
But you know this not helpful to every client. For example, a retired
teacher who collects Social Security and receives a defined
benefit pension plan may not need the cloud or have an interest in
using websites to work with finances.

In fact, some industries, like construction, custom manufacturing,
and heavy manufacturing still do not have adequate web-based
solutions to help them with the most difficult accounting problems
– cost buildup and accounting for manufactured items, or
job costing for construction projects. Sure, there are workarounds
(and some hosted versions of mid-range solutions), but not everyone
can get their needs met with web-based tools.

Even so, as mentioned above, there are things you know you could
do better. Even if you’re not interested in making changes to your
business model for future success in real time reporting, there are
many ways you and your clients can embrace web-based technologies
without changing your firm’s internal processes.

It can’t be stressed enough that you need to use technology to
help you practice accounting or bookkeeping, and finally get out
of the business of practicing data entry. Both you and your clients
probably hate entering all of those transactions into a spreadsheet
every year and you both dread the discussions that ensue. You
don’t really want to enter the data for the client (and feel like you
can’t bill enough for doing it), and your client doesn’t really want
to pay the bill for you doing that work at $150+ per hour.
There is a third way – let technology do the grunt work instead of
one of you. Some tools for you and your clients with shoebox accounting
systems to consider include:

Cloud-based accounting products
help micro-businesses (those
with five or fewer employees, and sales less than $1 million) by
automatically downloading their transactions from banks and
credit card companies. Companies in this space include Fresh-
Books, QuickBooks Online, Sage One, Wave Accounting, and Xero
(as well as many others). Some of the leaders in this space are
starting to use predictive analytics to automatically classify expenses
to general ledger accounts, and many firms are counseling
clients who bring in a shoebox of paper to get a cloud accounting
product to handle the data entry, get ready to overpay for the firm
to do the data entry, or get ready to find a new accounting professional.
It doesn’t make sense for a practitioner to work 3,000
hours a year, including 1,500 hours of low rate data entry – it’s a
burnout job, and simply isn’t worth it.

Tools which serve as billing and receivables management tools

to micro businesses like FreshBooks, Harvest, and Wave Accounting
can help the self-employed get their invoices out so they can
improve their cash flow. Wave is a free, ad-supported tool for
doing this, and Freshbooks will even print your invoice on paper,
stuff it in an envelope, and mail it to your customer for a couple of
dollars. These tools also work well on mobile devices like smartphones
and tablets so that you can take advantage of short periods
anywhere (e.g. early morning time at Starbucks or a few minutes
waiting for a sales call) to bill your customers.

Online lenders like Kabbage, Fundera, Sage Payments, Intuit,
and Lending Club make it possible for small businesses to borrow
working capital, and some of them will do some of the underwriting
based on data in the cloud-based accounting applications.

Merchant services companies have also gone through a significant
change over the last decade, with anyone now able to accept
credit cards through services including Square, Intuit GoPayment,
Sage Payments, Wave Payments, FreshBooks, PayPal, and Stripe.
Most of these companies no longer require the formal underwriting,
the monthly minimum activity charges, or the high rates of
the past. Some of these providers have rates as low as 1.6%, plus
$0.35 per transaction, with a relatively low minimum monthly
fee, and others have no monthly minimum fee and a rate as
low as 2.9% of sales. There’s likely no small business today that
shouldn’t offer their customers who are overdue on their receivables
the option of paying on a credit card.

Organizing and scanning your client’s source documents is a
drag, and many services now will let you scan batches of documents
for a single client and let technology do the organization
for you. Solutions in this space include CCH ProSystem fx Scan,
Copanion GruntWorx, SurePrep 1040 Scan, or Thomson Reuters
UltraTax Source Document Processing.

Mobile receipt capture applications
are getting better, and services
like Tallie, ReceiptBank, and Wave Receipts convert the
camera on your smartphone or tablet into a document capture
device which can perform tasks like attaching receipts to the
transactions in your client’s cloud solutions. When combined
with automated recognition of data on these receipts, these tools
can simplify your client’s processes by letting them capture the
transaction at the time it occurs instead of worrying about losing a
small slip of paper (or carrying it around for two months).

Check scanning
(electronic capture and presentment of checks)
has been allowed for many years, but many banks and credit
unions are now letting users take pictures of checks with mobile
apps and then electronically deposit the check by submitting the
picture to the bank. While it’s nice to visit with your banker when
you need to borrow some money, do you really want to stand in
line on a Friday afternoon to make a deposit if it’s not really necessary?

Document gathering services like FileThis Fetch and Hubdoc
download receipts, statements, and other items from thousands
of websites (banks, credit card companies, brokerages, utilities,
cell phone companies, even Amazon) and store the documents
online for you for a low monthly fee. If you want your documents
to automatically be filed in folders online for you without having
to do anything, look into these solutions.

So even if you don’t want to use the cloud for everything, it’s fine,
you don’t really need to. But don’t overlook these tools as a way
to help you practice accounting instead of spending most of your
time entering data. Your clients pay you to solve their problems
and if you can get the work done with less pain (and less expense),
why wouldn’t you at least try some of the products readily available


AccountingWEB is a community of accountants across the United States who
come together for professionally written articles on all technical subjects as well
as advice on advancing their careers and running their firms more effectively and
profitably. AccountingWEB Forums provide our members with an important sense
of inclusion, a connection with a bigger “club” through which they feel affinity
with fellow users.

Receipt Bank’s aim is to remove the burden that bills, receipts
and invoices place on businesses. Working with bookkeepers,
accountants and businesses directly, Receipt Bank has developed its software and
service to make the gathering, storage and processing of bills, receipts and invoices
as easy and as cost effective as possible. Receipt Bank extracts the key information
from your bills, receipts and invoices, removing the need for manual data entry.
Receipt Bank can then publish the data to your accounting software or it can be
downloaded as a spreadsheet or used to create expense reports.

Caleb Mutsumba

My company, Five WH Corporate Services (Pvt) Limited (“5wh”), is a relationship-oriented professional services firm that provides the following solutions to business constraints:

 Internal Audits
 Forensic Audits
 Compliance Audits
 Fraud Investigations
 Due Diligence Investigations
 Design, Development and Review of Business Processes and Internal Controls

I am a Registered Public Accountant and Certified Fraud Examiner with experience in what my company specializes in.

3 thoughts on “Tools for Accountants and their Small Business Clients

  1. I am an accountant for a small business. This article is a great help for me to accomplish my task. I think that QuickBooks Online is a great accounting partner. A lot of my freelancer friends use this as well. Thanks for sharing this article.

    Liked by 1 person

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