1st October, 2019

Partner Spotlight: Q&A with Tall Books’ Samuel Burmeister

In the latest instalment of our series highlighting the tireless work of our accounting and  bookkeeping partners, we discuss all things bookkeeping with Samuel Burmeister, owner of Tall Books.

Welcome to the latest instalment of our new Partner Spotlight, which features insights from MYOB’s network of accountants, bookkeepers and advisors from across Australia and New Zealand.

This month we’re talking to Samuel Burmeister, the owner of Tall Books and the Head of Technical Development at the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). On top of that, Sam was MYOB’s 2018 Young Bookkeeper of the Year!

To find out more about Sam, and his perspectives on the industry, we asked him a series of questions about running his Melbourne-based business, Tall Books.

How many years has Tall Books been operational? Do you have any employees?

We’ve been running for three years, and there two of us in the team so far.

What are the positives and negatives of your job?

There are a lot of positives. The ability to work around my dislike of mornings, for example. I get to work from home most days, but also get out and about working with small businesses in Melbourne. I also love that there’s a lot of variety in my work. Sometimes its complex problem solving and training, other times it’s basic entries and repetition.

I think one of the negative aspects of my job is simply a result of the industry. We have quite a steady flow of work, but during peak seasons like BAS and EOFY the nights are long, and you have to be careful with burnout.

How would you describe your job in a tweet (ie 140 characters)

Coffees & zoom meetings, financial conversations in cafes, side-by-side training with start-ups, process and procedure creation to further efficiency.

What does an average day look like?

If I was to choose my most common day it would involve a late start, I loathe mornings! Coffee followed by a check of voicemails and emails. Checking off my digital task list, communicating with clients, prospects and my staff member. Usually I do most of the bookkeeping and BAS work in the mid-afternoon to late evenings. Quite often I finish the day with some more emailing and some accounting study.

Tell us something surprising about your job that people may not know about?

I think some people would be surprised at how tech-based and modern my business is. I have two printers that have collected dust and sit in a cupboard. Everything is paperless, meetings are often digital and yet communication is frequent and natural. I love working in the digital age of 2019.

How long have you personally been working in Accounting/Bookkeeping?

I’ve worked in the industry for 5 years, 3 years in self-employment.

Has your client base decreased, increased or remained steady over the past 12 months?

Our client base has increased, each year we’re seeing great growth and new recurring clients signing on with referrals becoming more and more common.

Does your business provide advisory, and if so, do you have any learnings?

Advisory services are becoming more and more of a focus for the business as we grow and learn.

What I’ve learnt is that think work best when we set regular meetings, either face-to-face, or remote, to discuss business performance, plan ahead and reflect on the past to help business owners make insightful decisions.

What new technologies is your business using and trialing to stay efficient, client focused and relevant?

Honestly, we are obsessed with apps at Tall Books. Every paper-based system has to be replaced with a digital equivalent. We’re always looking for new apps where needed, the latest major app introduction was ReceiptBank. We took on a partner subscription earlier in 2019 and have seen it scale so quickly we became Gold partners within less than 6 months. Incredible software.

Are there any finance/accounting memberships that really add value to your business or career?

Given I am head of technical development for the AAT I’d be amiss if I didn’t bring them up! Love keeping up-to-date with technology and legislative changes through the AAT. I am also a member of ICB and IPA and recommend them both as well.

What prompted you to join the MYOB Partner Program?

Before starting Tall Books I worked for MYOB. I worked closely with Certified Consultants across NSW and was exposed to the wondrous, tight-knit and talented array of bookkeepers already in the program. When I launched Tall Books I made sure I became a CC asap.

What advice do you have for new members on how they can maximise their membership value?

If you’re a CC ensure your partner search information is current and up to date. It’s a great source of leads. Keep on top of the events and newsletters as they are informative and put your hand up for opportunities to get involved in product development. These are great ways to maximise your membership value.

How do you stay abreast of legislative and technological changes within the industry?

As a member of AAT I am always kept up-to-date on legislative changes, often writing information pieces on them myself. I also follow newsletters from the ATO and other bodies. My social media feeds have a good variety of industry bodies and informants followed to keep the latest information handy.

What are some of the opportunities and threats facing your industry?

Honestly, there are a lot of accounting firms out there opening their own bookkeeping firms in-house to increase revenue. Bookkeeping firms needs to upskill and maintain relevance beyond basic bookkeeping to stay competitive. The opportunity is that bookkeepers can now, more easily than ever, offer services beyond data entry and position themselves as an authority in the industry.

How have you found hiring and retaining staff over the last 12 months?

Since its inception I’ve had two employees at Tall Books. I’ve realised that the most important aspect of hiring is knowing what you want, and what needs the position will fill. You also need to put aside time for training, procedures and ongoing team building. My latest employee started work in late 2018 and went through a series of application steps, including phone interview and a supervised written and practical skills test. It’s worth putting effort into the hiring process!

Is there something you’ve learned that you wish someone had told you 10 years ago?

Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me is a life where I have what I want and have extra to provide for those I love and care about, the ability to travel and experience the joys of this world. I already see my life as successful and I’m very grateful for the opportunities the accounting industry has provided me thus far.

What’s one accounting/business buzz word you’re sick of hearing?

Just one? How about two haha.

THOUGHT LEADER – Seriously, who invented that, and TRUSTED ADVISOR.

Do you have a secret talent?

I speak fluent Indonesian.

If you could have a special power what would it be?

The ability to create amazing cooked food just with a thought. 😊

Got any good accountant jokes?

Q: What’s the difference between an accountant and a lawyer?
A: The accountant knows he’s boring.

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