The real value of bookkeepers: 5 minutes with Debrah Stanton

The use of cloud accounting software has made it quicker and easier for companies to manage their books – but great bookkeepers are worth their weight in gold.

While you may be able to do the basics well, truly unlocking the value of cloud accounting software can still take some time – and as we all know time is something small businesses just don’t have.

A good bookkeeper can help take your business to the next level – so over the next few weeks we’re tapping into the insights of First Class Accounts to get an idea about how a bookkeeper can do just that.

We’ll also pick their brains about the big topics swirling around the sector today; from future-proofing your finance to the impact technology is having.

Today we catch up with General Manager of First Class Accounts, Deb Stanton, to get her take on a raft of issues.

The Pulse: First of all, why did you choose to get into bookkeeping with First Class Accounts?

Debrah: One of First Class Accounts (FCA) founders asked me to join the company after they saw the role I played in my family business’ success — Hinterland Air-conditioning.

After working as a nurse for years and a brief stint as a café owner, I joined Hinterland full time in 1990s and we went on to win numerous business awards.

I think FCA were impressed with my business development experience and my ability to inspire and communicate with different types of people. They saw these skills as essential in helping FCA franchisees build up their own successful bookkeeping businesses.

Debrah Stanton
Debrah Stanton

The Pulse: So I’m guessing that given you’ve been with FCA over a decade that you’ve had a first-hand view of the changes within bookkeeping?

Debrah: Absolutely. Bookkeeping has shifted from processing data manually, to desktop software, and now to cloud accounting and we’ve had to adapt accordingly.

We’ve had to make sure we’re across the latest tech to be able to train up our franchisees to be dab hands with these tools so they can offer better bookkeeping solutions to their clients.

Keeping up with change is challenging, but our trainers thrive on it and I love helping our franchisees to adopt new ways of doing things. On top of this we’ve had to deal with changes in the way the industry is regulated.

The introduction of the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 had a big impact and we needed to adjust our systems, processes and training program to ensure FCA and all our franchisees complied to new laws.

The Pulse: So, the big question — in an age of software automation, are bookkeepers still relevant?

Debrah: We still need humans!

Modern cloud accounting software has made many bookkeeping tasks more efficient but it hasn’t replaced the value of a bookkeeper’s brain.

All our bookkeepers are trained in MYOB and a range of other software so they can easily set up business accounts in these platforms, saving owners time and technical headaches.

They must ensure reconciliations are correct and carry out a range of checks to ensure PAYG and BAS statements are complete. Unless business owners have a real head for numbers, it can be hard learning all the ins and outs of business administration and making sure they’re compliant with tax and business law.

Our bookkeepers are across all of this so businesses can relax and trust that the finances are in good order.

The Pulse: What inspires you about the industry?

Debrah: The people I work with. I’m a nurturer so I especially enjoy getting to know our franchisees and helping them succeed.

For example, I worked with one franchisee on a plan to significantly scale up her business. We set aside a planning day to review and improve her systems, procedures, cash flow, budgets and marketing strategies.

Twelve months after implementing our plan she increased her monthly turnover by 157 percent, moved out of her home office into commercial premises, employed new staff and increased her client base.

To play a part in this kind of success is incredibly rewarding.

Not only do I feel exceptionally proud of my franchisee, but I know she can help take her clients business to the next level and that makes me extremely happy.

If the financial administration side of your business is taking up too much of your time, you might want to consider getting a bookkeeper on board.  You’re not just hiring a bean counter, you’re hiring a professional who can deep dive into your figures and give you the insights needed to get results.