Larger and more successful CPA firms (the top 2 quartiles shown below) are already outsourcing extensively and compete indirectly with bookkeeping firms.
Unfortunately both CPA firms and their bookkeeping competitors struggle with this situation. Bookkeepers struggle to make a living as do CPAs in the bottom 2 quartiles (see infographic below).
Just as important, small business clients probably don’t benefit all that much from this situation. CPA firms struggle to add much value since they spend too much time re-working the bookkeeping and not enough on the tax and structuring that their clients need
Realistically Certified Professional Bookkeepers (“CPBs”) aren’t accountants, but they perform the accounting function. They charge their clients for accounting software and often a variety of document management systems (EXPENSIFY – DOC-IT – HUBDOC – etc) designed to reduce their data processing time.
From there they either perform tax preparation services or refer the tax work to a CPA firm.
If they file corporate (or even personal tax returns) they are doing a disservice to their clients as most don’t have the training or expertise for these functions.
If they refer the files on to a CPA firm, the document management systems have little or no value for CPA firms who have their, different requirements for file preparation.
STRATEGY ONE – OUTSOURCE FILE PREPARATION TO CPBs and OTHER BOOKKEEPERS
I would argue that both CPA firms and their bookkeeping competitors would be better off if CPBs and other bookkeepers collaborated with CPA firms to prepare better working paper files and performed more rudimentary records management and systems design work.
While accounting software publishers benefit from bookkeepers and CPAs getting certified and pushing their products, the sad truth is that using accounting software doesn’t make a bookkeeper into a CPA.
When it comes to document management systems, most provide fairly rudimentary tools with steep learning curves, a high (and recurring) cost and fairly limited flexibility. We prefer a suite of more general purpose tools, that can be readily integrated and can also be used to provide custom online solutions for our clients.
Over the years we have abandoned Caseware in favour of a custom solution built in Excel (works in OpenOffice or GOOGLE SHEETS as well) and costs nothing for licenses. We use existing file structures of WINDOWS 10, and share these using CITRIX SHAREFILE which works with clients and staff around the world and has unlimited storage.
We don’t bother with RECEIPT BANK or other add-on products that don’t really provide a great deal more than the camera on your cell phone coupled with a cloud-based file sharing solution.
We also use a flexible on-line database system that allows us to create custom solutions for time sheets, deposit books – and virtually any smart online form you could imagine.
STRATEGY TWO – OUTSOURCE FILE PREPARATION TO CPAs IN THE PHILIPPINES
The best approach though is to employ skilled CPAs in the Philippines who have learned our systems and represent a significant cost advantage to our partner firms.