Why a virtual Accountant?

By now you have likely heard about Virtual CPA’s, Accountants in the Cloud and even Accountant 2.0.  Are you wondering why you should use a virtual accountant?

Here are some reasons why using a Virtual Accountant might make sense for you.

No need to find parking, child care or even leave your house.  With the technology that currently exists you can meet your accountant right at home using tools like Skype and Google Hangouts.

An accountant that is Virtual (Operates in the Cloud) is more likely to stay up to date with technology and be better able to take care of you and your unique business.

Virtual Accountants are also paperless accountants.  That’s good for the environment, good for you and great for the budget.  Some documents like tax returns can require up to 75 pages of paper.  For EACH tax return.  That’s a lot of paper for a document you aren’t likely to read.  You also get to keep your original documents and you don’t have to worry about losing documents that your accountant gives you.

Tools like QuickBooks online and Xero are more likely to be used by Virtual accountants. Why is that important?  Online accounting tools are able to get you better and more timely information.  No more tracking your income separately on a spreadsheet because it take 3 months to get the bookkeeping done.  Tools like automatic bank and payment feeds means that your information is current.  Finally giving you the tools to actually run your business!

You can still contact your accountant when you are travelling on business because it doesn’t matter anymore where you are.  You can contact when you are on vacation too, but why would you want to?

Curious about Virtual Accounting and what it can do for you?  Contact Michelle @ info@dufordcpa.ca we discuss how this can work for you and your business.

Virtual Accountant — FAQs

What is a virtual accountant?

A virtual accountant is a real accountant who works in the ‘cloud’.   Virtual accounting allows qualified accountants to offer services remotely. Businesses across the Canada are taking advantage of this efficient, flexible, and cost-effective accounting option so that they can meet their business goals by focusing on their core business.

Why would I want to work with you as a virtual accountant?

This would make sense for you if:

  • You find it difficult to get in to see your accountant.
  • You travel a lot.
  • You live in a small community in Alberta or British Columbia and you don’t have access to a professional accountant (CPA).
  • You already have most of your information online.
  • You prefer to work on line.

Who doesn’t this work for?

  • This wouldn’t make sense for someone who is looking for traditional accounting services. Ie: Face to face in person meetings.
  • It doesn’t make sense if you are uncomfortable being online
  • You don’t want to have your data in the cloud.
  • You prefer to pay someone to manage the paper – want to just hand over the ‘shoebox’.
  • You like the paper and aren’t ready to go online.

If I want to work online can I still meet you?

Of course you can.  We can meet online via Skype or you can come to my office in Kelowna, British Columbia.  I also am regularly in Calgary Alberta and would be happy to arrange a meeting while there.

Is my data safe?

Once your data is online you do lose some control over it.  That is an unfortunate side effect of cloud based systems.  Your banking, your credit card information and even the Canada Revenue Agency are all online these days.  Even if you don’t actively put your information on line – it’s there.  To be safe, use only reputable service providers and make sure you have good passwords that you change regularly.

Who are you?

My name is Michelle Duford.  I am a Chartered Professional Accountant and I am a real person. I am registered to provide public practice services (basically tax services) in British Columbia and Alberta.

I live in beautiful Kelowna British Columbia. I have been doing this since 2002.  I have a systems background and I have embraced cloud technology.

Who is working on my file?

All of your work is done in Canada – nothing goes offshore.  You will be working directly with me and my staff.

What kind of services do you provide virtually?

  • Tax returns and yearend financial statements for small incorporated businesses
  • Tax planning
  • Bookkeeping training and review
  • Bookkeeping if you don’t want to do it yourself
  • Personal Tax returns (for corporate clients)

Ok I am in, what’s next how does this all work?

First contact me and let me know what services you want.  All of my services can be found on my website under ‘Services’.  You can even request a meeting under the ‘Contact Me’ menu.

Once we decide to work together, I will send you an engagement letter to sign as well as estimated fees for your file and a list of things I might need.

How do I get my information to you?

There are a number of ways you can get your information to me.

Shared online folders.  This is simple, you copy your scanned information to a shared folder, we use what we need and put the completed documents there for you to sign

I recommend Sync.Com at www.sync.com.  They are based in Canada and provide 5G of storage for free.  The only one in the list that’s 100% Canadian.

While not based in Canada many people are already using the following services.

There are other services out there. As well many cloud based bookkeeping systems let you upload your expenses and bank information directly to your bookkeeping file.  QuickBooks, Wave, Xero for example.

E-courier.ca.  E-courier is more like secure email than a shared folder.  While you still scan in your information, instead of saving to a shared folder it gets sent like an email.  This does not go through regular email channels and is secure so is safe to send things like T4’s, SIN etc.

Are there any online bookkeeping services you recommend?

Yes, while I recommend QuickBooks Online, there are a multitude of online bookkeeping systems you can use.

* Please note that Freshbooks isn’t a complete accounting system, if you use Freshbooks, there is still bookkeeping to be done.

Still have questions?

Send me a email to info@dufordcpa.ca or call me at: 250-763-7923.

Michelle Duford, CPA


How to keep your accounting costs down

As a small business, I understand that you are looking to keep your costs down. The easiest way to keep your accounting costs to a minimum is to be organized and not use your accountant as a bookkeeper. Here are some simple tips to get you started.

Get a good bookkeeper (or at a minimum take a bookkeeping course)

If you want to do the bookkeeping yourself, consider moving to the cloud.  If you run a small business check out  www.kashoo.com or www.waveaccounting.com.  However, before you do this, check out my post regarding online accounting systems.

Both of these sites offer ‘free’ online bookkeeping options for small businesses.

If you are more comfortable working off of your desktop QuickBooks Pro is the way to go.

Keep all your documents, and keep them organized !

CRA requires a minimum of 7 years. For more information on CRA’s retention polices click here .

  • Organize your information by type (ie: Bank statements, fuel expenses, CRA statements etc)
  • Further refine by month or quarter if you have a lot of expenses)
  • Mark on your invoices and bills how they were paid (ie: chq #, company visa, personal debit) and when.
  • If not showing on bill or invoice indicate what was purchased.
  • Keep a travel log of your business travel if you use the same vehicle for both personal and business.
  • Mark on your business lunch receipts who you took for lunch and why.
  • Make sure the receipt is in your business name.

Whatever you do, don’t put your receipts in a box or bag and drop them off to your accountant.  Your fees will definitely go up and you might just be looking for a new accountant next year!

Want to go Paperless?  Check out my post that discusses how to be organized in a paperless setting.

Have more questions?  Feel free to contact me at:info@dufordcpa.ca or visit me on my website at www.dufordcpa.ca


Managing your information in a Paperless world

So you have decided that you have had enough and now you want to go paperless.  Seems to make sense, most of your bank statements, bills, and receipts come online anyway.  Why print them?

Sounds simple enough but like anything, you need a way to organize your documents.  There are many software packages that do just this, two that come to mind are Paperport and Neat, but there are many more available.  Often if you have a scanner the software comes along with it so you don’t even have to buy separate software.  You can also just use file directories on your computer, it doesn’t really matter the important thing is to be organized.

For years I have been giving my clients a system to manage their paper documents.  Recently, I am getting more and more requests about how to manage the information in an electronic or digital setting.  I have come up with a process, it is pretty simple sort of a ‘virtualization’ of the paper folders.

Here’s what I recommend:

Create a file directory(folder) called “Business Info”  <– if you have more than one company, call this the company name.

Under that folder create a folder called “2014” <– or what ever the year is

Under each year create folders for the various categories:

  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Computer and Equipment
  • Advertising Expense
  • CRA documentation
  • Office Expenses

And so on..  If you are not sure, just look at your last years financial statements or ask your accountant for what expense categories apply to your business.

Anything that goes more than one year, put directly under the ‘Business Info’ folder.

Call it “Permanent Documents”.  Things like leases, contracts, incorporation information etc.

Each year just start over again with a new year and create subfolders (directories) for each of the categories that you used in the previous year.

This is easy to manage, easy to back up and very easy to replicate if you have more than one company.  Whether you are just using the file manager of your computer system or a file management system in a document management system, this is an easy way to store and later be able to retrieve your documents.

And please don’t forget to back up your data!!

Once your data is all in ‘electronic’ format, it is very easy to copy to a USB drive or send to your accountant via something like ‘e-courier’.  No paper to lose and your accountant will thank you!  At least I will 🙂

For more information please contact me at info@dufordcpa.ca or visit my website www.dufordcpa.ca.