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Are Outsourced Accounting Services a Threat to Local CPAs?


For decades, local CPA firms have worried about being replaced by new competitors. First, it was national accounting brands operating in an almost retail-like fashion. In recent years, online accounting services have also appeared on the map. Rather than feeling threatened, smart CPAs have been able to form strategic partnerships that help them better serve their clients while potentially improving their profitability. Here are some of the partnership opportunities available.

Daily Bookkeeping Tasks 

Accounting tasks include basic data entry, account reconciliation, journal entry adjustments, monthly reports and strategic planning. Some of these tasks require more professional expertise than others. In large accounting firms or corporate accounting departments, the varying salary levels between positions reflect this. 

In a small accounting department or CPA firm, there may not be room in the budget to hire a junior staff member. CPAs may be forced to use freelance or part-time bookkeepers, opening their clients' financial information up to a myriad of risks associated with untrained bookkeeping staff. Or, for those risk adverse CPAs, to handle tasks that bill out at a lower rate while reducing their capacity to take on higher-level work. 

Outsourced bookkeeping services can give CPAs additional flexibility to delegate routine tasks without the worry of potentially having to lay off a staff member during the slow season.

Tax Preparation

Just as with bookkeeping, tax preparation is divided between gathering all the numbers, doing math and making strategic tax planning decisions. The more time you spend going through receipts, the less time you have to explore possible new deductions or tax-minimizing moves.

Tax CPAs may suggest that their clients can save on fees by doing their own bookkeeping, but many clients don't have the desire or ability to follow through. Outsourced bookkeeping services can fill that gap for you.

This leaves you free to spend time learning more about your clients' businesses and how to help them. If you're able to offer higher levels of service, you're likely to earn even more business in the future.

Additional Checks and Balances

Even the most diligent people occasionally make mistakes. The only question is whether the mistake is found before it hurts the client.

When you're on your own, it's easy to miss even an obvious mistake when reviewing a document because you see what you "know" it says rather than what it actually says. Or, you might just momentarily forget about a seldom-used rule that applies to a very specific situation.

The risk of these types of errors can be greatly reduced when you have a second set of eyes, either offline or online, reviewing your client's financial data and ready to ask questions if something doesn't make sense. 

Secure Data Storage

If you work off-site, how do you get data from your clients? Is it by inconvenient office visits or by snail mail? Are potentially sensitive documents sent over unsecured email?

While online identity theft and corporate espionage are of increasing concern, the truth is that most CPA firms don't have the expertise or budget to maintain a secure file transfer system. However, you don't need to accept the risk of documents being intercepted. Online accounting providers have a stronger need to maintain their security and can afford to make the investment. Partnering with them allows you to combine your expertise and client knowledge with their existing technology and efficiency.

Wondering how supports CPAs? Discuss your concerns with a member of our team.

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