7 Questions to Ask Before You Choose Your Offshore Bookkeeper

Outsourcing bookkeeping services to offshore providers has become increasingly popular for Australian businesses. The practice is especially effective in The Philippines, where professionals now make a point of studying to understand Australia’s tax and accounting systems.

The appeal of having daily access to a bookkeeper at a fraction of the cost of a local headcount may inspire you to explore this option, but you need to be aware that not all bookkeeping service providers are created equal.

As an accountant and the Director of Financial Fanatics, I often speak to entrepreneurs who tried having an offshore bookkeeper but found it didn’t work for them. After a few questions, I usually discover that they failed to do the right research before they signed on.

With this in mind, here are 7 questions I recommend you ask before you hire an offshore bookkeeper.

1. What is your niche market?

Generally, rather than hiring an individual, you will go through a firm that provides you with a team member you can reach out to on a regular basis, and who will take over daily bookkeeping tasks. Before you sign a contract, ask if they have bookkeepers who specialise in your industry. This can make all the difference to their ability to hit the ground running and deliver results for you.

2. What is the bookkeeper provider's business model?

Dive into the details of how you will pay for your offshore bookkeeper services.

Do they operate on a fixed fee, hourly rate, or subscription basis?
Will you get support from the same person, or a different person every time you have a task that needs to be completed?

Clarify the number of hours or tasks included in your package to avoid unexpected expenses. You may only need an average of around one day a week, or you may need what will equate to a full-time team member.

At Financial Fanatics, we provide dedicated account managers for a fixed monthly fee, with the cost designed to match your needs.

3. Do they use a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?

A Service Level Agreement outlines the scope of services, performance metrics and responsibilities of both parties. It serves as a roadmap for expectations and ensures accountability.

Ask your offshore bookkeeper if they provide an SLA and review it in detail before you sign a contract. Clear agreements prevent misunderstandings and will help back up your argument if you feel that service standards are not being met.

4. How will they communicate with you?

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful partnership, especially when you’re dealing with a remote team member. Inquire about the offshore bookkeeper's preferred communication channels and frequency of updates. You may be happy with email communication or want to connect with them via Slack, WhatsApp or another platform.

What’s most important is that your bookkeeper will not hesitate to reach out if there is a problem to solve. You’ll have a role to play in this by being easy to reach and as responsive as possible.

5. Will the bookkeeper create an accounting manual, and who will own it?

An accounting manual documents standard procedures, workflows, and policies relevant to your financial processes. Before you engage a new offshore bookkeeper, clarify whether they will create and maintain this manual, and who retains ownership rights.

Having a comprehensive guide streamlines operations and will be extremely helpful if someone new has to take over. I recommend taking an active role in managing this document; it will help you stay more engaged as your business's CFO.

6. Are they willing to work with your accountant, and how will they do so?

Collaboration between your offshore bookkeeper and onshore accountant will deliver more well-rounded financial management. Confirm whether your bookkeeper is open to liaising with your accountant and how often they can do so.

Your accountant needs to be on board and happy to liaise with your offshore bookkeeper as well. If they are resistant to this (some have very fixed opinions about offshoring that can’t be swayed), you might need to rethink your agreement with them or come up with another strategy.

7. Can you update or cancel the arrangement at any time?

Flexibility is essential in business these days, especially when outsourcing. As your business expands or contracts, you may find you need more bookkeeper hours, an additional headcount, or access to fewer resources. Look for a provider you can engage on a month to month basis, instead of locking you into a year-long contract.

Need an offshore bookkeeper? Choose Financial Fanatics

We’re fanatical about providing bookkeeping services that free up your time and give you better financial clarity.

When you choose an offshore bookkeeper from our team, you get:

A dedicated account manager
Service and support, 52 weeks a year, with someone on call every business day
Guaranteed price with fixed rate monthly fees
Access to a bookkeeper who is fully qualified to work with Australian business owners
A Service Level Agreement as standard
A relationship with a provider that keeps security top of mind

Perhaps most importantly, when you come on board as a client, you’ll book a one-on-one phone call with the Founder and Director (me), to find out how you can integrate an offshore bookkeeper into your team and leverage them to your advantage.

Ready to talk? Book a call today.

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