A virtual accountant does all of the same work of an in-house, in-person accountant. Instead of working in an office, a virtual accountant works remote. And, in most cases, virtual accountants are contracted and may not be working full-time hours for your company, which means their work costs less than an in-house, full-time role. A virtual accountant can be the perfect fit for a company who does not have the budget to hire a full-time accountant.
You will typically work with a virtual accountant who offers their services over the internet instead of locally. That means using computers or other connected devices, teleconferencing, and other remote technology to get the accounting services you need. Because of their remote nature, virtual accountants may be more familiar with cloud-based tools (accounting softwares like Bench or QBO or Xero)
Both accountants and bookkeepers can be virtual, but they do different things. While both can help you manage the ins and outs of business finances, bookkeepers are not trained in higher-level, complex financial tasks. Bookkeeping is about transactions, while accounting is about interpreting that data, and other financial information, to produce financials that comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Accountants generally have more familiarity with applying these numbers to business decisions, such as flux analysis, budget vs actuals reporting, or cost accounting.
Typically, yes! Compared to hiring an in-person, in-house accountant, a virtual accountant costs less to get the same work done. They use their own tools and software, giving you the best of the best without requiring your company to invest in these financial resources. And, if your business doesn’t have anyone taking on that accounting role otherwise, you are missing out on key financial direction and strategy that can streamline operations and find efficiencies.
Finding a virtual accountant is often a matter of researching, looking at reviews, and asking friends and colleagues. Be sure to find an accountant experienced with your size of business, and with your industry. This is especially key for industries with regulatory compliance rules. You can triangulate from a few areas, 1) Google search to find virtual accountants in your industry or geographical region, 2) online reviews of other customers, and 3) recommendations from other entrepreneurs in your space.
Great reviews and references are important! You should also look for an accountant who listens to your input and allows you to check in on what’s happening. A good virtual accountant takes charge of your finances but offers full transparency to the company with established procedures and policies.
Again, asking colleagues and contacts within the industry can help. If your potential accountant says they have worked in your industry, ask for references, and follow through to make sure they truly understand your specific needs. You can — and should — interview a virtual accountant just as thoroughly as you would with an in-house hire.
Your accountant should have skill sin software that helps with the services you require from them. That could include keeping a general ledger, accounts payable, bank reconciliations, cash management, budgeting, tax preparation, asset depreciation, or more.
*This blog does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. This blog should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.*