If you read most accounting-related blogs this time of year, what you will usually find is advice on how to get ready to file your clients' taxes in 2019. However, the Rules of Thumb blog from MoneyThumb would like to set ourselves apart from the herd with today's blog post. It concerns 3 tasks you and your accounting firm need to take care of at the end of the year that is not all about taxes.
The following 3 tasks will clear out the old and bring in the new with much more ease and less stress.
- Make a Checklist
Atul Gawande, a surgeon, wrote a great book called The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. In it, he says, “Good checklists .... are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything–a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps–the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.”
Creating end-of-year checklists will help you make sure each that each of your accounting clients is receiving the attention they deserve. It will also help your team have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished so everyone can sleep a little better at night.
2. Reconcile and Analyze
Make sure you create and review, in detail, a reconciliation report and resolve any unknown or outstanding transactions. Double check the accuracy of all bank and loan balances against their statements, and make any necessary journal entries or adjustments.
An end of the year reconciliation report will also help you review profit and loss statements and balance sheets. This is when we want to find transactions that have been categorized incorrectly or balances that don’t seem right and could use an adjustment. Resolving these issues in December will allow you to a better plan with your client and lead to a less stressful January.
3. Consult with Your Clients
Clients generally don’t like surprises, especially when it comes to their finances. And whether you offer tax services or not, they need a correct set of books, since all of them will eventually need tax returns prepared.
It is important to meet with each client, whether in real life or online, for an end-of-year strategy session. This is when you should discuss tax projections and business trends and whether any decisions need to be made by the end of December. It is always amazing to me how much we learn from clients in this meeting and how much value we can add. This is the kind of meeting that says, “We care about you. We care about your business. We are here to help you make important decisions, and we want to alleviate your struggles.”
If you want to build a lasting relationship with your clients, invest your time in helping them plan for the end of the year before it happens. This is the kind of investment that will always pay big dividends.