Apr 10th 2012
By Liz Gold
What would it be like to receive clean and concise financial data from your clients?
Wayne Zielke, CA, founder of LedgersOnline, assembled a team of financial and technology gurus to create online and accounting bookkeeping services to assist small and medium-sized businesses.
According to Zielke, many large accounting firms estimate that approximately 40 percent of their annual fees go toward fixing bad bookkeeping. He wanted to prevent that and eliminate all the cost of fixing careless record-keeping errors.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and founded in 2002, LedgersOnline is a small practice offering accounting, bookkeeping, and hosting services. The company also recently launched LedgersDocs, a cloud-based document management system that allows business owners to share accounting documents online with their bookkeepers or accountants.
"It's a good service for people who have trouble finding a good bookkeeping skill set in a rural community," Zielke said. "It's hard to find good bookkeeping help out of the main urban centers. We're a good solution for that."
After years of being in public accounting, Zielke decided to set up a virtual practice. His goal was to connect with clients and provide a way for them to submit their financial documents to him easily. With a focus on assisting clients with practical day-to-day financial management, the intent is to solve the problem of sporadic bookkeeping practices by helping to build consistency and efficiency through web-based technology.
The process essentially goes like this:
- Clients may courier, e-mail, or upload their accounting file to LedgersOnline.
- On-staff chartered accountants and certified general accountants take a look at the file and indicate any potential issues and whether bookkeeping services need to be rendered.
- Clients can choose to have financial statements and tax returns prepared as required and have real-time access to their file through LedgersOnline's application hosting service.
The company also partners with accountants on a confidential and non-compete basis in an effort, according to Zielke, "to alleviate any last-minute surprises and to avoid unpleasant negotiations and discounts that often result in client churn."
Zielke said he helps many larger accounting firms and he often gets referrals because they're able to eliminate all of the cost associated with poor bookkeeping.
"The other benefit of our practice over a more traditional practice is that bookkeeping doesn't really hinge on if you're talking to accountants," Zielke said. "Bookkeeping can be delegated to a lower skill set. A typical issue an accountant has is that when he takes time off, a lot of the work gets back to him personally. So, when he comes back from a holiday, he spends two weeks returning phone calls from clients. The type of work we're doing isn't tied to the qualified accountant, so the accountant is able to come back and things are running smoothly."
With a sweet spot of those companies holding two to fifteen employees and clients all over North America, Zielke said a majority of his clients – those in technology or small construction firms – are reliant on more project-based accounting practices where a client may be recovering expenses and billing them out to their clients.
"Clients are trying to track expenditures and the pain that they have is they lose their receipts, don't properly track their expenses and recovery, and they lose the ability to re-bill them," Zielke explained. "Because once the bill goes out to the client and the project is closed, the opportunity to recover that cost is lost. Working with us, doing proper accounting, scanning their accounts payable to us, and entering it in also tags everything so you know everything you're paying also is being looked at to be re-billed to your client."
For consulting firms who work out of home offices, where there are one to ten individuals with similar skill sets and no fixed address, it can be difficult to provide accounting services. Zielke said he could tie those people together with the ability to scan in their expenses without the need of a central office.
LedgersOnline can integrate with a variety of web-based accounting applications, such as QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, FreshBooks, Payworks, Telpay, and Corecon. They also integrate with cloud-based accounting business software provider, Kashoo, and provide accounting, help, and support for them.
Big on web-based applications, the company also uses remote meeting software if a client is having trouble on a local desktop. And with their new document management system, LedgerDocs, clients can tag all of their documents and collaborate on a document level and file it, while taking the advantage of a messaging system that ties the clients together with the bookkeepers.
"We see a lot of bookkeepers trying to use Box.net and Dropbox, but they're really inadequate for collaboration," Zielke said. "It's difficult to keep a personal touch in a virtual environment and we strive hard to do that."
About the author
Liz Gold owns Rhino Girl Media, offering writing and editing services to companies of all sizes. A published journalist for sixteen years, Liz writes about business and culture. She can be reached at [email protected].