Singapore boasts over 32,000 chartered accountants that collectively earn an average yearly salary of nearly S$50,000 a year. Accounting is considered a respectable career. In fact, some people even admit to being accountants to avoid in-depth conversations about their real jobs, claiming, “Nobody asks you questions when you say you’re an accountant.”
What does an accountant do? What are they responsible for outside of yearly compliance and number-crunching?
As a business owner, you may have asked these questions yourself. You already know that managing finances are stressful—but are accountants really worth the investment? At Harvest Accounting, we’re used to providing all sorts of counsel for our clients, and we’ll help you understand the many ways an accountant can support your business.
What can your accountant help you with? The basics
So first—the basics. An accountant helps you with regular accounting responsibilities, which really means that they’ll know any and every detail about your finances. They’ll create relevant financial documents such as balance sheets and profit-and-loss (P&L) statements, then help you report and file taxes based on those numbers.
An accountant can also help you incorporate your business. This isn’t necessarily tough, but it can be tedious—and a good accountant will streamline the process. One business owner needed help managing compliance requirements post-incorporation, so we went to the bank with him/her and helped open the right bank accounts.
Next, an accountant helps you manage your compliance. Other than filing a tax return each year, there are a number of documents and reports that need to be maintained and delivered to relevant authorities. You also have to keep certain documents like sales records, business expense receipts, payslips, and CPF statements for at least five years so that your income and claimed expenses can be easily verified.
By handing over the reins to your accountant, you can minimise the amount of time you have to spend stressing over the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).
Your accountant’s “hidden features”
The duties we’ve just listed are standard part-and-parcel for most accountants. For a long time, accountants were seen as “those people who work with numbers.” But now that digital tools and accounting software have grown so popular, accountants are actually doing much more for their clients.
Accountant as digital transformation guide
Modern accountants can provide you with guidance for a digital transformation. Because they’re familiar with your business processes, they can recommend specific tools to make your life easier. For example: at Harvest Accounting, we use the accounting software Xero, which integrates with over 800 business apps to collect financial data in a single convenient place.
When local apparel brand Our Barehands needed a solution that could help them receive and manage orders from all around the world, we recommended the app Stock and Buy. It can sync all purchases, inventory adjustments and multi-channel sales in real-time, making it much easier to fulfil global orders.
Accountant as sounding board
A dedicated accountant can also help you turn an idea into a business, weigh the financial viability of new service lines, or grow your current company. Perhaps you have a great product or service but aren’t sure what needs to be done to take your company to the next level. You can share your financial plans with them, such as how much cash you have on hand for the development of your idea, and they’ll let you know the next steps you need to take. They can even help you see whether the idea has already been done before, and what you’d need to do to remain competitive.
A one-on-one consultation with your accountant can help you develop a clear-cut business plan—and you’ll probably have an idea of the best business apps to use to build your fledgeling company.
Accountant as business consultant
A savvy accountant can help you transform a business that is stuck in the “old way” of doing things. Family business Arcc Spaces was transitioning to the second generation of leadership when it engaged Harvest Accounting for help. The new CEO recognised that to stay ahead, the company needed to switch to digital records.
Harvest Accounting provided training, migration, and accounting services to a group of several Singapore subsidiaries, and they have now rolled out Xero over Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.
Accountant as data analyst
“Big Data” tends to be dismissed as a tech buzzword, but a lot of great insights can only be gleaned by looking at the numbers. No matter how much data you’re tracking, what’s most important is whether it’s relevant. If you’re not sure which numbers you need to take note of, we can help.
Once that crucial business and historical data is tracked, it can then be turned into interactive charts, tables, or graphs. It’s much easier to visualise KPIs than to read them off of a long document. These datasets will come in handy when meeting with potential investors or even your board of directors.
Accountant as grant- and treasure-locator
Not only can accountants help you avoid breaking the law—they can actually make the law work for you. There are so many different government-led initiatives, benefits, and grants available for small businesses that it’s impossible to keep track of them all in addition to a daily workload, but for accountants looking after many small businesses, this is part of their daily job.
An accountant can prepare a list of relevant business resources for you and provide the financial information needed to apply for grants.
Accountant as personal and professional friend-finder
Accountants have a broad knowledge of their local business ecosystem. After all, you’re not their only client. They might know business leaders that you admire, or have connections to someone you’d like to collaborate with.
Try tapping on your accountant for help in making partnerships with local service providers. And while you’re at it, you can also ask them if they know any great founder or business owner networks.
The power of a human-centric accounting firm
The traditional role of accountants has changed from decades past. No longer singularly focused on numbers and books, leading accountants are more like savvy financial consultants, donning different hats as different needs arise. They command strong interpersonal skills, a thriving network of partners and acquaintances, and an armada of software to help businesses make the most of their resources.
A close relationship with a leading accounting firm provides you with insights, advice, and feedback on how you can best handle their finances and work towards building relationships/communities. If you’re interested in what an engaged accountant can do for you, get in touch with Harvest Accounting today!