Introduce Your New Bookkeeper to These People

In the past, this would be a much different scenario. You hire a new bookkeeper, and they show up at your office on Monday to get started. You take them around and introduce them to everyone they'll be working with. Eventually, they end up speaking to most of your customers and vendors. In no time at all, the bookkeeper is a household name with a large portion of the people calling every day.

Nowadays, you're office is in your house in Toronto. Your business partner works out of her home office in Seattle. Your lawyer's in Calgary. Your virtual assistant's in Manila, and your amazing new bookkeeper is in Lethbridge (hopefully).

Doing the traditional introductions isn't quite as simple. You're usually limited to a few cc'd emails to get everyone connected. Regardless of the methods, there are still some important introductions that should be made.

Most of these are pretty obvious, so I won't insult your intelligence. If you have a business partner, or another key employee, you'll want them to know each other. The same thing will apply if you've got an accountant and/or lawyer. They'll need to discuss things with your bookkeeper throughout the year.

The big thing with these people is to clarify the guidelines. Make sure your bookkeeper knows what he/she can discuss with your employees. You'd be amazed by how casually employees (who shouldn't know) will ask me about very sensitive financial information. And they will make it seem like you (the owner) asked them to find out from me.

Outside of your office, there are 3 groups of people that you need to connect your bookkeeper with.

Vendors

On various occassions, I have done everything from call to inquire about a missing invoice to going down in person to pay for an order. Most vendors could really care less who I am, and will tell me everything about my client's account...no questions asked. Bigger companies, especially phone and utility companies, will need you to be authorized on the account. This is very important if I need to call in a payment, or inquire about an error on a statement. Having to constantly bug the client to call for me slows us both down, and usually kills the benefit of hiring someone to handle that side of the business.

CRA(or insert your country's tax department)

These situations come up less often, but are very important. If the government has a question about your latest tax return, or payroll remittance, they can only speak to the people listed on the account. Even if they call you first, and I'm in the room with you, you can't hand the phone to me and discuss it with them. There is a form you need to fill out, and there are some options on the form to restrict what I can and can't discuss with them.

Bank Manager

This one is more optional than the first two, and really depends on your particular situation. Some of my local clients have me do the bank deposits, and other related banking. This is rarely the case with remote clients. If your bookkeeper is going to be doing some level of in-branch banking for you, it would be a good idea for them to meet your account manager. If there's an error on a bank statement, or maybe a cheque NSF's, it's really helpful if I can shoot the manager an email to ask them about it.

Safety Note

You shouldn't give anyone full access to your finances. You don't want anyone, even the most trustworthy bookkeeper, to be able to make sweeping changes to your bank, tax, or vendor accounts without some way of checking in or restricting those changes. You can place restrictions on all the examples above. Limit the bank access to deposit only. Tell the CRA you are the only one that can make changes to the account. Tell vendors to only accept new orders from your salespeople.

Having said that, 9/10 bookkeepers won't want the access. If something goes wrong, I don't want there to be any chance a finger gets pointed at me. I worked in one clients office for 4 years, and only broke down and accepted a key (since I always got there first) 3 years in.

The point of having a bookkeeper is to give you peace of mind, and to take some pressure off of you, the owner. So, make these introductions in a way that puts you at ease, so you can focus on growing the business.