The 7-Step Guide to Spying on Your Accountant

, | June 28, 2013 | By
The 7-Step Guide to Spying on Your Accountant

Some accountants can be a total @#!*% . Do you remember when you had plenty of cash in your business? Boy those were good times. The wheels were greased, things were moving along and you felt unstoppable as an entrepreneur. And then a train wreck effed it all up. Remember that? That was a bad day. Maybe some of your customers decided switch to a competitor. Maybe a partner embezzled money out of the company. Maybe your accountant was a @#!*% and jammed up your financial system. In this post, I'm going to give you a step-by-step guide to digging into your accountants world. I want you to really get in there and see what's going on.

The 7-Step Guide to Spying on Your Accountant

Small Business AccountantSome accountants are like moles. They work very hard to dig deep into a company's infrastructure and make themselves seem indispensable. You know what I'm talking about. Has your accountant created processes that only he understands? He's the guy that gets grouchy when anyone talks about innovation. That's because creating a better process forces him to give up his death grip on your business. He doesn't think about what's best for the company, only what's best for his job security. This makes the accountant feel less loved and he lashes out. When this happens, he becomes a @#!*% . At the end of the day, these guys are killing small businesses everywhere. If your accountant is a mole, here's how you dig him out:

Step #1: Request a Copy of Last Month's Financial Statements

This puts your accountant on the move. We need to see if the books are current or not. If he can quickly print out a copy of the financials and they look right to you, then you're off to a good start. If he gives you a laundry list of excuses for not being able to deliver them, you've got a problem. Some of the more common excuses are:

      • I'm still waiting for you to give me your receipts (The guy is actually blaming you for not doing his job!)
      • I keep getting pulled in a million directions by all the other employees
      • Our accounting software sucks and it won't do what we need

Excuses like this are unacceptable. He's just buying more time so that he can finish his game of "bedazzled" on Facebook.

Step #2: Circle Everything that Feels Wrong

Once you get your financials, sit down with a pen and circle every number that feels incorrect. You know your business better than anyone else on the planet, and you're more than prepared to spot numbers that don't feel right. Once you've spotted the odd digits, ask your accountant about them and see how he responds. Don't accept excuses from him on these points. We're talking about your financials here and they need to be correct.

Step #3: Watch this Video and Follow Along

Next, take a moment to log into your accounting software. The goal is to do a quick review to see if he's managing it properly. I've put together a short video showing you a few different things that you can look for and why they matter. As a side note, I'm doing this in QuickBooks. If you're using a different accounting package, that's alright. You can still do the following tasks.


Step #4: Determine the Percentage

The next step is to determine how efficient your accountant is. If he's doing a lot of work outside of the accounting software, red flags should go up. We recently picked up a client who's prior accountant did everything in Excel and only used the accounting software to pay bills. Needless to say, their financial statements were a giant mess. Ask your accountant what percentage of their work can be done in the accounting software versus outside of it in applications like Excel. If he's doing more than 20% of his work outside of the software, it's time to reevaluate your accounting functions. If this guy leaves or kicks the bucket, you're toast because he's never taken the time to set up your accounting software. Someone is going to have to wade through his Excel files to try and piece your world together.

Step #5: Get a Detective

If you do find a lot of problems in steps 1 through 4, you may want to ask an independent accountant to help you in secret. If you have a family member that's an accountant, they'll gladly help you. If not, you can always call us and we'll jump in there with you to give you some extra ideas. However you do it, having a second set of trained eyes will help. We need to find out if your accountant is doing a great job or if he's just being lazy.

Step #6: Let it Rest for a Day

Funny ChickenOnce you get a good understanding of what's going on, let it rest for a day. If you find that your accountant is being a @#!*% and is wasting a lot of your time and money, you need to take a day off before you approach him. You don't want to go into a sensitive conversation when your emotionally charged. It's bad for business.

Step #7: Lay it Out

Once you've got your thoughts together, sit your accountant down and confront him. At the end of the day, you as the business owner need to know what's going on with the finances in your company, and you don't have the time or the money to deal with an accountant that doesn't care.

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Have you had to deal with a lazy accountant in your business? How did you work through it?