How Do We Keep Our Fees Down?

Our fees range from $90 to $380 per hour for consultancy services, however if you become an accounting client, and we prepare your annual financial statements, the maximum hourly rate is reduced to $280 per hour.  We will charge fixed annual accounting fees in the second year you are with us after a practice restructure (if required) is implemented. We can also provide fixed quotes for consultancy work.  To protect your financial interests in discharging our responsibilities, we actively delegate work to the lowest-cost competent individual, either employed by your practice or ours. Our services are designed to complement your practice, not to make you dependent on us. We can train your staff to do the work and ensure the right systems are in place.

Unfortunately delays do occur (especially if your practice is undergoing a practice restructure) and these incur additional accounting charges when information is not provided on a timely basis. The final review by David Dahm, or a principal, will only occur once all information is provided. Further information may be requested if queries arise from this review. It is an ongoing process and delays are most likely to occur with new clients undertaking a practice restructure. Normally only one final review is required, however if jobs have to be rebooked because information is missing this will delay your file being completed.  Should any fees remain outstanding outside our normal trading terms, this will also cause delays.

12 things you can do to keep our fees down and fast track your accounting work

  1. Efficient computerisation – make sure you understand the computer packages you buy and undertake the appropriate training. The level of training determines the quality of work produced and hence the level of accounting fee paid.
  2. Provide all information in the first instance. Use our checklist.
  3. Summarise and reconcile as much as possible.
  4. Explain any unusual events at the initial meeting with your Client Manager.
  5. Ask yourself “Can I attend to this without contacting my Client Manager?”,  e.g. sometimes you may contact us to fax copies of documents which you may already have in your possession, for  example tax returns.
  6. Discuss with your Client Manager areas that can be improved or work you can do to present the job better.
  7. Use your Client Manager for minor things and the Principals/CEO only for the important things.
  8. Use your secretary for secretarial matters and not the Client Manager or Principal/CEO.
  9. Provide missing information quickly.
  10. Do most of the running around yourself, e.g. calling banks / solicitors, collecting statements etc.
  11. Use email and our website to ask for answers to questions. If you don’t have email, we can arrange a solution..
  12. Remember that consultants and accountants sell their time just as you do. The more time we spend on a job, the more it will cost. Be efficient and business-like when speaking to or spending time with your Client Manager.  Please be mindful of this if you are in a mood to chat. However, we do not charge for five-minute telephone calls.

Our aim is to create a professional, happy and friendly working relationship which gives us the opportunity to provide you with the best possible service at a reasonable fee.

Firstly it may help if you understood the process which is undertaken by the team here at Health & Life to complete your job. Below are some questions commonly asked:

All Accountants and Consultants charge by time. The longer it takes to prepare your return, the dearer it is going to be. Some businesses sell hamburgers, Real Estate Agents get paid commissions, and ACCOUNTANTS and CONSULTANTS sell TIME. The more presentable you submit your accounts or your consulting requirements, the quicker we get it done and the more cost effective it is. We only have 7.5 hours per day to sell and we would not be in business if we gave our product away.

Just like it is impossible to quote a building job over the phone without looking at the plans or value jewellery over the phone, it’s not possible to know how long any accounting or consulting work might take. Two sets of books for the same business can take twice as long for one set as for the other depending on how the books are presented.

Please work with your Client Consulting Accountant to try to minimise the time and hence the cost. Ask your Consulting Accountant for a more efficient way of presenting your books or information to us. The more you do, the less it will cost. Make sure everything is there. Should the Consulting Accountant pick up and put down your work waiting for missing information the more it will cost and the longer it will take.

Basically four reasons

a.    There is a lot more work this year. Example: could be an extra lease or turnover / activity has gone up, extra things you required us to do. Changes in law, sale or purchase of a business, or purchase of a new investment property.

b.    Increase in our charge out rates as our labour costs are going up every year.

c.    Due to missing information. If information is missing your Consulting Accountant will leave the job, pick up a new job and won’t come back until the newly picked job is complete. The more often a job is put down and picked up the more time is added to the job.

d.     Staff competency. Your Consulting Accountant will more often than not provide you with techniques to cross-check your own work. If these techniques are strictly adhered to, then there is less chance of error in the work you have prepared and therefore less time investigating errors.

It is in our interest to complete the job quickly so we can get onto completing the next job. We earn the same amount of money and have a lot more happy clients. Please note that we provide a line by line description of work done. If there are any concerns, only pay the component you are satisfied with and contact us about your concerns in writing.

THE MYOB / QUICKBOOK SALESMAN SAID THAT THE SOFTWARE SHOULD REDUCE MY ACCOUNTING COSTS BUT IT’S ACTUALLY DOUBLED? (IN SOME CASES TRIPLED).

Basically garbage in, garbage out. It takes much longer to sort out garbage. The most frustrating thing (and every Accountant says the same thing) is when a client gives you a years computer printouts (after spending hours getting it to this stage) and we have to spend hours and hours sorting out the mess. Efficient computerisation of your accounts depends solely on the operator. If the operator is good then it would definitely reduce time. However if the operator is not good then it takes a lot more time and we need to use a more qualified (higher cost) Consulting Accountant to try and sort out the mess.

The quality of the operator depends on the level of training he / she has undertaken. Usually the cheaper the software package, the higher the training required. Skimping on training means higher accountancy fees required to correct the mess. If the operator is not good then it’s much more cost effective to use a simple manual cashbook system (or simply supply cheque butts & bank statements).

We can use a more junior staff member to process it at a lower charge out rate saving you money.  Please speak to your Consulting Accountant  about the right software package for your business.  Don’t take advice from a software salesman. Your Consulting Accountant is the best person to assess your accounting software requirements.

YOU’RE MY ACCOUNTANT WHY IS MY CONSULTING ACCOUNTANT PREPARING MY FINANCIAL STATEMENTS?

It’s more economical to you. It’s silly to use a lawyer to collect your debts, when your receptionist can do it at a much lower cost. The lawyer cannot do it any better than a receptionist. It’s an over kill to have a lawyer do it. THE PARTNER OF HEALTH & LIFE HAS THEIR OWN PERSONAL FINANCIAL STATEMENTS PREPARED BY OUR TEAM.

Don’t forget the Consulting Accountant are doing this daily and when you do something daily one becomes very quick and efficient at the task.

All of our team have University Degrees or are in the process of attaining one, and some are CPA’s. They undergo over 60 hours per annum of CPE (Continuous Professional Education).

There has been some confusion recently about the role of your Consulting Accountant. He / she will handle your day to day needs including preparation of Financial Statements or any other consulting matters arising. They may or may not have the experience to answer investment, strategic, structural, tax planning questions. That is NOT their role. The partners look after answers to those questions. You may like to direct your questions in the first instance to your Consulting Accountant. If they are unsure of the answer they will either find out or the relevant partner will call you back with the answer. All our staff have been trained not to provide advice outside their scope of duties and/or professional experience.

However if you are unhappy with your new or old Consulting Accountant please, by all means, notify David and we will move you to another person. It’s difficult to match people perfectly and we can get it wrong sometimes. So speak out if you are unhappy with anything at all and we will try to correct it.

If you are unsure of an answer given to you by a Consulting Accountant please do not hesitate to confirm the answer with the Partners directly.

The Consulting Accountant processes all the accounts and produces a draft set of accounts or consulting brief. He / she will go to the Partner, who will then discuss the Planning opportunities. It’s this planning session that could make or save you thousands in revenue or expenses.

The partner spends quality time and the Consulting Accountant spends quantity time. The Consulting Accountant then finalises the accounts or consulting brief according to the Partners instructions. Sometimes the client is called in to discuss various problems or look at options. This process is similar to the surgeon and the nurse or the mid-wife and the Obstetrician. These processes are designed to minimise the costs to the client / patient.

Don’t forget our business is to sell time. If the task takes less than 5 minutes (like a phone call with no email follow up) then it’s done for free. More than 5 minutes it’s charged (including phone calls). We only have 7.5 hours per day to sell, unfortunately our staff expect to be paid 7.5 hours a day and therefore we have to bill 7.5 hours a day. If we give it away for free we would not be in business and unable to serve you when you need us.

Whenever we request an answer to a question from our tax solicitors they send us a bill. Once again, this is based on the time spent (at $380 / hour). It’s not unusual to get a bill for $87.50 for a 15 minute phone conversation. This is standard practice. We understand that if we want their time we have to pay for it.

In the peak period it may take longer. issing information will delay the job. In the PEAK PERIOD between August and March the turn around time may stretch out to 3 – 4 months or more, as every one wants their work done in this period. Every Accountant in Australia is in the same boat. So please be patient in this period.

In the OFF-PEAK PERIOD between April and July turn around time drops back to a few weeks. Just like there are peak and off peak periods for holiday accommodation every Accountant is in the same boat. So be prepared for delay in the peak period between August and March. Remember how hard it is to get accommodation during school holidays.

 We have a 6-8 week turnaround company policy given that all information is provided to us and prepared to a reasonable level of competence.

David DahmHow Do We Keep Our Fees Down?