It takes a lot of trust to give someone access to sensitive information. Is it really necessary?
The modern version of “don’t talk to strangers” is “don’t give out your personal information.” Which is generally good advice!
But what if your personal information includes complex financials that you don’t have the time or specialized training to want to handle by yourself? Hiring a bookkeeper is the obvious answer, but how do you maintain your peace of mind while giving them access to the information they need to do their job?
|Quick look: What's a bookkeeper?|
|Why giving access is uncomfortable|
|Do I have to give access to everything?|
|Benefits of giving limited access|
|Limited access isn't perfect|
Quick look: What’s a bookkeeper?
If you’re a small business owner, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that taking care of financial information is rarely anyone’s favorite part of entrepreneurship. In fact, business owners consistently rank bookkeeping as their most hated responsibility, and accountants say that most small business owners don’t keep their books up to date.
That’s why many business owners hire a bookkeeper, a dedicated professional responsible for recording transactions and keeping financial information accurate and up to date. As the name suggests, they keep the books for you, so you can focus on running your business.
|“No need to worry, my accountant handles that.” – The Notorious B.I.G.|
Why giving access is uncomfortable
Hiring a bookkeeper takes many worries off your shoulders. But they need access to your financial information to do their jobs properly, which comes with a whole new set of worries.
There’s a lot of trust involved in giving access to your sensitive personal information, not to mention your money. You’re worried about fraud. You’re worried about somebody making mistakes with your business. And even if you’re confident in your bookkeeper’s qualifications, professionalism, and integrity, it can still be very uncomfortable exposing the inner workings of your financials to someone else. Like that messy closet that you keep closed when you have guests over.
Do I have to give access to everything?
Luckily, granting access to your financial accounts isn’t all or nothing. You have the option of setting up limited access for your bookkeeper, which is less stressful for both of you.
What does limited access look like?
Limited access usually looks like a “View Only” mode in an online banking service, along with full access to bookkeeping software (like Xero or QuickBooks Online) and payroll provider (like Gusto).
You can also set up layers of access depending on trust level, from connecting the bank feed to manually importing and exporting statements into your accounting software.
Benefits of giving limited access
You don’t know what information they need
Your next question might be: why not just manually give your bookkeeper the documents they need yourself, rather than give them personal access?
You’re hiring someone to do bookkeeping for your business because of their experience and expertise, and part of that specialized knowledge includes which documents are important and which documents are not. Giving them access allows them to just go get the specific info they need – like a copy of an individual bank check rather than just the statement -- without the extra bottlenecks.
Your bookkeeper is also able to format the information in whatever way is most useful. Do you know off the top of your head if they’d prefer a CSV export file or a PDF?
Giving your bookkeeper limited access to your financial documents allows them to get through the books much faster. That means fewer hours to charge you for, and more time you can spend focusing on running your business.
A good bookkeeper with access can also set up automated processes to speed things up even further.
It saves hassle
Nobody likes playing phone tag, and trading calls and emails with your bookkeeper to handle basic tasks is a recipe for frustration. Giving your bookkeeper their own login means that you only get the truly necessary calls.
This can be especially useful when it comes to payroll providers or payment processors. With limited access, your bookkeeper can see where that $1000 invoice is coming from without having to specifically ask about that one detail.
Limited access isn’t perfect
Limited access isn’t going to solve every problem. There will still be at least some need for back-and-forth and clarification.
Not every bank has the same options available, either. Some banks, like Chase, can give customizable access, such as adding the ability to connect bank feeds on top of the View Only option. PNC’s only limited access option is View Only. And some banks, like Capital One, have no limited access options at all.
Be sure to ask your bank or bookkeeper what solutions are available to you.
It’s understandable to be concerned about the prospect of giving someone access to your sensitive financial information. But if you’re working with a bookkeeper or accountant that you can trust, the advantages are huge.
If you’re interested in getting your books up to date, schedule a call with the expert accounting team at DiMercurio Advisors. We’ll make sure you can work with us with confidence and peace of mind.