New (Tax) Year’s Resolutions

With tax season either just behind us (or just ahead, depending on your filing date), it’s an ideal time of year to review all things accounting and financial at your firm.

What’s your assessment – are your bookkeeping and accounting systems working for you and your practice?  Could some basic financial planning make a difference in the year ahead?

With tax-time 2014 – and the regulatory and financial well-being of our practices – in mind, here are a few questions we could benefit from pondering (and acting upon):

  • Are your firm’s financial records Law Society-compliant and up-to-date? Are there any dormant trust funds or credit balances that require attention? How can any issues be expeditiously resolved?
  • Are you writing off more receivables than you’d like? Does this surprise you each year?  Would a more regular billing cycle or updated collections strategy make a difference?
  • Do your internal systems and accounting software get you the data you need – when you need it? 
  • Do you review information on where your firm stands financially on at least a monthly basis?  Are you getting the financial reports you require – and are you acting on them?
  • Does staff need training in any area affecting your financial practices and record-keeping?
  • Are your “accounting computers” showing any signs of wear and tear that could reflect early warnings of system instability? Have your backups been working and is your data secure, firewalled and virus-free?
  • Are the bookkeeping and accounting professionals you work with meeting your ongoing requirements and helping you build and maintain your practice?
  • Are the inefficiencies in your firm’s bookkeeping and accounting processes? Would addressing any of these save you on professional fees – and make your life easier in the process?  Have you requested input from your accountants and bookkeepers on any changes or improvements they might recommend?
  • Is this to be the Year of the Cloud for your firm’s accounting data, or do you still prefer to wait it out a while longer?
  • Could you go “paperless” in any areas of your financial record-keeping? Could you save a few trees by paying certain bills online?  How about scanning those gas-station, restaurant and charitable donation receipts so they are more organized and accessible?
  • Are your paper records stored efficiently and safely? Do you know where your paper records are? Would a binder system be worth considering to help you to locate archived records more quickly if and when they may be required?
  • Would you benefit from arranging an automatic R.R.S.P. savings plan through your bank?
  • What are your firm’s goals and targets?  How can you leverage your firm’s bookkeeping and accounting resources to assist you in achieving them in the year ahead?

And more generally, do you need to make any new (tax) year’s resolutions?

– Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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