Ahhhh, Adelaide. Such an unknown to me, and even though I was only there about 24 hours, I can only hope I’ll have a chance to go back to visit my new friends some day.
My training partner, Kamlesh Mahtani, and I did one day of training in Adelaide; we had such an amazing time, I’m sad we didn’t get the same 3 days as we did in Sydney and will here in Melbourne.
The Adelaide crowd started arriving early, and right away Kamlesh and I could tell the day would be a little different – many of them seemed to know each other already and the atmosphere was much more casual than previous events. All but two of them were unfamiliar with QuickBooks Online and the Intuit Business Builder website. We spent a little more time introducing Intuit and the history of QBO than we had in Sydney and when we got to the part about signing up as an Intuit ProCloud Partner and using the Intuit Business Builder – every single person left that training as a member.
I was so excited; one of the things I appreciate about Intuit is how the value the accounting professional and provide us with free resources, training and tools to help us grow our practice and service our clients effectively.
This group was so eager to learn as much as they could, and not just about the product features – about how to handle document management when working remotely, for their GST and BAS reporting requirements. They wanted to talk about how I do scheduling, project management and how I determine my flat rate billing. As with Sydney, we all had the same common ground when it came to clients: we all have clients that forget what we tell them, we have some that we love so much we want to put them in our pocket and take them home with us, and at the end of the day we all want the same thing: to do our jobs the best we can and help them manage their finances so they can work on growing a successful business.
They were so eager, in fact, that Kamlesh and I had to keep reminding them to quiet down – they got so excited about a feature or aspect of the training that they would start to talk amongst themselves about the implications it may have for clients. At one point I had to clap my hands and shout: “People! We need to focus!”
(Kamlesh wanted me to make sure I mentioned here that he’s performed like a rock star on this training tour, and from the reaction in Adelaide, I can’t argue.)
Each group of training attendees has had distinct personalities, and we’ve enjoyed each one. They’ve all been so engaged and have had insights and comments on how they’ll be able to use QBO and additions they’d like to see in future updates.
At the end of the day, we play a version of QBO “Jeopardy” to review what we’ve taught them in each sessions with light up buttons and a control buzzer to indicate when they tap in and get the answers either right or wrong. The teams are very competitive and have so much fun with it.
The last thing I’m going to say about my Adelaide peeps is they’re the only group that was so rowdy we had to bring the buzzer out during training, and that’s my favorite thing about that group. I so hope I get a chance to get back there!
Due to the recent confusion I’ve caused with my pronunciation of “Dawn” and “Don”, and my new friends from Australia and Singapore not understanding what I was saying AT ALL, I thought I would add a link here to a guide to my (apparently distinctly) Michigander accent.
Hope this helps, mate
While working on the QBO Australia training videos, I had to become familiar with Australian bookkeeping and over one weekend, I gave myself a crash course on payroll. It’s a different filing system (what they refer to as lodging) and I went to my friend and colleague, Lauretta Finis, for some clarification on things.
They’re required to do quarterly filings, but the financial periods are different:
Annual Period (Fiscal/Financial Year)
US: January 1 – December 31 (for sole proprietorships or businesses taxed as such, like a single member LLC) otherwise, at the end of a quarter, depending on the business cycle
Australia: July 1 – June 30 (there are a few exceptions)
Quarterly reporting for payroll and GST (the Australian goods/services tax, what we refer to generally as sales tax) is due the month following the end of the quarter, just as it is in the US.
What I found most interesting were the differences in requirements regarding retirement benefits from what we’re required to do at home in the United States.
Australians are required to contribute to a retirement fund and it’s called Superannuation (or “super” for short) – very different from the US, where this is a voluntary benefit that employers can offer. Lauretta explained this compulsory program is for employees that earn over $450 per month. Here at home, employers can offer a 401k program, and they are not required to do contribute any, although some will match employee contributions up to a certain percentage.
Lauretta explains it this way:
“Generally, you have to pay super for an employee if they’re between 18 and 69 years old (inclusive) and you pay them $450 or more (before tax) in salary or wages in a month. It doesn’t matter whether the employee is full time, part time or casual. Employees who are under 18 years old must meet these conditions and work at least 30 hours per week to be entitled to the super guarantee.”
What I find fascinating is that the employer is also required to pay into the super for contractors -
“You also have to pay super for contractors if the contract is wholly or principally for their labour, and for employees who are temporary residents of Australia.”
She adds this as well:
“If you’re a sole trader or partner in a partnership you don’t have to pay super for yourself, but you can make super contributions as a way of saving for your retirement.”
I asked if employees could choose the fund(s) they want to contribute to, or if they’re required to use specific funds, dictated by employers or the Australian government (I was thinking at first it was similar to our Social Security program). Here’s the explanation from Lauretta:
“…individuals (employees) choose their own super fund. .. this gives them the choice of either staying with their own super fund or letting the employer use their own nominated super fund”
She also explains that the MINIMUM requirement for super is 9% (!) And that it will increase this July to 9.25% and to 12% (!!) by 2020:
|July 2019 and onwards||12.00%|
Since we are required to pay into Social Security and Medicare and employers are required to match employee deductions, to explain it to my American counterparts, it’s easiest to explain it as as sort of cross between a 401k and our Social Security and Medicare requirements. Employers are adding to a retirement fund similar to 401k, but are required to contribute to it as we do with the matching of Social Security and Medicare.
The thing that shocked me was that employees are not required to contribute to the super, but they can choose to add to the funds a few different ways:
I also asked if most bookkeepers offered payroll as a service and what I found is that there is not a large proliferation of payroll service companies. The majority of bookkeepers here either do the payroll for their clients, train their clients on how to process, or oversee it by verifying their gross wages against their quarterly BAS (Business Activity Statement) report – which is similar to what we do when tying the wages into our 941s. At the end of the year they have Payment Summary form that is similar to our W2s.
This is not to say that payroll services (or specialists) are not used; I spoke with a few that have clients that make use of them – Lauretta mentioned that some of her clients, like hairdressers or cafes use them because of the high turnover and wide age range of their employees, and are open 7 days, which means different rates per hour plus penalty rates.
Taking a step back, I love all the parallels – quarterly payments and filings (or lodgings, for Australians), for withholding and sales tax/GST. We all have clients that might have complex situations that require a payroll specialist, and they all have compulsory requirements for business owners that require assistance from accounting professionals.
Last, we all have the same process: sitting down with each client to listen to them and determine the best way to collaborate and establish working relationships that benefit all involved.
As I start this post, I’m waiting for the last day of Sydney training to start and am thinking about a conversation I had with my daughter this morning before heading to the training offices. I told her that I had kangaroo and crocodile for dinner the other night. Her knee jerk reaction was to ask: “WHY?”, which cracked me up. I told her simply that it was different, I’ve never seen it on a menu and I don’t have any idea when I’ll be back to Australia to have it again.
On the walk from the hotel to training, I started thinking about how many things are different here from what I’m used to at home – the slang, the accents, the food (I’m now addicted to flat white coffees and the warm croissant breakfast sandwiches that just have cheese and tomato), the fact that they call underwear “pants’ and pants “trousers”. I was also thinking about how similar the bookkeepers and accountants are to myself and my colleagues back home.
The differences are pretty obvious; they have different payroll rules, and they have GST, not a myriad of sales tax like we do here at home and fiscal year start and end are just a few.
What I love are the similarities. As bookkeepers and accountants, we all pretty much want the same thing: to support our clients as best we can. To come across as the hero to them, swooping in to help them set up an effective system with efficient processes so that they can get accurate data to help them run their businesses. We want to be able to service our clients in the most efficient way we can, and do it in a way that creates a comfortable working relationship for everyone.
One the session we’re doing during this training is where I tell the story of converting my practice to an online/remote model and getting them to start thinking about how to do it for their own practices. I ask the group to identify 3 clients they currently have that they consider good prospects for converting to QuickBooks Online, and think of 3 objections they might get in trying to transition these clients. Then as a group, we work through countering these objections or ways to offer an incentive to help these clients to move online. It has really turned out to be a good way to bring everyone together and help understand another important part of moving clients online, which is to create a network of colleagues with whom they will be able to exchange referrals.
An attendee told me that she really enjoyed the morning session because as the day went on, and my training partner, Kamlesh Mahtani, walked them through hands on training – moving from QuickBooks Online Simple Start, Essentials then Plus – certain features were prompting her to think of additional clients that would be a good fit for QuickBooks Online. Exactly what we were hoping to do, so the training team was ecstatic.
One of my favorite things was that the 3 groups in Sydney have the same types of clients that we do in the states; the comments and little jokes that I make when presenting at Scaling New Heights hit the same with all of these clients.
I’m finishing this post here in Adelaide, where we have a smaller group, and it sounds like each of them have a wide variety of clients. I can’t wait to get up and talk to them about how they work with their clients and sharing QuickBooks Online with them – a solution that has worked well for me to manage my own practice and that has solved so many pain points for my clients as well.