We had the chance to speak with Aaron Doucet, Partner Success Manager at Xero, about some of the most common myths surrounding accountants, how small business owners can make sure they are getting the most out of their relationship with their accountant, and forecasts for the future of accounting and bookkeeping. Additionally, he discussed his experience as a Xero accountant and offered recommendations to small business owners on how to choose an accountant to assist them in navigating change.
Aaron Doucet, CPA, is a partner success manager at Xero and a former tax accountant in Ontario. Aaron joined Xero in 2020 after working in tax at ConnectCPA, an accounting firm fully based in the cloud, and then at MNP where he helped launch a national cloud bookkeeping program. Through his career of driving cloud accounting change, both at the firm level and now at Xero, Aaron has deep knowledge of cloud accounting technology and is passionate about how it can enable small businesses across Canada while also empowering their advisors.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about accountants?
It’s a common misconception that the moment you have the three letters,“CPA”, behind your name, you should be able to handle any accounting conversations – from simple personal tax, all the way through to complex corporate restructuring. However, like any profession, there are lots of speciality areas that accountants might dive into, whether it be small business tax, audits for large public companies, mergers and acquisitions, or even outsourced advisory services.
Another misconception is that a lot of small businesses in Canada think that their business isn’t complex enough to warrant working with an accountant. In reality, it’s usually a good idea to speak to an accountant regardless of your business stage or level of complexity – they can help you make sure that you’re running a compliant, efficient, and profitable business.
Tip: When searching for an accountant, look for accountants that specialize in working with other businesses that are similar to yours, so that you get the best possible support as a small business.
How can small business owners ensure they’re getting the most out of their relationship with their accountant? What are some questions that they should ask their accountants?
Small business owners should ask their accountant about cloud accounting technology. Cloud accounting technology is accounting software that can help automate a lot of time-consuming administrative tasks – such as data entry, bank reconciliation, and financial reporting. The term “cloud” here just means that the accounting software is available anywhere you have access to the Internet, which is great for business owners who are on-the-go. For small business owners who spend their Sunday mornings wrangling paper invoices and getting lost in spreadsheets, cloud accounting software can be a game-changer.
Cloud accounting software like Xero is also changing the way small businesses can engage their accountant. It allows the accountant to become the advisor of the future for their clients by making a small business’s financial data readily available – allowing businesses to get financial advice from their accountant on a regular basis. I’ll use a cheesy Canadian analogy to highlight what I mean: historically small businesses worked with their accountants like a hockey stick – they never spoke to them throughout the year, but at tax time that communication level shot up through the roof. Taking the above steps and adopting cloud accounting software can smooth out this work across the year, rather than it all becoming a blitz at year end – and it can help small businesses ensure they’re getting the most out of their accountant.
How has your experience as an accountant changed since you started working at Xero?
I have been fortunate enough in my career to work at very cloud-forward accounting firms. My first job was at a purely virtual firm where they serviced all their clients on Xero. It was here that I was able to see firsthand how beneficial cloud accounting software was to those small business owners that worked with us.
Since starting at Xero, I see even more opportunities for small businesses in Canada to gain efficiency with software. The Canadian market is quite slow to adopt cloud accounting tech (research from Xero estimates that less than 12% currently use cloud accounting software). With the current financial climate, it’s more important than ever to understand your business’ cash flow, and using cloud technology enables you to do that. Accountants in Canada have an important role to play in championing this tech for the small businesses they serve.
Do you have any predictions for the future of accounting and bookkeeping?
The future of accounting and bookkeeping changes all the time with the technology that becomes available. Small business owners don’t have to navigate this change alone – there are resources out there to help them get through. It all starts with small businesses having the desire to evolve – many understand the importance and value of investing in efficiency, yet they sometimes put progress on the backburner to save time upfront.
What advice do you have for small business owners when choosing an accountant to help them navigate change?
My advice for small businesses is to not just look for an accountant – instead, focus on finding a business partner. Small business owners wear many hats, and some are out of their comfort zone. Focus on what you do best, and look for an accountant that can help you grow.
CTA: Find an accountant or bookkeeper that specializes in your industry.