Spending time on the things you want to spend time on: The power of adding a bookkeeper to your team of advisors
We all want to be more organized, especially in our financial lives.
As we age, our situations tend to become more complex, or organization may simply not be our strength. Although important, managing a home, scrutinizing investment and bank accounts, and tracking all our expenses often end up not being high on our list of things we WANT to do.
We have found that for many of our clients hiring a bookkeeper has many benefits. First and foremost, they organize your monthly finances for you and provide you regular monthly reports for your review. But what can develop over time is even more powerful—they develop as a trusted advisor who can help pay bills either regularly or when there may be an unexpected trip to the hospital or any other emergency. A quick email by children can verify that mom’s bills are in order.
What are the situations where we have seen clients benefit from having a bookkeeper? Here are just a few:
- A retired doctor who commented, “I’ve worked hard to get where we are today and want to spend my time doing things I enjoy. I don’t enjoy wasting my time paying bills or talking to my insurance company for two hours about payments they have misapplied. My wife and I would rather golf and travel and pay to have someone else manage this for us.”
- A retired couple with no family in the area and wanted help managing their finances. They were looking for someone to manage their monthly bills and after mentioning to them the advantages of us working in a team environment, they approved their bookkeeper to send monthly reports to their CPA and financial advisors, and periodically their estate attorney so that all trusted advisors knew exactly where the clients’ finances stood.
- A business owner with multiple real estate properties that she was managing outside her family office who began to grow concerned about her ability to properly track her expenses and all the bills she was paying each month. The bookkeeper set her up with Bill.com to have a centralized place for the bills to be automatically input and reviewed, which also provides various levels of payment authorizations all in one simple package. In addition, the bookkeeper started tracking her finances in QuickBooks and, after review of her prior year, found numerous bills that the client had erroneously paid twice.
- Another retiree had no family locally and had perhaps become a little too reliant on an in-home care provider who, after the bookkeeper reviewed her finances, had been “borrowing” funds from her to buy a car for himself and pay back taxes he owed. He was summarily terminated by the client’s CPA after paying back all borrowed funds. The bookkeeper also noted that her utility bills were more than five times the average monthly amount for a home of her size. With approval of the client, her family and CPA, they engaged a home energy company which identified and resolved myriad issues including replacing appliances that were 25-45 years old with newer more energy efficient models, sealing drafty areas in the crawlspace and attic and adding attic insulation.
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all motivation for hiring a bookkeeper, but the outcomes are often similar: organization, added peace of mind, and a lot of time saved hold true in every situation we have come across. For elderly parents especially, hiring a bookkeeper allows you more time focusing on your family and health without the worry of missing bills.
Because finances are kept up and reviewed monthly, when tax time comes, things are a snap. Financials can be sent to an accountant so itemized deductions are easy to quantify. Reliable financial reports make it easier to plan financially and project a true picture of how much money you will need to draw from portfolios in the future.
As financial advisors, the greatest part from our perspective is that we work alongside your bookkeeper along with your CPA and estate attorney. This network comprises your team of trusted advisors who work together with the goal to provide you a comprehensive financial team and ensure that whatever information you authorize is seamlessly provided to your other advisors.
We recognize the importance of having a bookkeeper that specializes in working with individuals and families and are happy to provide local recommendations with firms that we work with and trust.