Client Experience

SmartBooks is typically 40% to 70% less expensive than hiring a full-time bookkeeper or accountant, especially when all costs are considered including payroll taxes, benefits, recruitment, training, office space, IT, management and turnover expenses.  Compared to hiring a part-time individual, SmartBooks  is available 40 hours per week.  In all cases, SmartBooks bears the expense and responsibility of recruiting, training, managing staff and technology, and quality controlling the work.  We provide an accounting and payroll team from bookkeeper through payroll manager and Controller, and we provide an efficient technology solution and best practices as part of a proven, comprehensive solution that one individual simply cannot match.

If you have an annual budget of $200,000+ to hire some combination of bookkeeper, accountant, payroll manager, controller, and CFO, then you may prefer that solution.  Our clients typically are small and midsize businesses who do not have that budget.

All clients are initially assigned an Accounting Project Manager to lead the integration process, plus at least one dedicated member of the Accounting team. The APM onboards each client and sets up procedures and technology. The Accounting staff members are always highly involved throughout the integration process and take over as the main point of contact once the integration process is complete. For larger businesses, the data entry type tasks are typically parsed out to a Bookkeeper so that the higher level member of the Accounting team can focus on the monthly close/review of the books and financial discussions. The Accounting staff at SmartBooks are split into teams and each team reports to a Client Services Manager who is a dedicated resource for all clients within the team. The CSM oversees and motivates staff members, provides backup for the Accounting team, responds to client feedback and is the go to resource for any upgrades, additional services and technology changes. The Quality Control team works behind the scenes to complete periodic “hot” and “cold” reviews of client files to make sure all Accounting is being completed per GAAP (unless non-GAAP accounting is chosen), make recommendations and ensure all documentation is up to date and in the proper templates. If Payroll and HR services are selected, a highly specialized member of our Payroll department is assigned as the dedicated point of contact for all Payroll and HR services. Additionally, Controller level services are available for enhanced financial reporting/analysis, budgeting and forecasting, collections, CFO consulting, insurance analysis and more. The Director of Client Services oversees the Client Service Managers, Integration Staff, Quality Control Team and Payroll Department and is available to resolve any service related issues and ensure the highest level of efficiency and quality is being delivered throughout the teams.

A typical SmartBooks client has $500k-$10M in revenue per year, is looking for a long-term multi-year relationship with a trusted accounting partner, wants to use financial reports to run their business (not just looking for data entry or transaction processing), outsources all bookkeeping except optionally keeps A/R in-house and has a strong inside person who provides documents and accurate info to SmartBooks and enables a successful outsourcing relationship.

We do not prepare and file income tax returns, but if you are in need of those services we can refer you to one of the great CPA firms we work with.  We do provide an income tax support package to client CPAs at year end.  We do prepare and file sales tax, use tax, meals tax, and other trustee taxes.

While SmartBooks will handle the vast majority of data entry, month end closing procedures and quality control, it is important that the client has an in house administrative person who can feed information to SmartBooks such as submitting AP bills for payment, coding receipts and answering month-end questions. There are certain A/R tasks such as invoice generation and collections that clients may optionally keep in house for cost savings off of the monthly fixed fee.

We ask that clients with government grant or contract reporting requirements have a designated party (either in-house or an external firm) who oversees the specialized reporting and compliance requirements, as this is a specialized area of expertise outside our core competency.

SmartBooks is dedicated to making sure all clients receive the same quality of service and efficient processes, no matter which staff member(s) you work with. We achieve this through comprehensive on-boarding programs, ongoing company training sessions, manuals containing how each task should be completed, close employee oversight and peer review procedures and an internal Quality Control team.  It is important that our clients have a consistently positive experience no matter who they are working with, so we have spent a lot of effort in this area and continue to strengthen and unify our teams through team building and empowerment.

Our business model is designed to support clients remotely using technology and there is no need to perform the work in client offices.  We support clients nationally, and some overseas.  For clients in Massachusetts, we can sometimes meet in person but most meetings are conducted via GoToMeeting or Skype.

These days many vendors submit bills via email or make them available for download, which can be automated to SmartBooks.  Inevitably a small number of paper bills arrive in the mail, and many clients scan and submit them to our document management system.  If you don’t want to deal with scanning we can set you up with an outsourced mail receiving and scanning service.

Most clients who receive paper checks make their own deposits using a check scanner.  If you don’t want to deal with that, you can use your bank’s lockbox service.  Of course some clients still go to the ATM or bank teller to make deposits.

SmartBooks performs a hard close of the books and prepares a tax support package for your CPA firm.  We prepare and file Forms 1099 for your service provider vendors.  If you have a CPA audit or review, we provide documents and information requested by your auditor.  In all cases we aim to minimize the work you need to do.

Quality Assurance

We have a number of systems and processes.  We employ a controller whose primary job is internal audit and improving our best practices.  There is a monthly peer review process to ensure a second set of eyes on client documentation and financial statements.  We conduct an internal training program.  We have a number of CPAs on staff and SHRM-certified HR professionals.  Our accountants have weekly scorecards.  These are all big differentiators for SmartBooks as clients hire us because they don’t want to have to worry about their bookkeeping and accounting.

Client bookkeeping and accounting services and associated payroll and benefits services are our only business.  Everything we do is to maintain and improve the quality of those services.  We invite you to review client testimonials and case studies on our website.  We would not have been able to grow to our current size if we were not doing a good job for clients.

Almost all of our people are full-time W-2 employees living in Massachusetts.  Most have accounting degree and/or significant bookkeeping and accounting experience.  Some have Master’s degrees, some are certified by the Society of Human Resource Managers, and some are CPAs.  In addition to skills and experience, all are committed to our Purpose and Core Values.

For us, recruiting is a full-time job.  We spend 40+ hours per week looking for good candidates.  After we find them, we conduct multiple interviews, a skills test, and personality assessment.  We check references and perform a background check.  After hiring, we have a training and assessment process.  We do all this so that you as a client do not have to.

We are committed to being at the forefront of accounting technology.  We canvas the marketplace looking for best-of-breed solutions for our small and midsize business clients.  We test promising solutions, then for the chosen ones we document and train on them as we incorporate them into our suite of supported solutions.  We constantly learn from our client base about what is working and what needs a better solution.

Security

No, we are not a signer on your bank account.  We ask that clients set up read-only user accounts for us.  Our accounts payable solutions have internal controls requiring client approval prior to any payments initiated by SmartBooks.  Our systems and processes are inevitably more secure than those used by clients engaging with SmartBooks.

With our solution, your bank routing number and account number remain confidential to reduce the risk of bank fraud.  Our A/P systems are integrated with the general ledger for efficiency and elimination of human error.  Our systems have internal controls with segregation of duties to ensure proper accounting and payment approvals.  Audit trails are available for reference.  Systems use secure, encrypted technology as used by leading banks.

The technology systems we use are established third party systems, all or most all of which undergo annual SOC 1 Type II audits by leading national CPA firms.  Some systems utilize 2-factor authentication.  Security standards are the same or similar to those used by online banking systems.  All systems require individual usernames and passwords, which lock-out features.  SmartBooks employees are subject to background checks and annual training on handling and securing sensitive data.