Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Accountants Charge?

Some businesses sell hamburgers, real estate agents get paid commissions and accountants sell time. Therefore if it takes longer to prepare your work, then the bill will be more. The more presentably you submit your accounts, the quicker they can be done, and the more cost effective it is for you. We have 8 hours per day available to sell and we cannot stay in business by giving our product away. (Exactly the same advice we would give to you by the way!).

Can you give me a quote for my accounting work?

Just like it’s impossible to quote a building job without looking at the plans, or value jewellery over the phone, it’s impossible to know how long your accounting work might take. To provide a realistic quote, we require complete access to your financial records, computer system and your tax and ASIC records.

The cost will often depend on how the records are presented to us. Ask if there is a more efficient way of presenting your books to us. You can work with us to try to minimise the time, and therefore the cost. Make sure everything is included – should the accountant pick up and put down your work waiting for missing information, the more it will cost and the longer it will take.

We do prepare Engagement Estimates for our business clients every year. An Engagement Estimate is like a quote. In most cases the final bill is the same as the Engagement Estimate, however there are sometimes situations where events or transactions arise during a job that we were not aware of at the time of preparing the Engagement Estimate. If this occurs we will advise you and we will prepare a final bill that includes this extra work.

The Engagement estimate is reviewed and revised each financial year

How are your fees compared to other accountant's?

We provide significantly better value (because of less overheads) than the Big 5 firms and are similarly priced to other suburban firms of similar size.

Any accounting firm that is aligned with a professional association must have a high level of education and is required to keep abreast of all relevant changes to their particular industry, meaning the quality of service you get is of a very high standard. Cox Sherlock Accountants is aligned with the Certified Practicing Accountants and both partners are members of professional associations.

Are there cheaper accountants than Cox Sherlock Accountants?

The only ones that are cheaper are usually the H & R Blocks and the one-person operators working from home or small offices. However what you get is simply a bookkeeping service not a strategic solution to particular problems. He/she will not have the resources to keep at the cutting edge of tax changes. What you save in a few dollars in Accountant fees could cost you thousands in lost tax benefits and the benefits of an integrated service. Size does matter.

Current Charge out rates (exclusive of GST).

Level: Partner

Rate: $290.00

A partner is either a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia or CPA Australia and has extensive Business and Taxation experience. Both partners have an in-depth understanding of how businesses work and how to get the best out of your business from an operational and a tax advantageous point of view. Each partner heads a team of Business Accountants and has full responsibility in relation to work undertaken for our clients.

Level: Senior Business Accountant

Rate: $240.00 to $260.00

A Senior Business Accountant has between 5 and 10 years experience. They are responsible for the day to day control of clients with established businesses and growing businesses. They have intricate knowledge of the business of their client and superior experience to deal with clients on all matters of business or taxation.

Level: Business Accountant

Rate: $200.00 to $230.00

A Business Accountant has between 3 and 5 years experience. They are responsible for the day to day control of clients with new and maturing businesses. They also have intricate knowledge of the client under the supervision of the Partner. They have sound knowledge and experience to deal with clients on most matters of business or taxation.

Level: Accountant

Rate: $170.00 to $200.00

An Accountant has between 12 months and 3 years experience. They are mainly responsible for the preparation of all types of taxation returns and day to day dealings with the Australian Taxation Office on behalf of clients. They are also working with business clients under the supervision of a Senior Business Accountant or a Partner.

Level: Administration

Rate: $70.00

Will I be dealing with same person every year?

We would like to say yes. As much as we would want this to be the case, we know that accountants are like all employees when it comes to job longevity. Sooner or later they move onto new opportunities. We also know that Partners are in for the long haul, so the opposite applies. With this in mind every business client is assigned a Partner and a Business accountant to look after them. The Partner is like the Project Manager, who oversees what is going on. He’s the contact point for the client when they have specific higher level issues that they would like to discuss. He also knows what is going on with the client on a year to year basis from an overall perspective.

The accountant will handle your day-to-day needs including preparation of financial Statements, BAS’s and Income Tax Returns. You can direct your questions in the first instance to your appointed accountant. If they are unsure of the answer they will find out or your Partner will contact you with the answer.

You're my accountant, why is someone else preparing my work?

Simple – because it’s more economical to you. Just like it’s not necessary to use a specialist to stitch a minor cut when a G.P. can do it at a much lower cost for you. Be assured that our accountant team are doing this daily and are very quick and efficient.

Your appointed Business accountant handles your day-to-day needs including preparation of Income Tax Returns. They may or may not have the experience to answer investment, strategic, structural or tax planning questions. The partners and senior business accountants look after answers to those questions. You can direct your questions in the first instance to your appointed accountant. If they are unsure of the answer they will find out or either of the Partners will contact you with the answer.

You are free to contact any of your accounting team at any time, but your assigned accountant will know how your affairs fit together and will best understand your overall situation, wants and needs. If you are unsure of an answer given to you by your accountant please do not hesitate to confirm the answer with your Partner.

However if you are unhappy with your new or old Business Accountant please, by all means, notify the Partners and we will move you to another person. It’s difficult to match people perfectly and we can get it wrong sometimes. So speak out if you are unhappy with anything at all and we will endeavour to correct it.

Does my work get reviewed before I receive it?

Your Business accountant processes all the accounts and produces a draft set of accounts. He/she then goes to the Partner who completes a checklist to confirm the integrity of the return. The Partner and accountant discuss the Tax Planning. (It’s this tax planning session that could save you thousands in tax.) The partner spends quality time and the accountant spends quantity time. The accountant then finalises the accounts according to the Partner’s instructions. Sometimes the client is called in to discuss various problems or to look at options. These processes are designed to minimise the costs to you and maximise the benefits.

Why does my bill seem to be more this year than last year?

There are three reasons;

  1. There is more work to do this year. Examples: could be an extra lease or your turnover /activity has gone up, or extra things you required us to do like capital gains tax calculation, sale/purchase of business, purchase of a new investment property, GST or BAS advice.
  2. An increase in our charge out rates as our labour costs rise every year in accordance with CPI increases.
  3. Missing information. If information is missing your accountant will leave the job, pick up a new job and will not come back until the current job is complete. The more often a job is put down and picked up the more time is added to the job.

What is this Up front Payment System and how does it affect me?

The Up-front payment system applies to business clients only. It is a process whereby we will advise the client before we commence their work what their accounting fees are likely to be. This is done by us sending out an Engagement Estimate to the client.

The reason we do this is that it lets the client know up front what their accounting fees are likely to be. It removes the guess work for the client, and more importantly it removes any surprises at the completion of the job when the bill arrives.

To assist the clients cash flow and ours as well, we request an up-front payment before we start the work of 33% of the Engagement Estimate. This payment allows the client to spread out this cost and to plan better in their business. It also creates an obligation for us to complete the work as quickly as we can for the client.

The balance of the Payment is due upon completion of work, unless alternative arrangements have been structured.

Firm Policy is that no further work is to be carried out for a client, if there are accounts for which the date for the payment has been passed and no payment has been received by us.

Please help us provide you good service by paying your accounts on time. Without payment we cannot provide the resources to give you prompt service. Some clients take a long time to pay but expect us to drop everything and attend to their needs immediately. It must be a two way street.

Why do I receive so many bills from my accountant?

We have found from talking to our clients that they don’t like surprises when it comes to bills. Often different types of work can be undertaken at different times of the year.

If we leave the preparation of the bill until the end of the year, the amount of work undertaken can be forgotten and this can often cause confusion to our client. It also usually means that the bill amount is quite substantial, and in a lot of cases the client has not budgeted for this simply because they had no idea of how much the bill would be.

By preparing more regular bills we are attempting to reduce the confusion around the bill, the amount of the bill, and the strain that a large one-off bill can have on our clients cash flows.

I asked you to run your eye over this document and you send me a bill!

Remember our business is to sell time. If the task takes less than 5 minutes (like a phone call) then it’s done for free. More than 5 minutes then it’s charged (including phone calls). We only have 8 hours per day to sell. If we give it away for free we would not be in business and be able to offer our services.

The MYOB/QuickBooks salesman said that the software should reduce my accounting costs but it's actually doubled (in some cases tripled). Please explain why?

All Accountants agree that efficient computerisation of your accounts depends solely on the software/bookkeeper operator. If the operator is good then it will definitely reduce time.

However if the operator is poorly skilled then it takes longer and we need to use a more qualified (higher cost) accountant to reorder and often re-enter figures in the right way. In this case it is more cost effective to simply supply cheque butts and bank statements. Then we can use a junior staff member to process the information at a lower charge out rate – saving you money.

Why has the job taken so long?

Most jobs are delayed because of the amount of time picking a job up, putting it down, picking it and putting it down. We try and avoid this situation in a very precise way.

Every year we write to our business clients and tell them when we would like to collect their information from them. Then a month and half before that time, we send them a personalised check list which lists all of the documents and paperwork that we require to commence the job. If the checklist is correctly completed, the pick up put down time is significantly reduced.

The other reason why jobs may take so long is that in the peak return periods, in normal accounting practices, it will naturally take longer – between August and March. The turnaround time may stretch out to 1-2 months or more, as everyone wants their work done in this period. In our business if the checklist is returned to us complete, and the pick up put down is minimized we strive for a turnaround time of no more than 3 weeks.