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How To Hire A Virtual Accountant Overseas

When Rolando Lopez landed his first official accounting client, he knew he was going to be stretched thin.

At the time, Rolando was working a full-time job as an internal auditor and now had to tack on his own client’s deadlines. He always wanted to start his own accounting firm, but with only one client’s revenue and the day job, it was too costly to bring in additional help.

While on a business trip in Europe, Rolando met his now business partner, Jay who matched him in job titles and accounting experience. The only difference was Jay was working from his home country of India, making significantly less than Rolando did.

As they got talking, Rolando quickly realized the expertise Jay brought to the table and mentioned up the possibility of Jay running an accounting back office from India, while Rolando would seek out more client revenue in the US. Within just a few meetings, the vision was set and Rolando travelled home in search for additional clients.

Fast forward 2 years, Rolando has left his day job to work full-time running his accounting firm, The CFO Associates. Rolando continues to build his client base, run his operations from the US and outsources the basic accounting duties to his back office run by Jay’s team in India.

[FREE GIVEAWAY]: Rolando Lopez, Founder of the CFO Associates, is offering 1 free strategy session to provide additional advice on how to hire a virtual accountant. To enter, leave a comment below answering this question:

What is one area in your business you could use a virtual accountant for? 

We sat down with Rolando to get the details on how to locate and hire a virtual accountant overseas that would provide an avenue for rapid growth within his firm. Here are the 7 steps Rolando recommended for CPA firms looking to hire a virtual accountant overseas, for less than $5-$15/hour.

Step 1: Locate A Trustworthy & Knowledgeable Overseas Accountant

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds while looking for a knowledgeable accountant to help you with your client work. Especially when you talk about hiring someone outside of your country.

Though this might be difficult to find, it’s not impossible. In order to run a successful accounting back office, Rolando states that you must find a trustworthy & knowledgeable accountant.

So where can you locate this ideal candidate?

To start off with, there are online freelancer sites that offer a long list of qualified candidates, range in services/costs, and a vetted review process. A few suggestions are:

  1. Xero’s List Of Accountants
  2. Quickbooks’ List Of Accountants
  3. Upwork.com
  4. Freelancer.com

After you have selected a few accountants that meet your criteria (qualifications, experience, pay range, good reviews), reach out to them directly to set up a call.

To continue with the vetting process and narrowing down your options, Rolando recommends that in order to seal the deal and begin developing a trustworthy relationship, there needs to be either an in-person meeting or weekly video calls. Both of which Rolando has done.  

“At the time, Jay and I were both in Europe and sat down for a meeting together. This in-person meeting really allowed us to develop trust and confirmed that this was the right decision for both parties."

"Then after we meet in person, we decided that in order to maintain the trust in the relationship, we hold weekly video calls for status updates, questions and overall progress of our firm.”

[FREE GIVEAWAY]: Rolando Lopez, Founder of the CFO Associates, is offering 1 free strategy session to provide additional advice on how to hire a virtual accountant. To enter, leave a comment below answering this question:

What is one area in your business you could use a virtual accountant for? 

Now that you have learned how to locate and hire a virtual accountant overseas, the next step is to begin training to your virtual accountant, asap.

Step 2: Set Up Cloud Based Software Training

Most likely, your new accountant has either heard of or worked in one of the many cloud based accounting softwares on the market. But they might not necessarily use your current software or have any experience working in your specific client’s industry.

Therefore, before you start handing off work, a training process needs to be set up to further vet your accountant. To set up cloud based software training, start off with providing limited access to your software (i.e. Google Drive, Bill.com, Quickbooks, Xero, etc).

Then, select one of your easiest clients to use as a demonstration within the training. Develop a diagram of that particular client’s business and train your accountant until they get a good understanding of how your client actually runs their business.

These few hours a day will significantly help your accountant's growth and reduce the amount of cleanup work needed to be done, now that they have a good understanding of how things are run.

Step 3: Create A Simple Workflow Process

Rolando mentions that his business focuses on staying in a niche market, so he does not have to retrain his team, every time a new client is accepted. 

He offers services that are geared more towards remote work (i.e. software & services companies) and stays away from clients that need him to be in person (i.e. inventory, manufacturing, real estate).

“I recommend that for accounting firms looking to have a successful backoffice set up overseas, they need to stick to a certain client niche. When you are training your accounting team on the same basic workflow process for each client, this reduces the confusion of your team and makes it much easier for your firm to grow,” Rolando states.

Within the workflow process, you can set up key templates that are transferred from client to client and keep your back office organized and on top of their game. Therefore, utilizing workflow software will provide you a dashboard of what is getting done and by when, as well as allows recurring work to be updated from client to client.

Relieving the overall amount of work you need to put in to retrain and reorganize the client work for your team.

Step 4: Host A Video Call Once A Week (At Least)

As you can see, we did not mention just to communicate, but more specifically video chat with your accounting back office team. This is a suggestion that Rolando highly recommends.

[FREE GIVEAWAY]: Rolando Lopez, Founder of the CFO Associates, is offering 1 free strategy session to provide additional advice on how to hire a virtual accountant. To enter, leave a comment below answering this question:

What is one area in your business you could use a virtual accountant for? 

Per Rolando, “You need to make sure that your team is on the same page as you are (with deadlines, expectations, etc). So in order to do this, set up a weekly recap call with your overseas accountant and make sure it is a video call. This way they can see you, connect with you and feel like you are a real person. Plus, it gives you more information about the person, than if you were just trying to develop the relationship over the phone.”

Of course, emailing back and forth throughout the week is essential as well. But to make sure that you are all still on the same page, weekly video calls can provide you access to confirming the relationship and overall strategy on growing your firm with a successful accounting back office overseas.

Step 5: Review The Work Completed

As with being an owner/manager for any accounting firm, you must set up a process to review the work completed by your staff, including the work done by your overseas accounting team.

Fortunately, a task like this no longer needs to take you a ton of time. Instead, if you use a software like Quickbooks Online, a review process is built into the software where you are notified when transactions do not match up, a process was missed or the GL does not balance.

In addition, when you use a software such as Bill.com, the bill can be processed by your backoffice team and then you must approve the bill before your client even sees the end result. This makes it much easier for you to run your firm, review the work being sent out and stay on top of any issues that might arise.

Step 6: Introduce Your Virtual Overseas Accountant To Your Client (Optional)

This step is a little tricky and we want to mention that is 100% optional. If you do have a trustworthy and knowledgeable overseas accountant, there are times where it will make sense for your accountant to message the client directly (almost like a newbie staff messaging your top client). It can be done, but make sure you stay involved as need be (cc’d on the email, included on the phone meetings, etc).

You do not necessarily have to introduce your client to your accounting team but it might make simple tasks get completed quicker than if you are the middleman, forwarding client emails to your staff and vice versa.

Rolando mentions that you can be clear with your client on how your firm is run, if you are comfortable doing so. 

“For my first client, I sat down with them and mentioned that I had accounting help overseas. They were totally on board with me having this additional help and preferred to message directly with his partner Jay, as long as Rolando was cc’d on the emails. I also addressed any of my client’s concerns off the bat, to make sure they were 100% comfortable with this process.”

Step 7: Sign Up For Liability Insurance

Of course, this was a question I had for Rolando in our interview call: “What happens when your accountant goes rogue?

Rolando laughed at me and proceeded with the following brilliant answer: “Well, first off, I did do a lot of vetting with Jay to make sure I felt comfortable enough to work with him. After that process, I started giving him limited access to the software and made sure there was segregation of duties in place at our firm.”

“Plus, a large majority of the cloud based software I use has audit trails and daily backups built in. Therefore, if something were to have gone wrong, I can retrace the old steps to get the client’s books back up and running in no time.”

Even with all of the segregation of duties and daily backups, there is still that possibility that something could go wrong. This is where liability insurance comes into play.

Rolando states, “I also have purchased liability insurance to cover my business in case something terrible happens. This provides an additional layer of protection for me and minimizes a large majority of the risk associated with running an accounting firm.”

Recap Of How To Hire A Virtual Accountant Overseas, For Less Than $5-$15/hour

All in all, Rolando is pretty excited to have found a trustworthy and knowledgeable partner running his overseas accounting back office. With the right software, clients and partnership, Rolando sees nothing stopping him from continuing to build and grow his successful accounting firm, The CFO Associates.

As a recap, here are the 7 takeaway steps when trying hire and setup a virtual accountant overseas:

  • Step 1: Hire A Trustworthy & Knowledgeable Accountant
  • Step 2: Onboarding Process: Set Up Cloud-Based Software Training
  • Step 3: Create A Simple Workflow Process
  • Step 4: Host A Video Call Once A Week (At Least)
  • Step 5: Review The Work Completed
  • Step 6: Introduce Your Accounting Back office Team To Your Client (Optional)
  • Step 7: Sign Up For Liability Insurance

[FREE GIVEAWAY]: Rolando Lopez, Founder of the CFO Associates, is offering 1 free strategy session to provide additional advice on how to hire a virtual accountant. To enter, leave a comment below answering this question:

What is one area in your business you could use a virtual accountant for? 

4 Responses to “How To Hire A Virtual Accountant Overseas, For $5-$15/hour”

  1. Patricia Wright

    Rightly said. I know one such company I am using for my clients since 2006. Just thought to share the firm’s name with everyone “Actuit India”. This company is blessing to me.

  2. Daisy May

    Hi! I think it’ll make sense if you mention other places where people can find freelancers/freelance jobs. For example, XPlace. It’s a freelance job board with higher rates than on other marketplaces, no commission, and a multitude of freelance job offers!

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