My Mother Does My Books

It’s quite common that I hear this from young business owners (people under 30). Their mom could be a bookkeeper by trade or have done some spreadsheets and bookkeeping at some point in the past. And she may even know the software that they are using. But for me, as a professional tax advisor and accountant, this is a red flag.

Why? Most often I expect that there will be several errors. Either things are misclassified, statements of not reconciled, or reconciled incorrectly, there could be many items missing, and books are often “fudged” to make things work for reconciliations or because Mom didn’t know what to do with a particular transaction (often several of these). And if there are assets, they are almost guaranteed to be done incorrectly.

As a tax specialist, I often cringe when I hear, “My mom does my books.” Well, it could be “my aunt” or some other, usually older, relative.

And at least 90% of the people who say this will not want to work with me. That’s their choice, and I resbookkeeper, bookkeeping service, tax accountant, canadian taxes, alberta taxpect that. But I cannot respect the reason that I repeatedly see. ┬áMama doesn’t like to be corrected. Mom doesn’t want someone telling her that she made mistakes. Or the kid can’t handle the fact that Mom made the mistakes. And that often makes them feel that Mom is being disrespected. ┬áNo, I don’t think your mom is stupid. I merely think that she doesn’t know what she’s doing as well as I do. But I’m guaranteed to be trained better than she is, and have a much higher level of understanding of accounting and taxes. And that includes the bookkeeping that underlies this. And I know the software (usually QuickBooks) really well. And if I don’t, I understand the bookkeeping and accounting processes well enough that it doesn’t really matter!

I’ve had a couple of clients whose moms really appreciated that I explain to them why things are incorrect, and how to correct them for the future. These are great clients to work with! Inside of a year or two, the mistakes are almost gone (or are effectively gone). And the moms then can use that knowledge to improve their other bookkeeping work (if any). They appreciate the free help! And I appreciate that it makes future years easier to do. And I gain loyal clients.

Keep that in mind, if your mom does your books.

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