Bookkeeping for Barristers: Mark Forte on Virtual CFO

Distressed clients, deadlines, difficult cases and disputes – without a doubt, the professional life of a barrister or solicitor is a challenging one. As specialist accountants, Wilson Pateras understand the pressures that legal professionals face – from staying across ever-changing legislation to remaining in continuous communication with their clients. Wilson Pateras, we understand that lawyers are often time-poor and responsibility-rich!

In this month’s blog, we sit down with Wilson Pateras’ Principal Mark Forte. Mark shares a means to ease the pressure of professional accountabilities – unpacking how barristers can lighten their load with the help of Wilson Pateras’ Bookkeeping services.

So, if you’re a legal professional looking to retain oversight over your finances while focusing on the growth of your dynamic, prosperous practice – read on!

Mark, what two common questions about bookkeeping do you hear from barristers? 

They’re often simple questions. Why do I need a bookkeeper? What are the benefits for me?

What exactly is bookkeeping? 

Bookkeeping is the recording of the financial transactions of a business. Bookkeeping notes the transactions in both a business’ income and expense categories. This allows a business to see how it is performing over any period of time – be it a week, month or year. A bookkeeper also records transactions that affect the overall net position of a business – including the purchase of assets (cars, office equipment) and the recording of liabilities (bank loans). In essence, the purpose of bookkeeping is to provide financial reports for a business owner to review past and current financial performance through the profit and loss statements (P&L) and to review the net assets of the business through the balance sheet. These reports are then used to make financial decisions for the business and assist in preparing tax returns and business activity statements – just to name a few of the reports’ functions.

What are the areas of accounting that barristers often attempt to manage on their own, that may get them into strife? Why do barristers need bookkeepers?

Many legal professionals will attempt to manage cashflow on their own. When they do this, they often fail to consider future tax payments. Cash flow planning is vital to ensure there is enough money set aside to pay the ATO in a timely fashion. Additionally, barristers may take on record keeping. Many will make use of intelligent accounting software – such as Xero or MYOB – but often report incorrectly. An example of this would be claiming GST on items such as motor vehicle expenses (which have a private use element) and other easily avoidable errors.

How will engaging a Wilson Pateras bookkeeper (or Virtual CFO) improve a barrister’s practice? 

It will free up their time to do what they love – practicing law and serving their clients! Their practice will enjoy the benefits of having an expert on board, without drowning in administration and payroll responsibilities. Using a trusted third party for their financial responsibilities will also ensure peace of mind that their practice complies with local requirements. As part of Wilson Pateras’ suite of professional business solutions, we offer a Bookkeeping service. Clients can freely access a highly trained expert who will assist with a wide range of financial services including bookkeeping, payroll management, reporting and taxation services. Our Bookkeeping service is available on a fixed fee on a deliverable basis or on a monthly fee. Learn more here.

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