Lynda Artesani has over 20 years of bookkeeping experience and has been using QuickBooks since 1999. Working with small businesses is where she shines! She is an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor for Desktop and Online with Diamond Level status at Intuit. (that’s great!)
How are law firm clients different from other clients?
Law firm clients are my dream clients. They are highly educated and responsive when I have a question or need information. They are great with technology and ready for the newest automation. They are always respectful of my time as well.
Law firms have unique forms of compensation. How do you help them organize and execute?
Most of the firms I work with are small, single attorney firms, so that makes it easy. But depending on the firm, you can use QuickBooks Plus and classes to separate the cases each attorney works on. Sometimes the compensation is driven by the profit margin or by ownership of the business. Then there can also be a hybrid model. Many of these metrics can be tracked and formulated in a spreadsheet using the data from the accounting system.
How do you advise your law firm clients with regard to IOLTA trust accounts?
There are a couple of ways: I create a second QuickBooks file just for that Iolta account. But it can also be tracked and managed within the original QuickBooks data file. It is a big part of my service to make sure these figures are exact.
What are your best practices for onboarding a new client?
Many of my clients come to me because they may have been using another software or perhaps worked at a firm and are starting out on their own. Some have their records in an app that does not do the accounting piece that they know that they will need that at year end. If they have no accounting software, I will guide them to the best QuickBooks product that will fit their needs. Most have already signed up for QuickBooks Online, they have connected their bank feeds and maybe researched the law firm apps. I generally ask them to share their QuickBooks Online file (add me as an accountant user) so I can take a look. Then I will dive in and see the set-up, see the chart of accounts, if they have reconciled their records, run their financials. Then we will discuss my favorite app for attorneys: LeanLaw.
What financial information should an attorney be reviewing to ensure her practice is fiscally healthy? With what frequency should this data be looked at?
We provide the financial data monthly. The escrow account has to be tracked. I send out a report grouping of Profit and Loss statement and Balance sheet. Depending on the service provided, I do quarterly or bi-annual meetings via a Zoom session to touch base with my client to see where they are in their firm, go over any questions on the reports and generally stay in touch. Attorneys are busy people. It is important to keep that line of communication open.
If a principal attorney were to look only at one report, which is the most important?
Balance sheet for sure. The trust account is listed there, as well as their banking information.
Why did you become a QuickBooks ProAdvisor?
I am actually an Advanced Certified ProAdvisor as well as being selected to the very special Intuit Advisory Council for 2018-2019. I became a ProAdvisor to be more educated in the program and to rise above other bookkeepers with Intuit. It was a no-brainer to continue with them and the software that I love. The partnership has truly opened so many doors for me. They give me the best Diamond Support team for program problems. The education piece is by far the best training ever. They also provide you with local leads for clients. It is a win-win.
We have a slew of clients moving into QuickBooks Online from non-QuickBooks accounting platforms. What guidance can you offer to help them manage this migration?
Call me first! I see it all the time where clients will do it on their own. I can guide them to the right QuickBooks program for their business as well as help them with workflow and apps. We call it “app stacking” but it is so important to get that right combination of apps so that the work is organized and the apps run smoothly together.
Given an inherent bias that folks have who use QuickBooks desktop over QuickBooks Online, what do you say to those considering moving online? Is the bias valid?
This is a topic I love! I no longer work with QuickBooks Desktop clients unless it is for training purposes. With QuickBooks online and the right apps, you can save minimally 8 hours per week by automating the processes. Combine that with an app like LeanLaw and Hubdoc and Slack and you have a winning combination! The reason people love QuickBooks Desktop are two-fold: the cost of it (cheaper than online) and the fact that they don’t want to change. I remind people that time = money. How much do you charge and multiply that by 8 hours and then tell me which product is cheaper?
What makes QuickBooks Online a better tool for small law firms?
Hands down, mobility and automation. Where else can you just grab your phone and look up your data?
How is QuickBooks Online affecting the accounting community? Is it changing how bookkeepers and accountants interact with their clients?
The growth of QuickBooks Online is amazing and it is worldwide. There are always going to be the bookkeepers that want to stay with desktop. But the millennials want the portability of the program. How can you not be excited about the fact that we no longer have to type in the data anymore? We pull it in, we extract it. As for communication with the client, we still definitely communicate by email or texting. My favorite way to communicate is with Slack. Sharefile is my program for securely sharing data. And the list goes on and on!
Good bookkeeping seems to be about repeatable workflows. How do you get an organization trained when you start working with them?
I do that during the onboarding process. It is a matter of education and taking the time to set it up. That first month with me is key for the rest of the engagement. I use mostly the same workflows for the attorneys that I work with. Stick with a method that is tried and true.