21 February 2023

Why small to medium business owners should think beyond a straight-up tax return

| Dione David
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DFK Everalls senior manager and director Melissa Healy says a good accountant works to ensure more than just compliance. Photos: DFK Everalls.

Choosing accounting services for your small to medium business often comes down to one question – do you want a simple tax return or someone who can help grow your business and personal wealth?

Melissa Healy from DFK Everalls Business Advisers and Accountants says there’s nothing wrong with the former, but it can be tricky for business owners to know when there’s a shortcoming in their financial advice.

“For a lot of clients, their very valid fear is that they don’t know what they don’t know,” she says.

“Many accountants are happy seeing their clients once a year, and however the cards land, that’s how they prepare the accounts and tax returns. While they might be great at tax, they don’t necessarily have the business advisory skills to ask the ‘right’ questions to unearth the result a client really wants or to optimise tax efficiency.

“When you have a relationship with your accountant, when they understand your business and your goals, they know when and how to drill down deeper and ask, ‘Is there a better way to do this? What is the client really trying to do here?'”

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One issue the DFK Everalls advisers see time and again occurs when clients struggle through their own bookkeeping or split up their financial planning services, leaving gaping opportunities for things to get lost in translation.

“So many people come back from financial planners with something entirely different to what they want or need. Or the bookkeeping isn’t done correctly so the accountants have to fix it,” Ms Healy says.

“Better books mean better business decision making. When you have the team looking after your books sitting side by side with your accountants, the whole team has a bird’s-eye view of your finances. They can flag issues, improve consistency and ensure things don’t go sideways. Same goes for your financial planning team.”

With a focus on small to medium businesses, Ms Healy says DFK Everalls’ model is like a business adviser readied at your shoulder, with a team of accountants, bookkeepers and financial planners all in one place to offer a holistic solution that helps you achieve your business and personal goals.

two people sitting in a booth looking at papers

DFK Everalls has a team of accountants, bookkeepers and financial planners all in one place to offer holistic financial planning. Photo: DFK Everalls.

After 55 years serving Canberra region businesses and nearly 40 employees itself, the Everalls Group has extensive knowledge of what it takes to grow as a small to medium-sized business and protect wealth.

“Running a small business is both rewarding and challenging, so you want an accountant who has the experience themselves in the ups and downs of the business cycle,” Ms Healy says.

“We talk to clients with the knowledge of how we have grown and nurtured our accounting firm over the years.”

Ms Healy says a good accountant goes beyond ensuring a client is compliant, to get to the heart of their needs.

“For example, you may ask your accountant, ‘Can I lease a car through my business?’ and the answer might be yes. But would it be better to use a chattel mortgage or novated lease? We need to drill down to get the most tax-effective outcome,” she says.

“You might want to know if your company can pay for gym memberships for your team. Technically yes, you are allowed. But you’d also be subject to FBT (Fringe Benefit Tax), so is there a better way to retain and reward your team?

“We also like to ask clients what their personal goals are in life, to ensure your growth strategies for your business can work alongside these.

“Other times, we simply help our clients stay the course, because there’s so much happening in the world; it’s easy for business owners to get distracted by shiny bells and opportunities that pop up, and veer off track.”

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“We have lots of clients who have been with us for over 20 years and some even 50 years – over multiple generations,” she says.

“We’ve helped those clients start up, improve their profitability, stability and scalability. We’ve helped them restructure their businesses when needed and when the time comes we help them with the succession planning and sale. And along the way, we’ve helped them protect their wealth and secure a healthy retirement.

“We’re there from start to finish and on to the next generation.”

For more information, visit the DFK Everalls website or phone (02) 6232 4588.


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