Bookkeeping helps develop and maintain a business’s financial processes and management. It sets up a system of checks and balances, which helps maintain accountability. Thus, the role of a bookkeeper is crucial in maintaining the financial health of an organization.
Several businesses, from large enterprises to freelancers, turn to bookkeepers to manage their finances. Seasoned bookkeepers know that bookkeeping is much more than just reporting on figures. It includes analysis of the data resulting from the findings, summarizing recorded transactions, and reporting on the same. Ever had problems at work regarding fulfillment of professional commitments? Well of course you certainly would have had a few bad experiences in your career; accountancy is not a heavenly profession with angels all around you after all. Whether it is your employer from the work place or a client who hires your freelance accounting services, people tend to disregard the things they owe you for your services sometimes.
Accountants and bookkeepers are professionals in handling, creating, and analyzing financial data. Besides the financial documents you create and analyze, the bookkeeping contract template is one you must not joke with if you consult for clients. You need a bookkeeping agreement set in place to work with a new client successfully.
A contract is an official agreement that defines the scope of work and the responsibilities of the parties involved. Usually, a contract gives a road-map for a project; it defines the goal and expectations, among other important factors that influence the goal of the project.
A bookkeeping service agreement ensures that as a bookkeeper, you are duly compensated for all the bookkeeping activities, financial advice, and protected from any liabilities for the services that you render. For businesses, the bookkeeping service agreement can clearly outline the services that they wish to avail, whether it is record-keeping, maintenance, or budgeting.
As an accounting professional with an experienced team, you are getting lots of calls from prospective clients for managing their accounts for them. However, you don't seem to be finalizing the deal with any client because there is no accounting service agreement ready for you to use!
Lost opportunities mean lost revenue. You must have been aware of free online resources that you can access through Google and found templates of an accounting service agreement that would be useful.
What is stopping you from using that template is perhaps the fear of missing out some important clause, which could lead to non-payment of fees by the client.
As a result, it is important to draft a bookkeeping service agreement to keep things professional and secure your interests right from day one.
1. Key features of a bookkeeping service agreement
The contents of a bookkeeping contract template may vary according to the scope of the work it covers. However, some essential data must not miss from your contract template. See them below. Every bookkeeping service agreement must contain the following sections:
1.1. Details of parties involved in the accounting contract template
The main introduction of the bookkeeping service agreement records the names of the parties involved. It also provides a summary of all the basic points of the agreement, such as the services involved, compensation of the bookkeeping accountant, and terms and conditions. It may also outline the period of engagement and the prospective date when the bookkeeping service agreement will be deemed null and void.
1.2. Services and pricing section of the bookkeeping service agreement template
As stated previously, bookkeeping companies can offer a wide array of services. Thus, this clause of the bookkeeping service agreement interprets and outlines the services that the client wishes to procure. Having a clear definition of the services ensures that your services are not exploited by increasing the scope of your work.
In addition to defining the services, this section of the bookkeeping service agreement also contains details pertaining to the rates corresponding to the services. It legitimizes your claim that the client has agreed to pay a certain sum at a particular rate for all the services that you render. You can charge flat service fees, hourly rates, or a monthly retainer depending on your business model and the nature of the project.
1.3. Material and data access in a bookkeeping contract template
For a fair assessment of the company’s financial health, you need to access all the recorded data available. The client must agree to grant you access to all the financial records and accounts. And at the same time, the client must also assume full responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of these records. This clause ensures that you have all the material to work with and are not held accountable in case this data is tainted.
1.4. Intellectual property protection in your accounting contract
You may be using intellectual property in the form of tools and templates that have been developed through years of service. Just because a client is making use of your services, it does not mean that they own your intellectual property. Hence, you must include a clause regarding the protection of your IP in the bookkeeping service agreement.
1.5. Limitation of liability in a bookkeeping contract template
This clause of the bookkeeping service agreement ensures that the client does not pursue you for the things that you are not responsible for. It sets out the boundaries of your responsibilities and limits the amount for damages and liabilities that a client can seek in exchange for your services.
As you can see, a bookkeeping service agreement is a must for all bookkeeping service transactions. Bookkeeping is a time and labor-intensive task, so it is only fair to ensure that you and your interests stay protected.
1.6. Identify the bookkeeper and the client in your bookkeeping service agreement template
The header of your bookkeeping contract template should state it is a bookkeeping contract, and that should be followed by the date the agreement was reached by both parties. Next is the introduction of the parties- client and accountant. Information of parties includes business name, contact address, mailing address, and phone number.
1.7. Definite services in the accounting contract
Next in your bookkeeping contract template is the accurate description of the service you are being employed to provide. You can provide a checklist to name them, such as Accounts Payable & Receivables, General Ledger, Bill Payment, etc.
1.8. Compensation section of a bookkeeping service agreement
Include your fees in the bookkeeping contract template and the method you plan to use. Some Accountants adopt the hourly charge while others take a fixed amount for projects. The hourly fee rate is prevalent among bookkeepers, and it fits for long term contracts.
1.9. Timeline of the accounting agreement
The bookkeeping contract template should state the date of commencement of the project and how long it is expected to last. A project may also be divided into discrete bits and assigned milestones date to measure progress.
1.10. Material and data access in an accounting contract
Because you are working with financial information as an accountant or bookkeeper, you should include access and authorization to clients' databases in your bookkeeping contract template. It is also good you mention that the accuracy of the existing financial data provided is the full responsibility of your client.
1.11. Confidentiality section of a bookkeeping service agreement template
Since you will have access to sensitive financial information of your client, you should include a confidentiality section in your bookkeeping contract template. Signing the document means that you agree to keep trade secrets and client's business information that are shared with you.
1.12. Terms and conditions/termination of an accounting contract
The bookkeeping contract template must clarify issues about premature withdrawal and terms and conditions for termination of the agreement. It may also specify the method for conflict resolution.
1.13. The necessities of the accounting service agreement
Your name, address, and other communication details, along with the name of the client and their communication details. This clarifies who is providing the service and who is receiving the service.
1.14. Purpose of the bookkeeping agreement
The purpose for which the client is engaging your services, accounting in this case, must be mentioned in the accounting service agreement. The client should communicate with you in writing regarding the specific accounting services required, such as audits of accounts or preparations of financial statements.
1.15. Length of the accounting contract template
Every freelance agreement will have a start and end date. Apart from the duration of the agreement, you should mention that services beyond the expiry date of the accounting service agreement shall be provided but with extra compensation.
1.16. Mention the fees and other expenses in your bookkeeping service agreement
How and when the client pays you for your services should be mentioned in the accounting service agreement. When you intend to raise the bill, either monthly or a lump sum, and when the client needs to pay you.
Travel and other miscellaneous expenses, if the client agrees to reimburse them, should be part of this agreement. These would include airfare, taxi fare, boarding, and lodging. Whatever is excluded by the client must also be stated.
1.17. Your status in this accounting contract template
You are not an employee but an independent contractor in the freelancer agreement. You have the full right to decide how the specific service will be provided. You will pay your taxes as a consultant.
1.18. Maintaining records of your accounting contract
You need to keep complete records of all financial transactions carried out due to the accounting service agreement. These records will be audited by the client and the government.
1.19. Ensuring the secrecy of client information from your accounting contract template
As a freelance accountant, you will have access to confidential information relating to the client's business. Both you and the client must ensure that this information is not shared with a third party.
1.20. Intellectual property rights in a bookkeeping contract
Any innovation or creation by you during the accounting service agreement will become the property of your client. You will have to grant full rights to the client with regard to your creations.
1.21. Workplace safety covered in your accounting contract
The safety of you and your team at the workplace is to be ensured by the client. First-aid facilities and ambulance services should be provided by the client.
You will indemnify or not hold the client responsible for any expenses arising out accidents or medical emergencies while providing accounting services as a freelancer.
1.22. Termination of the bookkeeping agreement
The agreement will automatically stand terminated when the freelance agreement reaches the end date or when you or the client decide to end the agreement before the end date for violation of any part of the contract.
1.23. Signature of parties involved in the accounting contract
You should leave space for signature both by the client and yourself. When both you and the client have agreed to all the terms and conditions, both should sign the freelance agreement.
2. Learn from experience when drafting the bookkeeping service agreement template
Some freelancers have already had bad experiences with their clients. There are cases where freelancer accountants, ranging from bookkeeping to CFO, face payment denial and stress while working with agents from small and large scale firms. Most clients might not understand how freelancers in the business dedicate their passion and strong educational background to deliver the most relevant jobs to build a reputation and ensure clients achieve their goals. The most challenging part is that freelancer accountants dedicate their useful resources and funds to provide suitable work experience is realized.
Nevertheless, such freelancers undergo strict supervision and end up being mistreated by clients who actually can’t perform the duties within the severe conditions pressed on the freelancer.
There are several ways that people you work for can misuse you. You could just take a look at some of the stories from Clients From Hell and Reddit to allow yourself to comprehend what goes on out there. There is one about a client who gave seriously vague instructions regarding a copy-writing job to his freelancer. Upon a request for clarification of these instructions, he showed consistency in his instructive manners which left the freelancer no option but to make do with what he had. However, as you might have guessed, the client ended up not liking the work at all and did not pay the agreed price.
3. Put dedication into creating your accounting contract
Most freelancers are professionals who dedicated their efforts to work from home. Perhaps they lost a job and transitioned to freelancing. Such freelancers work professionally to maintain their skills and earn their income as well; hence they should not be subjected to misuse. Therefore, freelancers deserve to make mutual agreements with their clients to ensure they are protected from abuse. Apart from creating the assignment, a business relationship is important to freelancers.
Hence, appropriate methodologies should be put in place with adequate policies to ensure freelancers can work comfortably and network with the vast online population. There is a need for freelancers to become transparent about experiences and give honest reviews regarding their experiences with clients. Such could be helpful, especially to new freelancers who are likely to be victims of misuse from bad clients.
The market is full of such people. Accountants such as yourself are usually hired for proper financial work that takes time and effort that you give with your whole might. So you should also avoid taking unnecessary risks by utilizing the business practices that are for your own well being.
4. Overcome misuse with a bookkeeping service agreement
Similarly, freelancers should utilize platforms that allow transparency when it comes to reviewing the relationship of both parties working together. There are common questions that freelancers can look for in a freelancing platform before looking for clients. Such could help to justify whether freelancers can be protected in circumstances of mistreatment or underpayment.
You can avoid awkward scenarios such as the one mentioned above by signing an accounting contract template with prospective clients. Contracts are formal tools that basically bound your clients to the rule. It stops dishonest clients from doing wrong stuff since they have agreed to terms set through mutual consent and you are in a better position to defend yourself if things go wrong.
On the other hand, freelancers should review the accounting contract agreement before they work together. Significant clauses regarding the project should be considered to ensure both parties are on the same page. Such policies can hold a party accountable in case of violation. The freelancer can also research their client's experience to determine their reputation when it comes to hiring freelancer accountants. There should be room for negotiation to ensure both the freelancer and client are satisfied with the final results.
Another benefit of adopting this practice, especially if you are a freelance accountant, is that it helps identify clients' true intent. A person who has nothing in mind but to exploit you would never sign your accounting contract template since it's a problem for him. Violation of agreed terms can get him in trouble.
5. Confidentiality in an accounting contract
The accountant contract agreement can help freelancers to identify the intentions of a client quickly. Here, freelancers have the opportunity to ask for clarification on aspects that aren’t clear. On the other hand, there is room to consult professionals to help identify false statements that may land freelancers into problems in the future.
In case extra tasks revolving around accounting, the freelancer could request training or guidelines that could do the project successfully within the specified time. All arrangements and communication will be based on the agreement; hence, any violation of the terms and conditions will be held accountable for the party involved.
Additionally, your reputation as an accountant does not only rely on your proficiency in your field; your business procedures and non technical abilities matter equally. Introducing an accounting contract template among your practices would add a touch of professionalism to your dealings and increase your chances to get employed.
Besides sharpening your skills in the accounting field, the contract agreement will enable freelancers to work competitively without the fear of being misused. Work discipline will also be highly practiced hence resulting in measurable expectations of the client. Freelancers would want to grow mutually; therefore, the agreement document will help them to demonstrate and measure their proficiency in the field.
As a bookkeeper, you may be required to provide a one time or monthly accounting service. If employed to provide such services, your client would most likely give you access to receipts, banking records, revenue details, account receivable and payables, and other financial information.
Hence, your client must give you access only after you've both signed a bookkeeping contract. So, you should think about getting a bookkeeping contract template that would always fit into your different projects. If you are still wondering what a bookkeeping contract should include, don’t worry. We have provided the information on how to write a contract in the last section of this article
6. The work of a bookkeeper
A bookkeeper is someone whose job is to keep the financial records of an individual or a business. A bookkeeper who is usually an accountant is hired to create a system to manage the financial data of an individual or a business for financial reporting and tax returns.
A bookkeeper needs to include the specific service to be rendered on behalf of a client in a signed bookkeeping contract template. Depending on the client, a bookkeeper may be asked to oversee a combination of the following:
- Bill statement
- Accounts Payable
- Account Receivable
- Payroll & Check Registers
- Custom Reports
- Financial Statements
- Bank reconciliation
- Budget Preparation
- General Ledgers
- General Bookkeeping
Grow faster with the right accounting contract template
With the right template, you will be able to convert more clients as a freelancer. Take your business to the next level with these templates.