Developments in accounting software mean small businesses now have access to real-time financial data, but few are putting it to good use.

Take hold of this opportunity and gain effective insight into your business with the help of a Management Accountant. 


The old days of accounting 

When I started my business in 2012, management accounting – or financial controlling – was very underrated and even an unknown concept among Australian small business owners.  

I couldn’t understand this, as I was training, every accountant was a management accountant first and a tax agent second. The separation of these two areas was foreign to me. 

Initially, I tried to conform to this system and applied to become a BAS agent. However, something never sat right with me. All the procedures and practices focused solely on reporting and submitting the correct amount of tax to the ATO. There was no interest in generating usable feedback and relevant reports for clients..  

Of course, the clients weren’t asking for this information either. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Were business owners really not interested in their figures? 

I wondered whether small business margins were so slim that the cost of receiving a business report wasn’t viable, so they relied on gut feeling and their bank balance for business decisions.  

Also, perhaps accountancy fees seemed like a dead cost to them, as they received information too late to do anything about it anyway. 


Times have changed 

Over the last 10 years, accounting technology has evolved dramatically. Now, business reporting solutions can give real-time information to business operators.  

Unfortunately, most accountants are still focused on the now-lucrative tax accounting because software has automated the whole process.  

Meanwhile, this same software has made volumes of real-time data available at our fingertips we could be doing so much more. 

So what’s the answer? 

Actually it’s an easy fix – the missing link is the Management Accountant. 


‘this same software has made volumes of real-time data available at our fingertips we could be doing so much more!’

Time for an accounting revolution! 

Larger businesses have in-house management accountants who do exactly what they should be doing – making sense of business figures and reporting back to managers who can then make good business decisions.  

Small businesses aren’t even looking for this solution! I think they are convinced that they’re too small for a management accountant. That’s just not true. 

Software has enabled accountants like Anconsult to provide management accounting (or financial controlling) to small businesses.  

We can work alongside the business owner to keep the business profitable, achieve ROI results and eventually grow the business. Tax compliance is a by-product, as it should be. 

As an accountant, working with businesses to see them succeed is much more rewarding than simply tax accounting! 


How a management accountant is different 

Shared responsibility for data entry 

Management accountants are not liable for tax compliance, but they do follow the tax rules. For example, if a business owner tells us they have a receipt, we don’t need to see evidence because it’s their responsibility to provide source documents at an audit. 

Cost management 

Management accountants focus heavily on allocating cost to the correct period and classification. This small detail can have a large impact on business reports, as profitability won’t be reported correctly if the quarterly cost isn’t allocated to each month. 

Cost grouping 

Expenses can be split across various expense accounts but still belong to only a few major cost groups. Reporting with cost groups enables a manager to see performance across every area, not just individual accounts. For example, labour costs comprise more than wages and superannuation. 

Comparable reporting periods 

Reporting should be based on management need, not tax reporting. For example, if a business runs fortnightly payroll, its reports must show sales performance in relation to labour costs over a comparable time period. Monthly reporting may have different sets of payroll included, which means it’s not comparable with monthly sales. 

Timely reporting 

Management accountants work for the business and strive to have figures ready as soon as reconciled. If business owners wait for information from monthly or quarterly reports via ATO activity statements, it will probably be too late to make an impact. 

Fortnightly and monthly reports, published within weeks of the period ending, can help the manager steer figures in the right direction if they’re getting off track. 


Is management accounting expensive? 

No, not anymore. Software automation now enables small business owners to stay on top of their business figures without paying an arm and a leg. 

After paying a once-off fee for an individually tailored setup, you can get management accounting from about $100 a week – even less if you’re a micro-business with few transactions that need controlling. 

Overall, accounting (including tax accounting) shouldn’t cost you more than 2% of your sales and should improve your profit by at least 2%. 


As a pure management accountant for more than three years, I’m proud that we grew our business by focusing inwardly first. As a result, we’ve created a healthy environment for our clients that enables them to grow and we’ve doubled our revenue as well. Not too shabby!