As CEO of a company which supports startups and scaleups with interim accounting, I deal with founders a great deal. Of course, there is always someone on the founding team who oversees the finances. One of them recently asked me: How do you keep up to date with accounting? How do you get started on the subject and maintain an up-to-date picture? I thought about this a bit and gave him a few tips which I will gladly share with you here.
If you really have no prior knowledge of accounting, you can get an initial overview with a beginner's guide such as "Schnelleinstieg in die Buchführung" (Quick Start to Accounting) from Haufe publishing house. The book might not be brand new, but it offers a highly accessible step-by-step introduction to accounting in Germany with tips for practical implementation. The author, Gerhard Fröhlich, is my grandfather and I am convinced that he has created a real classic. After all, he also sparked my passion for accounting! Haufe-Verlag offers a lot of useful literature, news, and trainings on the subject of accounting in German. Alternatively, Beck publishing offers several accounting specialists titles.
Books are good for the basics, but there are always new laws and regulations that you must keep an eye on. Especially in Germany, the laws are usually written in such a complicated way that even professionals have difficulties understanding them. Additionally, the implication of accounting practices is not always obvious. On the Internet there are a lot of resources that explain new laws and their effects, as well as new tools and trends. Via LinkedIn for example I am offered newsletters or webinars daily that promise to keep me up to date. While some of them are useful, most are not.
You have to be very selective when choosing your newsletters, otherwise you waste a lot of time.
You have to be very selective when choosing your newsletters, otherwise you waste a lot of time. Focus on the topics that are really important to you. Since our startup and scaleup customers often aim to expand internationally as early as possible, I personally find the comments and trend reports of international consulting companies – such as Deloitte, PWC, EY or KPMG – a real goldmine. They provide regular and timely updates regarding accounting standards and practices, the interpretation of new laws and regulations, as well as global trends such as the digitization of accounting.
While the basics of accounting are the same all over the world, there are nonetheless substantial differences between countries which cannot be covered here. In regards to IFRS, the most important global accounting standard, its website provides valuable and up-to-date information which is a good start for further exploration. Another valuable resource is the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) which provides information about internationally recognized accounting certificates and useful insights into accounting practices.
Sometimes specific knowledge is required. A team member who has much to do with the Indian market tipped me off to a website for accounting in India, ConTeTra. She also recommended the podcasts from Futurefirm.co. The Canadian website is dedicated primarily to the topics of automation and the future of accounting. For everything else, she said, she could always ask her "brilliant, amazing, charismatic boss who always knows everything about everything." Could this have been meant ironically?
As a current tip among the newer German finance guides I would like to recommend the book „Weniger Steuern & mehr Vermögen“ (Less Taxes & More Assets) by Alexander Keck. He gives entrepreneurs and founders practical advice on how they can save on taxes, make more money, and save for their old age. The main focus is about the optimal legal company form and when it is worth establishing a holding company for example. This question is particularly interesting for serial entrepreneurs.
By the way, bookoffinance.de provides very entertaining information about current books on finance and other topics about business and life. The founder, Celine Nadolny, says she has read around 600 titles and posts about the ones she considers worth reading on her website. I'll never get through that many books in my lifetime! I'm too much of a doer. In the end, you learn best when you make your own experiences through practical work and true execution.
If you want to get in touch about keeping up to date or interim accounting please reach out to me via email@example.com.
Magnus Bilke, Founder and CEO of DONE!Financials