Empower Your Business With Help From a Professional Bookkeeper
An investment in peace of mind
Legacy Advantage is a CPA firm that exclusively provides CPA- level bookkeeping. They empower their clients with peace of mind, clarity, and financial intelligence. Legacy Advantage comprises a team of 15 professionals with two offices in Metro Vancouver.
Bob Wang, CPA, CA and president of Legacy Advantage explains the value of having a
CPA- level bookkeeper and how you can hire one:
How do I determine if I should hire a bookkeeper?
I had one client who had tried to save money by doing his own bookkeeping. He then had to go through a payroll audit and wound up owing much more than it would have cost had he sought professional help.
If you are saying these things to yourself, you should probably look at hiring a professional bookkeeper:
“My receipts are piling up; I’m feeling overwhelmed.” “I don’t know who owes me money.” “I have no idea how much money I made last month.” “Am I doing payroll correctly?”
What are the advantages of a professional bookkeeping service?
A professional bookkeeper will provide peace of mind because you won’t have surprises. You can be reassured that all government agencies are paid, and that your books are correct. You will know exactly who you owe, and who owes you.
As well, a good bookkeeper will provide clarity. Many business owners see numbers and their brains just shut off. It’s up to the bookkeeper to paint the financial picture, using data such as ratios, KPIS and trends.
How do I hire the right bookkeeping service?
Let me just say that hiring a bookkeeper without a financial background is difficult. It’s like trying to play Fantasy Football when you don’t even know what a linebacker is. Here is what I look for:
First, just like with any hiring decision, ensure that there is a cultural fit, and you feel comfortable with him/her.
From there, you can ask questions that can assess their skill level, such as: “You made an error. You invoiced the customer, and when the customer paid us, you recorded it as a sale again. What’s the journal entry that fixes this problem?” (Answer: Dr. Sales Cr. A/R).
Or you could ask how they would handle a subledger that doesn’t make sense: “Items in A/P are already paid—and how can you fix this with a journal entry?” (Answer: Dr. A/P, Cr. Expense).
Lastly, ask them to explain to you the difference between a Balance Sheet, an Income Statement and a Cash-flow Statement. If their explanation leaves you more confused, then it means they don’t fully understand it themselves. Move on.
It’s always worthwhile to pay a CPA- level bookkeeper to have that peace of mind and know that you’re not going to have any surprises. Also, it’s incredibly powerful to have clarity for your business. You can measure yourself against last month, last year, or even the industry average. This insight alone is worth the cost. With these insights, you can not only optimize your operations, you can also identify when your next big opportunities lie.
of proper sources and references” when it came to quota lease prices and practices. Others, like Art Davidson, a Saanich-based fisherman and president of the BC Longline Fishermen's Association, countered that though the ITQ system works well for people who own all or much of the quota they fish, it also acts an investment vehicle that unfairly distributes wealth away from the fishermen who bring the resource to market.
But according to Jeff Grout, the DFO'S Pacific region resource manager for salmon, government isn't forcing ITQS down the throats of commercial fishermen. Grout says his department informs its fishery management decisions by seeking input from area harvest committees consisting of fishermen on the ground. The DFO has only implemented ITQS in the salmon sector on a season-byseason basis in select seine and troll fisheries, and Grout admits they have faced stiff opposition from the gillnet fleet.
“There will always be independent fishermen who have different ideas, but we think ITQS have been effective in terms of managing the fleets and assuring that they fish within allocations,” he says. “It gives us more certainty in terms of catch.”
As for the cost of leasing and buying quota, Grout says the DFO doesn't collect data on private transactions between fishermen. For Pinkerton, that points to a big problem: with ITQS, the agency has unleashed a sharecropping of the ocean that is squeezing fishermen.
If the UFAWU'S Thorkelson represents the little guy—the deckhands, boat captains and fish plant workers— Rob Morley, Canfisco's vice-president of production and corporate development, symbolizes what the UFAWU, Pinkerton and their allies say is another side of the West Coast fishery: monopolizing and increasingly dominant.
But Morley says the facts prove otherwise. In June 2016, before the federal Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, he testified that Canfisco buys fish from a fleet of 860 vessels and owns eight processing facilities but owns just 4 per cent of all salmon licences, as well as 21 per cent of groundfish quota, 15 per cent of hake quota, 3 per cent of halibut quota and 2 per cent of sablefish quota. Morley concluded that “contrary to misinformed reports, the licensing policies in B.C. have not resulted in increasing concentration or control by Canfisco and the companies we have merged with.”
His testimony doesn't paint a complete picture: the company has a 50 per cent stake in an undisclosed number of fishing vessels up and down the coast that gives Canfisco exclusive access to buy the catch.
Although the last cannery closed nearly two years ago under Canfisco's watch, the bright spot in B.C.'S salmon sector is the growing demand for freshfrozen fillets. Here the province has an advantage over Alaska because it's closer to North American markets, Morley says. By eliminating the race-to-fish mentality, ITQS better serve consumers, he believes.
“ITQS make sense because it spreads out the fishing effort over a longer period of time and enables us to get the best high-quality product to market in a timely manner,” Morley explains from Canfisco's headquarters in Richmond.
But Pinkerton and Thorkelson also say there are misconceptions about commercial fishermen being overly competitive and prone to exploiting a stock to near extinction, as befell the East Coast cod fishery. For decades the West Coast industry self-organized through what was known as a layup system, whereby captains would keep their boats tied up at the dock for several days after landing their catch, giving the rest of the fleet a chance to take its share. This approach died out in the 1970s, some say due to a lack of government support.
ITQS eventually filled that void, but this framework for fisheries management has taken heat elsewhere. Early on, New Zealand was more enthusiastic than other nations in adopting the marketbased approach to quotas. In a 2016 paper, Fiona Mccormack, an anthropologist at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, noted that New Zealand has been globally recognized for its efficient and sustainable fisheries management, largely based on its wholesale adoption of ITQS. But this adulation masks some unsettling side effects, Mccormack argued, namely the “inequitable distribution of fishing rights, the relative
power of quota holders vis-à-vis producers, the lack of attention given to the intergenerational concerns of fishermen and their communities, the emergence of new class structures” and other issues.
The DFO'S management of West Coast fisheries has tilted toward conservation since the policies of the 1996 Mifflin Plan and subsequent licence buyback programs reduced the number of salmon licences by more than half. B.C.'S five salmon species—coho, sockeye, Chinook, pink and chum—comprise more than 8,000 genetically unique stocks that spawn in myriad rivers, streams, creeks and even roadside ditches. The feds recently renewed their commitment to salmon conservation, including a pledge to implement all of former B.C. Supreme Court justice Bruce Cohen's recommendations from the inquiry into the 2009 collapse of the Fraser River sockeye run.
Stuart Nelson, a Surrey-based fisheries consultant, believes the critics are comparing ITQS to some utopia that no longer exists, when salmon were so abundant that the first Europeans to visit B.C. claimed they could walk across streams on the backs of spawning fish. Management of commercial fishing had to change from a free-for-all to something more controlled, Nelson says. Unlike SFU'S Pinkerton, he sees a positive side to climbing quota leasing costs: “It means quota must have some value.”
As with most other industries, Nelson adds, young people can expect to pay their dues—as a crew member or a
captain leasing quota—to work their way up to an ownership position.
That's an oversimplification, says Sonia Strobel, co-founder and managing director of Richmond- based Skipper Otto's. If Canfisco is the Goliath of commercial fishing, Skipper Otto's is the David. Strobel says she and her husband, Shaun, launched it in 2008 in response to the pressure on family fishing operations from factors such as the escalating cost of leasing and buying quota, the consolidation of processing and the closure of public docks that once let fishermen offload their catch for free. ( Northern fishermen now have one choice— pay to use a Canfisco-owned dock in Prince Rupert.)
“My father- inlaw, Otto, has gillnetted for salmon since 1969, and my husband has fished for most of his life,” Strobel says. “During that time there has been a steady decline in the number of independent fishing families. Our goal is to not only make a profit but also support fishermen with a fair living wage.”
Skipper Otto's is based on a community-supported agriculture model, in which members pay upfront for a certain amount of seafood that varies depending on what's seasonally and annually available. Participating fishermen have the security of a guaranteed market for their catch, while consumers know who caught the fish, how it was caught and where the money goes. Yet a look at Skipper Otto's roster of 30 or so mostly silver-haired fishermen confirms that salmon fishing is increasingly an old man's game.
The outfit may be a small player compared to Canfisco, but Strobel says it's growing: “Last year we took on four new fishermen, and we're getting inquiries all the time.”
At press time, Skipper Otto's was completing a memorandum of under- standing that will enable it to build a 10,000-square-foot processing facility on DFO land in Steveston. Hopefully, Strobel says, construction will be finished in time for 2018's peak Fraser sockeye run, which is expected to be in August and September.
Fishermen are an individualistic lot, averse to overbearing government intrusion. Spend a few minutes with the likes of Quincy Sample on his boat, or visit any dock where trollers, seiners and gillnetters tie up, and you'll get the idea. Back on the water, Sample shows the grit and optimism that is perhaps the only reason he continues to reinvest in commercial fishing. Debt has been his constant companion. When Sample was 22, he owed $220,000 on a salmon licence; he hasn't stopped investing, buying quota when he can and leasing whatever he can't afford to buy. Recently he bought a salmon trolling licence for $ 160,000. Sample owns 15 per cent of his halibut quota and leases the rest of what he catches from so- called armchair fishermen. “It's like gold,” he says.
He shrugs about the DFO'S hopes to introduce the ITQ system across the board in the salmon sector. Quota is expensive, Sample admits, but there's an unexpected upside to this market-based mechanism for access to commercial fishing opportunities. Previously, walking into a bank to ask for financing with not much more than a beat-up fish boat for collateral was a nonstarter. But banks now recognize quota as a valuable asset, enabling fishermen like Sample to leverage it for financing.
“The problem with the big companies is that they have deep pockets and can bid up the price of quota. The Jimmy Pattisons of the world are owning the industry,” he says. “But you know, there will always be fires to put out. I'll always fish.”
“My father-in-law, Otto, has gillnetted for salmon since 1969, and my husband has fished for most of his life. During that time there has been a steady decline in the number of independent fishing families. Our goal is to not only make a profit but also support fishermen with a fair living wage”