EP58: Evelyn Jacks - Continuous Learning Will Keep Your Bookkeeping Business Alive


As you've heard, it's quickly taking over some bookkeeping duties and it doesn't appear to be slowing down.

However, there's a way to keep your business viable during these interesting times.

According to our guest, Evelyn Jacks, who is the founder and president of Knowledge Bureau which is Canada’s leading tax and financial services post-secondary educational institute for continuing professional development, you need to be a trusted advisor.

Artificial Intelligence can't replace the human touch of offering guidance to your clients.

To become a trusted advisor, you have to be on top of your education and always be learning, so you can utilize that insight.

During this informative interview, you'll also discover...

  • Why you should consider yourself as a Real Wealth Manager

  • Why you must have corporate and personal tax knowledge in your bookkeeping toolkit

  • The importance of taking the time to educate yourself on new industry trends and other relevant news

To find more about Evelyn & Knowledge Bureau, visit here.


Michael Palmer: 01:30 Welcome back to The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. I am your host, Michael Palmer, and today's show is going to be a good one. Our guest is the founder and president of the Knowledge Bureau, which is Canada's leading National Post Secondary Educational Institute for Continuing Professional Development in the tax and financial services. She's also Canada's most respected educator in tax and financial services and one of Canada's most prolific financial authors as well. She was recently named one of the top 25 women of influence in Canada for the second time. Evelyn Jacks, welcome to the podcast. 

Evelyn Jacks: 02:11 Well, thank you so much for having me. It's a delight to be here. 

MP: 02:15 So first off, Evelyn, let us know your career journey leading up to this point and how you got to be the founder of the knowledge bureau. 

EJ: 02:26 Well, thank you for that opportunity. I actually started my, uh, career back in the day as a business education teacher. So my heart is always been in education and by becoming the vice president of vegetation for national tax preparation firm, I was responsible for training tax professionals through a variety of different cha, technological advances. So we started with people learning how to do taxes. Literally sending an assignment. And then technology allowed us to go from that to have cars he filing our firm was able to purchase a paid in the original e-filing project. And from there I realized that the teacher is now and that both toxin bookkeepers and financial advisors really are challenged to do what they do, not just by giving sound advice to their clients, but also by keeping up with technology. And so today, Knowledge Farrell has a Moscow deifies free audience. We have over 1500 students that study with us in our foreign ball program is bad. Hundreds of thousands more [inaudible] hour with us all the way up to designation program. And still today we are challenged by technology. We are in a new gig economy and we find that artificial intelligence is going to dramatically shrink one side of the market, the transactional side of the market. It's going to bring new opportunities for bookkeepers to recalibrate their success as a knowledgeable confidante, skilled and successful business building with their clients. So I'm really passionate about that and it's everyone in our company. 

MP: 04:23 Beautiful. Well, we're passionate about it over here as well. Uh, we believe that bookkeepers have the best opportunity to support small business owners around the world and being more successful. And that leads to better communities because let's face it, small business is what builds great communities, which builds great countries. Small business owners are the ones that create the majority of the jobs. They create innovation, they take all the risk. They are doing a great thing for our country and countries. If we speak for every listener that's listening from around the world. So you know, you're doing great work in preparing bookkeepers to be able to do that work because they need it. It is a great need. 

EJ: 05:09 Yes. Nice to find that you know, because so many of us started so busy and the details of our work, sometimes we just have to put our heads up and had ourselves on the back for the reason that you have shared. We are in the economy, we're investing, we're creating, we're employing people, we're helping other business owners or keepers are actually the first announcer by two is that many small business owners have. And yet sometimes we have difficulties with charging the right amount of money so we can grow our own businesses, for example, or working on our businesses instead of working in our businesses. So knowledge here, we're not just concerned about your own professional credentials, which are very important, but we're concerned about, uh, training your staff and then giving you opportunities to be a better leader and what we call a better business builder. So our programs scan all sides of that educational value proposition. 

MP: 06:13 Beautiful. So let's talk a bit about that. You mentioned a few things there, some of the likely to top challenges around what our listener is facing. And one of them you mentioned was pricing. Tell us a little bit more about your take on that. 

EJ: 06:30 Well, it's just like, it's hard to do your own as CV or to promote yourself in a job interview or in front of a new client. You know, likewise, fit. Some people do, you mean their pricing strategies instead of passing judgment on the quality of their work. And it's really hard to justify your own charges. However, I really like to talk to bookkeepers about and different take on that, you know, it is easier to justify your value proposition. The fact that your clients want you to be there year over year when you explain to them that their investment in you is going to ensure that when we run a tax preparation business, there was always someone who was coming in the office and we would call the people price shampoos because they would always be willing to leave your firm for somebody else for five or $10. 

EJ: 07:28 And we realized that those were not our ideal clients. We used to say to people, you know, we are going to set a stair charge for the investment in you and you know our staff in our knowledge and in our innovation, and this is not just about today, it's about coming back next year, uh, or next month or in the next quarter. Just serve you again with excellence. Just like you would hate to see your doctor disappear because they couldn't make a better living or because the ecosystem around and what not healthy. Likewise, a bookkeeper serves a very, very important role within every small business to success and they need to have the confidence to price accordingly. So we like to talk to business owners about that, especially to bookkeepers. And we liked to think fridge than just sit back and do the business times that allow them to praise so that they can be that next year. 

MP: 08:27 I love that. It's that whole concept of put the oxygen mask on yourself first. When you're riding in a plane, you've likely, if you've been on a plane, you've heard that maybe it's for some millions of times. It might seem, however, such a brilliant analogy back to what your saying is that your business owner and we talked about this, they need you badly in order to be successful and if you're not successful, if you're not winning, you're not going to stay in the game and they're going to lose. And so this concept of thinking of the value that you provide, and it can't be in the bookkeeper's head, they, that's where the action must be taken is that those conversations, just like you're saying right now, those have to be conversations that are had with the owners and it, it's not like they're going to figure this out on their own. 

MP: 09:18 How valuable a bookkeeper is, they might not even realize how valuable you are until you've had that conversation. And that's, you know, we, I think that's part of what you're saying around this. It's hard to write your own CV. It's hard to know what, what, what, what part of what you do is valuable. And I think that's where it's important for services like you offer where you could be around other bookkeepers, where you can have these conversations and then take that back and help business owners realize that the value that you provide and that then leads to better pricing. 

EJ: 09:52 You know, that's what's important about taking out some time to do, uh, some education for yourself. I am very lucky. I have two grown sons and two out of our family life together. I would always tell them, you know, if you're ever stuck, go back to your educational roots and that is served my sons well. It served my husband and I will and it will serve you well because when you take that time to work on your thoughts, leadership, uh, we um, we established knowledge fields so that would be an online school. So very busy people could study 24, seven and yet still benefits from emails, supplies from iron structures. And so, uh, what that might mean for you is it might be at the end of an evening, you might be sitting in your slippers, the kids might be in bed and you have the opportunity to do something start provoking within your industry to move the needle further. 

EJ: 10:54 Age, for example, you know, you are the person who is going to be at the forefront of responsibility for the biggest compliance officer of all. And that's the tax departments around the world. You know, in your position you're responsible for making tax remittances and you're responsible for doing that on a regular basis. In fact, we tell people to first person in for any small difference venture is always the bookkeeper because if you don't get that right, if you don't make your sales talk to Matt and suits your payroll, remittances on time, you're going to have a big headache really soon. And that's why a bookkeeper learning tracks, knowledge, corporate couch knowledge, individual tax knowledge, retirement, and estate planning can so open up your value to your client and the other advisors that you've might be working with, like lawyers or financial advisors for example, is your chicken to having a larger knowledge base, but a bigger confidence 

MP: 12:13 I love that. It reminds me of a lesson that my father gave me, which was to always understand the role that others that you're working with are playing. He used to always say, you have to learn the other person's job, and he was our, he was an electrical contractor and a great, really very, very good electrician and he was always learning what was the carpenter doing? What was the engineer doing? What was the plumber doing? What will all of these, what were they all doing? How did their job work? What was important to them because that for him enabled him to do the work that supported what they were doing and that made him valuable. And for what you're saying is all of this knowledge from the tax accountant, from what they need from a legal standpoint, what they might need from a financial planning standpoint. If you understand those things, you're, you're kind of the point guard that can help all of those players be more successful. And the end winner, the ultimate winner is your client. 

EJ: 13:20 Yes. And the key phrase, again may not know this, you may not really think about yourself in this way or what you're describing is the most trusted advisor and knowledge bureau. We believe in a philosophy and we call it real balance management. And that is how much your family or for a series of a life cycle can accumulate, grow, preserve and transition their wealth after your taxes, inflation, and fees. And here in turn down at the moment, we are just contemplating a very controversial tax reform that's going to make the taxation of five appropriations much more expensive. And in particular, after I drive a new onus of proof on to business owners and their families. And so that's most trusted by Sir that bookkeeper who on a day to day basis really understands what the transactions are and what the contribution so capsule and to Labor of all the family members become such an important point of consideration with all the other family members and all the other advisors. So the bookkeeper can truly participate in being that real wealth manager. And how can a business owner science shape their decision making and make more and better decisions? At the end of this is about you helping them simplify their efforts and getting better results and their decision making. And as a result of that, making more money.

MP: 15:01 Which is just brilliant. You've written several books for consumers on tax and wealth management. In fact, I believe it's 52 books. That's phenomenal. 

EJ: 15:17 Well, you know what? I really am passionate about this subject because at the end of the day, first of all, if a teacher here in Tanja, we have 28 million taxpayers and for most of them the tax system is really quite bamboozling. They don't understand the terms and they don't understand their system, Christ well, but they pay their taxes. We have a very compliant tax-paying base. Over 90% of both corporate and individual returns are filed on time. So people try to comply with our self-assessment system and yet they realize and especially as they get to higher income levels that governments can take up to 50% or more of what they earn. And so what this becomes is about not how much you, that's about how much you keep with a business structure. A bookkeeper and business owner have had a lot more flexibility than an employee. They can determine, for example, how their compensation is going to be earned within the family. 

EJ: 16:21 Is it going to be salary or dividends or are we going to retain the earnings in order to invest in our equity for a future sale? Are there going to be taxable or tax-free benefits that we can use lower costs, corporate dollars for these are important conversations and a bookkeeper who knows and understands more about each of those averages is going to give much more valuable advice. So again, by jumping right in or reading a little bit more, learning about a little bit more, we don't necessarily want to make tax preparers or financial advisors out of you, but what we want you to do is to be a better leader in all of those areas, have deeper, broader knowledge so you can help your business owner clients in a more significant slate. 

EJ: 17:13 I think it comes back to that conversation that you opened up with around the change that's happening in the industry with artificial intelligence and all sorts of different technology. This really is the area of opportunity for the future area of opportunity will only grow. And I liked that you highlight it. It's not that you're training to be the tax preparer, it's not that you're training and some listening we'll have done that work and that's great. No problem there. But the average bookkeeper armed with this information becomes more valuable, not only to your client, the small business owner but to all of their partners. And from a marketing standpoint, from a business growth standpoint, I mean that's, that's gold. I mean, if, if you're helping your client at the same time, that helps a financial advisor that helps the, uh, the tax accountant that helps the lawyer. 

MP: 18:09 That's the referral base that is, you know, are they gonna want to work with somebody that's a helping makes everybody's lives easier or which really is the main client. I mean, it's a no brainer. I just actually love what you're saying and I don't know that that's been a big conversation. I mean, we've, we've been speaking to hundreds and hundreds of bookkeepers. We've had several guests on. I don't know that many have talked about doing a deeper dive into this type of education. No, no surprise. You've got 52 books written. You've got a, you're the founder of the knowledge bureau. You're helping hundreds of thousands of people educate themselves around this topic. In fact, you know what's interesting Evelyn is, is we did a poll on the successful bookkeeper Facebook group, which is our free community, for bookkeepers or bookkeepers from all over the world. And Knowledge Bureau was actually rated as one of the most valuable options for learning more about bookkeeping, which I think is a, as it definitely a tipping tip of the hat and your direction. 

EJ: 19:14 Six months you take to my ears on something that my staff will be just so pleased that to hear about. Also, I want to tell you that so, so many of our, uh, content providers and students support catalyst are people who have earned our designations and she wants to help other bookkeepers and advise you from the financial services to get there isn't so we're so proud of the fact that knowledge is very, very valuable when it's shared and within the network of people that we're building in the knowledge through. Not only are they learning with us, but they're teaching with our 10 so, you know, that's just such a wonderful thing when that's happened. 

EJ: 20:02 I also want to point out in this sort of innovative conversation that for having that KPMG in Australia did an interesting study at the tax industry in 2016 and it related to how artificial intelligence is changing our world. And basically, they found that it will shrink the market attacked, prepared Christ significantly and we expect that the transactional bookkeeper is going to see another famous fast. And what they found was that only higher value ad agents they call them will remain and that their survival will be based on providing significant value add in the area of advice and specifically the idea of skillset, the essential feature of a good talk Slater with someone who had good judgment. And I found that to be quite interesting because it's not just how you do the books, but the judgment and the wisdom and the experience that she brings to the decision making, uh, and the interpretation of what you have done for your business owner. That becomes very important as you look at your practice in the future. 

MP: 21:22 I love it. Absolute, absolute, absolute they small business owner and needs that translation. And that translation can only come from a deep understanding of the business and a deep understanding of the work that you do. And so more training, more education, more experiences, it leads to wisdom and wisdom is valuable. And so whilst things are changing from how technology and how things are being recorded and reported, somebody is always going to be needed. A brain with common sense is going to be needed to translate. What does this all mean? And if you're one of those people, you're going to be positioned well in the future. 

EJ: 22:06 Well, in addition, remember you are the person who is giving control and at the same time delight to your clients because you're keeping the tactic carbons out of their hair. You're dealing with those financial details so that they too can go far. How disruptive technologies and changing economics are affecting them to some degree. We're all in this together as we progress forward into the future. And the bookkeeper is that solid. So you know, in the background that is, uh, allowing the business owner science to go out and do the thing. So if nothing else, we just love to give you that a high five and say, well done. You're doing important work and hopefully to a lifetime of continuing education. It's going to continue to give you the clue that you need to help your business owner clients the at in and what they do. 

MP: 23:13 Beautiful. I have to say another a and it's showing very loudly why Marna Pratt, who's one of our clients actually and listeners Mana Pratt who actually recommend that we contact you and, and she actually one of the areas that she wanted you to chime in on and give more suggestions, was it somewhat in this area, but around how bookkeepers can find specifically more deductions for their clients. I think what we've been talking about this entire episode has been about that value stacking and really positioning yourself as an irreplaceable asset for your clients. But with that question in mind, how would you respond? 

EJ: 24:01 You know, I really do believe that any bookkeeper who has not yet taken a tax course, both personal and corporate, absolutely should make that part of their indispensable toolkit going forward and Knowledge Bureau. We have a tax services specialist program and that will train you and your staff to professionally prepare personal tax returns. We had a business services specialist program, which we'll add train you to do part-task to churn for a micro search for professional and to participate in owner-manager compensation planning. And then, of course, we have our bookkeeping services specialist program, which takes the bookkeeper to the life cycle of a business from start-up all the way to a business sale and valuation to understand what it is that those numbers mean as the business starts and grows and then transitions on to another owner. So trust is such a big part of that. And if you don't know tasks, do you consider it? Because it will hugely embellish on your value proposition. 

MP: 25:16 I love it and I think it, it just, it really does flow with the conversation. It's, it's a really high opportunity area. And so the more education, the more knowledge just improves our listeners' ability to make recommendations, find opportunities within the work they're doing. And a boy. Anytime you can have more money remain in the client's pocket, you're going to be well-loved.

EJ: 25:45 Um, well, exactly. And individual tax deductions to your earlier point are critical. It is those details. But also remember as you're looking at payroll and you're thinking about what can we be, how can we help be helping the employees of this firm to pay less tax so they can contribute to their RSP or ci? FSH. These are registered and tax sheltering programs in Canada that can help families really build wealth. Again, the bookkeeper should consider themselves as part of that value proposition in building wealth. There are lots we can do to reduce taxes as, sorry. Likewise, when employees retire, his last stuff we can do to help them do some income splitting to shore up the value of the dollars that are coming out of their severance packages. So there's a lot of fun and don't think that the bookkeeper, Desmond child each be a part of that. You're central to it and that's where your new passion can your value proposition can come from.

MP: 26:51 You know, this, this is just fantastic. I love this episode. This is a really big area of opportunity. And I think that having a grand rob, an understanding of tax and the implications, uh, not only for your client but their staff. I mean, just think of that perspective. It just positions a bookkeeper and creates a really, really fantastic opportunity to be incredibly valuable. And that is the pathway to having a successful business. If you can be that type of person that has that knowledge and you don't have to be the expert, but you have to go and learn more and then learn more and learn more and learn more, it's that lifetime learners go and keep learning. So I don't want anybody to walk away thinking, oh goodness, something more now that I need to learn. I think the big takeaway I'm hearing is put your toe in this pool. Get more information, take some courses, learn about it. Find out what opportunities you can to put yourself around the experts like Evelyn that can help you understand how you can help serve your client better. 

MP: 28:12 Evelyn, I really, really have enjoyed this conversation with you, but I'd like to open it up. Are there any other thoughts or suggestions you'd like to share with our listener? 

EJ: 28:23 Well, I haven't tried it so much to, and I just wanted to share with you that you know learning to know is important. Learning kids think is absolutely mind-blowing because it's really will give you that opportunity to think about the judgment call position that you find really wants from you and when a better time to do it. I always feel highly energized in September. It is back to school time is a number of months before the very busy tax and LP seeking here in Canada and it's a great opportunity for you to share knowledge, to start some study groups and online learning opportunities. We'll give you the added benefit of inviting some of your friends and colleagues and what more fun there is. Then to learn together, to have a framework for putting together some case studies and some questions that you can all answer together and suggest mentorship to bring some of the younger members of your team into your study group and to discuss that things that happen in the office year over year that you can anticipate or do better because you have a framework for working together through education. So, um, it's a great time to do that. It is, uh, early fall and I hope that people were thinking about not just studying for themselves but to study in a group and to share the knowledge. 

MP: 29:55 You absolutely nailed it. And I want to just make sure I heard that correctly. It's, it's not about how did you say it was learning, not to know, but learning to, um, let me shout.

EJ: 30:08 You think to learn how to sing.

MP: 30:10 Yeah, very, very great advice. And I think faced with the future that we have this whole conversation that sums it up very, very nicely. Let's do the challenge. You're there, you're listening. What's the one piece of education where you can take that on to increase your ability to think and that will only produce dividends down in the future. It is. It is an excellent time. There's no better time to add to your education than right now, so go out and do it and you'll feel better about yourself. You'll have more confidence when you're out there speaking to your clients. It's perfect and I recommend that you check out the knowledge bureau and sounds like and as recommended by many in our community and a special thanks as well to Marna Pratt who recommends we have you on the show and as well all the other community members that have been talking about knowledge bureau all over the successful bookkeeper. Evelyn, this has been absolutely terrific. If there, if people want to find out more about you, where should they go? 

EJ: 31:20 Well, thank you so much for this opportunity and we would love for people to join us at Knowledgebureau.com we also tweet and are quite involved in social media. We want to hear from you. We have a free newsletter that you can sign up for and called Knowledge Fair report. It interprets all the news of interest to attack bookkeeping and financial services industry and we often hole and get your opinion about things. So again, our goal is to share knowledge and we hope that true knowledge feels you might find a way to get involved. 

MP: 31:57 That's excellent. And now are your programs applicable to those outside of Canada? 

EJ: 32:03 Yes, absolutely. In fact, we often get people who are wanting to know more about real wealth management as a way to practice our new executives' business builder program as a way to build their own firms or help the small business owners that they work for built their foundations and their business. And of course, our bookkeeping and tax courses are so popular as we move into a global taxation system. I think that it's a very good idea no matter where you live. 

MP: 32:36 Beautiful. Well, this is fantastic. Lots of opportunities. Thank you so much for being on The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. 

EJ: 32:44 It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. 

MP: 32:47 That wraps another episode of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast. To learn more about today's guests and to get access to all sorts of valuable free business-building resources. You can go to Thesuccessfulbookkeeper.com until next time, goodbye.