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FAQ

  • What does Doctor Financials do?
    Doctor Financials took on its first clients in 2008 and has since grown to be NZ’s premier accounting practice dedicated to the surgical and medical fraternity. From the Far North to the Deep South, where ever you find Doctors, you’ll find our clients. Back then the motto on the consulting room wall was "Accurate, Fast & Simple". And that’s still the core of our attitude: the work we do for our clients must be Accurate, both for keeping clients legally safe whilst minimising tax, and also for producing figures that can be relied on for planning ahead and making life changing decisions off. And within that, Fast is how you are provided with value and timeliness, that’s what our specializing does – we know what we’re doing and we’ve seen it before, so you’ve come to the right place for getting great answers, in time. Our clients have worked hard over many years to reach the levels of expertise and community standing they have. We respect not only their right to professional and highly technical levels of service but also to strict confidentiality on their business and financial affairs and their right to experience a tailored service, financial administration being a significant commitment. Our Gold Tier clients have the direct cellphone of their dedicated Partner and access to a private prioritised email address for instant access to complimentary advisory to suit the immediate situation whether that be for financing, handling banks or investments, structuring, taxation or general advice. Comprehensive reporting covers statutory and compliance but also wealth management and cash management and gives an ongoing, up-to-the-minute big picture view, at your fingertips. Our clients repeatedly tell us in surveys that they find the fast service, the personalised advice and the on-demand consulting amazing, so we keep our advisor:client ratio high and our availability up! And finally, Simple. If the structure is costing you more than the value you get from it, it should be simplified back to the most straight-forward way of providing you protection and savings. Because a structure that’s straight-forward and understandable to all parties is actually the strongest structure in any case. Please see below for information on specific services.
  • What type of client do you serve?
    If you’re a Surgical Specialist or Doctor of Medicine in practice, then that’s you. Doctor Financials is exclusively dedicated - Doctors are all we do - and that is what gets you efficiency, accuracy and expertise to match (or better) the 'big four'. As well as that, we provide a prompt and bespoke service (our clients think we’re the better ones at that too), all provided in strict confidence. It's more efficient for you too; for instance, for a surgical specialist, we know what an electrosurgical forcep is and that it’s only guaranteed for 50 or 100 cooks so it can be directly expensed against taxable income. We don’t and won't stop and quiz you about things like that. From your side, you talk directly to your specialist accountant partner who understands what you do, avoiding needless questions and avoiding the time and cost of re-work - it's done right first time. In NZ there are multiple instances of tax law that apply to scenarios that other professions rarely encounter, for instance there's many situations that Doctors can find themselves in where FBT can be legally avoided. Because we're dedicated to medicine, if you’ve overpaid your ACC, we’ll spot that at a glance and get it fixed on your behalf, and so on and on.
  • What services do you offer?
    On-demand services to suit the client at Gold Tier level include: Personal and Practice reviews and planning, fine tuning and/or turn-around plans Practice Buy-ins/outs including appraisals, financing assistance and negotiating advice Structure planning and execution Family Office administration across your professional support network Lifetime Wealth & Retirement Planning Technology and digital solution advice for practice management and/or personal financial control and along with the above, real life 'grey hair' commentary on the options offered. Someone on the inside who's on your side. Many items that could be considered on-demand exceptions are included in our routine offering described below. For instance personalised strategic tax planning is integral to our routine offering rather than being an on-demand exception. Gold Tier clients have informal ad-hoc sounding board advice on matters available on-demand at no charge (see below), or the option of a formal engagement with a prescribed scope as above. Routine offerings at Gold Tier level, our bespoke full-service approach to accounting include: Full annuals including future cashflow-at-a-glance, benchmarking information applied to your individual situation, along with integral personalised tax minimisation and advice. Really, it’s just logic. For instance, we can’t really give you genuine tax minimisation legally unless we take a deep dive and spend the time to understand what’s happened, the reasons behind purchases and use things such as benchmarking to identify the opportunities that apply to your current situation. This includes assurance items to suit your situation such as ACC efficiencies for individuals and anti-fraud checks for practices. Legal tax minimisation leaves philanthropy in the hands of the earner and enables growth. Secondly, the bookkeeping services associated with the above. To avoid re-work and accuracy problems and to ensure you get the full value from our offering we strongly prefer to start in-house with the raw data. This means we take care of your Monthly Management Reporting and GST for instance. Then, most importantly, all on-demand advice, structuring and cash-flow discussions whether via meetings, phonecall or email is supplied complimentary no-charge off-clock. This encourages you to use what you need for discussion and sounding-board advisory, and to take the time you need to tell us what we need to know. If a more in-depth report or consult is required that involves back-office time, then we’ll advise you of that and an estimate will be available. Our qualified accountant:client ratio is one of the highest in the industry, meaning we have not only the experience, but the time required available to answer our clients calls personally and return emails promptly. You get medical industry specific accurate advice and explanations of options right through to the best conclusion, each and every time. You can see how the best way for us to give you value is by leveraging our experience at consulting level – which is the most valuable thing we have, but which also doesn’t take a lot of time in comparison - and put it at your disposal no charge. Associated with that are complimentary interviews. A fair-use policy applies, and we either come to you in acknowledgement of the value of your time, or alternatively to suit we have centrally located offices and interview rooms at city and provincial locations right across the country. We're available wherever our client’s careers take them. Finally, we have a long-standing policy of providing complimentary returns for immediate family members including Trust distributions which are included at no charge.
  • Do you offer one-off consulting services eg a retirement structure planning session?
    Doctor Financials generally only provide consulting services to current clients who have the option of accessing assistance informally at no charge. This avoids situations where allegorically we may be diagnosing and treating without the subject’s history and notes. What is offered instead is a second opinion service in cases where the client is happy for re-work to enable that to happen, and we also provide consulting services via other accountants in situations where our specialist industry knowledge is required eg for valuations or appraisals. This is availble via formal engagement only.
  • Do you offer flat-rate accounting?
    Not exactly. Flat rate accounting as a method of billing involves some clients effectively subsidising other clients so we avoid that. But that doesn’t mean we can't give an up-front estimate - in fact we check with you each year if you would like that for budgeting purposes. And you are welcome to pay for work month by month rather than annually, or alternatively pay the annual fee off using interest free monthly payments. But you'll never be subsidizing other clients work via a 'flat' rate with Doctor Financials.
  • Are you a price-first generalist accountancy practice?
    No. Doctor Financials is set up to provide timely, bespoke accounting and pro-active advice to save you tax and save you time all year round. If you've been with one of the "Big Four" or another top service tier firm, then we will most likely also save you on fees - without compromising on service standards or expertise - simply because being specialists makes us more accurate, but also more efficient. But if saving on accounting fees is the top of the list for you instead of being second or third below saving tax or accessing expertise readily, then we're not set up to be able to run like that. There's a big difference between quality, reputable accounting, and simply 'poking figures supplied through for tax' annually and telling you how much you owe. It's hard for doctors to imagine that that would be possible in a so-called profession, but accounting is not regulated like medicine or even law - in fact, anyone can call themselves an accountant. It's the equivalent of using a quack to take out your tonsils - or worse. And some firms have characteristics of both just to make it more confusing. Doctor Financials is a full-service firm. We don't have lower tiers of service or partial offers. We're set up to take your raw figures through the bookkeeping stage and on through reporting, savings, benchmarking and taxation minimization all the way through to up to date advice with year-round care, and it's that full-service model that enables us to fulfill our accuracy, auditing and timeliness promises. Broadly, there’s three overall ways to get cheap price-first accounting: 1. Cheaper labour: use a firm that uses lower-qualified or un-qualified personnel for doing accounting work. The Partner may be qualified but not the actual staff who will do your work. These firms will sometimes offer tiers of service around how much access to actual accounting time you'd like. An accountant who is qualified will be accurate, efficient and knowledgeable. An accountant who is qualified to CA level will give you the benefit of: - four years of full time study plus hands-on practical specialist post-graduate training to get their qualification in the first place - they will carry Professional Indemnity Insurance to protect you and give you recourse - they will have mandatory ongoing CPD hours each year to keep them up to the minute for giving you reliable, legal tax minimisation. There's 3814 pages of core Tax Act, and triple that of Supplementary Legislation and Orders. Increasing legislation and IRD complications simply amplify the financial advantages of using a qualified accountant. And finally: - they will be using professional auditable ledger and tax filing software that makes peer reviews simple and reliable and realistic to complete, so you get the advantage of a specialist team working together. CPD costs are typically 20 - 25% of labour, and along with the other factors above that more than doubles the cost of lower or unqualified staff. In addition to that, the good ones do need to be paid enough to prevent them from being head hunted to Sydney (or Canary Wharf!) On the other hand, unqualified labour reduces the scope and time spent on each client because the expertise to carry out such things as anti-fraud checks or ACC levy errors isn't there, so job time is minimised. As a result it carries significant IRD audit risk because accuracy is a problem. IRD use software sniffers to automatically detect inaccuracies such as GST left unreconciled, so firms operating at this level will recommend you take out IRD audit insurance - which is a sensible cost to incur to offset that increased risk - although you should consider whether it would be safer and better to put that towards accuracy, good advice, tax efficient work and savings instead. So, significantly cheaper work and costs, multiplied by significantly less time spent, equals very significant savings in dollars of "accounting" fees. But not in tax, because someone unqualified and uncertain is going to take the conservative view which will be against you, often by a multiple of the saved fees. And certainly not in good, safe advice with recourse for you. 2. Secondly, cheap overheads: look for a firm with cheap (or nil) floor costs. Suburban outlets might not have the convenience and connectivity or ability to attract top staff (see above), but do have significantly lower rent/insurance/utilities. If you don't mind having interviews and your work being done at their kitchen table, some even avoid real estate costs altogether by operating from a home. 3. The biggest one - give up the service. The biggest contributor to service and therefore cost is the firms accountant:client ratio which in turn is based on how personalised, or bespoke, their services are. There are firms with a very low accountant to client ratio who factory-farm hundreds or even thousands of clients per worker, often with some staff based off-shore. Some also offer non-time-related flat rate packages where you pick a price then they lower their service and costs to below the average paid. That can actually have a silver lining if you have a busy account, because when everyone pays the same regardless of required work volume then the quieter accounts will subsidize you. Some even offer a DIY option for a flat fee, but it's not really any different to filing directly with IRD on their portal (which is free) and comes with the same likelihood of their subsequent investigation and audit as using unqualified labour, so although cheap is really an expensive farce. These firms are the harder ones to pick, because those who do it don't advertise the fact. But it will come through in the client experience and pricing: you will get cheapness, but you won’t get accurate, timely replies or your work done on time. You won't be able to get through for good technical advice and they can't give it to you. You'll also miss out on professionalism and genuinely safe, legal, personalised tax minimisation, which will usually be a multiple of the sticker-price savings. Combining 1, 2 and 3 above gives massive discounting potential, although ironically the savings are usually only partially passed onto the client - so, its good for the 'accounting' firm but not for you. It's expensive for what you actually get. In fact, we think the cost to you of using them is more than the price. But if the up-front price is the primary consideration then that should give you a steer on what to look for. So, no. We compete on service and quality. We’re not unqualified, low-scope, low-service factory-farm accountants out in the suburbs competing in the price-driven generalist market: that’s comparing Plastic Surgeons to retail beauty, or licensed table service to a pie cart. Proper spectacles to a petrol station purchase. But we are very much accurate, tax efficient, time efficient and value for money. And, we're full service, we don't send you off to do bookkeeping tasks instead of living your life. Accounting services aren't usually something you want to purchase from the cheapest, worst possible supplier. But a couple more positive thoughts that might help with getting accounting costs down: firstly, as with any profession, if you have friends or family who are qualified and who are willing to give up a weekend or two, then you may be able to get it no charge at all. And if your affairs are very simple and completely repetitive year to year plus you have the spare hours (maybe you’ve recently retired) and also the financial knowledge and will, then maybe you really only need a friendly accountant to show you how to do it yourself. Paradoxically, accountants who have expertise and are in demand (and so can charge more) are often the ones who can afford a free 20 minutes, so they’re the ones to ask for a complimentary squirt of one to one to get you started and for you then to see if doing it yourself will work for you. One more tip: ask for a price up-front. Accountants are notorious for being optimistically hopeful on job times; in fact, so are most people. If you’re at a low point financially in your career, then you should be using that very simple technique for all work you need done, not only accountancy.
  • What type of clients is your service most effective for?
    Because of our bespoke level of service and high-touch/low-volume set up, there’s a ‘sweet spot’ starting circa $7500 of core accounting services in a typical year. This is the level where our specialist advantages of accuracy and time efficiency not only result in more personalised advice, but can also result in a financial saving to the client when compared with generalist practices such as the 'big four'. Other situations that our offering can be cost-effective for include clients with specialist needs, those with practice ownership or growth aspirations or who need on-demand access to a specialist accountant who knows them and their situation personally and is available to give timely help and advice. Similar to a regional surgeon, who has training and breadth of knowledge but not always the facilities and practice for specific cases, Doctor Financials offer an option that includes the expertise and experience to avoid situations where lack leads to sub-optimal outcomes. Smaller clients using less than $4200 net of services per annum have a flat rate contribution added of $450 for software costs (including tax reminders) and $400 for PI. These costs are absorbed in the hourly rate for clients using over $4200 net of services per annum. NB: our clients who retire are valued as the fulfilment of our "accountant for life" ethos and their advice needs and tax matters are taken care of with the same level of service as for our early and mid-career clients without any minimum applying to them.
  • Are you taking on new clients at the moment?
    Yes, we have recently taken on two new senior accountants and a bookkeeper and so we are 'open book' at the moment. In addition to our client criteria noted in the section above, we strictly control our client to accountant ratios to ensure fast and personalised service and so this does mean we periodically need to close for new accounts. If you have been referred by a colleague, please tell us this as it is a factor we take into account.
  • I am a Doctor with specialist advice needs, practice ownership or growth aspirations and I like what I hear. What should I do next?"
    Our standard free interviews policy is available up-front in advance to potential clients, so we recommend setting up a complimentary meeting. This meeting enables you to see from your side if we would be a good fit for your circumstances and plans ahead and allows us to gauge whether we genuinely can provide you with better service and with better value (our two criteria for taking you on). Our process is simple and personal. (i.e., email us!) Or, use the Contact Us form to tell us in the first instance about yourself and your situation and we'll get right back to you.
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