We interview a real-life QuickBooks Live bookkeeper 🎙 Live at QuickBooks Connect

Claudell was nowhere to be found at QuickBooks Connect 2019, but we discovered a real-life QuickBooks Live bookkeeper - Pam Bingham EA, founder of PB Tax and Accounting Services! We get the lowdown on the QuickBooks Live experience, from a bookkeeper's perspective, and Pam also tells us why she does QuickBooks Live in parallel to running her own growing firm that has both tax and bookkeeping clients.

Show Notes
  • 00:57 – Claudell is so far beyond MIA, we couldn't even say her name right!  
  • 01:05 – Who needs Claudell, when you have a real LIVE QuickBooks Live bookkeeper to talk with? Meet Pam Bingham! 
  • 01:30 – David's got a gazillion questions!  
  • 02:54 – Pam shares what it's like to be a QuickBooks Live bookkeeper
  • 03:30 – Job-in-a-box - QuickBooks Live provides its bookkeepers with everything they need to start - from equipment to training
  • 04:48 – The main focus of QuickBooks Live bookkeeping is helping clients clean up and prep their books for month-end closes, and tax time
  • 06:35 – While some providers aren't crazy about QuickBooks Live, Pam took this opportunity and ran with it
  • 07:58 – QuickBooks Live can give bookkeepers some stability when their own practices face constant changes
  • 08:38 – Your practice is what you choose to make of it - plain and simple
  • 11:08 – For clients, QuickBooks Live allows them the freedom to focus and work on the top priority, their business
  • 12:28 – Most of the work done for QuickBooks Live is offline. The face-to-face client meeting is typically a small fraction of the entire process
  • 13:25 – Unlike driving for Uber, being a QuickBooks Live bookkeeper is about building and maintaining long-lasting relationships 
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This episode of The Cloud Accounting Podcast is sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks. Accounting professionals and bookkeepers have long been at the forefront of using cutting-edge technologies to take the profession to the next level and to ensure they're delivering the best possible service to their clients. Whether you want to grow your firm or sharpen your skills, Intuit QuickBooks provides you with the AI-driven products, services, and the resources that you need to help all sides of your career take shape. To learn more about how QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Online Accountant, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, and the ProAdvisor program can help you grow your practice and scale your impact, head over to CloudAccountingPodcast.promo/quickbooks. That is Cloud Accounting Podcast dot promo forward slash Q-U-I-C-K-B-O-O-K-S. QuickBooks - Backing you.

Pam Bingham: This gives them an opportunity to work on their business, focus on their business, and let QuickBooks Live handle their books. 
Blake Oliver: Welcome to The Cloud Accounting Podcast. I'm Blake Oliver.
David Leary: I'm David Leary.
Pam Bingham: And I am Claudette.
Blake Oliver: What? [00:01:00]
David Leary: Claudette's here? 
Blake Oliver: Claudette is here from QuickBooks Live? No ...
David Leary: QuickBooks Live Claudette.
Blake Oliver: I don't believe it.
David Leary: No ...
Pam Bingham: That's right, don't believe it. I'm Pam Bingham.
Blake Oliver: You are a QuickBooks Live advisor! 
Pam Bingham: I am a QuickBooks Live bookkeeper, that's correct.
Blake Oliver: A QuickBooks Live bookkeeper ... Wow! 
David Leary: This was meant to be ... So, Tuesday, I go to lunch; I sit down ... Rewind a second. We are at QuickBooks Connect 2019 ... This is our last interview we're doing-
Blake Oliver: Yep. 
David Leary: It's wrapping up on Friday.
Blake Oliver: People are literally taking things down as we speak. The place is being dismantled.
David Leary: Hopefully, we [00:01:30] still have power. So, we sit down on Tuesday, and a lot of people are talking about QuickBooks Live. Everybody's at the table, chatting about QuickBooks Live, QuickBooks Live ... Then, Pam chimes up and says, "Oh, I was a TurboTax Live bookkeeper, or advisor, and now I'm a QuickBooks Live bookkeeper." I was like ... I started shaking. I was like, "You're going on the podcast! Wait until I tell Blake! I'm bringing you on the podcast!" So, now we're here. We have a real QuickBooks Live bookkeeper on the podcast, and we wanna understand ... Who are you, first? Because I know you're a  ProAdvisor, and you have a firm and that experience, and then, where QuickBooks Live fits [00:02:00] in that experience. Then [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Or we could start with that. 
David Leary: All right, we'll start with that, yeah ... 
Blake Oliver: We won't overload you with too many questions- 
David Leary: I'm actually excited. I got a little shaky here. Could be the fresh-pressed juice or something ... 
Pam Bingham: It might be.
David Leary: It might be.
Pam Bingham: It might be the juice ... 
Blake Oliver: So, who is Pam?
Pam Bingham: Pam? Pam is ... I am a ProAdvisor, and I am an enrolled agent. I have a practice that I- I have bookkeeping and tax clients, and I am a QuickBooks Live [00:02:30] bookkeeper, as well.
Blake Oliver: So, where are you based?
Pam Bingham: I'm in the Los Angeles area, the San Fernando Valley.
Blake Oliver: Oh, me, too! We're neighbors!
Pam Bingham: Yeah.
David Leary: Yeah, so listeners ... It's amazing. Blake has had a QuickBooks Live bookkeeper living next door to him, and he's never broke the story.
Blake Oliver: Wow. Yeah, I feel bad now ... So, you have your own practice?
Pam Bingham: I do.
Blake Oliver: You're an enrolled agent. Yeah, so, I don't know ... What's a day in the life of being on QuickBooks Live?
Pam Bingham: It's great because you work with the small business owners, and you help [00:03:00] them with their books. You help them clean up their books and teach them good workflows. So, it's a pretty good offering, and it's a pretty good opportunity to help small business owners.
David Leary: I think when we had Rich Preece on, in the past, he talked about [crosstalk]
Blake Oliver: Former leader of QuickBooks Live [crosstalk]
David Leary: -he said they send you out a box. You get a laptop; you get a pop-up banner behind you ... What's your experience? When you go from, "Hey, I'm working; doing my firm work now, and I put on my QuickBooks Live hat," what do you do, actually, [00:03:30] to do that? 
Pam Bingham: I take off my firm hat and I put my QuickBooks Live hat on ... No, they do. They send you out a box that has all the equipment that you'll, like a laptop, and your camera, headphones, and, yes, a wrap-around so that you can block the noise- 
Blake Oliver: A backdrop for your chair? 
Pam Bingham: Yeah, a backdrop for your chair. It comes all ready to go, and then, you're [00:04:00] ready to go; you're ready to start training, and going through learning all their processes and that type of thing.
Blake Oliver: How much of your time are you dividing between QuickBooks Live and your own work as a ProAdvisor?
Pam Bingham: You're required to work about 20 hours, at least; 20 hours a week.
Blake Oliver: How many clients do you work with?
Pam Bingham: It could be between 15 and 20.
Blake Oliver: 15 and 20 clients on an ongoing basis and about- at least 20 hours [00:04:30] a week?
Pam Bingham: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: Got it. 
David Leary: When you say it's about 20 hours a week, is it when you have time to pop in and out, like an Uber driver's like, "I feel like going to do rides right now," or do you have a little bit of a schedule [crosstalk] 
Pam Bingham: No, you have a schedule.
David Leary: Okay.
Pam Bingham: Yeah.
Blake Oliver: Got it. So, you log in and then, you go to work ... How do you- do you schedule appointments with clients?
Pam Bingham: Well, they are able to schedule the appointments with us, so you meet with your clients, and you figure out what they need, and you provide [00:05:00] that service. It's basically helping the clients have tax-ready books for the end of the year. You make sure that you prepare the necessary ... Help them with their transactions and help them just kind of reconcile and wrap up the month to close the books ... You build this relationship with the clients.
Blake Oliver: So, coding those- getting those transactions into the GL, categorizing them. Are you reconciling the books, as well?
Pam Bingham: Mm-hmm.  [00:05:30]
Blake Oliver: I understand part of the service is helping the clients understand their reports, right? Do you do that - walk through the reports with them?
Pam Bingham: Well, you know- 
Blake Oliver: Is that something they have to ask for?
Pam Bingham: Yeah, but we're not ... I don't give tax advice or anything like that.
Blake Oliver: Right, but if I wanna understand my P&L, and walk through that with you- 
Pam Bingham: Yeah, I can walk you through your P&L, definitely. I definitely do that, yeah. 
David Leary: Do you actually do other things like help them set up their bank rules?
Pam Bingham: Yes.
David Leary: You do things like that. Okay. 
Pam Bingham: Set up bank rules, and recurring transactions, [00:06:00] and stuff like that.
Blake Oliver: How did you get into the program?
Pam Bingham: You know, I did hear about it like everyone else. They reached out to some of the tax folks and asked us if we'd like to come on board.
Blake Oliver: Oh, correct, because you were at TurboTax Live.
Pam Bingham: Yeah. 
Blake Oliver: So, have you switched over completely, or are you still doing- 
Pam Bingham: I have. 
Blake Oliver: Got it. 
Pam Bingham: I have left that world of TurboTax-  
David Leary: One thing that struck me, yesterday or Tuesday, at lunch, was you have an existing, real bookkeeping practice. You're a traditional [00:06:30] ProAdvisor to some extent, right? 
Pam Bingham: I am.
David Leary: You are very comfortable with the idea of QuickBooks Live- 
Pam Bingham: I am. 
David Leary: There are some providers that are not comfortable with it. Can you explain where your comfort level is and where it fits in, in your view of all the clients you have, or don't have, or might take?
Pam Bingham: Well, for me, my practice is ... It's kind of probably difficult to understand. I have a full practice - a full practice, for me. Let me explain that.
David Leary: Okay.  [00:07:00]
Pam Bingham: I vacillated - do I want to ... How far do I wanna grow my practice? I've had it for about eight years; almost eight years, and it has grown since I started it. It's gone up; it's gone down; it's changed. I've changed the way that I work with clients. But, for me, this opportunity that came along with QuickBooks Live was kind of like a fill-in-the-blank type [00:07:30] of situation-
Blake Oliver: Because you're doing mostly tax work with your own practice.
Pam Bingham: Yeah, I have more tax clients than I do bookkeeping clients. That is correct.
Blake Oliver: Got it. 
Pam Bingham: So, it was kinda fill in the blanks and then, it gave me an opportunity to be a part of this this service that ... It's new! It's new, so why wouldn't I wanna do it now, if I'm going to participate?
Blake Oliver: Right. You're an early adopter. You're a trailblazer. 
Pam Bingham: Right. 
Blake Oliver: That's really cool.
David Leary: One thing that I think I've [00:08:00] never even considered before was it was always presented as, "Oh, if I have some downtime, I could do QuickBooks Live on the side to supplement my practice." I think, if I just heard you correctly, is QuickBooks Live's letting you stabilize your practice, because your practice is a little variable.
Pam Bingham: Sure.
David Leary: Now, with QuickBooks Live, you're like, "Hey, I know 20 hours a week are gonna be stable. I'm gonna have income; I'm gonna have X number of clients ... It's pretty stable; the demand's gonna be stable, and my practice can be the variable," versus the other way. 
Pam Bingham: Right. 
David Leary: I [00:08:30] think some people always thought QuickBooks Live would be the variable thing; like, "Oh, yeah, I'll pop in eight hours a week; I'll do some QuickBooks Live, and do [crosstalk] practice ..." It's interesting, you just changed my perspective on this.
Pam Bingham: Yeah ... I can only answer why I do it. I don't know why other [crosstalk] I'm sure there's bookkeepers that work there that probably don't have clients or don't have the means to get other clients. I'm capable of building my practice as far as I want to build it, whichever way I want. It's probably [00:09:00] not fair to say, but I think if you wanna do it, you can do it. But I determined, for myself, that this is the route that I wanted to go. I saw it as a good opportunity. Again, early adopter ... They just have really great opportunities for you to grow, and grow with the company, if that's what you choose to do. 
Blake Oliver: Wonderful. 
David Leary: What would be an example of a QuickBooks Live engagement? The customer sets the appointment; they get on the phone [00:09:30] with you ... What are they asking?
Pam Bingham: Well, it's just like any other customer who needs help with books. It really is no different. The only difference is we have parameters in that we can't take every client. Well, who would? I mean, I don't take every client, but I probably take-
David Leary: I think there's a lot of firms that try to take every client, and that gets them in bad situations.
Blake Oliver: Yep.
Pam Bingham: I probably take on more- would take on different situations that QuickBooks Live would not, but ... It's a startup [00:10:00] that doesn't know what to do and handle it so you can get them set up and teach them how to manage this thing so that they can know where they are, financially, all the time. That's the goal with bookkeeping.
David Leary: I like how ... Intuit's offering QuickBooks Live bookkeeping kind of at the purchase point of QuickBooks Online. In theory, the hope and the theory is, from day one, they in QuickBooks Online. They set up employment, [00:10:30] and from day one, they're starting to set things up correctly, which just helps everybody down the funnel, eventually. If they grow to a big, huge company and they move on out of QuickBooks Live to another bookkeeper, or ProAdvisor, their books are actually set up, and they're actually usable-
Pam Bingham: Right, instead of the way that I sometimes get clients, and I'm like, "Okay, well, did you have help doing this?" "Well, I just started figuring it out ..." 
Blake Oliver: That's the classic Desktop QuickBooks situation, where the bookkeeper doesn't get involved until 14 months later, and they have to untangle [00:11:00] a year-
Pam Bingham: Or two.
Blake Oliver: -or two ... This is hopefully eliminating that situation.
Pam Bingham: Yeah. It's giving business owners a head start to really move out of the space that they really don't need to be in. They need to be in a space where they're growing their business and delegate ... It's hard to do it. I mean, you know it; even everyone who has a business ... It's hard to delegate. It's hard for me to delegate ... This gives them an opportunity to work on their business, [00:11:30] focus on their business, and let QuickBooks Live handle their books.
David Leary: Do you do any QuickBooks Live work offline? If you have real clients, you talk to your client; you have a meeting; you might, for an hour, do work in their QuickBooks file or something. Does that model exist with QuickBooks Live?
Pam Bingham: No. 
David Leary: You just do whatever you do, real-time, when you're in a face-to-face video [crosstalk] 
Pam Bingham: -during whatever time frame that you're working for QuickBooks Live ... It doesn't have to be just face to face. You can do it offline, with not talking to the client, yes.  [00:12:00]
David Leary: Okay, so you are doing some sort of bookkeeping work behind the scenes.
Pam Bingham: Yes. 
David Leary: It's not all live client interaction-
Pam Bingham: Okay, yeah. 
David Leary: -interesting to know. I did not [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: That's one the questions we had, actually. I'm glad you asked that. Yeah, is it only with the client, holding their hand, or is there an offline component, which David's talking about?
Pam Bingham: Yes.
Blake Oliver: Yeah. I'd assume you wouldn't need to be on the phone live with the client, while you're getting reconciled, right?
Pam Bingham: No. 
Blake Oliver: Yeah, that may not be productive.
Pam Bingham: No, it would not.
David Leary: What's the ratio, do you [00:12:30] think, as far as time you spend chatting, video, face to face with your client versus doing offline work?
Pam Bingham: Usually if you have an appointment, it's about an hour, depending on the client. But typically, it's an hour to go over, review whatever it is that you're reviewing with the customer.
Blake Oliver: What's the longest client call you've had?
Pam Bingham: An hour-ish ... 
Blake Oliver: Okay. That's not bad. I was thinking, like somebody could keep you on for like half a day ... 
Pam Bingham: An hour-ISH ...  [00:13:00]
Blake Oliver: An hour-ish ... 
Pam Bingham: Yeah, no, no ... How does that help the client anyway? If you're on with them for half a day, what could you possibly do?
Blake Oliver: Good point. 
David Leary: That's true ... Are you starting to recognize repeat clients or seeing the same faces to where you're getting to know these clients a little bit [crosstalk] 
Pam Bingham: Well, this is a relationship that you're building. The goal is to have this client, to help them keep their books in order.
Blake Oliver: These are not just one-off calls, and requests for work- 
Pam Bingham: No- 
David Leary: It's not like an Uber driver [crosstalk] 
Blake Oliver: This is an ongoing relationship- [00:13:30]
Pam Bingham: Yes. 
Blake Oliver: -with, you said, like 20-something clients, is that right?
Pam Bingham: Yeah.
David Leary: Okay. 
Blake Oliver: This has been super-helpful-
Pam Bingham: Really? Okay.
Blake Oliver: Yeah! Thank you so much for helping us understand how it works. It's one thing to hear about the program from the leaders; it another thing to talk to somebody who's actually doing it. So, thank you so much, Pam, for joining us.
Pam Bingham: You're very welcome!
Blake Oliver: Normally, we ask our guests - are you on social media? If people wanna follow you, should they follow you? Do you wanna share that out? 
David Leary: Well, this is the easy answer - if you wanna get a hold of Pam, you join- you buy QuickBooks Live for bookkeeping, and then, you can talk to Pam! That's probably the easiest way. [00:14:00]
Pam Bingham: I think that I may follow you both. I think I do. 
Blake Oliver: All right. As always, you can find me on Twitter. I'm @BlakeTOliver, and how about you, David?
David Leary: I'm @DavidLeary.
Blake Oliver: And Pam, thank you so much for joining us today.
Pam Bingham: Take care.
David Leary: Thank you, Pam. 
Pam Bingham: You're welcome. Bye! 

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