A Comprehensive Guide in Selecting a High-Quality Back-Office Accounting Specialist

A Comprehensive Guide in Selecting a High-Quality Back-Office Accounting Specialist

The challenges of the accounting industry identifies hiring talent, automation, and remote work as the top problem encountered by traditional accounting staff. However, with the advent of outsourcing, insurance companies can easily surmount these obstacles.  A high-quality accounting specialist can easily provide these virtual back office support. 

An accounting specialist is the digital counterpart of a traditional in-house bookkeeper. Utilizing recent trends in automation softwares and virtual office set-ups, they provide accounting solutions to insurance organizations remotely and in real-time. With their advanced skills in accounting and bookkeeping, you can easily delegate the virtual financial tasks to them, giving you more time to focus on your core goals.

In this blogpost, we will present you with a detailed guide on how to choose a high-quality virtual accountant to handle your back-office accounting needs. First, we will discuss the tasks and activities that a virtual assistant in accounting can help you with. Next, we will provide you with traits and characteristics that you need to look out for when choosing your own accounting specialist. Lastly, we’ll skim through the process of on-boarding your own virtual accountant and how we can help with the process of your back office outsourcing.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do in Accounting?

What does a virtual assistant do in accounting?

As you navigate the selection process for a high-quality back-office accounting virtual assistant, it’s important to understand which tasks you need their help with. Hence, here are some virtual accounting and bookkeeping services that an accounting specialist can do for you: 


    • Invoicing & Expense Management

In insurance, invoicing extends beyond collecting premiums. Virtual assistants can help create and manage invoices for policy renewals, ensuring timely and accurate billing. On the expense management side, they can manage operational costs and payouts to agents with their meticulous attention to detail.


    • Bookkeeping

An accounting specialist excels in recording intricate insurance transactions with precision. This includes documenting policy premiums, claims settlements, and commission payments. By managing and updating the general ledger you can stay on top of your finances


    • Forecasting & Reporting

Insurance companies thrive on data-driven decision-making. An accounting specialist can aid in forecasting future financial trends based on historical data and anticipating market shifts. With their regular reporting, they can establish your financial resilience by staying ahead of risks.


    • Record-Keeping

Reconciling vast amounts of financial data is like having to navigate a maze. A virtual assistant serves as the vigilant gatekeeper, reconciling bank statements and verifying the accuracy of financial data. They can keep track of your transactions and keep your records up to date and organized.


    • Financial Analysis

An accounting specialist can participate in audits to review accuracy and compliance with industry set standards which is critical in insurance. They can also assist in analyzing costs and expenses, offering strategies to minimize spending and optimize business profitability instead.

What Should You Look Out For in an Accounting Specialist?

What traits and characteristics should you look out for in an accounting specialist?

When deciding to hire a virtual assistant for your team, there are certain traits and characteristics that you need to look out for to make sure that you are getting the best talent you can get. Forbes identifies the following accounting skills that every virtual accountant should have:


1. Knowledge of Accounting Tools

An accounting specialist in the insurance sector should showcase proficiency in software tailored for insurance financial operations, demonstrating the ability to navigate complex data structures and generate precise financial reports.


2. Ability to Prepare Financial Statements and Reports

They should be able to demonstrate expertise in preparing financial statements that provide a clear snapshot of the company’s financial health, facilitating informed decision-making.


3. Proficiency with Spreadsheets

The insurance sector often deals with complex financial models, actuarial calculations, and risk assessments. An accounting specialist should exhibit fluency in spreadsheet software to handle these intricate tasks efficiently.


4. Good Communication Skills

A skilled accounting specialist in insurance ensures that their financial insights are communicated clearly, facilitating a shared understanding of critical data across departments.


5. Organization and Time Management

They should know how to efficiently allocate and prioritize tasks to meet deadlines. A virtual accountant should exhibit strong time management skills to ensure that financial processes are executed promptly.


6. Critical Thinking

They should have the ability to analyze information objectively and make informed decisions. This involves evaluating financial data, identifying patterns, and making decisions that contribute to the financial resilience of the company.


7. Attention to detail

In the insurance sector, where the consequences of financial errors can be significant, attention to detail is a necessary skill. An accounting specialist should ensure that every figure aligns seamlessly, preventing costly mistakes in premium calculations, claims data, and financial reporting.


8. Problem-Solving Skills

They should approach financial challenges with a solution-oriented mindset. The insurance sector often faces unexpected financial hurdles, be it changes in regulatory requirements or sudden shifts in market conditions. An accounting specialist should demonstrate problem-solving acumen to navigate these challenges seamlessly.


Thus, the ideal accounting specialist possesses a blend of these key traits, embodying a skill set that goes beyond mere number-crunching. By recognizing and prioritizing these traits, insurance businesses can ensure that their accounting specialists not only meet the technical requirements of the role but also contribute actively to the organization’s financial strategy and decision-making processes. 

How To On-board an Accounting Specialist in Your Team?

How to on-board an accounting specialist in your team?

On-boarding an accounting specialist is like setting up a skilled player for your team. It’s a step-by-step process, each part contributing to their smooth integration into your operations. Below is a 5-step proven process on how you can on-board your accounting specialist on your team:

Step 1: Discover your needs and the candidate’s qualifications

This phase is your first interaction where you meet with the accounting specialist for an initial interview. This stage in the on-boarding process involves assessing the candidate’s technical skills, industry knowledge, and cultural fit within your organization.

The discovery step is a critical phase for aligning expectations and understanding how the accounting specialist can address your business’s financial needs. Here, you can ask questions about their skills and familiarity with the insurance and the accounting industry and keep them up to speed on your current processes. 

Step 2: Plan your strategies and workflows

This step is where you can  collaboratively plan with potential accounting specialists to explore accounting solutions, and strategize on how they can contribute to your financial goals. This could include suggestions for leveraging technology for faster claims processing or implementing risk-based financial strategies to align with industry trends. This stage provides you with the opportunity to assess their strategic thinking and knowledge in financial processes.

Step 3: Integrate the accounting specialist in your operations

This stage is a brief period where the accounting specialist integrates into your business processes. It involves hands-on learning and adapting to your workflows and systems. Here, you will need to provide the accounting specialist with real insurance scenarios to navigate, such as processing a complex claim or reconciling premium data. This practical experience ensures that your specialist can independently navigate your insurance financial operations.

Step 4: Recognize them as official members of your team

During this step, the accounting specialist becomes an official member of your team. It involves introducing them to other members of your team, providing regular access to your financial data, bookkeeping software, and other documents and tools that would be necessary to their accounting function.

Step 5: Review their performance and alignment with your goals

A post-onboarding review after the first three months is necessary to assess the accounting specialist’s performance and alignment with your business goals. This is where you can adjust strategies based on their performance to continually enhance your financial operations.

Checklist for Choosing an Accounting Specialist

Once you are settled on the idea of outsourcing your own accounting specialist, keep this checklist in mind and tick all the boxes to ensure that you are getting the best talent that fits your unique needs: 

    • Qualifications & Certifications – Look for a virtual accountant with a strong accounting background and certifications, ensuring they possess the necessary expertise in finance and accounting.


    • Experience & Track Record – Prioritize candidates with a proven track record in virtual accounting services, showcasing their ability to utilize their virtual assistant skills to manage finances remotely.


    • Culture Fit & Work Ethic – Assess if their work style and values align with your company culture and verify their work ethic and commitment to delivering high-quality accounting services.


    • Software Proficiency – Ensure the accounting specialist is adept in accounting software like QuickBooks, ZLynx, and spreadsheet, for seamless integration into your virtual workspace.


    • Insurance-Industry Experience – Seek a virtual accountant with experience in the insurance sector, understanding industry-specific terms, regulations, and financial processes, leveraging their virtual assistant skills for insurance-related accounting.


    • Data Security – Verify their data security protocols and their understanding of maintaining confidentiality and integrity, a crucial aspect of virtual assistant skills handling sensitive financial information.


    • References & Reviews – Check for references or reviews that highlight their reliability, accuracy, and competence in handling financial tasks remotely, showcasing their virtual assistant skills in accounting.


    • Availability & Timezone – Confirm if their working hours align with your needs. Also check if they can accommodate different time zones, a significant consideration for an accounting specialist working remotely.


    • Cost & Payment Structure – Discuss their fees and payment structure, ensuring it aligns with your budget and that they offer transparent billing practices in line with their virtual assistant skills.


    • Trial Period – Consider a trial period to assess their performance, efficiency, and how they apply their virtual assistant skills in managing your financial tasks remotely before committing to a long-term agreement.

Need help outsourcing an accounting specialist?

Choosing a high-quality back-office accounting specialist is pivotal for the financial health and efficiency of your accounting solutions. As you embark on the meticulous process of outsourcing your own accounting virtual assistant, consider partnering with vendors and service providers. 

Moreover, a reliable back-office service provider like our team at InsBOSS can facilitate a smooth transaction for you. We offer pre-screened seasoned professionals who can easily integrate into your operations.

Hence, if you need more information or assistance in outsourcing an accounting specialist of your own, book a free business consultation with our in-house CPA and explore how our virtual accounting and bookkeeping services can be a strategic tool for scaling your business. 

Don’t just seek an accounting specialist, look for a partnership that gives you the freedom to do more.