Want to know our secret weapon in building an elite outsourced accounting team in The Philippines?

Shhh... don't tell anyone.

Her name is Daisy. She's our manager.

From left to right: Me, Daisy, and my partner Jason at our first team retreat to The Philippines in 2022.

Why is Daisy our secret weapon? Keep reading to find out.

The Opportunity In Outsourced Accounting

It's hard to find local accounting staff these days.

So, many accounting practices are turning to places like The Philippines to build outsourced accounting teams. (Click here to find out why we hire accounting staff in The Philippines.)

But, managing people in another country, or on the other side of the world, comes with its own challenges.

What if they have questions while you're sleeping? How will you be productive in the few hours of overlapping work schedules? How do you keep track of each person's workload?

I'm sure you can think of others.

Thankfully, there is a shortcut. But some might say it's backwards, or even upside down.

A Common Hiring Mistake

Most business owners hire from the bottom of the org chart up. They start by hiring the lowest level, cheapest, employees, because that's what a young business can afford.

It's what I did too.

Years ago, when I was building my first eCommerce businesses, I hired people to fill various roles:

  • Customer service
  • Order processing
  • Product research
  • Product listing
  • Website management

That was all great, but there was one problem. A big problem.

(Now, you might be thinking, "why is he talking about eCommerce on an accounting blog?" Good question; there's an important lesson here.  I made sooo many mistakes in building and leading my team back then. And good thing I did, because now I know what NOT to do!)

I hired these people to FREE UP my time, so I could focus on GROWING my business.

The problem was -

The time I gained by hiring them...

...I spent managing them.

I went from a doer to a manager. And I underestimated just how much time was needed to manage the team:

  • Answering questions
  • Reviewing work
  • Training
  • Being the go-between for customer and team

Of course, being a manager is a step up, but it was a surprise for me, the first-time business owner.

More work was getting done, but it was exhausting. I didn't start a business to become a manager. And I reaaaally didn't like it.

Starting From The Top

There had to be a better way.

A mentor told me years ago -

Instead of hiring from the bottom up, hire from the top down. Hire the leaders first.

That made no sense to me at the time. I had a scarcity mindset, and I couldn't comprehend paying higher salaries before they were absolutely needed.

But when Jason and I started our bookkeeping and advisory business, this time, we decided to take his advice.

And that's been one of the best decisions we've ever made.

Finding Our Secret Weapon

When we started Summit eCommerce Advisors, it was just Jason, me, and an untrained bookkeeper.

As we started to take on more work, we had a decision to make:

  • Hire another bookkeeper
  • Hire a bookkeeping manager

Financially, hiring a bookkeeper made sense.

But we took the long view -

Jason didn't want to be managing client work. So why give him more responsibility?

(And I'm not a trained accountant, so I couldn't take that role.)

We decided to hire a bookkeeping manager before bringing on any additional bookkeepers, and we haven't looked back.

Daisy's Results

Hiring Daisy has allowed Jason and me to focus on delivering value to our clients...

...not fussing about with reconciliation questions -

making everyone happy: us, our clients and our team. Win, win, win.

And, Daisy has done so well that we've since promoted her to Operations Manager.

Why You'll Need An Outsourced Accounting Manager On The Ground

By now it should be clear what value there is in hiring a manager.

But there's a lot more involved in making an outsourced team work, that you might not have thought about.

First, let's get clear on what the manager does. She:

  • Leads the team
  • Manages the workload
  • Holds people accountable
  • Trains the team
  • Reviews the work

When you're in person, you might be able to do most of this. But it's much harder when they're many time zones away.

It's important to have a manager on the ground there. Here are a few other reasons why.

Time Zones

Questions come up throughout the day. You'll want to have someone who can be there when they need help.

Otherwise, they're just waiting for you, wasting time.


While Filipinos and Americans have a lot in common, there are cultural differences that even I'm still learning about, nine years into my outsourcing career.

For example, just last week I learned that it's not common for Filipinos to take week-long vacations. Who knew!?

There's a lot of context that I'm missing when I have to navigate challenges. So, it's great to have someone leading the team who can relate to them directly.

Local, In-Person Challenges

Life happens. A team member may get sick, or a typhoon may strike.

When these things happen, it's important to have a leader on the ground to check in with your staff.

This is particularly important during typhoon season. Power and internet can go out, and sometimes local phone service is the only way people can get in touch.

Have Your Manager In Place Before Hiring Others

Accountants often ask me for advice on building outsourced accounting teams. And I always tell them to hire a manager first.

You'll want a manager on the ground who understands the following:

  • Your business
  • Your culture
  • Your clients
  • Your values
  • Your processes
  • Etc.

If the first person you hire is a manager, she will know your business inside and out before anyone is reporting to her. You'll have enough time to train her on your methods before you ask her to be responsible for someone else's work.

And, if you lead by example, she'll learn how to lead her team.

This is also why we prefer to promote our team from within. Success is much more likely when relationships are built over time, than bringing someone in from the outside who doesn't have that context. But that's a topic for another day.

What If You're Ready Start Your Team And Want More Than One Person?

If you're ready to start outsourcing, you might have enough work for multiple people. What then?

We see this quite often, especially when an accountant is drowning in work.

Can you hire an outsourced accounting manager and a junior accountant at the same time?

Absolutely. We've helped multiple accountants in this situation.

It works really well, because you can onboard two people at the same time (efficiency!). And, they get a sense of camaraderie, a feeling of we're-doing-this-together, and often build a strong bond.

Wrapping Up

There you have it - the secret to our success building outsourced accounting teams, and why we always recommend your first hire be a bookkeeping or accounting manager.

Do you have any questions about outsourcing accounting work to staff in The Philippines?

Or, are you ready to hire an outsourced accounting manager for your team?

Just schedule a free strategy call with me. There's no pressure. I'm here to help point you in the right direction.

Click below to schedule your free strategy call.

Written By
Isaac Smith
Isaac has been building businesses since 2014. He sold an eCommerce business in 2019, co-founded Summit eCommerce Advisors - a bookkeeping and advisory firm, TeamUp - a recruiting business, and hosts the Next Level eCommerce podcast. He lives in the Portland, Oregon area, where he loves snowboarding with his daughter and trying to convince his wife to do outdoorsy things.
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