Ledger Financials is a U.S.-based bookkeeping and accounting services firm located in greater Los Angeles. Its then founded a second company in Mumbai, India, Alphanumeric Data Management, to outsource its services to Ledger’s clients.
How did you come up with the idea of forming Ledger Financials?
I have always enjoyed working with numbers. Prior to founding Ledger Financials, I served as a controller for a subsidiary company of Lionsgate Entertainment in Los Angeles. Prior to that, I was the Director of Business Development and Finance at MGM Studios, where I oversaw their Asian, Latin American, and Pacific business interests. In that capacity, I traveled quite a bit and gained a tremendous amount of experience in accounting, financial services, and business development. I very much enjoyed that role.
But just as I turned fifty, after working in corporate America for 25 years, I reached a point where I wanted more autonomy over my life and more time with my family. I didn’t want to just be a cog in the wheel of a large entity; I wanted to make a real difference in the lives of others to bring more meaning to my life.
With my extensive background in all those areas, I knew that I could offer these same services to my own clients and I started thinking about opening my own bookkeeping, accounting, and tax preparation practice in 2014. As it was a big undertaking to leave a stable and secure lifestyle, looking back on my decision, it was the right time for me to make that move.
Until that time, I had been a good provider to my family, and I knew that making this change would require adjustments, so I ran my ideas by my wife to see what she thought. My wife has always been a good resource for me and we have a true partnership in our marriage that extends to my work. My wife immediately saw the value in the proposition I presented and encouraged me to put my ideas into action. She supported me 100% in this business venture because she believed in me and knew that I had the drive and the willingness to do ‘whatever it takes’ to carry out my vision. I’ll never forget those words she said to me at that time. She told me, “Go do what you need to do and don’t worry about the money. I will support you while you are building your business.”
Later, in June 2014, I founded Ledger Financials as a sole proprietor business model. With the mission of providing high-level business expertise in accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation services, while also helping entrepreneurial and mid-size companies create strong and financially – sound business plans.
As far as the name of my company, Ledger Financials, in the old days, “bookkeeping and accounting” were done in a ledger, and “financials” refers to my firm’s expertise in all of the components that go into creating and running a successful business. Together, the name Ledger Financials depicts the expertise my firm offers to my clients. After working in corporate finance for 25 years, including as the controller of the subsidiary of a public corporation, my goal was to provide efficient, low-cost accounting and bookkeeping services for small to mid-size businesses in the U.S.
Whom does the Ledger Financials serve?
Ledger Financials’ clients range from entrepreneurial and start-ups to mid-sized businesses in all industries across the board. In addition to working directly with our clients, a division of Ledger Financials offers support to CPAs in the area of bookkeeping and accounting services.
Back in the beginning days of Ledger Financials, I thought I could do it all by myself, but I quickly learned that it was not possible to serve each client’s needs without the help of other trained professionals. I remember one specific client who came to me for help when I first launched my business. He had a small business that was providing vitamin supplements online, and he needed my help because he had not done any bookkeeping for the past four years, and he had not filed his taxes. As you can imagine, this was a huge ordeal!
While I was able to straighten all of that out and get his business caught up and in good financial condition, it took most of my time to do so – at the expense of my working with other, less time-consuming clients. It was then that I realized my lofty goal of helping each of my clients, personally, was not practical. While I had the business expertise and could advise them in each of these areas, it wasn’t the best use of my time to do all the work by myself.
I also knew that if I didn’t get support from a team of certified accountants and bookkeepers, I would get burned out and my health would suffer. I also would not have the time available for my family that I so wanted at this point in my life. Obviously, this was not what I envisioned while formulating the plan for Ledger Financials.
This was a good lesson for me. When you recognize there is a need in your business that has to be met to move forward, you have no choice but to make whatever changes are necessary. By realizing that, I was able to expand and grow my business exponentially.
Tell us more about how you overcame this challenge.
In 2014, while still in my first year of founding Ledger Financial, I knew that I needed to outsource my bookkeeping and accounting services. The challenge was, finding a way to do this without creating higher costs because my business model was to provide efficient and economical bookkeeping and accounting services for small to mid-size businesses.
What I hoped to do at that time was to find a way to provide my clients with the same quality of service that larger companies in the U.S. receive, but without the exorbitant costs. The answer came to me like a lightning bolt – I needed to go back to India, where I’m originally from and see if I could outsource my accounting and bookkeeping work there. I felt good about this because by outsourcing my work to India, I would also be helping the economy there, and it would be a win-win situation.
In April 2014, I booked my trip to Mumbai, India, not knowing how long I would be there or even what was required of me as an American citizen looking to open a business in India. The process took four months as I needed to study the landscape of India’s employment market and then meet specific requirements in operating this business as a U.S. citizen. I hired a lawyer and a charted accountant to guide me through this process. With their assistance, I filed my paperwork in India for this initiative. Later, I leased office space and hired and trained bookkeepers, certified accountants, and other staff. And finally, I set up my legal entity, which I named Alphanumeric Data Management or “Alpha.” By August 2015, my second company was ready to take on the work that my clients in America needed them to do and I began outsourcing this work to the certified accountants working for me at Alphanumeric Data Management.
With everything in place, I could now focus on business development for Ledger Financials. One last thing I did in that sense was I changed my business model from a sole proprietorship to an S Corp at Ledger Financials. So, you see, by recognizing the need, then putting the time into researching a solution – and putting a plan into action – I was able to focus on what I do best, and my business has been going strong ever since.
What is the list of services you provide? Which service is the most preferred by your clients?
It’s hard to say what service is the most popular or needed because every service that we offer caters to a specific need. Ledger Financials provides four different types of services: bookkeeping, accounting, data entry for insurance companies, and as of November 2021, U.S. tax preparation services. The tax preparation service is 100% dedicated to certified public accountant firms. It is our latest business model as I recognized that just as I was unable to do all of the work myself at the start of Ledger Financials, I saw CPAs similarly going through intense weeks and months of burning the midnight oil.
Preparing their clients for filing deadlines, meeting those filing deadlines, and getting extensions for other clients who are not yet ready to file their taxes is always a stressful process. I created this tax preparation division to take some of the burdens off of CPAs by having highly-trained certified accountants and bookkeepers doing a lot of the work behind the scenes. We enter all of the required data for our CPA clients right into their clients’ tax forms. This is an exclusive service designed just for our CPA clientele.
I have personally hired and trained my staff in India to complete the work for all four of our services. All of our staff go through a 3rd party verification system, and they all are either master’s degrees or bachelor’s degree holders, depending on the work that they are assigned.
How will you describe your services in this changing and competitive world?
Having several conversations with my CPA clients last year, I understood that there was an urgent need for tax preparers for the current tax season of 2022. After listening to my clients, I decided to launch a new department to serve their tax preparation needs. By creating this new service, Ledger Financials has been able to continue to evolve and grow with our clients’ needs.
How do you see the virtual accounting and bookkeeping services? How will it take shape in the near future?
Ledger Financials has been in business working this way for seven years now. We have a good system in place that works for our business and also for our clients, and that has allowed my business to continue to grow, even during the pandemic. Our services are one of the best in the industry. We have a two-step process where the bookkeeping does all the entries by downloading the bank and credit card statements, which are categorized by line item. Then we have a chartered accountant review and do a quality check for the profit and loss statement and balance sheet. Our work output makes it easier for CPAs to file accurate taxes for their clients. We aim to provide a comprehensive financial report package at year-end to support the client in streamlining and simplifying the tax preparation process.
As far as concerns people may have about hackers or financial information being compromised, we take this very seriously. We have firewalls set up to protect our clients’ information and the systems that we use are the same ones that Fortune 100 companies use and have approved. The cloud computing company that services both Ledger Financials and Alphanumeric Data Management is an approved vendor to QuickBooks, which as we all know, is the top bookkeeping software today. With that said, our clients feel confident that their information is completely secure.
Any final thoughts?
I would say that I am grateful for the support of my family in doing all of the work that involves starting a new business. It took some time and required asking for help from those with expertise to help me in new areas of my business, but overall, I am very happy that I decided to change my life and to do something that, at the time, seemed a little bit risky. It’s never easy to make a change in your life, especially when it affects other people whom you love and who are dependent on you. Having gone through the challenges of launching, not one but two new businesses, and doing it internationally, has been a worthwhile experience and one that continues to enlighten me and teach me new things about how to adapt to a changing business environment.
|Founder and Principal||Anup Thakkar|
|Year of Founding||2014|
|Founding Member||Anup Thakkar|
|Office Locations||Los Angeles, USA and Mumbai, India|