In Canada, only about 70 per cent of bookkeepers have clean criminal records, the founder of iHonest.com said.
Furthermore, 30 per cent of the 1.8 million cases of fraud in the country are committed by bookkeepers and accountants. Those startling statistics are part of what led to the creation of iHonest.com, an idea brought to reality by a Sudbury native.
Gordon Skillen started his business career young — at 16, he owned a bookstore in downtown Sudbury. In the years that followed, he moved west to work in the fast-food industry. He eventually opened a restaurant, which sprouted several franchises, before teaching marketing through a government program in British Columbia.
Eventually he found himself in a sales and marketing consulting practice, which gave him the chance to dabble in several industries, from hospitality to accounting.
It was in the accounting sector that the former Sudburian found inspiration for his current project, iHonest.com.
In 2006, Skillen recognized the need for a professional association for bookkeepers. There were already three associations in the country at the time, but Skillen truly believed there was an opportunity for self-employed bookkeepers to learn and earn more.
Within a few years, the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (IPBC) was formed — it didn't take long for it to become the largest bookkeepers association in Canada. More than 800 members meet in more than 20 cities nationwide.
Through the process of starting IPBC, though, Skillen was introduced to some characters who would later turn out to be rather questionable.
To prevent himself and others from making the same mistakes again, Skillen was inspired to start iHonest.com. The goal of the company is to “establish instant trust and credibility through third-party verification of criminal records, professional memberships and designations.”
Those who take advantage of others “understand the business very well,” Skillen said.
But understanding shouldn't be a green light for crime. That's where iHonest.com comes in. By becoming a member, accountants are agreeing to a criminal record check that will be posted on their profile. Skillen said accessing the website will help those thinking of hiring a bookkeeper make an informed decision.
“This is ... a safeguard,” he said.
Accountants with profiles on iHonest.com also have the opportunity to post a company profile, biography and photo — all in an effort to further demonstrate their credibility.
Following its recent launch, iHonest.com has been growing in numbers. Skillen said based on the connections he's made and response he's received, he's “confident” it will only grow from here.
For more information, visit iHonest.com.
Posted by Arron Pickard