First, bookkeeping is a nonregulated "profession". There are no
standards set by the government, and there is no government sanctioned
body to self regulate like accountants. Anyone can call themselves a
bookkeeper with no repercussions. Try calling yourself a CPA without
membership to the AICPA. Say hello to Tony the guard in cellblock C.
And goodbye to a hefty fine.
Because there is no standard and no regulating body, the standard of
the work produced is often abyssmal. I have fixed more messes than I
care to think about, and I will continue to do so. A good bookkeeper
who really knows what they are doing does not come cheap. REMEMBER: You
get what you pay for.
The difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant:
Bookkeeper - performs a lot of data entry tasks, posting to journals
and the G/L, is often guided or instructed by an accountant, does
routine analysis for goverment remittances etc. Most can calculate WIP
and accrued liabilities, reconcile accounts, and prepare amortization &
Accountant - often does the same types of things as a bookkeeper, but
is more heavily into the analysis, projections, budgeting, tax
planning, investiment planning, does complex consolidations, works
often with complex investments, multiple foreign currencies, finding
and correcting errors, preparing loan proposals, conducting audits and
A *good* bookkeeper can do much of the same work, and we prefer
Stephanie Wells, ICIA
Durham Business Outsource
Accounting & Technology Partner
QuickBooks Pro Advisor
Member, Canadian Bookkeepers Association
There are a lot of bad bookkeepers out there, so yes, they have given a bad
name to the industry.
The other thing is, that some have taken to stepping into areas (client
work) they have no business being involved in.
Not at all. Bookkeepers - good bookkeepers - are worth their weight in
I'm working on my bookkeeping certification. There's an organization called
the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. I'm going the
self-study route, but my local community college has an adult school course
also. That website has a listing of what a professional bookkeeper can do.
Once I pass the certification test, I hope to get a "better" job, where my
skills are more appreciated and taken seriously. www.aipb.org
The "bookkeeping profession" is still completely unregulated. Unlike a
CPA, CA, CGA or CMA, you can call yourself a bookkeeper and not be
breaking any laws or be subject to any fines.
The "profession" needs some kind of regulation, if it is self
regulation at the very least. If employers would hire only "certified"
bookkeepers, then there will be more of a demand for certification and
the level of competence will increase.
Otherwise, we are all at the mercy of Cindy who has 3 months of A/P
experience and one QuickBooks course who thinks she can keep a full set
of books to trial balance and prepare your tax return.
Stephanie Serba, ICIA
Partner, Durham Business Outsource
I think it is a matter of how accountants feel about the bookkeepers job,
certainly we are doing a lot of work they ussually have as part of their
duties before. I have no problems with the accountants in my company because
they have a clear understanding of their roll as well as my roll. I think a
good team work is the key on this.
Personally I think it is because of a bad standard of work across every
industry. I have been in many industries as a worker and in each I
would put my all into my job. I was there to prove something about
myself, I think. The problem is, most people are just doing their jobs
for the sake of a paycheck and not taking pride in their work. This
leads to apathy and sloppiness, which for a bookkeeper leads to poor
work performance. As a recently certified bookkeeper, I plan on
bringing my sense of work ethics into my new profession and give the
best service I can to my employer or clients. Subsequently, even
though I have my certification, I am continuing to educate myself at
every opportunity, hence why I am joining groups like this one and
acquiring everything I can about bookkeeping and accounting. As to a
regulating board, even the best regulating board means nothing if the
members of it do not take pride in their work. How many times has a
certifying body been discredited because of the poor performance of
There are lots of people out there who do a bad job. But they are not
those who go around telling employers or clients they are trained,
experienced and competent like some "bookkeepers".
I have heard of, and seen, the work of some of these individuals. They
have a software training course under their belt, like QuickBooks,
Simply Accounting, MYOB or Peachtree and NO bookkeeping or accounting
training whatsoever, not to mention any experience keeping a full set
of books to trial balance. These are the individuals who say they are
"full-cycle bookkeepers" and have no clue what it means, don't know the
difference between a debit and a credit, and have no idea WHY you would
do a monthly bank reconciliation.
THOSE people are the ones that give "bookkeepers" a bad name. I've been
studying accounting for some time (on and off for about 11 years and
now pursuing my degree) and been a full-cycle bookkeeper (really an
accounting technician) for 9 years. I've worked for an employer, for
bookkeeping & accounting services (for 2 CMA's and a CA), and for my
own bookkeeping, accounting & business services.
I think a lot of the problems is because there is no government or
other regulation for "bookkeeping" or "bookkeepers" that there are so
many bad ones out there still in business, and bankrupting their
clients. If accountants like CPA's, CMA's, CA's and CGA's have to
study, pass tests and adhere to a code of ethics in order to obtain and
MAINTAIN their licenses, why the heck not for bookkeepers?
EMPLOYERS, if you have the opportunity to hire a CERTIFIED bookkeeper,
DO IT! Check references to verify responsibilities and competence,
check memberships for current status.
Thanks for your input to my questions Stephanie.
Hopefully in Australia they will bring in minimum standards for
bookkeeping. Even a Cert IV course would be better than nothing.
All the best with your studies.
S.M. Serba wrote:
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