3 Need-To-Know Differences Between Accountants & Bookkeepers

3 Need-To-Know Differences Between Accountants & Bookkeepers

So, you’re looking for someone who can manage your business’ finances.

You want someone who has professional experience recording and understanding the cash flow of the business, who can provide advice about the state of your finances, and can help make decisions that will make (or break) your business.

If this “someone” has taxation experience – even better!

So… are you looking for a bookkeeper or an accountant?

To the untrained eye, bookkeepers and accountants might seem like the same thing. Both deal with finances, both roles require at least a basic understanding of accounting, and both generate reports regarding financial transactions.

However, sometimes bookkeeping and accounting can be quite different. In this blog, we’re going to clear the air about bookkeeping and accounting, so you can make an educated decision about what level of financial management you need for your business.

#1. Bookkeepers record financial data – accountants analyse it

The big difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant is how each profession handles financial data.

Bookkeepers, for example, record, maintain and measure financial transactions within a business. Their role is to make sure your business runs smoothly; there needs to be a comprehensive record of money coming in and money going out to better understand how successful your business really is.

Enter the humble accountant, stage left.

Where bookkeepers record business transactions, accountants summarise, interpret and analyse financial data so business owners can make important decisions about their businesses, for example whether you need to scale up or downsize your staff, or whether you need to cut back on unnecessary purchases.

Essentially, bookkeepers maintain records and the payroll, whereas accountants help to understand your financial situation and help you make smart decisions about your business.

#2. Bookkeepers have an administrative role – accountants help with audits and advice

It’s time to dig down into the details.

Bookkeepers and accountants actually have very different roles. For example, bookkeepers have an administrative role – in a regular business, you might find a bookkeeper running and maintaining the payroll system, processing invoices, and reviewing your accounting systems.

Here’s an idea of what a bookkeeper’s role involves:

  • Processing invoices, receipts, payments, and other financial transactions
  • Processing and maintaining your payroll system
  • Reconciling bank accounts
  • Preparing reconciliation reports
  • Managing your accounts receivable and accounts payable

Here’s an idea of what services an accountant can offer:

  • Tax advice and planning
  • Assistance establishing a business
  • Auditing
  • Corporate reporting and compliance
  • Cash flow forecasting
  • Structuring for asset protection
  • Budgeting
  • Preparing financial statements and income tax returns

#3. Different levels of training are required to become an accountant vs a bookkeeper

There’s no arguing there are crossovers between accounting and bookkeeping.

To become a bookkeeper, you’re recommended to learn the basics of accounting and even take a few accounting courses before becoming qualified for the job. Plus, bookkeepers are expected to have a decent understanding of mathematics and have some experience in an administrative role.

To become an accountant, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree or, for a higher level of authority and expertise, you can become a public accountant.

Accountants must also meet the strict requirements of the accounting code of practice. There are three professional accounting bodies that manage accountants in Australia – the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), CPA Australia (CPA) and Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ).

The minimum qualification for the CPA and ICAA is a bachelor’s degree in accounting. This is a starting point for further study. This ensures Australian business owners get the best possible financial advice and management possible.

What if I need a combined accounting and bookkeeping service for my small business?

Throughout this blog, we’ve highlighted the big differences between bookkeepers and accountants, from training, to roles within your business. However, it is possible for an accountant to take on both roles and provide you with all the financial support you need to successfully manage your business.

At A Squared Advisers, we’ve combined our expert accounting services with bookkeeping, so we can help businesses of all shapes and sizes throughout Newcastle & the Hunter.

Our team can help manage your finances, collect and analyse financial data, implement an outsider’s perspective to interpret this data, and provide sturdy, trustworthy advice regarding your next steps as a business owner.

Want to talk to a local accountant who speaks your language?

A Squared Advisers is one of Newcastle’s top choices for taxation and financial advice, superannuation management and retirement planning. We’ve been helping local business owners keep their finances afloat for seven years.

Get in touch with Newcastle’s top team of accountants at A Squared Advisers. We can provide trusted advice about your finances.

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