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Chesterfield Bookkeeping Services

. . . More than just bookkeeping

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If you have read the page entitled what is bookkeeping, you will have a pretty clear idea about those particular tasks.  But what of bookkeepers themselves?

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There is often confusion between the role of bookkeepers and the role of accountants.  Indeed, Wikipedia has this to say on bookkeeping:

Many people mistakenly consider bookkeeping and accountancy to be the same thing. This confusion is understandable because the accounting process includes the bookkeeping function, but is just one part of the accounting process. The accountant creates reports from the recorded financial transactions recorded by the bookkeeper and files forms with government agencies.

They are correct in how they define the bookkeeping process, but in the next sentence they draw the wrong distinction between bookkeepers and accountants.  Well, perhaps we should say they are applying too narrow a definition.  Here they say:

A bookkeeper (or book-keeper), also known as an accounting clerk or accounting technician, is a person who records the day-to-day financial transactions of an organization. A bookkeeper is usually responsible for writing the "daybooks." The daybooks consist of purchases, sales, receipts, and payments. The bookkeeper is responsible for ensuring all transactions are recorded in the correct day book, suppliers ledger, customer ledger and general ledger.

The bookkeeper brings the books to the trial balance stage.  An accountant may prepare the income statement and

balance sheet using the trial balance and ledgers prepared by the bookkeeper.

This confusion is understandable, and may be in part due to conflating the core duties of bookkeeping with the wider role that bookkeepers carry out in the public domain. 

A Certified Bookkeeper with the appropriate accredits, can go far beyond merely preparing trial balances.  Certified Bookkeepers are able to produce the income statements and balance sheets for sole traders and partnerships and draft accounts for limited companies, as well as produce VAT

returns, cash flow forecasts, management accounts, manage payrolls, and on a personal level, prepare tax returns and act as “agent” with HMRC. 

Accounting technicians may be entrusted in addition, to preparing financial accounts that include computations of corporation tax for limited companies and filing with the appropriate authorities as well as give consultations on implementing accounting systems.

bookkeepers and accountants compared

 The simplest and least contentious method is to take a look at the training syllabi of both. I will compare the ICB with ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

Level I Certificate in Basic Bookkeeping

Level II Certificate in Manual Bookkeeping

Level II Certificate in Computerised Bookkeeping

Level III Diploma in Manual Bookkeeping*

Level III Diploma in Computerised Bookkeeping

Level III Diploma in Payroll Management

Level III Diploma in Self Assessment Tax Returns

Level III Diploma in Small Business Financial Control

Level III Diploma in Legal Bookkeeping

Level IV Diploma in Financial Management

*Level III in manual bookkeeping includes preparation of income statement and balance sheet for sole traders and partnerships.

Fundamentals (nine papers in total)

F1 - Accountant in Business

F2 - Management Accounting

F3 - Financial Accounting

F4 - Corporate and Business Law

F5 - Performance Management

F6 - Taxation

F7 - Financial Reporting

F8 - Audit and Assurance

F9 - Financial Management

Professional (five papers in total)

essentials

P1 - Governance, Risk and Ethics

P2 - Corporate Reporting

P3 - Business Analysis

options (2 to be completed)

P4 - Advanced Financial Management

P5 - Advanced Performance Management

P6 - Advanced Taxation

P7 - Advanced Audit and Assurance

AAT syllabi duplicate much of the ICB but their Level III includes cost accounting, and their level IV includes financial reporting, business and

personal tax and a project on internal control in accounting systems.  I have completed training to AAT level IV as well as sitting the ICB entrance

exam in advanced bookkeeping.

The point of this rather detailed overview of training syllabi, is to show that bookkeepers can indeed be qualified beyond the basic roles of recording transactions.  Of course, Chartered Accountants have in-depth training in complex areas of corporate law, management, audit, business analysis and risk analysis.  But most of this is simply not relevant to the needs of the small business. 

Indeed, many accountants are so specialised in these areas that they have little involvement in the day to day recording of transactions. This is why

when you are thinking about accounts, you should think "bookkeeper".

Think accounts - think bookkeeper