Posted: 21st November 2016


By: Julie Cann


When someone asked me what I did once and I said “Bookkeeper”, they thought I meant I was a “Bookie” and asked me if I had any betting tips for the next local Derby race!  So when I explained what I did they said “Oh you’re an Accountant, then”?

 There is often confusion between the two –

The bookkeeper wouldn’t normally have the qualifications to do the work of an accountant. But an accountant could choose to do the work of a bookkeeper.’

To qualify to be called an Accountant you would normally have achieved a degree in accounting or similar. The role will normally be bringing an explanation and full understanding to a set of final accounts, analysing the costs and suggesting ways to reduce them to improve profit margins.  Submitting both personal and corporation tax returns and generally giving advice on how a business can move forward and grow.

A bookkeeper does the routine and often repetitive sorting of muddled and messy receipts and expenses into a tidy order, matching with bank statements and reconciling cash accounts.  Raising invoices and chasing debts; Making payments and keeping a tight rein on cash control. Then quarterly submitting VAT returns, producing management figures and annually sending Draft Accounts for the Accountant.

Where some not connected with the finance world may call this dull, I don’t find my job “dull” at all. It may seem strange to actually enjoy trawling through piles of expense receipts and putting them into some semblance of order and matching them against the bank statements to reconcile.  But to see the procedure from jumble and confusion through to order and clarity, gives me a huge sense of satisfaction.

I had a job years ago where they had a year’s worth of accounts to pull together. No bank reconciliation had been done in all that time.  No one had even looked at the bank statement because they were so busy running the business. Eventually there accountant called me and after a few weeks putting some order into the confusion and working my way through the bank statement, I realised something was seriously amiss.  There seemed to be cheques (yes it was a long time ago!) that had cleared the bank without any corresponding invoice.  To cut a long story short, it turned out that a member of the staff was faking the directors’ signature on cheques, stealing several hundreds of pounds from the company because they didn’t have the correct procedures in place.


If you are in business, ask yourself:-

  1. Does he/she take the trouble to learn about your business and the systems you like to use?
  2. Have they helped to streamline your systems so that you work more efficiently?
  3. Would you trust them? The relationship between a bookkeeper and their client is a special one, where private and confidential information is shared and discussed.
  4. How accurate and knowledgeable are they?
  5. And of course, are you paying the right amount for the service you get?

Someone said to me recently “Great bookkeepers are like gold dust and hard to find”.  When you have found one, you will know.