Whether it’s issuing invoices, logging expenses and reconciling bank statements, or identifying errors, bookkeepers play a critical role in the success of any business. Many business owners start out either without an experienced bookkeeper (DIY accounting) or with a bookkeeper who has little to no experience. However, a bookkeeper should be managing a long list of daily and ongoing responsibilities. Whether you are considering hiring a bookkeeper or looking for information on what to look for in a bookkeeper, we’ve got you covered.
Bookkeeper Responsibilities List
Bookkeepers have daily responsibilities, as well as ongoing reporting that is critical to the business. If you’re looking to hire a bookkeeper for your business, here are the responsibilities you can expect them to take over:
- Recording day-to-day transactions
- Updating and maintaining the ledger
- Processing accounts receivable and accounts payable
- Reconciling bank statements, credit card statements, etc.
- Maintain data and records
- Generating reports and financial statements
- Invoice creation
- Account setup and maintenance
- Posting and verifying transactions
- Outlining policies, procedures, and practices
- Creating and maintaining a chart of accounts
- Collecting, analyzing, and summarizing accounting information for any reports
- Monitoring for unexpected changes in budgeting and suspicious transactions
- Assisting with compliance
- Notifying management about any errors or causes for concern
- Calculate interest charges
- Maintaining receipts and data in accordance with IRS regulations
Of course, this is a broad overview. Your business will have other particular needs that must be addressed by your bookkeeper. In an ideal scenario, you’ll work with a bookkeeper who can tailor their services to not only your needs, but the overall goals of your business.
In addition to core responsibilities, your bookkeeper will also need to manage these additional tasks:
- Communication and emails
- Inventory management
- Budgeting and allocation; adjustments
- Preparing data and forms for tax season
- Issuing W2’s, 1099s, etc.
- Maintaining software and security updates
- Revenue and expense reporting and management
- Petty cash distribution
- Entry adjustments and corrections
There may be other responsibilities required as well. For example, during tax season, your bookkeeper will need to provide your CPA with necessary documents in a timely manner to ensure you file on time (of course, most bookkeeping firms have in-house CPAs who manage taxes, which will make this process more efficient and require less effort from you, the business owner). Additionally, if entity structure is changed, your bookkeeper may need to update payroll distribution, bank accounts and more.
Skills and Software Knowledge
It’s no secret that the best bookkeeper is a CPA. Certified Public Accountants maintain a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, have been certified through rigorous testing, and monitor ongoing changes to regulations and rules.
Below are the skills and software knowledge you can expect from a skilled bookkeeper:
- Bachelor’s degree in accounting and/or finance
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) – verifiable with licensing body
- Strong understanding of business, finance, and tax code
- Competency with bookkeeping software like Quickbooks, Xero, Freshbooks, etc.
- Competency with payroll software (i.e. ADP, Intuit, Surepayroll, etc.)
- Expertise in your field of business.
Whenever possible, be sure to hire a bookkeeper that has expertise in your field of business. Ideally, they will have other clients within your industry and can offer valuable insight from experience with other business owners. As an example, our bookkeepers have a range of experience, from intimate knowledge of cross-border business and tax processes to developing an ideal entity structure for real estate, construction, and property management (among other specialties).
In addition to the above experience, it’s also critical that your bookkeeper exhibits:
- A critical understanding of numbers, finance, and how banking systems work
- A strong understanding of bookkeeping terminology and practices
- Greater expertise within accounting than your core team has
- Excellent customer service
It’s important to remember that hiring a new bookkeeper can mean adjustments to processes, strategies, and the accounting ecosystem. This is typical, as many business owners in early stages will work with less experienced bookkeepers, forego a consultation with a CPA, and in some cases even attempt to manage bookkeeping themselves.
While there is a range of qualifications for bookkeepers—some are seasoned CPAs with degrees in accounting and significant experience, while others may have an associate’s degree and only work in-house—what’s important is identifying the qualifications that matter to your business.
Typically, the best bookkeepers have the following qualifications:
- Bachelors degree in accounting (and finance)
- Certified Public Accountant
- Association Memberships (state and federal accounting associations)
- Industry expertise
- Excellent customer service and top-tier Google reviews
- Years of experience
If you need an expert who you know will manage your books appropriately, alert you of any risks, and handle payroll and tax firms, a CPA firm with a team of bookkeepers is an important thing to look for.
If you’re looking for someone who can step in and clean up your books and advise you for moving forward, an accounting consultant may be better suited.
Next Steps You Can Take
If you are in need of a bookkeeper for your business, there are a few next steps you can take.
First, ask yourself if you want to manage this person as a direct report, or would rather work with someone who can be the expert advising you along the way (most business owners will look for the latter).
Second, determine which tasks are critical for this person to take on, and what additional needs you may have in the foreseeable future. It’s also a good idea to note down any errors, ongoing issues, or complications you might have in your current accounting ecosystem.
Third, begin the search. Finding a qualified bookkeeper within your budget that is capable of handling your tasks can be difficult. Remember that bookkeeping is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and that there is a range of pricing determined by associated tasks, expertise, size of the team, customer service, and demand. If you are ready to get started, you can view our services here: Akif CPA Services, and please don’t hesitate to contact us to get started.