It’s ok to be a bookkeeper!
Last month – “Bookkeeper/ing” is a very wide term
What is a bookkeeper? It is a person who may do the role of data processing through to someone who may be relied on for BAS & Payroll services (A BAS Agent). It is a person whose role is specifically the payroll function or the accounts payable or the accounts receivable. Bookkeeping work may encompass helping the business meet many obligations imposed by different authorities: Workers Compensation insurance calculations, reconciliations, annual estimates and payments; Payroll Tax calculations and forms, etc. It is the consultant who attends the client once a month or once a quarter, maybe to process their accounts, but maybe to review and reconcile and report. The role can be quite specific or it can be all encompassing.
It’s OK to be a bookkeeper, who isn’t a BAS Agent!
What’s the difference? A BAS Agent is relied on for the purposes of meeting the obligations, claiming the entitlements of a BAS Provision.
If you are providing a BAS Service you must be a BAS Agent or work with a BAS Agent
If you are not a BAS Agent or working for one then you can perform bookkeeping as long as it is clear in your engagement with the client and the way you perform the work that you are NOT relied on and not to be relied on just for BAS related work.
Purpose of last months article – It is ok to be a bookkeeper and it is ok to do bookkeeping work!
This Month - Chapter 2 – Am I competent to do this bit of Bookkeeping!
We made the comment last month:
“If you are engaged by your client and authorised by them in respect to performing the above work then onward and upward.”
One important policy and philosophy stands that every bookkeeper MUST take and ICB has ALWAYS promoted is:
Don’t do what you don’t know!
The issue that appears from time to time that causes damage to clients, causes excessive time to be spent and sometimes contributes to giving “bookkeepers” a poor reputation, is people doing bookkeeping tasks that they really shouldn’t be doing. Why not? Because they haven’t had competent training* (of some type) in knowing how to do the task properly.
*Training can be formal, classroom, onsite, on the job, read and check, assessment. Something where at the least you have had external input into your knowledge and process.
Have I had any training or influence or read anything about how to do this type of work recently?
Have I performed this sort of work recently? (regular performance of a task doesn’t make you competent but it may keep you in touch)
Has anyone else reviewed my knowledge in this area, any time recently, either through review of my actual work or via a form of skills assessment.
Can I work with someone else who is qualified and competent in this area.
Qualification vs Competence
Unfortunately just because someone is formally qualified (even if it is recent and not just those that qualified 15 years ago), the qualification doesn’t make them competent.
Current competence is required
If you don’t know because you have never done it, or you haven’t recently checked that you do know, then ask a lot of questions; be that the accountant (yes I know your response in some instances) or seek further guidance.
If you don’t know: book the expense, or code the item, in a way that makes it obvious to the accountant it needs to be dealt with.
What skills do I promote?
Simple promotion as a bookkeeper is probably not enough for many of you, as it is largely an undefined term and seems to also lend itself to the lowest common definition.
It is ok to be a Bookkeeper, in fact better than that: It is a great place to be and a great career as “Bookkeepers help business” in ways that others aren’t.
When we launched ICB in Australia we were very conscious of the lack of an adequate definition and adequate competency checks. We were also very aware of the immense lack of ability for a bookkeeper to improve their skills and be recognised for it. Hence ICB launched with different levels:
Affiliate: Proven knowledge of processing skills, not necessarily with any experience
Associate: Proven knowledge of bookkeeping, reconciliation and payroll process with at least 1 years experience in multiple environments
Member: Proven knowledge of full bookkeeping reconciliation and reporting skills, most likely a BAS Agent, with at least 2 years experience in multiple environments.
So what do you promote and explain to current and prospective clients: refer to ICB’s 2010 conference material and more recent publications about “What it means to be an ICB Member”, “What it means to be a BAS Agent?” etc
If you are a member of ICB promote it! If you are a full member use the “MICB” post nominal. If you are a member in practice use the ICB crest as an additional statement about your credibility, competence and professionalism.
If you have Cert IV then promote the fact
If you are a BAS Agent – promote it
Differentiate yourself based on what else you have done and what you have achieved.