The bookkeeping profession unites
In a show of unity to the commitment of the development, growth and recognition of Professional Bookkeepers in Australia, ICB Australia, together with the Australian Bookkeepers Association, have come together to set and promote a single common definition of a ‘Professional Bookkeeper’ as the standard and benchmark for the bookkeeping industry.
The establishment of professional bookkeeping associations in Australia in the early 2000’s, was the professions first step in putting in place a framework for professional bookkeepers to work and be recognised. The introduction of initiatives such as codes of conduct, professional development opportunities and advocating for the services that bookkeepers provide to the business community, meant that members of these associations could confidently promote the fact that they had a commitment to professionalism and professional development.
The introduction of the Tax Agent Services Act in 2009 was the first official step taken by the Australian government towards putting a more formal regulatory framework around part of the bookkeeping profession in Australia. It was also recognition that a proportion of the industry met the professionalism, expertise, education and commitment required to be a part of that framework.
The traditional definition of a bookkeeper is centuries old – a person who is responsible for keeping the records of the financial affairs of a business. What has become more commonly known by the broader community as ‘keeping the books’.
Whilst the foundation of what a professional bookkeeper in Australia today still remains true to its roots, there is a need to educate the business community and government on the broader and expanded scope of services and professionalism of bookkeepers today.
A professional bookkeeper today does much more than ‘keep the books’.
Generally, as a profession, bookkeeping in Australia is still somewhat unregulated and largely misunderstood by the business community. There is confusion over what the term “Bookkeeper” now means, although there is familiarity with the foundation of what a traditional bookkeeper was as it is a known term.
Even fewer people outside of bookkeepers, know who or what a BAS Agent is or what they do, assuming they have even heard of the term at all. BAS Agent is a regulatory term and is a completely unknown term in much of the broader community.
To change the name of a bookkeeper to a new different term, means starting again to build our industry, in reputation, recognition and professionalism, from scratch. Introducing a new term into the broader community means a reset to the advancements that we as a profession have made over the last 20+ years. Hence our commitment to retaining the foundation of the “profession” and the term “bookkeeper”.
Broadening Recognition of Professional Bookkeepers
Due to a lack of regulation, anyone can hold themselves out to be a traditional bookkeeper, without fear of penalty. What is needed, is to differentiate a ‘Professional Bookkeeper’, from someone who does not show the same levels of professionalism as has come to be expected of professional advisors to business, from both government and the business community today.
Achieving the characteristics of being a ‘Professional Bookkeeper’, and with the appropriate support of the two recognised Professional Bookkeeping Associations, ‘Professional Bookkeeper’ can be widely promoted and understood.
It gives us as a profession the opportunity to reference ‘Professional Bookkeepers’ in a variety of government forums that will enhance and promote the reputation of holders of this designation.
In addition, with support of government, ‘Professional Bookkeeper’ will quickly become the benchmark within the industry, and broader recognition with the business community.
What is a Professional Bookkeeper?
- An independent verification of the quality and quantity of experience held
- Commitment to professional development
- A commitment to education, learning and development of skills via continuing professional development
- A member of a professional body, committed to the requirements adherent to that membership including
- Acts with honesty and integrity
- Acts in the best interest of their clients or employers
- A professional bookkeeper in practice will be a Registered BAS Agent
What does this mean for ICB Members?
By being a member of ICB Australia, you are already either on the path (Affiliate) or will have already achieved (Member and Associate) the attributes of being a ‘Professional Bookkeeper’. Your continuing commitment to being a member and the requirements of that membership with ICB, don’t change.
As the specific details of the framework around the designation are still in the final stages of development, we will be announcing to members over the coming months as to how we will be recommending that members can use and promote the ‘Professional Bookkeeper’ designation in conjunction with your current membership.
What you will see is the change of language when we are in discussions and seeking recognition of bookkeepers in Australia with business, government and industry, as we work together to lift the recognition and profile of our profession and our members.
Updated: 27th November 2020