Starting my bookkeeping career in 1988 I recall accountants had it good. Words such as personal computer, IPod, IPhone, Internet, intranet, cloud, Xero, intuit, reckon, fresh books, receipt bank and disrupter, along with the acronyms GST, PAYG, BAS, IAS, TFN and MYOB were rarely, if ever, used.
In those days there was time for golf, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, regular holidays, wearing cardigans without ridicule and ATO deadlines that were manageable.
In an article Accountants, Bookkeepers and Weaving Looms by business technology journalist Sholto Macpherson, bookkeepers are compared to weavers from the Industrial Age.
These expert craftspeople became redundant due to the Industrial Revolution when the invention of the loom led to waves of unemployed weavers but on the upside, cheaper clothing for the masses. Macpherson espouses that a modern comparison can be made with the growing trend for some accountancy firms to outsource their bookkeeping services, particularly to the cost-effective Philippines.
I’m happy to report that today, bookkeepers are still a vital cog in the financial management wheel ‚Äì albeit living in a brave new world. Most are independent operators, usually working from a home base, who continue to play an increasingly important role when it comes to recording and processing the financial transactions of a business.
When I compare weaving to the bookkeeping industry my observation is that five years ago, I was a weaver using MYOB and processing everything manually. Now I’ve moved onto cloud accounting and hired additional staff which allows my firm to provide faster and more accurate processing for my clients.
Like any other profession, bookkeepers need to adopt and adapt in order to keep up with such rapid change. Marketing yourself as a qualified and professional bookkeeper can help ‚Äì so too identifying your target users. Bookkeeping, for the most part, is generic – however applying such broad skills across a range of industries is quite challenging.
Whilst some bookkeepers have a wide-ranging client base many are now specialising in niche markets. For example trades and restaurants have different compliance needs and GST requirements, while health and medical sectors call for a comprehensive understanding of service trusts and RCTI. Other industries have specific bookkeeping needs including car yards, pubs, second-hand stores, importing and exporting companies, to name a few.
In fact, behind any good business you’ll find a competent bookkeeper. They provide an essential and valuable service to ensure a business runs smoothly especially for small to medium sized operations.
It’s really important for business owners to take the time to find a professional bookkeeper that is the ‘right fit’, one they can relate to and completely trust with the task of processing their business affairs ‚Äì it’s a two-way relationship.
Susan Hart is co-founder and Director of Uniting Bookkeepers and also runs her own bookkeeping practice Synergy Bookkeeping Solutions. Susan has over 20 years?۪ experience in the accounting industry and enjoys helping business owners get their bookkeeping under control.
Uniting Bookkeepers is a Hunter-based organisation, with global aspirations, that values the importance of good bookkeepers and bookkeeping for business through educating, supporting and connecting their members.
Susan also enjoys guiding other bookkeepers and believes the industry is one of the most co-operative professions in Australia. Uniting Bookkeepers educates, supports and connects its members and the businesses they serve.