Bookkeeper, accounting, Jack Delosa

What is the difference between a bookkeeper and accountant?

I recently attended the launch of Jack Delosa’s new book, Unprofessional, in which he talks about his experiences as an entrepreneur and business owner.

I was immediately drawn to his chapter on Knowing your Numbers as a business owner and the great decisions you can make when you have them. At Nudge, we love it when business owners and clients know their numbers to make great business decisions!

Jack outlines from his perspective as a business owner and business educator the types of people you need to work with to manage the finances of your business. A bookkeeper and accountant were two key roles that he viewed as critical in any business, no matter the size. I have used extracts from his new book as it gives his perspective as a business owner on how he views the different roles.

What is a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is someone who does the administrative and operational tasks that relate to managing the finances of the business.

The roles of a good bookkeeper are:

  • producing invoices and receipts for clients
  • managing and processing all payments and expenses
  • performing bank reconciliations – making sure everything that is meant to be coming in and going out is actually coming in and going out.
  • processing payroll
  • extracting regular reports from your accounting software, such as P&L, balance sheet and business activity statements

This is a very wise investment for any business owner to make, because employing a bookkeeper will free them up for hours each month to work on higher value activities.

It’s a very simple way of looking at things!

What is an accountant?

The accountant is someone who offers high-level tax and financial advice. Your accountant will also lodge all of your compliance work with the tax office, including your quarterly BAS, PAYG tax and company income tax.

The roles of a good accountant is:

  • assisting in the setting up of financial report, including the structure of the company P&L, balance sheet and forecasts
  • projecting and planning for tax payments that will have to be made
  • reporting to management on the financial health of the business
  • helping guide the bookkeeper to be as efficient and effective as possible
  • analysing the financial reports to identify where the company can reduce costs without damaging the business or the brand

So the bookkeeper manages the ongoing financial transactions of the business and the accountant manages the tax and financial advice.

Do I need both, or can these roles be combined?

Differences in the role of the bookkeeper and accountant are one of the key issues that many businesses face when they want timely business numbers. The reason that businesses have these issues are:

  • Bookkeepers are responsible for the data entry of transactions, which, if not done properly and all tax considerations taken up straight away, can mean that businesses are flying blind with misleading numbers. Accountants are responsible for managing a businesses tax issues but if they are not talking regularly with the bookkeeper, how can you know if the numbers are right?
  • Bookkeepers are often a lot less qualified than accountants and may not have a broad business experience. This may mean that the business reporting is all based around the data entry, which the bookkeeper is great at, but does not reflect the way the business is run. Accountants with a broader business experience can help business owners create reports that put information in a language that the business owners can understand.
  • Communication. We have seen on many occasions a breakdown in communication between the bookkeeper and accountant. This leaves many unresolved questions and ultimately, the client always loses out.

At Nudge, we have combined the role of the bookkeeper and accountant to make sure that our clients receive timely reporting that puts the focus on them and their business. Ultimately, that is what the numbers are all about, making great decisions for your business! We use accountants to do our bookkeeping which means our clients have the confidence to make decisions on their numbers. And just like Jack in his book, it is all about knowing your numbers!

Want to know more about knowing your numbers, get in touch with Nudge at support@nudgeaccounting.com.au or 1300 068 343.