Modern day bookkeepers do much more than the books, they provide day-to-day business support for their clients.
Traditionally, bookkeepers would be given a stack of receipts, paid bills, invoices and paper bank statements, after the end of each quarter, in order to do the BAS. They would spend a few days keying all the information into the accounting software, and many frustrating hours doing the bank reconciliations, trying to work out what each transaction was for. The client would be asked questions about any gaps, which they may not be able to answer given the transaction in question happened so long ago. The bookkeepers would then use that information to process and lodge the BAS and if the client is lucky, provide an estimate of the profit and loss report, a month or two after the end of each quarter. It wouldn’t be until a few months after the end of the financial year, that the accountant would finish the tax return and be able to provide accurate information about how the year went and how much money was made, if any.
With the arrival of cloud accounting, the bookkeepers’ role has evolved into much more than a data processing function, given the work can be done in a fraction of the time. Cloud accounting software such as Xero, enables modern day bookkeepers to keep the accounts accurate and up-to-date on a weekly basis. In today’s world, the accounting data is located in the cloud and accessible anywhere and anytime, and the additional information bookkeepers need is provided real-time through automatic band feeds. The bookkeeper can therefore do her job with little input from the client. In fact it is often simpler for her to enter the bills and invoices into the software before they’re paid, so that she can proactively help manage the cash flow as well as the entire account function, if required.
What this means is that the data processing is now simply the first step. Modern day bookkeepers can focus on higher-end functions that help their clients to run their business more efficiently and profitably. They offer their clients regular financial reporting and importantly interpretation of those report. In order to do this, modern day bookkeepers require a good understanding of accounting. In fact the ATO now require all bookkeepers who lodge the BAS to be a Registered BAS or Tax Agents which requires qualifications in bookkeeping and/or accounting.
The modern day bookkeeper helps their clients to understand how their business is performing financially at any point in time, and gives them more time to do what they should be doing: working on rather than in their business.