Bookkeepers and accountants know exactly what I’m talking about. Business owners, do you show up to your accountant’s office with a shoebox of receipts and a stack of 100 pages of your whole year’s statements? You know your accountant is going to call someone like me, a bookkeeper, and go “Hey Rita, I’ve got a job for you.”
In this blog, we discuss the four main differences between bookkeepers and accountants. This serves as knowledge and information for business owners because it’s important to know the difference. Both financial roles share the same goals but their work process supports different parts of a business’ accounting process.
1. Functions and Roles
An accountant or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) role has big variations depending on their relationship with the business owners. They could be tax experts, whom they normally are, doing tax preparations, understanding the tax laws, and that’s what they do for you every year. They also act as consultants, helping you see the big picture in your business. They help you forecast your sales so that you can set aside tax dollars for the upcoming tax return season, and also help you with sales taxes that come every month or every quarter.
The biggest thing is, if you, as a business owner, utilize their expertise, and have them take a look at your profit and loss, do an analysis on an ongoing basis, you benefit from it being able to help your business grow.
A bookkeeper, on the other hand, does the day-to-day stuff; day-to-day tracking of money coming in and out daily, usually through a software platform like QuickBooks, which is what I use, or other ones available in the market.
There are also daily tasks such as categorizing expenses, reconciling bank accounts and credit card statements, pulling reports for the business owners when they need them to make some kind of financial decision, or for accountants who use this information to help with the analysis and looking at the bigger picture, or on a monthly basis, see where they are at in terms of expenses versus their profit and where they could cut down and where they could fix some of the expenses. The other thing, which is an option, is that the bookkeeper could do bill payments, payroll, and invoicing, it depends on the scope of the work with your bookkeeper and obviously getting the books ready for tax season, and that way, instead of asking for an extension, the books go to the accountants pretty quickly.
Bookkeepers also see the accountants sort of like a manager where they look for directions. So let’s say, a business owner works with an accountant, who doesn’t have QuickBooks set up. I usually like to give them a call and ask them if they have any input on their preference of how they’d like the chart of accounts to be set up because everybody reads things differently.
For accountants, they have formal education through a two-year study or four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Some take state board tests to continue as a CPA. Their continued education is mandatory.
With bookkeepers, there’s no regulated requirement. They have certification options through online courses; some find courses for software certification especially with the QuickBooks Online platform; It’s important for bookkeepers to get certified as ProAdvisor. In my third Facebook live, I discussed the Five Qualities You Should Look for in a Bookkeeper, which kind of explains asking the right questions as a business owner to see if your bookkeeper has experience in your particular industry, how knowledgeable they are in general about business and how much bookkeeping experience they had overall, just to name a few things from that article.
How frequently do you see your accountant? At most, you see them once a year to do your taxes. If you are new to your accountant, they would like to see you twice a year or quarterly so they get to know you as a client and learn about your business to help you through the toughest first 3-5 years of a new business or, if you are not a new business, based on needs. For bookkeepers, they check on you weekly, monthly, or more frequently based on how new the relationship is or based on the needs of each business.
Accountants’ rates are about $130-$450 per hour or even higher depending on the scope of work that they do and based on the relationship with the business owner. Even though you are paying more per hour, you want to utilize their expertise to maximize your business potential and to grow your business. I highly recommend that you meet with them at least twice a year.
Bookkeepers’ rates range between $30-$80 per hour depending on how much work they take on for specific client’s needs, and their involvement in the books. Some also use a retainer fee or a monthly fee. The advantage of that is if the scope of the work doesn’t change, business owners can budget their bookkeeper into their expenses.
If you are a business owner in need of professional financial support, choose the right one for your type of business. It’s always a good choice to hire one, especially in the early stages of your business. Financial support from accounting professionals can help you create plans based on your finances, which saves you more future costs. Bookkeeping support will also help you free up your time. Rather than get flustered over receipts, you can focus on your business while Nave Bookkeeping will help keep your books in order every month and get your taxes in on time every year for your accountant. Contact us on our Facebook page Nave Bookkeeping, LLC Nave Bookkeeping, LLC.