Accountant v Bookkeeper

Accountant v Bookkeeper

Accountant v Bookkeeper

In the accounting world bookkeepers and accountants are to some extent intertwined as bookkeeping is part of accountancy.  Bookkeeping (keeping books) is the first step of the accounting process; an accountant will complete the process by analysing the information prepared by the bookkeeper.

What will a Bookkeeper do for my Business?

Bookkeepers play a vital role in the efficient running of a business, keeping an accurate and complete record of the financial transactions of the business, helping to maintain compliance, and ensuring the financial information is kept up to date.

By nature, most businesses generate a whole lot of paperwork, such as purchase invoices, receipts, and expense claims.  A bookkeeper will transform that bundle of paperwork into something orderly and accurate that will reflect the current position of the business.  They will help keep the business running smoothly by maintaining a general ledger, process supplier payments, raise customer invoices, credit control your customers, undertake bank reconciliation, record inventory and complete VAT returns and payroll.

Depending on the business requirements, bookkeeping can be undertaken more regularly on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.  Completing the paperwork more regularly will allow the bookkeeper to provide more up to date information on the current position of the business.

What will an Accountant do for my Business?

Accountants look at the big picture, they will use the financial information prepared by the bookkeeper and provide insights and financial advice based on that information.

Accountants have an in-depth understanding of the taxation system and requirements.  They will perform audits, prepare tax returns, financial forecasting, and tax filing.

Depending on the business an accountant will generally work less frequently on the business accounts.  Accountants may only look at the business books once a year when completing the annual accounts or they may work on quarterly vat returns or when dealing with cashflow forecasting.

The following list provides a comparison of some of the services offered but is in no way a definitive list as bookkeepers/accountants services may vary.

Bookkeeper Accountant
Process invoices, receipts, payments Prepare adjusting entries
Produce sales invoices & credit control Prepare financial statements
Bank transactions & reconciliation Tax returns & filing
Maintain and balance ledgers Management reporting
VAT Returns Financial analysis and strategy
Payroll Tax advice and planning
Cash Flow & Reporting Auditing

Does a business need a bookkeeper and an accountant?

This will depend on the preference of the business owner and the size and complexity of the business itself.

A bookkeeper will keep a business well organised and deal with the day-to-day business transactions through to year end, along with helping to maintain compliance.

An accountant will ensure that the business meets its tax obligations and assist the business with financial management to help drive it forward.

Both bookkeepers and accountants have their place in any business which is why so many businesses rely on both.


Thinking of outsourcing?

If you are looking to outsource your bookkeeping, make sure you choose a qualified bookkeeper.  Sue Haynes MICB PM.Dip of Cactus Bookkeeping is a member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), the world’s leading bookkeeping organisation.  Undertaking continuous professional development supported by the ICB, enables me to update my knowledge and expertise to help and support my clients.   Get in touch to book your Discovery Call to chat through your requirements.



Sue Haynes is the founder of Cactus Bookkeeping and helps business owners
with all aspects of Bookkeeping to save them time so they can concentrate on running their
business. Sue is licensed, regulated and supported by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)




Five signs you need to hire a Bookkeeper

Five signs you need to hire a Bookkeeper

Five signs you need to hire a Bookkeeper

You started your business so you could spend time enjoying the work you do. You probably never factored in the amount of paperwork there would be and how much time it would take you to try and deal with your business accounts.

If any of the following resonates with you, it may be time to outsource to a qualified bookkeeper.

1. Bookkeeping software isn’t a substitute for experience

You’ve seen the TV adverts for numerous accounting software packages that make it sound so easy to deal with your accounts, and you decide to sign up. You register your software, and it asks you to “start set-up”.

To set up your software, you will need to know/do

  • When is your financial year?

  • Are you VAT registered? Does your business use standard or cash accounting?

If you are already trading, you will need to:

  • Import your suppliers and customers

  • Journal in your opening balances

If you get any of these steps wrong, your accounts information will be incorrect. Your software could be miscalculating your taxes due, and your supplier, customer and bank balances may be incorrect. All of this will have a huge impact on your business.

Software can be a great asset to your business if set up and used correctly, but nothing can replace knowledge and expertise.  Qualified bookkeepers will give you peace of mind that you are compliant with legislation and filing deadlines. They have the knowledge and expertise to ensure your accounts are set up correctly and are accurate and kept up to date. They will check and file your VAT and provide you with reports to show how your business is doing.

2. Your books are not up to date

Whether you are using software or spreadsheet-based accounting, if it is not up to date, the information is worthless as it won’t reflect the true position of your business.

This will make it impossible to know:

  • Are you are making a profit?

  • How much do you owe your suppliers?

  • How much do your customers owe you?

  • If you are VAT registered, what is your liability?

  • If you are not VAT registered, how do you know if you have reached the threshold?

  • How is your cashflow?

Falling behind can have a significant impact on a business, and if you are in a position where you are unable to keep up to date with your paperwork, it is unlikely that you will have the time to catch up.

3You haven’t billed your customers and have overdue invoices

Cashflow is key in any business, and one of the most important things to keep on top of is your customer billing and credit control. By not billing at the time of sale/completing your work and not following up outstanding invoices, your cashflow will suffer, and you may even miss billing a customer altogether.

Customers will not pay without an invoice, and without money in the bank, how will you pay your suppliers and employees?

Having your customer billing processed on time and undertaking regular credit control will take care of outstanding debt, increase your cashflow and enable you to take care of supplier bills and overheads.

As an example, following a review of a new client’s accounts, I found nearly £8,000 of unpaid sales invoices! After liaising with my client’s customers, I was able to recover all the outstanding amount.

4. Your bank statements haven’t been reconciled

Most banks have an app for your mobile phone, so it has never been easier to keep track of your bank balance. However, for your business, checking your bank balance every morning does not give you a clear picture of how much money your business has.

You need to consider:

  • What you owe your suppliers

  • What your customers owe you

  • What is your ongoing tax liability?

  • Are there any errors in your income and expenditure?

Reconciling your bank transactions is an important step in resolving the above and helps to provide accurate accounts. If you use accounting software, getting a bookkeeper to set up bank feeds will make reconciliation a whole lot easier and quicker. Bank feeds update daily, and processing the transactions daily provides an instant view of your business’s financial position, assuming, of course, everything else is up to date!

5. No time to grow your business

With only twenty-four hours in the day, as a busy business owner, you are constantly juggling your work-life balance. You set up your business because it’s your passion, and you want to dedicate all your time to growing it and developing business opportunities, but you seem to be spending too much time battling accounting paperwork and have no personal time.

Have you tried keeping a log of how much time you spend on your accounts a week/month? Try it, and then calculate how much that time is worth to you. Outsourcing your bookkeeping is a cost-effective way to enable you to grow your business.

Hiring a qualified bookkeeper is not just about their costs. It’s about the time and value they can bring to a business.

👩‍🎓 Peace of mind that you have qualified expertise to deal with legislation and compliance

⚖ Accuracy of information

🧾 Up to date accounts

📈 Time to grow your business

📚 Provide support

🏖 Time back for yourself

I can help you with all of your bookkeeping tasks and frustrations.  Book a discovery call to chat through further and get back to running your business!


Sue Haynes is the founder of Cactus Bookkeeping and helps business owners
with all aspects of Bookkeeping to save them time so they can concentrate on running their
business. Sue is licensed, regulated and supported by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB)