What’s the Difference Between a Bookkeeper and an Accountant?

Bookkeepers and accountants play closely linked and vitally important roles for small and medium-size businesses across the UK. Unless you’re taking care of the monitoring and management of your business’ day-to-day accounts, you’ll need a bookkeeper. And, on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll need an accountant unless you plan on completing all of your financial and compliance obligations yourself.

As a well-experienced bookkeeper, I often get asked if I can carry out tasks more suited to a qualified accountant. And, I am sure that the same is true for many accountants out there too. This article should help you gain a better understanding of the differences between a bookkeeper and an accountant, but if not, we are here to help clear up any misconceptions.

Simply, contact us and we can discuss your business’ unique requirements and how Time Wise VA can help.

What does an accountant do?

Accountants are typically responsible for the more complex elements of a business’ finances. This normally includes offering financial advice, filing accounts, and completing tax returns. Some accountants will provide a ‘cookie-cutter’ service while others will create bespoke strategies and tax plans to suit the unique goals of any given business – it really does depend on the accountant you decide to work with. Additionally, an accountant may also simultaneously deal with your personal tax arrangements to help minimise the liability you will have to pay.

Unlike a bookkeeper, you won’t work with your accountant on a regular basis, although you will be able to contact them as and when you need their expert advice. Normally, you will need to work with them to complete quarterly VAT returns or your annual accounts. However, there may be other times which you’ll also need to work with them, such as when creating a business plan or a cash flow forecast.

Accountants should always be accredited in one of the four key UK Chartered Accountancy Institutes, including:

  • Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants In Scotland (ICAS)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

It’s important that if working with a new accountant or accountancy firm, you take the time to verify their relevant qualifications and accreditations.

What does a bookkeeper do?

A bookkeeper is someone that diligently compiles and processes all of the financial transactions your business makes. Today, this is done by entering the data into a software platform such as Xero or Receipt Bank. Accurate bookkeeping provides your business with a clear picture of your finances at any given moment, making it much easier to spot irregularities and make accurate forecasts.

However, it’s not just the business owners that bookkeepers make things easier for. By having accurate, up-to-date financial data available, your accountant can quickly carry out their duties, saving you money on their services.

Depending on the size of your business, you may need a bookkeeper on a daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis. As virtual bookkeeping is so quick and convenient, maintaining business accounts can be done much quicker than in the past.

Bookkeepers often have a wide-ranging resume when it comes to experience. For example, at Time Wise VA, we have worked in numerous high-level organisations, such as Ofsted and the NHS. Additionally, we are an accredited Member of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and have a Level III qualification in Business and Administration.

Need help with your bookkeeping?

At Time Wise VA, we have over 30 years of experience and are totally dedicated to being as diligent as is humanely possible when it comes to bookkeeping. We know every business is different, so please contact us now to discuss a plan that works for your business or learn more about the differences between a bookkeeper and an accountant.

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