Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers

Taking it to the next level - Becoming a "Bookkeeping Career Professional".

Dear Members 

Most of us start our bookkeeping journey because of our love for numbers, and helping people - which translates into becoming a Bookkeeper; one who helps people have nice, tidy accounts. To excel, we spend countless hours upskilling ourselves by certifying, studying, and becoming software certified. But what does that really mean for our clients, and is that enough for them? 

Over the years, I have invested a lot of time in university study and learning all the core components required to run a business the right way for success. This has led me to the realisation that so many business owners get into business without really understanding their true obligations, and the fundamental key requirements they must follow to ensure business continuity and growth. 

Our role as Bookkeepers is to provide best-practice accounting solutions and due diligence to our clients. This means doing more than just day-to-day reconciliations and GST filing; best practice is being a “Bookkeeping Career Professional”. 

So what does that really mean? Surely, if you are qualified in accounting, or are Bookkeeper certified, you must be considered a professional? Yes, to an extent, you are. But, there are so many roles, duties and responsibilities that business owners and their Bookkeepers need to meet on a regular, if not daily, basis, that are quite simply not being met. 

One of the most common things you hear when being in business is about how important it is to add value to your clients - to really look at why you are doing what you are doing, and to determine what difference you can make in your clients’ lives. Adding value can come in many forms, from putting systems and processes in place, to tidying up ledgers and getting your clients’ accounts up to date. However, that is not the only way to add value, nor should it stop there. 

In our community, we have had to work hard over the last 16 years to change the way people think about our services and what we know the bookkeeping industry delivers. For many years, bookkeeping was seen as a basic financial administrative task, while the Accountants would go in at a perceived higher level (due to their years of study necessary to become an Accountant), and therefore be seen to be providing value to their clients’ - whether or not they truly were - whereas Bookkeepers on the other hand really did, and do, add value, as this is what they are truly passionate about. Thankfully, these days, Bookkeepers are now seen as a crucial cog in the comprehensive business wheel. 

We all went into business with a passion and desire to help create change for our clients. But, how can we really do that? The first important step is moving the needle, and taking your bookkeeping business to the next level. Why? So you can truly add value and provide professional practice to your clients and also ensure you are effectively and efficiently delivering your responsibilities and duties to society. 

Being a “Bookkeeping Career Professional” means performing roles and helping make decisions that have a significant impact on clients, organisations and society. The term “Professional” refers to a person who has had a significant level of training and a high level of competence and skills in their area of expertise.

To be a “Bookkeeping Career Professional”, one must invest in themselves to become an expert in their industry. This means continuously learning, studying and upskilling, keeping up to date with CPD (continuing professional development), demonstrating leadership internally and externally to clients and external providers, which ultimately results in the betterment of society.

There is a saying: “You don’t know what you don’t know, if you don’t know that you don’t know it”. This is where your role as a Bookkeeper plays a crucial part in your client’s success. Can you hand on heart say you know all business owner duties and responsibilities, to allow you to identify whether your client is running their business ethically and responsibly? I cannot list all you should ideally know, however, there are a few crucial things you must know in order to recognise good and bad business practices, and know how to tactfully address and fix the situation.

These are: 

  • Knowing business owner duties and responsibilities. This includes being up to date with the companies act, corporate governance and tax legislation.
  • Continually and consistently upholding standards. It is our privilege and responsibility as Bookkeepers to uphold business and ethical standards.
  • As Bookkeepers, it is our job to service society first and foremost. So many Bookkeepers are taking on new aspects of what is actually deemed accounting without the proper education, knowledge and experience to back it up. It is our responsibility to ensure that society genuinely benefits from our profession.
  • Be accountable. Being accountable means standing by decisions, actions, and the overall well-being of jobs and projects.
  • If you do not know something, invest in yourself to learn it. Promising jobs and projects to clients when you have no experience in that particular area not only creates risk for both you and your client, is also breaks trust which we have worked so hard for.
  • Belonging to a membership organisation. Being a member of a professional association demonstrates each member is committed to further educating themselves and developing their career in that industry. More importantly, their knowledge and skillset is further enhanced through mentoring, professional development and continuing educational pathways.

If you are interested in knowing more about the roles of a professional Accountant in business, I have uploaded a really interesting document about the Roles and Domain of the Professional Accountant in Business in the closed Facebook group. My challenge to you over the next month is to take some time to read this wonderful document as it really highlights the importance of CPD and belonging to an association. This is just as relevant if not more so for Bookkeepers if we want to be Career Professionals.

 Click here to read the document.

 All the best for the busy month ahead and #forwardmomentumaboveallelse.

 Kind regards

Lisa Martin

Vice President