Share this content
0
43
6440

Is bookkeeping dying

I have been involved with accountancy now for nearly 20 years, and one of the most startling developments I have seen in that time is how the role of bookkeeping has changed. Has anyone else noticed this?

When I started my career, it was commonplace to find accountancy firms with many bookkeepers on their staff, offering their clients bookkeeping as a key (and profitable) service. Now, bookkeeping is apparently in decline, with many clients electing to do their books themselves.

What’s brought this about? I believe one factor is the growth in the use of IT in both the home and in the office. Most people, even some senior citizens, are now competent in using the basic home computing packages and this means that they are able to input and manipulate an electronic spreadsheet that will do the necessary, basic calculations on their (or their accountant’s) behalf.

‘Doing the books’ has never been less stressful or complicated as it is today, and this is encouraging people to record and manage their affairs directly, removing what they see as an unnecessary, additional cost: a bookkeeper.

I have recently blogged about this subject (see attached link), and I am interested in other people’s views on the subject. What do you think about the future of bookkeeping? Is there still a place for it in the modern accountancy world? Let me know, either by commenting in the below or contacting me directly.

 http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=273263132&gid=2010919&commentID=165762950&trk=view_disc&fromEmail=&ut=2Cs1K1hTI1ZlU1 

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

"Even senior citizens"

Even senior citizens are now competent in using basic computer systems.

Well who on earth would have expected the dizzy old buggers to manage that little piece of rocket science, with all that dementia and alzheimers they all insist on having. It's a bloody miracle.

Either that or you're being condescending.

Bookkeeping never has quite been on a par with quantum physics; it's just that once upon a time (before senior citizens becam senior) the man in the street simply didn't know that.

Perhaps all the bookkeepers could retrain as brain surgeons before they become daft old buggers.

Thanks (3)

Possible bad choice of words

Alfie, the comment was never intended to be condescending, but I agree it may appear that way, My 91 year old Mother is a computer whizz, even built her own when she was 85. Apologies to anyone who may be upset, however please do not let it distract from the general theme

Tim

Thanks (0)

As a skill

I think it is dying as a skill.

Software has taken away the thinking and replaced it with drudgery. Trouble is, the thinking isn't that hot. So there are too many data input clerks believing they are bookkeepers but unable to notice when they make an error or self-check and appreciate that something doesn't look right.

I recently had an input error on a £12 parking fee posted with £1,000 input VAT. Not picked up by the client reviewing the VAT Return detail or any subsequent reviews of the nominal ledger.

Edit - I am not being critical of 'real' bookkeepers. They are worth their weight in gold.

Thanks (2)

Oddly I haven't found this with my client base.  Admittedly it's not that big and most of the the clients are one man bands, but pretty much all of them want nothing to do with bookkeeping either because of a lack of time, a fear of it (accounts = scary) or they simply don't want to.

Maybe in time I might try to train the clients to prepare their own bookkeeping, but frankly, they won't do it as well as we do and, more importantly, why would I try to get rid of work that I make a half decent margin out of?

Thanks (0)

Further

@Andy, totally agree, however software is with us to stay in one form or another, so is it not to our benefit to use it to our advantage.

@Chris, Its more a case of clients wanting to do their own rather that us getting rid and oddly we are making a better margin as we can do more in the same timeframe.

Tim

Thanks (0)

Not just software, but working practices too

OK, the software ease of use is an important aspect - far easier to learn VT, Kashflow or Freeagent instead of Sage/Pegasus or before them, the ledger system, so both computerisation and the new breed of easy to use software is driving the trend.

BUT,

Don't forget that the way businesses operate has fundamentally changed too.  I've very few business clients who need sales nor purchase ledgers.  Not only is this because of the "cash basis" for VAT returns and now the cash basis for personal SA returns too.  Many businesses don't offer credit anymore - they get payment up front or on delivery by BACS or credit card - thus have no use nor need for a sales ledger.  Likewise on the payment side, they pay suppliers instantly by card, or pay utilities etc monthly by direct debit or standing order so no need for a purchase ledger.  Company credit/debit cards are now widespread, as are shops etc that take cards, so now there is minimal need for petty cash.  Book-keeping has become, for a lot of businesses, nothing more than recording and analysing their bank/cc statement - none of that bothersome sales & purchase ledgers.  Bank Reconciliations are also easier now that there are so few cheques - no/few unpresented's!  It's commonplace for me, when preparing annual accounts, to simply take the client's "cash book" in manual or electronic format and just add in the opening and closing debtors/creditors/prepayments/accruals which I can extract quickly and simply from the invoices files - for the 13/14 years onwards, I won't even have to bother too much about the year end reversals when the new cash basis comes in.  Add into the mix the ease of importing/analysing bank statement csv files, and even better, live feeds from banks into the likes of Xevo and Freeagent, and there really isn't much need for book-keepers for the small/simpler businesses anymore - the proprietor can do most things themselves if given the right set-up and training.

I've had this same conversation with two book-keepers lately.  One, via internet forum/chatroom who has been unemployed for 3 years now after 20 years working in a big firm as a ledger clerk using Sage - she couldn't believe that she barely got any interviews despite applying for dozens/hundreds of book-keeping/accounting jobs.  When I pointed out that the world has moved on and the big firms are probably zapping invoices/payments between themselves by the cloud and wouldn't need a Sage purchase ledger clerk, she just couldn't comprehend it.  When I mentioned cloud accounting and the new breed of easy software, not to mention bank feeds, again, she couldn't believe it.  I enquired about her skills re VAT, payroll, etc., but she'd never done it - she couldn't comprehend that today's book-keeper needed to be multi-disciplined.  The other I had a meeting with as she'd just started out as a book-keeper in my village and was touting for work - we're on different planets - again, she's just interested in doing the ledger work on Sage, no interest/skills re payroll, CIS, VAT etc - just wanting to sit there logging in invoices onto Sage - she was visibly shocked when I showed her how quick/easy it was to do a bank statement csv import and the live bank feeds on Freeagent blew her mind, then when I went onto talk about the cash basis for VAT (which she'd never heard of!) and then the cash basis for SA, she almost physically went pale, when she realised her entire business model was flawed.

A client I took over a year or so ago was a shop, paying £2k-£3k p.a. for their book-keeping, done by a local on Sage.  I took over the job, and now do the book-keeping, VAT, payroll and annual accounts for less than £1k - all I do is import the bank csv into Kashflow and then enter the cash/credit cards in's and out's onto a pro forma spreadsheet for import into Kashlfow.- that sorts the analysis, bank rec and VAT returns.  Payroll done via Moneysoft and journalled in.  At the year end, client gives me a list of unpaid bills which I enter into KF together with prepayments, accruals and depreciation - out pops the P&L and BS - year end done in an hour or so.  Job done, no need for book-keepers, and client saving of at least £2k per year.  

Thanks (1)

Wait !

Ken Howard wrote:

 

A client I took over a year or so ago was a shop, paying £2k-£3k p.a. for their book-keeping, done by a local on Sage.  I took over the job, and now do the book-keeping, VAT, payroll and annual accounts for less than £1k - all I do is import the bank csv into Kashflow and then enter the cash/credit cards in's and out's onto a pro forma spreadsheet for import into Kashlfow.- that sorts the analysis, bank rec and VAT returns.  Payroll done via Moneysoft and journalled in.  At the year end, client gives me a list of unpaid bills which I enter into KF together with prepayments, accruals and depreciation - out pops the P&L and BS - year end done in an hour or so.  Job done, no need for book-keepers, and client saving of at least £2k per year.  

But how do you know what items are paid cash without marrying everything up?

These things sound great in practice but I find are harder when you actually try doing them.

 

Thanks (1)

Train the client to use a simple day control sheet

zarathustra wrote:
But how do you know what items are paid cash without marrying everything up?

These things sound great in practice but I find are harder when you actually try doing them.

I gave the client a daily cash control sheet where he has to balance the takings (per till reading) against cash paid out of the till, against cash to bank, etc.  It works a treat and the client loves it.  I've used the same sheet for various other shops, a few cafes and a few guest houses.  Takes about 2 minutes to do at the end of the day as part of the cashing up.  Invoices etc paid in cash are simply stapled to the back of the sheet.  Simples. All it takes is half an hour or so working through it with the client to train them how to use it, why it's needed, etc.   If you remember the old Simplex D books, it's just like the old Cash control at the bottom of each weekly page, but updated to reflect credit cards etc.

Thanks (0)

Will the new cash accounting really take off?

Ken Howard wrote:

I won't even have to bother too much about the year end reversals when the new cash basis comes in.  

Hi Ken

Do you think this new cash accounting thing is really going to take off? Rebecca Benneyworth did a lecture at the Accountex exhibition last year and she basically advised us all to run a mile if any clients wanted their books done that way.

I always thought the cash scheme would mainly be of interest to people who didn't want an accountant anyway. People that do have an accountant expect the books to be done properly - that's what they're paying us for. The new cash basis comes with many downsides (e.g. no sideways loss relief, restrictions on loan interest, miserable rates for use of home, etc) and maybe it's better to point this out to people who listen to the political spiel and are tempted by the "simpler accounts" mantra in the hope of lower fees (another reason Rebecca said run a mile).

I guess it depends on their attitude to their own accounts. If they see them as as a nuisance to be got out of the way rather than as an vital aspect of the business and are not really bothered what they look like, I suppose they would be interested, and there are plenty of firms who are only too happy to churn them out for a few quid.

On the book-keeping issue, I think it started to die off as a mainstay at the qualified end of the market when they abolished audit reports for small companies. That was a welcome and long overdue change, even though it deprived qualified firms of substantial fee income, and it did have the beneficial effect of creating loads more small companies (having become much more affordable to trade that way) which benefited the profession.

However, it also opened up the corporate side of the accountancy market to new entrants, first the non-qualifieds, and then, with the advent of new software packages and the internet, to the new breed of online mass-market number-crunchers. In that sense, book-keeping is alive and well, although standards may be slipping as it is no longer supervised in-house by traditional accountants and the authorities are not that bothered about the quality of accounts any more. The tagging requirements of iXBRL may act to reverse that trend a bit though, especially when the new taxonomy comes along. 

Both book-keeping and accountancy are becoming low-fee work now with the increased competition, time-saving methods and simplification, so if you want to make any money in this profession, you have to either specialise in high-end work like tax or business advice or embrace a service industry equivalent of the "pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap" business model.

I think the profession will continue polarising between these 2 extremes in the long term, but not completely, as there will always be a market for the local expert who is prepared to offer a decent service for a reasonable price. That's because people still like to have someone knowledgeable who they can rely on, in their local area, who they can come round to see at short notice, have an ongoing relationship with and who they know is acting in their best interests. They are not that bothered about qualifications, but more about standards of service, value for money and a pro-active approach. That's worth its weight in gold, and there will always be clients who appreciate that and eschew the lowest common denominator.

Thanks (1)

Practices

@ Ken, some really interesting input and more reasons why clients are now looking at what they pay for, but we must remember the entire bookkeeping industry is not inept likeyour two examples.

@Zarathustra, we are getting into the realms of accounts now which is not the point

Tim

Thanks (0)

Not just book keeping?

But maybe the 'easier' parts of accountancy and tax compliance too.

Does anyone else see the future as two main types of (non audit) Accountancy firms - online sausage factories and high end specialists?

 

Thanks (0)

No

My business does very well out of bookkeeping.   In fact I would say that a lot of businesses want a good bookkeeper.   These days most good bookkeepers produce monthly management accounts within 5 to 7 working days or weekly profit and losses. This work is well paid. 

We have clients who want to do it themselves and like having us in the background.   Our clients can video call us for bookkeeping help or instant message us on Skype with how do I questions and various items.  We also remotely access their computers if they our really stuck . Our Skype service is a pretty good money earner.  In fact it brings us more bookkeeping work as quite a lot of our clients ask us to visit them. 

Sometimes double controls are needed .  I certainly would not be presuming the bank is correct.  On one of our bookkeeping jobs , the previous accountants presumed that Streamline Credit Cards for example, paid all the money due with no real cross checking with till receipts.  We were not convinced by this and backtracked over 2 years we entered the credit card sales from the till for 2 years in a sales ledger as an exercise and Streamline had left the company short of £30K just a couple of visa receipts each day.  We knew something was wrong from completing the weekly P&L and listening to the owners and sellers on the floor, the bank was not matching what was selling upstairs and the costs.   So like Alan said good bookkeeping is worth its weight in gold and when you have clients who appreciate that skill even if they what to do the majority themselves it works out very well.

Sarah Douglas. Douglas Accountancy and Bookkeeping Services Glasgow 

 

Thanks (0)

Easy to build in double controls at data capture/source stage

sarah douglas wrote:
Sometimes double controls are needed .  I certainly would not be presuming the bank is correct.

Absolutely true.  That's why we have several different "bank" accounts set up on the systems to build in those double controls at the initial data capture stage.  The credit card amounts banked are Dr Current Account, Cr Merchant Account.  The sales day sheet shows the credit card sales as per the till end of day report, which is posted Cr Sales Dr Merchant Account.  That way, the bank current account will auto balance from csv or live feeds in, and any discrepances between what the till says is credit card sales and what is actually paid into the bank will stand out like a sore thumb on the merchant account "bank" account.    Same with cash sales, i.e. till cash sales Dr cash sales "bank" account and bankings (from csv) are auto imported as Cr cash sales "bank" account.  If you break everything down and have extra control accounts, you can pick up the discrepancies quickly and easily.  It's all down to accurate data capture at the sharp end - avoids all the faffing around weeks/months later trying to match random invoices against random payments and using a crystal ball to try to work out what happened with the cash in's and out's on a particular day last May!  I've found that most clients are happy to go that little bit further on a daily/weekly basis and respond well to decent training, especially for cash control - they're like dogs - with the right training, they behave, without training, they run away and poo everywhere!

Thanks (1)

I agree

"Sometimes double controls are needed .  I certainly would not be presuming the bank is correct.  On one of our bookkeeping jobs , the previous accountants presumed that Streamline Credit Cards for example, paid all the money due no real cross checking with till receipts.  We were not convinced by this and backtracked over 2 years we entered the credit card sales from the till for 2 years in a sales  as an exercise and Streamline had left the company short of £30K just a couple of visa receipts each day.  We knew something was wrong from completing the weekly P&L and listening to the owners and sellers on the floor, the bank was not matching what was selling upstairs and the costs.   So like Alan said good bookkeeping is worth its weight in gold and when you have clients who appreciate that skill even if they what to do the majority themselves it works out very well."

I had a client who took a lot of income via credit cards and we checked the records and regularly they didn't get paid for transactions. We kept a reconciliation of credit card sales to bank statements but a lot of accountants just work out the sales from the bank statements. I think they try to justify it by saying the client should be checking everything is received or the client wouldn't want them to spend the time doing the work properly.

I am finding too many clients send me records on Excel very late which makes it difficult to get the work done before deadlines and doesn't provide any information to the owner but if I could get them to use an online accounts package they could do what they were able to do or wanted to do and I could do the rest of the work quickly and stay up to date.

Thanks (1)

Control

We too have found that clients want to do it themselves but also want a bit of hand holding and find that cloud systems are ideal for this.

We also never assume that the Bank is always on the ball so dont like to import CSv files

As Ken says a little training and clients are quite happy to keep their own books, with minimum input from us.

Tim

 

Thanks (0)

Import csv files

Importing csv files doesn't mean the bank is right.

You can still post entries and match to the csv transactions.

Thanks (0)

of course

petersaxton wrote:

Importing csv files doesn't mean the bank is right.

You can still post entries and match to the csv transactions.

Thanks (0)

Just taking my last breath

Having worked my way up from being basically a ledger clerk to a Management Accountant (QBE) in the corporate world and now set up as a bookkeeper (and yes I do Payroll, Tax Returns et al) I do feel there is still plenty of life in us yet so please don’t write us off yet.

When I was a ledger clerk I would never have called myself a bookkeeper like Ken Howard's acquaintances as that’s not what I was and even now when people try and introduce me as an accountant I correct them as I have never tried to be more than I am.   Yes lots of sole traders do their books themselves and quite successfully and why not its not rocket science.  In the same way i will do DIY in the house but I have my limitations there and  I know which tasks i’ll get the professionals in to do.  However in both scenarios there are people that wouldn’t touch either task with a bargepole and therefore there are jobs for all of us.  Unfortunately because some people think its just data entry they try to pay us off with a pittance so it is getting harder to prove to people that when we have the expertise and skills we are worth the money.  But once we have our clients tend to stay with us. I think we bookkeepers will have a usefulness for quite a while yet and I for one have no plans to become extinct

Thanks (1)

This just in from Twitter

We've opened out the conversation a bit on social media and will be reporting back in the next week or so. Here's what Adam Becker (@HaddenBusiness) had to say in support of some of the points made already, given the 140 characters allowed on Twitter:

@AccountingWEBuk my thoughts is that technology, changes to the tax system and outsourcing has changed the way books are now managed.

— Adam Becker (@HaddenBusiness) September 25, 2013

Thanks (2)

Some Businesses what more and our not just one man businesses.

Hi 

There are business who what more. (Sorry for long post but I feel passionate about this subject)   Bookkeeping is not dying.  Just this week we have taken on five new clients you just what a good bookkeeper who works well with their accountant.   Yes we do both and I can honestly say it is the bookkeeping that is more profitable and I admit we are not cheap.  As many know on here I love bookkeeping and I get great enjoyment and work satisfaction when clients use our ideas, cash flows and management accounts to make decisions.  I agree there are various levels of bookkeepers but management accounts stem from good bookkeeping.

There are accountants who just do not want to get involved in management accounts, which are very simple when there is a good bookkeeper who does everything.  There are many businesses that want far more than the basic Cash Sales and Credit Card Sales Analysis.  

A Couple of Examples:

Golf Club : Vat Apportioned   

One day Credit Card receipts could include Membership Fees 0% Vat, Visitors Fees 20% Coaching 20%. Competition Fees, Bar and Food.   Pool Sales. Club lottery.  Function Room Hire and Bar.   A golf club in this day and age wants to know exactly where the club is gaining and losing money and not just how much sales were cash and credit.   We provide the management accounts which is very simple after good bookkeeping for the 

1) Whole golf club, 

2) The golf separately, 

3) Function Room and Bar 

4) Separate Bar and Food.   

The club uses these for their monthly management meetings.  

Another example is a Residential and Touring Park - Vat Apportioned

The analysis for this type of business is huge, especially if you are building and selling on the residential side and running a touring park.  It is very important how Capital and Maintenance is treated and especially items that are shared like street lighting. This type of business can be very successful by also using project analysis for keeping within budget and converting to Capital when properties are been rebuilt and sold.   We do this also for some of our construction clients as well. Using a good bookkeeper can have huge tax benefits when working well with specialized accountants in this area.  

Construction business like to target their sales for trade , Domestic and Commercial  and to keep an eye on their retention money which many fail to claim. 

We have business who what an up to date Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet on a regular basis.  

 I believe that good management accounts come from excellent bookkeeping where the bookkeeper understands the business like we do to the penny. We know the clients books well and our probably the first to see if things are going wrong and can highlight for example the cash-flow flash points to our clients months in advance as lot of businesses seem to struggle with keeping their vat money and PAYE.   So a good bookkeeper can keep the business on the toes. 

 Sarah Douglas. Douglas Accountancy and Bookkeeping Services. Glasgow 

 

Thanks (0)

Sarah Douglas... Bookkeeping

Hi Sarah,

I am very fascinated by your comments as above.

Do you mainly use spreadsheet or bookkeeping software when you collect those detailed daily transactions and entries for you to be able to draw down to analysis reporting?

 

Thanks

Thanks (0)

Great thread

As mentioned above the effects of new technology, efficiency savings and simplification in regulation, have all gone to change the outlook of bookkeepers and accountants alike.

As with any change, you can either anticipate, embrace and treat it as an opportunity or you can put your head in the sand and moan. As cfield points out, the biggest, and I mean biggest, change for accountants in (just) living memory was the abolition of audit requirements, almost over night, the firm I was with went from 60 audits to 10.  The world kept turning and freed us up to do much more beneficial and proactive work for existing & new clients.

Cloud accounting has improved the work I do for my clients, and they do for me, beyond anything I could have hoped for 5 years ago and whilst it's reduced my fees and workload on the number crunching side, again, it's given me the opportunity to do more beneficial and enjoyable work AND to reduce the business to a much more comfortable level.

Whilst, on the face of it, this may be seen as a particular threat to bookkeepers, the opportunities are there for more efficient working and, perhaps, expansion into management accounts and providing better, and more complete,info to the client and to the accountant at the year end. Plus, as I've found with every one I've introduced to it, they now have a different outlook on bookkeeping and accounts, because they own a bit of it.

I've approached three bookkeepers this year, two of which work for clients, and asked them what they think of the Cloud stuff.  Two of them didn't respond and the other said she knew it was something she'd have to look at soon, but there was never any time.  

Interestingly enough, through sheer bad luck, one of them made an awful mistake with a new client's records, treating them as VAT registered when they were not, which only came to light when she sent me the year end books.  When I pointed out that had the books been online and had I seen them a year ago, none of the subsequent grief and cost would have been needed, she and the client have agreed to move the books next year.

In a recent survey of its users by Clear Books, 31% said they don't have an accountant but I dare say many would benefit from one.  Similarly, I would imagine, a bigger proportion don't use a bookkeeper, but may be better off with one.  The work is out there and with so many businesses starting up and running without any professional help, the only way to hook them may be to assist in their bookkeeping.

Finally, interesting to see 3 articles in the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers August Newsletter, from/about Clear Books, Big Red Cloud & KashFlow, all accredited by the Institute. 

 

 

Thanks (0)

Is Book keeping dying?

Some of my clients post their own source documents using computer systems like Freeagant and use the system to effectively manage their projects & timesheets. They are able to obtain a 'High Level Overview' of their finances using this method. However, these initial figures are distorted until I have adjusted them (accrued / deffered income / prepayments & accruals for example).

Whilst some of my clients have a 'feel for the numbers' they seek the comfort of having their VAT Returns and monthly accounts finalised by a certified book keeper allowing them to make informed decisions.

I have also found that many small companies / sole traders simply don't have time to prepare their own accounts which is when the good old fashioned 'Brown Paper Bag' comes into its own!!

So no I don't think that book keeping is dying but some clients requirements are changing....

 

Thanks (1)

Forward thinking accountants have merely fit into the following bookkeeping programme...

 

Systems design

System set up and training

DATA PROCESSING

Review

Reporting/filing

 

DATA PROCESSING may in many instances be performed by individuals who call themselves "bookkeepers", but are merely number crunchers.

 

Accounts practices which may currently turn away bookkeeping work, are missing fee income opportunities by not following this simple model

 

Thanks (1)

Yup

for filing read bookkeeping

 

 

Thanks (1)

Thanks to all for some terrific contributions. If I could address just a few

Liz D, good bookkeepers are worth their weight in gold

Sarah. excellent point but the two businesses that you mention employ you as bookkeeper so in effect do their own bookkeeping from their Accountants point of view.

Paul, Hooking clients, by assisting them with their bookeeping rather than doing it for them is the point of the thread, you have evidently used this in your business

JamesL. By offering a monitored service using a cloud system we have increased our fee opportunities

Perhaps we should have called it "Is bookkkeping work for accountants dying"

Tim

Thanks (0)

Twitter

Will be interesting to see how this pans out on twitter

Thanks (0)

Just to clarify we are not employed. They are one of many client

"Sarah. excellent point but the two businesses that you mention employ you as bookkeeper so in effect do their own bookkeeping from their Accountants point of view"

Hi 

Just to clarify we are not employed by any of our clients.  We are a practice like your selfs with our own offices in a business centre.  Any one of the girls will visit a number our clients.

Those two example are 2 of many of our clients.  We do exactly the same as James L.  Both those two example allow us to remotely access using cloud.  Yes they are both good clients and pay for this had hoc service as well as extra bookkeeping services when their own bookkeeping department is struggling.  Both those examples have their own bookkeeping departments we deal with the more difficult items of bookkeeping for them. 

Douglas Accountancy and Bookkeeping Services 

Thanks (0)

two types of people

There are two types of people that I regularly come accross either they are financial literate or they are not and despite being far intelligent than myself they are clueless when it comes to the numbers.  Obviously their right side of their brain (mathematical part) is weaker like my left side of my brain (creative).  These creative individuals just hate numbers and when you mention finance you can see the stress on their faces.  Hence there will always be a need for book-keepers for several reasons like a detest of book-keeping or time constraints. 

Anyway, if I am succesful with my business - I rather spend my time generating revenue than carrying out book-keeping when someone can do it better, faster and more accurately than me. The opportunity cost of  earning X amount or sacrificing X and doing Y (book-keeping) is a no brainer.

While do agree book-keeping will be come advanced and  super book-keepers may start helping businesses with better reporting. However start ups always need help at the start of their venture again they would not have the know how and initially have someone to carry out the book keeping and then perhaps bring it inhouse once they have a better idea how it works.

Book-keepers are here to stay.  Actually I don't like the name book-keepers as there are no books nowadays and doesn't do justice to the job they do.

Surely someone can think of a more up todate and trendy name

Thanks (0)

No it is not

Clients like to cheap scate and then they learn that having a bookkeeper is worth it when they realise the mistakes they make and the time it takes

 

Accounting packages in the hands of the untrained are dangerous and people get sucked into thinking because they have spent money on a package they can do accounts.

 

I have seen crap bookkeepers and crap accountants 

 

I have seen good bookkeepers and good accountants

 

People do not tend to understand the mechanics of finance so its the bad bookkeepers/accountants who give  the good ones a bad name when the client finally works out they have been done.

 

Same in every industry.

Thanks (0)

Apologies

Sarah please substitute "engage" for "employ" I'm sure your practice is worth its weight and it is nice to hear someone talking sense.

 

 

 

<a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a> wrote:

Clients like to cheap scate and then they learn that having a bookkeeper is worth it when they realise the mistakes they make and the time it takes

 

 

Kentfunny, a bit radical eh, I think businesses look at costs and when they try to keep their own books without any training or knowledge see the folly, however with the correct support and training I find that most clients can do well, once they understand how important the process is.

We have Builders. Plumbers, Electricians virtually doing their own in the cloud, with minor input from us

Tim

Thanks (0)

Future of students...

What would be interesting would be to find out whether colleges offering book keeping courses are finding that their numbers reducing.

I would submit that the answer would be is 'yes but what numbers there are still make putting the course on worthwhile'

A friend of mine attended a C&G book keeping course last year (being taught the non computerised way)  - an 8 weeks course - and found that he was not on his own. There were 8 students, 2 were setting up their own (unrelated) business and wanted to know the basics, 3 had been sent by their employers and 3 also by their employers who were accounting forms. Apparently only about 3 years ago the numbers were double.

 

 

Thanks (0)

Bookkeeping vs data listing

At the risk of being a bit of a pedant - which isn't my usual way -

I feel bookkeeping should be the recording of transactions using double entry methods, in whatever fashion - but that really should be using appropriate software these days.

It should also be done relatively contemporaneously, rather than many months in arrears - it should also be used as part of the means of running the business.

Anything else, ie cobbling together lists of transactions on spreadsheets, many months after they happened is not bookkeeping - but I also accept this is often the only way of preparing tax returns etc.

Just my view - no offence intended anywhere.

 

 

Thanks (1)

Tom123

tom123 wrote:

 

I feel bookkeeping should be the recording of transactions using double entry methods, in whatever fashion - but that really should be using appropriate software these days.

It should also be done relatively contemporaneously, rather than many months in arrears - it should also be used as part of the means of running the business.

Anything else, ie cobbling together lists of transactions on spreadsheets, many months after they happened is not bookkeeping - but I also accept this is often the only way of preparing tax returns etc.

 

I agree that this is the way bookkeeping should be done and is the way I prefer by going in on a weeklyor monthly basis.  This way the client knows how the business is doing now and can react to the market and not after the end of year.    However small sole traders tend to just go to an accountant at the end of the year for their EOY accounts and tax returns. Until we can 'train' the client that it is more beneficial on a regular basis it's not going to change.
Thanks (0)

Accounting packages in the hands of the untrained

Accounting packages have, traditionally, been designed for the trained and so I agree those can be dangerous in the hands of the untrained but increasingly packages are being developed that don't need detailed knowledge of debits & credits.

FreeAgent is a good example of this, being designed & built by & for untrained people, without the mention of a dr or cr.  With reference to sash100's comments on left brain people, all of mine, who I'd never have let near quickbooks, sage or Xero are now doing their books on FreeAgent, with little help from me.

Such packages enable businesses to do their own books without any help from trained people, these businesses do not "need" bookkeepers or accountants and it's time for our industry to wake up to that fact, as the numbers are growing, especially as the younger IT literate generations come through.

So, whilst you & I may not want to do much of the work ourselves, being able to recommend, provide and support such systems is essential if we want to attract young businesses to use our services.

 

Thanks (0)

More lively debate

And good stuff too.

Totally agree with Tom, but again the question comes back to who does it, us or the client.

Interesting facts from JAAdams especially the two who were getting educated in order to enhance their own businesses.

Again I agree with Paul, packages are becoming designed in a way that you dont need to be an accountant to use them. We woke up to this and started helping clients to use new software in the cloud and its been very successful,we use prelude online, but freeagent seems to be similar. We are also able to log in every now and again to keep them on top of things, find any issues and generally review things. When EOY comes life is a breeze, and some of these clients were black bag clients.

When Barclays started dishing out SAGE to all and sundry some time ago I heard it described as "giving a monkey a machine gun" but software has moved on since then and become more user friendly to ordinary folk.

Thanks (0)

Monkey with AK47

That reminds me of a video on Live Leak.

There were some guerillas sat around in the jungle and they were playing with a monkey. One of them gave the monkey an AK 47 and after a while he waved it around in front of the guerillas and let off a round. You should have seen the guerillas run!

Thanks (0)

Live leak

Aah I'll have to look that one up, perhaps we can use it

Thanks (0)

everyone is a bookkeeper nowdays....

but is it such a great thing? Bookkeeping does require knowledge and skills - my income comes primarily from "disaster recovery", when things go wrong because of "I can do this myself" approach (not that there is anything wrong with doing books yourself - if you can, good on you !). On another hand, there is a problem of fixed monthly fee companies who do not check the integrity of the records and subsequently submit wrong Vat returns and year end accounts from the data wrongly produced by the director in the first place. Good bookkeeper can never be replaced by a cleverly designed spreadsheet , lets not put them on extinction list just yet.

Thanks (1)

Thanks Andy

The video just about sums up the comment

Mrs Muzzy, the thread acknowledges the value of good bookkeepers and there will always be work for good bookkkeepers. The question is more focussed on whether the newly self employed, who are from a generation far more computer savvy than I am expect there to be an "app" or at least software that will allow them to keep tabs on their own books, and rather than lose the work entirely is there anything we can do to assist, train, nurture !!

Thanks (0)

Ok, the video is funny :) Call me old fashioned, but in 8 out of 10 cases - new "ipad" generation cant do it, shouldn't do it! It costs more to have it fixed, then it would be to have it done by a professional in the first place. Don't get me wrong, we all had to move with the times and adapt and the technology has been great aid, but when things don't add up, I take pen and paper and work it out the old school. Never failed me yet. That knowledge and skill and experience is not something that can be passed on in two hour training session :)

Thanks (1)

I beg to differ

Mrs Muzzy, the new Ipad generation can do it and more importantly will do it, and if we as Accountants do not accept that and make sure that they understand how to do it then another firm will steal a march on us.

Our solution has been to find a programme that is user friendly to both us and the client, and that works in the cloud. I have builders, plumbers etc who are now issuing invoices, bearing their own logo from their smartphones directly by email to their customers and in doing so are including the sale in their accounts. The same are buying materials from their suppliers, having the invoice emailed and sitting in the van adding it to their purchase ledger before leaving the car park. It is called Prelude and we have been using it now for a year or so, and guiding the client through the whole process, not just a two hour training session, clients love it and they all balance the Bank and more importantly record cash. 

I have always insisted that before anyone is allowed near a computer they must be able to do it with a pencil, as that teaches them where to look if they make a mistake, but I am from a generation that started without television, let alone smart technology. Things have changed we have to change with them,

I no longer need to wash under the tap in the yard, I have a shower, 6 feet from my bed, would be a shame not to use it, although I do still keep a tap out the back.

Thanks (0)