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Bookkeeping with Bank Statements - Which PDF to Excel conversion tool is right for you?

30th Apr 2024
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If you often get paper or PDF bank statements for bookkeeping or accounting clients, you might have tried different PDF to Excel conversion tools to extract bank statement transactions to Excel, csv or another format. This article looks at some potential options when dealing with paper bank statements.

Bookkeeping with Bank Statements - Which PDF to Excel conversion tool is right for you?
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Working with PDF Bank Statements

Accountants and bookkeepers prefer clients who can provide them with business transaction data in digital formats in a timely manner. However, often, you do not have this luxury. The data can be a bit disorganized and in paper format. Clients commonly provide PDFs of bank statements for a variety of reasons; for example, online data integration is available for a limited time period, and many small businesses do not have online banking. Therefore, accountants search for ways to extract data from PDF bank statements to digital formats for accounting. In this situation, you can either automate the process using a bank statement converter or assign a resource to convert manually.

This blog performs the cost-benefit analysis for each of the options available.

Assign to a Junior Resource

Hiring an accountant can be a sensible choice when you have complex financial statements or low transaction volumes. An accountant can easily distinguish between relevant data and ignore unnecessary information like T&C and other details. 

Though utilising an accountant can be costly, the average salary for a full-time accountant or bookkeeper in the UK starts from £26,000 per year, with experienced professionals commanding even higher salaries. This salary doesn't include additional costs like benefits, payroll taxes, and workspace. Moreover, an opportunity cost is also incurred by not having the resources to work on more value-adding tasks like financial analysis, planning, marketing, or customer service.

Use simple PDF Grid or Table Extraction Tools

Table extraction software offers an alternative to manual data entry. They can convert bank statement images into digital information by leveraging optical character recognition (OCR) technology. General-purpose OCR tools can extract data from an image and structure it for analysis. Examples of these tools are Able2Extract, Tesseract OCR, and Abbyy FlexiCapture. These tools can convert most PDFs or images into Excel, but they lack knowledge specific to bank statements, so manual effort is still required to clean and format the extracted data. 

Use an Advanced Bank Statement Converter

Specialised bank statement converters are designed to ensure precision. They can extract data from PDFs, analyse data to comprehend the statement and produce data in a standard format that accountants can readily use. An example is Receipt Bot, which extracts data, cleans it, fills missing instances, and returns a standardised output in Excel/CSV. As these applications go beyond just data extraction, a good bank statement converter can handle various cases and even directly convert to other advanced formats like OFX, QFX, Web Connect, and IIF. 

Cost Benefit Analysis

Let's analyse the costs and benefits of assigning an accountant versus implementing a bank statement converter. 

Cost Efficiency

Hiring an accountant involves a significant financial commitment, including salary, benefits, and taxes. In contrast, bank statement converter software typically requires a one-time or subscription-based payment, which is much less than the cost of hiring an accountant. The cost of resources is further impacted by the highest increases in minimum wages in the UK in March 2024. 

Time Savings

The expertise of a qualified accountant or bookkeeper is of great value. Asking them to enter data manually can lead to a loss of valuable working hours and even cause fatigue. In today's times, there is a shortage of skilled professionals, so it is crucial to value your staff and provide them with relevant tools to help improve their efficiency.

Accuracy and Reliability

Manual data entry is prone to errors and inaccuracies, which can result in wasted time resolving such errors or inaccurate financial reports. Specialised bank statement converters use advanced algorithms to ensure accuracy in data extraction. These tools can quickly identify anomalies or missing data, giving you more control and confidence in the output. 

Scalability

Manual conversion might not be too difficult for small firms with only a few clients and a handful of bank statements. However, manually converting a large number of statements would be unmanageable for larger firms. To scale up operations, automating the low-value task of converting bank statements to an editable format is essential. 

Conclusion

The specialised bank statement converter software offers a confident investment as accountants can analyse the output data without further steps or directly import it to their accounting software like Xero, QuickBooks or Sage. 
The prices of bank statement conversion tools can vary, and most applications come with complex pricing structures. However, Receipt Bot offers the convenience of advanced OCR at economical prices and flexible subscription options. Start a free trial today.