Recent industry chatter indicates that bookkeeping firms feel under threat by accountants offering bookkeeping services as part of a bundled package with their usual tax offerings, while bookkeepers have increasingly positioned themselves as business advisers, the traditional domain of an accountant.
QA Business founder Clayton Oates says the debate misses the point in proactively delivering what clients actually need and want.
“Bookkeeping isn’t something that accounting firms can dabble in. The creation of a dedicated in-house bookkeeping business requires commitment, personnel, systems and a scorecard that is different from the traditional firm,” Mr Oates said.
“Small business owners generally don’t want the accountant or the bookkeeper to do the books; they want to get the BAS done, stay compliant, know where they are up to financially and where are they heading and answer the ultimate question – is all this effort of owning and running a business actually worth it?
“I would encourage both accountants and bookkeepers to stop trying to 'own the books' and the 'end-to-end process' and focus more on stewardship, education and responsibility for platform creation to enable a quality and timely set of books to be produced by the client and their technology systems.”
Likewise, Laurus Bookkeeping director Cassandra Scott believes accountants and bookkeepers should be willing to collaborate for the sake of the client.
“Ultimately, it does not matter where the bookkeeping service is provided from. The key metric to success, is that the provision of a bookkeeping service should be an enabler to the client – it should provide a value add to the ongoing success of the business, and should be about more than just the routine of data entry and mandated compliance,” said Ms Scott.
“The bookkeeping relationship should be about the development of a quality synergetic relationship between the client and the client’s other business advisers, to provide an ongoing framework for business review, guidance and success.
“Recognition and respect, and the willingness to collaborate on service delivery to the client is what is required between both accountants and bookkeepers in today's connected business environment.”
Jotham Lian is the news editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.