Speaking to The Bookkeeper, All That Counts director Lielette Calleja believes that as firms move towards a more client-facing role, bookkeepers can no longer afford to just hold a basic bookkeeping certificate.
“Because of the technology, before you could get away with a Cert IV person just to sit there and code a lot of stuff,” said Ms Calleja.
“Now if we want to add value to our clients, I do need to have people who have similar backgrounds to what I do in management accounting.”
Conversely, Ms Calleja believes staffing will be one of the biggest hurdles facing firms in 2018, as fresh graduates often fail to understand the current role of a bookkeeper.
“We are a progressive firm and an agnostic firm so we cover all software and the people that I recruit aren't exposed to these software,” said Ms Calleja.
“[Recruits] come out of university, they know the technical stuff but they don't know the actual work and the ecosystem and what it is I try to actually do.
“Bookkeeping is secondary. It is about putting in systems so clients can manage their business better.”
Instead, Ms Calleja suggests that fresh graduates and potential recruits adopt an “open mind” towards the evolving role of bookkeeping to better prepare themselves for the workforce.
“I suggest you go out there and just understand how businesses work and I don't know if you're going to get that in a chartered environment,” she added.
“You need to know how small businesses tick and what they value.”
Universities have been under the spotlight recently as the accounting industry mounts pressure on educators to keep up with the demands on the industry.
Jotham Lian is the 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.