What is your involvement with the bookkeeping profession?
Sequel CFO offers a full outsourced accounting team for SMEs. This ranges from cloud conversions and cash flow management all the way to strategic financial forecasting. We help clients plan for the future. As part of this, we know how important good numbers are, so we have a global team in the Philippines that support our CFOs. The global team do basic bookkeeping as well as month-end work (accruals, balance sheet reconciliations) and some ad hoc analysis for client as well.
In your eyes, how do bookkeepers differ to other tax or compliance professionals?
There is much more involvement with a client on the day-to-day as the bookkeeper works inside the business and is rarely the external advisor. The type of advice given by a bookkeeper is usually short-term value-add, whereas CFOs are taking much longer-term views and tax accountants often look at the overall family picture/tax impact as well as corporate work (structuring, transaction support). For example, great bookkeepers can manage weekly cash flows and solve urgent issue, whereas tax accountants are not always set up to deliver this kind of rapid service response. The relationship with the client is different as well, as we use Karbon which can send as many reminders to the client as possible to send information in for month-end, but it’s the bookkeeper who knows the information hasn’t come in because the client’s main support staff is on leave or there is something going on in their personal life.
What are the pros and cons of dealing with the bookkeeping profession?
When I first started Sequel, I wrote a blog describing how a business can grow beyond needing the services of just a bookkeeper. The content agency I used at the time put a very click-bait type title on it: “3 things your bookkeeper is doing to kill your business”. I was much less social-savvy then than now and the blog went up and within hours was receiving huge amounts of comments on LinkedIn. This was mostly from bookkeepers giving, shall we call it, non-constructive negative feedback! I was so taken aback I ended up deleting the blog as the headline really didn’t match my true thinking or the actual content of the post.
This showed the best and worst of bookkeepers. They have a strong community and they support each other, which is critical amid the rapid change happening. But the underlying sentiment is also missed — that CFOs need great bookkeepers. This is true if the CFO employs bookkeepers or gets referrals from them.
Where do you see the future of bookkeeping and why?
There is so much change happening now that it’s hard to know where it will end up. The role of the bookkeeper has always been to help business owners make better decisions, and I don’t think that will change. What will change is the information being used. It takes less time than ever to reconcile a set of management accounts if you are on a cloud accounting system. I use Xero and Receipt Bank, so you can use your time/client’s budget to add other analysis, forecasting, better business systems/digital conversions into the mix. This may fall within the future definition of bookkeeping, accounting advisory or CFO work.
Ultimately, I don’t think the client cares who the service is provided by, or what we choose to call it — what matters is that their business is performing better.