Data from the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Annual Survey Report found that 35 per cent of bookkeepers were not satisfied with the financial return of their business in 2017.
Further, more than a quarter of bookkeepers now charge between $61 to $70 for bookkeeping services, up from 19 per cent in 2015, while there have been small increases in the $71 to $150 fee bracket as compared to the past two years.
Speaking to The Bookkeeper, Laurus Bookkeeping director Cassandra Scott said the evolution of the bookkeeping industry and its growing professionalism should enable bookkeepers to command better rates and better value themselves.
”The industry has evolved significantly from a bookkeeping perspective, particularly for the registration requirements, the continuous education requirements. We now need to be recognised as professionals and remunerated accordingly and that’s a changing discussion that needs to be had at all levels in the industry,” said Ms Scott.
“I think bookkeepers have historically undervalued their worth to businesses, and there’s always been a perception out there that they’re not accountants so they can’t charge the same as an accounting practice, and it’s almost impossible for a bookkeeper to charge what they are worth because the community doesn’t value what they are worth because they are ‘just a bookkeeper’.”
While the number of bookkeepers using hourly-based billing has dropped to just over 50 per cent in 2017, down from close to 70 per cent in 2015, Ms Scott believes the discussion over the preferred method of invoicing clients is irrelevant until bookkeepers learn to value their worth.
“There are still some people charging as low as $25 to $30 an hour, obviously there are going to be differences depending on your location and region, but I think bookkeepers need to be charging what they are worth and based on the value they are providing to businesses,” said Ms Scott.
“Whether that is an hourly rate or a fixed fee, it doesn’t matter and I don’t think anyone should be dictating to bookkeepers that they need to go down a path of fixed fees or need to quote on a work.
“I think every business owner needs to make that decision independently but what bookkeepers need to do is make sure they are being valued for the contribution that they are providing to small businesses,” she added.
“The reality is a lot of these bookkeepers are the backbone of their communities, they are the people that are keeping small business alive, they are keeping small business compliant and in some instances they are the reason small businesses are succeeding because they’ve got these professionals sitting in the background supporting them on a day to day basis."
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.