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Bookkeeping vs accounting: What’s The Difference?

By 5 April 2024April 11th, 2024No Comments5 min read

Bookkeeping vs accounting: What’s The Difference?


As a business owner you’ll know all too well that you have to keep track of a lot: How much money is coming in? How much is going out? And the list goes on. You need to be pretty much on top of everything – regardless of the size of your business.

That’s why it’s so important to understand the nuances between bookkeeping and accounting. Both of these aspects of your business are crucial for financial management and decision-making.

This blog will give you all the information you need around bookkeeping and accounting differences. 

What is bookkeeping in accounting? 

Bookkeeping involves tracking daily financial transactions, documenting them, and maintaining accurate financial records.

Tasks may include: 

  • Managing and recording all financial transactions and balancing the books. 
  • Reconciling books with bank statements and other source documents. 
  • Generating monthly financial reports. 
  • Preparing tax returns. 
  • Handling invoices (accounts receivable/payable). 
  • Calculating payroll and deductions. 

What is accounting?

Accounting involves analysing financial information (typically prepared by bookkeepers) to create statements and reports that offer insight into a company’s operations.

Tasks may include: 

  • Monitoring company expenditure and budgets. 
  • Preparing accounts, tax returns and other financial statements. 
  • Analysing financial data and performance. 
  • Analysing operational costs and calculating performance metrics. 
  • Conducting financial forecasting and risk analysis. 
  • Guiding senior management team in making informed financial decisions. 

Bookkeeping vs accounting: What are the key differences?

In simple terms, bookkeeping focuses on accurately recording financial transactions, while accounting provides strategic insights into a business’s financial health using the information from bookkeeping.

Have a look at the main bookkeeping and accounting differences.

  Bookkeeping  Accounting 
Purpose  Keep a methodical and chronological log of all financial activities and transactions.  Examine and interpret data, create financial projections, and offer guidance to business owners regarding financial decisions. 
Key skills  A bookkeeper must possess strong organisational skills, attention to detail, and proficiency in financial record-keeping to accurately manage and maintain a company’s financial transactions.  An accountant must possess advanced analytical abilities, financial expertise, and strategic decision-making skills to interpret complex financial data and provide valuable insights to business owners. 
Educational requirements  Formal bookkeeping or accounting training.  Bachelor’s degree in accounting or equivalent and professional certification. 
Tools used  Accounting software, spreadsheets, financial statements.  Analysis software, tax preparation tools, budgeting software. 


Bookkeeping vs accounting: What do you need?

Whether your business is big or small, understanding your accounting needs is crucial.

As a business owner, knowing when to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant can be challenging, as both roles overlap somewhat.

Here are some tips to help you decide

Consider a bookkeeper:

  • For recording daily transactions. 
  • If your business has small inventories and a simple structure. 
  • If you’re working within a conservative salary budget (bookkeepers typically earn less than accountants).

Consider an accountant:

  • For managing and recording complex transactions. 
  • If your business deals with larger inventories. 
  • If you have the ability to invest more in accounting services. 



What should you look for in an efficient bookkeeper? 

Look for strong organisational skills, attention to detail, and reliability. They should have a thorough understanding of financial processes and be able to accurately maintain records of daily transactions.  
Additionally, effective communication and the ability to collaborate with other team members are valuable traits.  
Whether they have formal certifications or not, their track record and experience in bookkeeping tasks should demonstrate their competence in managing financial records effectively.


What should you look for in an efficient accountant?

Seek specialised expertise tailored to your business needs. They should possess advanced analytical skills and a deep understanding of financial principles, enabling them to interpret complex data and provide strategic insights.  
Look for experience in your industry or similar businesses, as well as a track record of delivering accurate financial analysis and guidance.  
Effective communication and the ability to translate financial data into actionable recommendations for business growth are also key attributes.  
Whether you hire a firm or an individual accountant, ensure they can adapt to your company’s requirements and provide valuable support in achieving your financial goals. 


Can bookkeepers perform accounting tasks, and what limits their scope of work?

Bookkeepers primarily handle day-to-day financial record-keeping, while accountants engage in higher-level financial analysis. While bookkeepers can perform basic accounting tasks like generating financial statements, they may lack expertise in analysing complex financial data. 


Bookkeeping vs accounting: what should a small business owner hire?

Whether a small business owner should hire both a bookkeeper and an accountant depends on the business’s needs and financial complexity. Initially, they might start with a bookkeeper for daily financial management. As the business grows, they may engage an accountant for higher-level financial analysis, tax planning, and compliance. Sometimes, a small business owner might find an accountant who offers both bookkeeping and accounting services. 


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