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What is the difference between a bookkeeper and accountant?

A question I get asked a lot is what is the difference between a bookkeeper and accountant. This can be looked at in two ways. Firstly, in terms of knowledge and experience. Secondly, in terms of education and qualifications.

Knowledge and experience

An accountant has a broader range of skills and expertise and can do everything that a bookkeeper can do. A bookkeeper will record your financial transactions although they may do other tasks such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and lodge things like your BAS. An accountant will review, analyse and advise you on that financial data.


Education and qualifications

In addition to offering a wider a range of services, an accountant will be more highly educated than a bookkeeper. An accountant will have an undergraduate degree or higher in accounting whereas a bookkeeper will have a diploma. For an accountant, further accreditation includes becoming a CPA or CA and for a bookkeeper being registered to lodge BAS.

Which one is for me?

If you run a small to medium size business and you're wanting to keep on top of recording your financial transactions, then I would suggest hiring a bookkeeper who will engage the services of an accountant at year end. This is the most cost-effective approach to stay on top of your financial requirements. Larger businesses and those dealing with complex transactions will want to look at engaging the services of an accountant who can provide more in-depth analysis of your business and navigate they complexities of a larger businesses.

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