How to choose a bookkeeper you can count on

When you’re running your own business, there’s so much to do with so little time to do it all. You really can’t expect to master everything. Whether you’re starting your own business or you’re fine-tuning your financial strategies, a professional bookkeeper can be a big help – it will lower your risk of errors, and you’ll find yourself partnering with a provider who will make a big difference to the success of your business.

Making sure you take the time to choose the right person for the job is crucial – it can make or break your business. So, how do you achieve this? Here are a few tips to help guide you during the selection process.


Up-to-date with technical knowledge

Hiring a bookkeeper with up-to-date knowledge on the latest software is a must. If they are familiar with using online accounting services (for example Xero) they can automate processes and reduce the amount of time spent on data entry. Having someone knowledgeable with could-based services will give you greater flexibility to adjust your marketing strategy to improve sales.

A good bookkeeper will be able to assess your business quickly and suggest to you which online system will be best.


Communication skills

This is one of the most essential traits a bookkeeper should have. They must be aware of your operations, goals and issues to do their job properly and they should have the ability to enhance relationships with all your stakeholders.

When asking them questions during the search stage, ask yourself if you are comfortable with their style of communication. Do they explain things well? Can you understand them?


Honesty and trust

Honesty and trust are the two most important things to consider when doing your search. Your bookkeeper will be your closest ally. They will be helping your business grow by offering financial advice whenever the need arises, so you need to look for an individual you can trust.

Clearly, a bookkeeper has the role of managing your finances, so it’s important to hire an honest person. You will need to thoroughly vet them before settling for one so ask all the necessary questions, and don’t just stop at meeting with them once. Have a few meetings with them to see what your gut tells you. Ensure they will be dedicated to your financial success as well as your business success.


Organised and efficient

A good bookkeeper must understand your industry, your business processes and your requirements so they can hit the road running. They need to make sure processes are streamlined and adhered to, to provide you with timely reporting and meet the deadlines you require.

Having an excellent eye for detail, and caring about keeping your accounts in order and error-free are a must.


Past experience

Here is where you evaluate the scope of your future bookkeeper’s industry knowledge. Do they know what specific things to look out for, like credit control and payroll reconciliation? Some bookkeepers have experience where they become good at one thing, such as processing accounts-payable transactions. Other bookkeepers have maintained books for small businesses and gained experience in all areas

Ask if they have had similar clients or were they simply an employee in a similar organisation. Industry experience is a definite plus, because this gives their experience the depth you need.



To ensure you don’t make big business decisions based on decisions from an unqualified book keeper it is a good idea to work with bookkeepers with a minimum Certificate IV in Bookkeeping. You should also keep an eye out on those who are a part of a governing body such as the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB). This will help make sure their knowledge is also kept up-to-date (as per above point).  Chartered Accountants and CPAs are also qualified to do this (but you’ll likely pay more for this).  If the business is registered for GST then the bookkeeper must be a Registered BAS Agent.  It is a requirement of the Tax Practitioners Board and bookkeepers can actually get fined for not being registered and doing this!

A great bookkeeper can have a positive impact on how you feel about the financial aspects of your business, so ensure you ask as many questions as possible. Overall, they should help make your business more profitable, so partner with someone who understands your financial framework and is ready to develop a positive working partnership with you.