How to Choose a Bookkeeper

February 25, 2013

A few weeks ago, the Institute of Public Accountants revealed that there are just 14,000 registered bookkeepers in Australia servicing almost two million businesses. This startling statistic got us here at First Class Accounts thinking – just how many bookkeepers in Australia are operating outside the system?

We say we would never use an unlicensed plumber or electrician, yet a number of business owners have employed an unregistered bookkeeper to manage their finances. This has long been a concern for the industry and in March 2010, the BAS (Business Activity Statement) Agent Laws were introduced in the bid to filter out unexperienced bookkeepers and recognise qualified bookkeepers.

As a bookkeeping franchisor, we too are concerned about this issue. We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity, and expect the same of our franchisees. We choose who we work with carefully based on these attributes, and those who become partners with us can expect the same in return.

This kind of transparency in business is important – essential, in fact. We encourage our bookkeepers to be open and clear with clients from the outset, and this includes showing proof of registration.

So, why is it so important to only use registered bookkeepers? The answer is simple – it’s to safeguard your livelihood and protect the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

Businesses face a number of risks when using non-registered bookkeepers to complete BAS-related activities. Unlike accountants, many contract bookkeepers operate independently without being affiliated to industry bodies. This places them at risk of being ill-informed about or unaware of key legislative changes.

The BAS Agent laws have seen the introduction of a national Tax Practitioners Board that oversees the supply of BAS Services to the public. Only bookkeepers who have registered with the board are permitted to render BAS services to their clients.

These changes are beneficial for businesses because no longer can someone who has mastered the use of a computerised accounting package pass themselves off as an experienced bookkeeper.

To check whether your bookkeeper is registered, you can ask two simple questions:

1.) Have you registered with the Tax Practitioners Board?

2.) What is your TAN (Tax Agent Number)?

Every registered bookkeeper will receive a certificate of registration from the Tax Practitioners Board. It’s a good idea to ask for a copy of their registration and keep it on file.

Before hiring a bookkeeper, make sure they are registered. This is one of the most important steps to ensure that they can provide a competent service to you and your business. After all you trust them with all of your finances so it’s your right to do your research.

At First Class Accounts, every bookkeeper is required to complete our rigorous training program that provides them with a Certificate IV level in Bookkeeping and BAS Agent registration. We also have an industry-leading support network in place for all of our bookkeepers ensuring advice and guidance is always available to them, so you can rest assured that your books are in good hands.