An image of Ruby Business Solutions' logo

Bookkeeper vs Accountant: Understanding the Difference

bookkeeper vs accountant

When it comes to managing your business’s finances, it’s important that you understand the difference between a bookkeeper vs accountant. Both roles are essential, but they have different responsibilities and areas of expertise. This article will delve into the differences between a bookkeeper vs an accountant, their roles, qualifications, and how they contribute to the success of your business.

Bookkeeper vs Accountant: Summary table of key differences

Before we get started, here’s a summary table highlighting the key differences between bookkeeping vs accounting:

Primary RoleRecord and organize financial transactionsInterpret, analyze, and report financial data
Key ResponsibilitiesRecord financial transactions, maintain financial records, process invoices and payroll, prepare basic financial reportsPrepare and analyze financial reports, provide financial advice, manage tax planning and compliance, handle complex financial transactions
QualificationsNo formal education required, though some may have degrees or diplomas in business or accountingBachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, with additional professional certifications such as CPA
Online ServicesCan manage daily financial transactions remotely, using digital tools and softwareCan provide high-level financial services remotely, using advanced financial software and tools

What is bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the systematic recording and organizing of financial transactions in a company. It’s the process of tracking all of a business’ financial transactions, ensuring that every single transaction, whether it’s income or expense, is recorded in the correct daybook, supplier’s ledger, customer ledger, and general ledger.

A bookkeeper’s responsibilities

A bookkeeper’s responsibilities are multifaceted and integral to the smooth operation of a business. They typically include:

  • Recording Financial Transactions: This is the primary role of a bookkeeper. They record all transactions including purchases, sales, receipts, and payments by an individual or organization. This is done daily to ensure all transactions are recorded accurately.
  • Posting Debits and Credits: Bookkeepers are responsible for posting debits (expenses) and credits (income) in the appropriate accounts. This process is crucial for maintaining accurate financial records.
  • Producing Invoices: Invoices are an important part of any business transaction. Bookkeepers are responsible for creating and sending invoices to clients or customers for goods or services provided.
  • Maintaining and Balancing Subsidiaries, General Ledgers, and Historical Accounts: Bookkeepers maintain complete and up-to-date general ledgers. They also balance subsidiary accounts by reconciling entries, a process that involves matching two sets of records to ensure figures are correct and in agreement.
  • Completing Payroll: For businesses with employees, bookkeepers often handle the payroll. This involves ensuring all employees are paid accurately and on time, and that all necessary payroll taxes are paid to the government.
  • Managing Bank Reconciliations: Bookkeepers regularly perform bank reconciliations to ensure the company’s cash accounts match the actual cash available in its bank accounts. This process helps to catch and correct any potential errors or discrepancies.
  • Preparing Financial Reports: While detailed financial analysis is typically the role of an accountant, bookkeepers often prepare initial financial reports such as income statements and balance sheets. These reports provide a snapshot of the business’ financial health and performance.
  • Handling Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable: Bookkeepers track money owed to the company (accounts receivable) and money the company owes to others (accounts payable). They ensure that receivables are collected promptly and payables are paid on time to maintain good relationships with customers and vendors.
  • Maintaining Business Tax Records: Although filing taxes is usually the job of an accountant, bookkeepers prepare and maintain all the records needed for tax filing. They ensure that all transactions are recorded accurately and categorized correctly for tax purposes.

Bookkeeping is crucial for businesses as it helps in budgeting, where businesses can plan and control future income and expenses based on past data. It also aids in the preparation of financial statements, which are required for various purposes, including securing loans and attracting investors.

Advantages of working with a bookkeeper

A bookkeeper offers many benefits to your business. Here are some of the advantages to think about:

  • Accurate Records: Bookkeepers specialize in maintaining accurate financial records. They ensure that every transaction is recorded correctly and on time. That reduces the risk of errors that could lead to financial loss or compliance issues.
  • Time Saving: Doing your own bookkeeping is time-consuming, especially if you’re not familiar with best practices. Often your books end up in a mess and you need to hire a bookkeeping clean up service to get your records organized.  With a bookkeeper, you can avoid the mess and save valuable time.
  • Financial Analysis: Bookkeepers don’t typically perform in-depth financial analysis, but they do prepare financial reports that help you understand your financial health. These reports give you insights into where your money is going, identify trends, and help you make better business decisions.
  • Cash Flow Management: A bookkeeper helps manage your cash flow by keeping track of income and expenses. This ensures that your business has enough cash to cover expenses.
  • Compliance: Your business has to remain compliant with tax laws and other financial regulations. A bookkeeper prepares and maintains the records needed for tax filing and ensures that your transactions are recorded and categorized correctly for tax purposes.
  • Peace of Mind: Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of hiring a bookkeeper is the peace of mind it can bring. Knowing that a professional is handling your financial records can alleviate stress and allow you to focus on running and growing your business.

What is accounting?

Accounting is a high-level process that uses the financial information compiled by a bookkeeper or business owner to produce financial models. It involves summarizing, interpreting, and communicating financial transactions, which have been classified and summarized by bookkeeping.

Accounting responsibilities

An accountant’s responsibilities typically include:

  • Preparing Adjusting Entries: Accountants make adjustments to the financial statements prepared by bookkeepers. These adjustments might include recording expenses that have occurred but aren’t yet recorded in the bookkeeping process, such as interest payable or accrued expenses.
  • Reviewing Financial Statements: Accountants review financial statements to ensure they are accurate and complete. They correct any errors and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Analyzing Costs of Operations: Accountants look at the cost of labor, materials, overheads, and other expenses to help the business understand where its money is going and identify areas where it could save.
  • Completing Income Tax Returns: Accountants are responsible for preparing and filing a business’ income tax returns. They ensure that the company complies with tax laws and regulations and takes advantage of any applicable tax deductions and credits.
  • Providing Financial Advice: Accountants use their knowledge of finance and business to provide advice to businesses. This might include advising on budgeting, financial risk management, investment opportunities, and other strategic financial decisions.

Advantages of working with an accountant

Working with an accountant can provide several benefits to your business, such as:

  • Strategic Financial Planning: An accountant can provide valuable insight into your business’s financial health and help you make strategic decisions. They can assist with budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and capital investment strategies, helping you plan for the future and grow your business.
  • Tax Expertise: They have extensive knowledge of tax laws and regulations. An accountant can ensure your business is compliant with all relevant tax laws, help you take advantage of tax deductions and credits, and provide advice on tax planning strategies.
  • Financial Analysis and Interpretation: An accountant can provide insights that you might not be able to see on your own. They can identify trends, evaluate financial performance, and interpret financial data in a way that’s easy to understand.
  • Risk Management: They can help identify potential financial risks and provide advice on how to mitigate them. This could include risks related to investments, cash flow, regulatory compliance, and more.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Accountants can help ensure your business is compliant with various financial regulations. This includes not only tax laws but also regulations related to financial reporting, employee benefits, and more.
  • Time Savings: Just like with a bookkeeper, having an accountant handle your high-level financial tasks can save you a significant amount of time. This allows you to focus on other aspects of running your business.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that a professional is handling your taxes and other complex financial tasks can give you peace of mind. You can be confident that these tasks are being handled correctly, reducing the risk of errors and potential legal issues.

Bookkeeping vs Accounting: Key differences

What’s the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper? While both bookkeeping and accounting are essential to effective financial management, they do have several differences.

  • Role and Responsibilities: A bookkeeper’s main role is to record financial transactions, while an accountant’s job is to interpret and analyze those transactions. Bookkeepers handle the day-to-day financial activities, while accountants use those records to manage tax filings and provide strategic advice.
  • Qualifications and Credentials: Typically, bookkeepers aren’t required to have any formal education, although some may have degrees or diplomas in business or accounting. On the other hand, to qualify as an accountant, an individual must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Accountants can also obtain additional professional certifications, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Our bookkeeping team at Ruby Business Solutions are accredited QuickBooks ProAdvisors, Dext Partners and Pure Bookkeeping certified.
  • Decision-making: Bookkeepers are responsible for recording and categorizing financial data, while accountants use that data to make strategic business decisions. Accountants analyze financial reports to help business owners understand their company’s financial position and make informed business decisions.
accountant canada

5 things that accountants do that bookkeepers don’t

While both bookkeepers and accountants are integral to the financial health of a business, there are several tasks that are typically handled by accountants and not bookkeepers. Here are five key things that accountants do that bookkeepers don’t:

1. Financial analysis and advice

Accountants often perform detailed financial analysis to help business owners understand their financial health. They interpret financial data and provide strategic advice to help businesses make informed decisions about growth, cost reduction, and revenue enhancement.

2. Tax planning and filing

While bookkeepers maintain the records necessary for tax filing, accountants typically handle the actual preparation and filing of income tax returns. They understand complex tax laws and can provide advice on tax planning strategies to minimize tax liabilities.

3. Audit support

If a business is audited, an accountant helps prepare for the audit, interact with tax authorities, and respond to any findings or recommendations.

4. Financial forecasting and projections

Accountants often create financial forecasts and projections to help businesses plan for the future. They use historical financial data, market trends, and economic indicators to predict future revenue, expenses, and cash flow.

5. Complex financial transactions

Accountants handle complex financial transactions that go beyond the scope of daily bookkeeping. This can include things like mergers and acquisitions, securing loans, major investments, financial restructuring, and more.


Online bookkeeper vs online accountant

In the digital age, many businesses are turning to online bookkeepers and accountants for their financial management needs.

Both an online accountant and an online bookkeeper perform the same tasks as their traditional counterparts, but they do so remotely, using digital tools and software.

The advantages of hiring an online bookkeeper include:

  • Flexibility: Online bookkeeping can work around your schedule, providing services when you need them.
  • Cost-Savings: They often cost less than hiring an in-house bookkeeper, as you can pay for their services on an as-needed basis.
  • Convenience: Communicate whenever it suits you, often via email or online meeting platforms. You can also access your financial data from wherever you have an internet connection.
  • Access to Tools: Many online bookkeepers use accounting software and tools that can really streamline how you take care of your finances.
  • Scalability: As your business grows you can choose to scale up your online bookkeeping services to handle the increased workload.

Why your business needs a bookkeeper

Every business can benefit from the services of a bookkeeper. Here are some of the main reasons that we think your business needs a bookkeeper.

  • Better Organisation: A bookkeeper will ensure that all financial transactions are recorded and organised systematically. If you want to have accurate financial records and understand your business’s financial health, this is a key first step.
  • Time Efficiency: As mentioned, doing your own bookkeeping can be time-consuming. A bookkeeper will take this task off your plate so that you can focus on more important things.
  • Cash Flow Management: By keeping track of income and expenses, a bookkeeper can help you manage your cash flow better. They will help make sure that your business has enough cash to cover its expenses.
  • Regulatory Compliance: One of the key benefits of a good bookkeeper is that they will keep your business compliant with tax laws and other regulations.
  • Financial Reporting: Bookkeepers can prepare initial financial reports that provide a snapshot of your business’s financial health. These reports can help you understand where your money is going, identify trends, and make informed business decisions.

Bookkeeper vs Accountant: Which does your business need?

The decision to hire a bookkeeper vs accountant, or both, depends on factors such as the size of your business, the complexity of your operations, and your unique business needs.

A bookkeeper is typically sufficient for a business with simple financial transactions. As your business grows and your financial operations become more complex, you might need to consider hiring an accountant who can provide financial advice and manage your tax.

In most cases, businesses need both. Bookkeeping handles the day-to-day financial transactions, while accounting takes care of strategic financial planning, tax filing, and complex financial tasks that require a higher level of expertise.

How Ruby Business Solutions can help

At Ruby Business Solutions, we know that managing your business’s finances is a challenge. Our bookkeeping team can help you to maintain financial records, manage payroll, sales tax, prepare financial statements, analyze financial data, and provide you with advice. 

We also stay up-to-date with the latest bookkeeping regulations and follow clear monthly checklists to ensure that your business bookkeeping are in top shape.

Speak to us today about your bookkeeping needs.


Scroll to Top