Bookkeeper or Accountant: How Are They Different?

Behind every business, there's a solid support team. At the top of the list are financial service providers, taking care of numbers. You may assume that bookkeeping services and chartered accountants undertake roughly the same roles. But while there are crossovers, this quick guide will help you understand the critical differences and determine what's best for your needs.  


What are bookkeeping services? 

When you need an accurate track record of daily incomings and outgoings, you need bookkeeping services. Bookkeepers deal with the everyday financial nitty gritty. Their primary role is to organise and manage your day-to-day financial activity, including recording sales and dealing with invoices.  

Bookkeepers can deliver monthly accounts and day-to-day oversight of financial transactions. Or they may take a less hands-on role as corporate auditors to provide confidence in the accuracy of your financial data. 

Nowadays, the practice revolves around software, so you're more likely to need Xero bookkeeping experts. But their core business, balancing the books, remains the same. Additionally, they could be responsible for: 

  • * Preparing VAT returns
  • * Preparing tax returns
  • * Running payroll
  • * Generating invoices
  • * Preparing end-of-year reports


What does a chartered accountant do? 

If you need an overview of the bigger financial picture, you need a firm of chartered accountants. As a baseline, your accountant ensures your business is up to speed with financial reporting and its tax obligations. However, these financial professionals have a wide range of expertise to add value to your business operations. 

You might employ an accountant to optimise tax planning or manage cash flow. Turn to a business planning accountant when you need advice on the strategic running of your business, handling growth plans and financial planning.  

The advantage of working with an accountant is that one size doesn’t fit all. If you need specialist advice in the third sector, seek out an accountant for charities. Payroll accountants focus on salary statements and processing payments. At the same time, accountants for high net worth are experts in financial planning and wealth protection. Legal practices often require professional accountants for solicitors who understand the specialist client money rules. 

The skillset and higher training level of corporate accountants make them your go-to for: 

  • * Business consultations
  • * Financial analysis
  • * Interpreting financial data and providing your business with a financial health check
  • * Personal financial planning
  • * Tax optimisation


Do I need a bookkeeper or accountant? 

Accountancy and bookkeeping are two distinct roles that are indispensable for any business. Knowing when to use their services can be time and cost-efficient, leaving you to get on with running your business. 

So, what do you need? 

You need specialist tax advice 

An accountant will prepare tax computations and returns that make full use of tax-saving opportunities. The role of an accountant can be strategically focussed, facing down the labyrinthine structures of corporate tax planning and delivering optimum fiscal efficiency.  

You need to prepare company accountants  

Again, this is a scenario where only an accountant can help. Corporate accountants specialise in calculating capital gains tax, developing cash flow forecasts and filing corporation tax returns. Preparing your company accounts is best left to the experts. 

You need help with invoices 

A bookkeeper adds value for daily financial tasks, including preparing invoices, chasing customers for payment and managing financial documents. 

You need help with VAT returns 

Preparing VAT returns is one area where there's an overlap between bookkeeping services and accountants. Other areas where you could use either service include essential tax advice and running payroll.  


Services from Collards Chartered Accountants

At Collard Chartered Accountants, we have the knowledge and skills to handle your business finances. As a BST accountant in Kingston-Upon-Thames, we provide recommended account services to best suit you. Contact us today for a no-fee initial consultation.