By Jane E. Kelly

So you think you want to be a bookkeeper? Some of the qualities that will help you to be a great bookkeeper are as follows:

  • Being organised. Bookkeeping involves carrying out repetitive and routine tasks, and a need to complete those jobs in a timely fashion — often with deadlines associated with them. As a bookkeeper, you need to be organised and have good time management skills.

    You also need to be able to prioritise the important tasks and identify those tasks that you need to do first. Often, using checklists helps you to ensure that you complete tasks and allows you to keep abreast of progress throughout the month.

  • Possessing good communication skills. As a bookkeeper you’ll be expected to discuss the finances with the owner/manager of the business. They will expect the basic financial reports, such as the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet, and updates with regard to cash flow.

    For example, it is often the role of the bookkeeper to manage the credit control for the business, which involves running accurate Aged Debtor reports to provide up-to-date lists of all outstanding customer invoices and then politely contacting those customers with a view to collecting the debts on a timely basis.

  • Having an enquiring mind. Bookkeepers are often required to investigate why certain costs are higher than expected within the accounts. You’d need to conduct an examination of the relevant nominal code, before Journals are raised to correct any mistakes that you subsequently find.

  • Having qualifications. As a bookkeeper you can be qualified by experience, which means that you’ve been doing the job for so long that you’re skilled in all aspects of the role. Alternatively, you can gain qualifications by studying for the bookkeeping exams set by specialist institutes, such as the International Association of Bookkeepers (IAB). Either way, you should be able to demonstrate that you are skilled at double entry bookkeeping, as it is critical to be able to correct mistakes that are made, if something is incorrectly posted onto the computer/accounting software.

  • Being happy working with computers and the Internet. Many common bookkeeping routines, such as bank reconciliation, require a working knowledge of accessing bank data via the Internet and using spreadsheets to prepare cash flows for the business.

  • Maintaining a sound knowledge of a well-known accounting software package. Most bookkeeping systems are now held on a computer, which means that a bookkeeper must be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of current accounting software packages.

  • Possessing honesty and trustworthiness. A bookkeeper is often going to be privy to some important and often confidential information, such as bank statements and payroll records. A bookkeeper is in a position of trust, and you’re not expected to abuse it.

  • Being happy working with figures! This may seem an obvious quality, but a bookkeeper needs to be equally as happy with numbers as with words.

  • Preparedness to update skills. As a bookkeeper you need to keep your finger on the pulse with current financial regulations, as well as staying up to date with the industry that you’re working within.

  • Having a confident personality. As a bookkeeper you are responsible for the day to day finances of the business and, as such, the owner/manager of the business will expect to be working with someone who is confident of their own abilities and who can happily discuss the reports produced from the accounting package.