A previous post went into detail about the changing role of Bookkeepers and the effect cloud technology and the increased regulation in the profession has had on what Bookkeepers can do.
While the changing role of Bookkeepers comes with many benefits it can also create challenges – namely in their working relationship with Accountants. While the roles they play are still very different, at times the lines between them can become blurred resulting in a difficult working relationship. The person who ultimately suffers is the client.
The main issues between Accountants and Bookkeepers can include:
Disputes over territory where one or both parties are protective of their role in the client’s affairs
Bookkeepers not understanding their limitations whereby they do work they don’t have the appropriate skills to do that can result in a mess that has to be cleaned up by the Accountant.
Accountants not communicating with the Bookkeeper when they do work for the client that can affect the bookkeeping. The same situation can also apply to the Bookkeeper not keeping the Accountant informed. This can result in a lot of confusion and the potential for mistakes to be made.
A question to be asked is can they actually work together? The answer to that question is yes but both parties need to put in the effort the make the relationship work.
To ensure the working relationship is harmonious both the Accountant and Bookkeeper need to:
Establish clear boundaries from the very start of the working relationship. There needs to be a clear agreement as to what role they will each play in looking after the client. This will ensure there is no overlap or disputes over territory.
Ensure that they do not take on work that they do not have the skills and experience to carry out. They need to understand what they do not know and when to seek advice.
Keep the lines of communication open at all times. If any issues or concerns come up they need to be discussed so they can be quickly sorted out.
Remember they are working to serve the client and to always act in the best interests of the client. Always think about what will work best for the client and not themselves.
Both Accountants and Bookkeepers play an important role in looking after the finances of their clients. When they work together in harmony it provides the best possible outcome for the client.
For Accountants and Bookkeepers what have been the issues you have had working with the other party? How did you resolve them?