18th November, 2020
In a special Global Bookkeeping Week edition of MYOB Changecast, our panellists discuss the resilient nature of bookkeepers, while also offering tips for how these quiet achievers can promote their achievements.
Bookkeeping rose to prominence with the introduction of GST and business activity statements (BAS), triggering business owners to take near-constant care for their books.
Since then, having a compliance and technological expert on-hand has become a default setting for most operations, leading bookkeepers to become both highly sought after and regularly overlooked for their tireless work.
Discussing this paradox on this week’s special edition of MYOB Changecast, host Colin Beattie from The Leadership of Fools is joined by Amanda Linton, chief executive of ICB Australia, Di Crawford-Errington, President of ICNZB and Peter Thorpe, Director of the Australian Bookkeepers Network, who all bring their unique perspectives on the future of our bookkeeping industry.
One of the major through-lines in this week’s discussion is the idea of how integral bookkeepers are, how resilient and adaptive they’ve been in recent years, but also how, as a collective, the industry often struggles to promote itself.
“I think we’re a very nurturing bunch of people – we wrap ourselves around our clients and our teams and support from the ground up — it’s a grass roots kind of thing,” said Crawford-Errington.
Linton agrees, saying her purpose was something that she spent a long time figuring out when she was running a practice.
“That’s something that when I had my practice I spent quite a long time unpacking … ‘I want to make money’, ‘I want to have a business’, but it really came down to ‘I want to help people’. It’s a fundamental trait,” she said.
Thorpe suggested that part of the reason why all good bookkeepers are incredibly nurturing is that it goes with the territory – you can’t work so closely with someone else in their business without coming to care about their success.
“You become quite connected and nurturing, or you don’t have clients,” he said.
This concept of the support a bookkeeper offers should be familiar with many business owners, but it’s also an idea that some had predicted would start to dwindle as automation tech replaces the need for many traditionally manual services offered by bookkeepers.
“You would expect, in the face of [increasing automation], the profession to be shrinking in size … it hasn’t,” said Thorpe.
“You’d think the numbers to be shrinking but they’re going the other way.”
For Crawford-Errington, you just can’t beat the human touch that comes from a well-versed expert laying out complex information for their clients – and it’s that relationship that bookkeepers are continuing to maintain even in a year like 2020.
“Bots will never replace bookkeepers,” she said. “Someone needs to transfer that information into a format or conversation with clients.
“Bookkeepers have always been intrinsically an interpreter between the accountant-speak … and the client. It’s two-way interpretation.”
But are business owners as aware of the true value a good bookkeeper can offer them? In this case, panelists feel this is one area where bookkeepers need to work harder.
“How do we sell our value to small businesses?” asked Crawford-Errington.
“Getting the messaging right… I don’t know if bookkeepers are intrinsically good marketers, so that’s something we look to support our members with.”
For Linton, Global Bookkeeping Week offers a platform for all bookkeepers to get behind and help promote their profession.
“Global Bookkeeping week is our opportunity to recognise and celebrate the industry out to the broader market.
“Global Bookkeeping Week can highlight to the business community what bookkeepers have to offer them.
“The event was begun six years ago, and this is the first time it’s gone wider than the ICB community globally.”
The conversation doesn’t linger on Global Bookkeeping Week for long before moving back into discussing how bookkeepers can better promote their own work – and there’s lots of insights on offer in that regard.
But this has been just a brief taste of the value on offer for bookkeepers in this week’s special edition of MYOB Changecast. For more tips on how bookkeepers can put their best foot forward, subscribe to MYOB Changecast on iTunes, Spotify or the preferred podcast platform of your choice.