Success in bookkeeping means rising above your title

We’re increasingly finding new ways to describe the role of today’s bookkeepers but building a sustainable future in the space requires more than savvy rebranding.

Advisor. Consultant. Business health specialist. It’s clear that many in the bookkeeping industry no longer feel the traditional term accurately depicts the diverse and highly technical services they offer.

Whether it’s cashflow monitoring, payroll or general business advice, clients are demanding more from bookkeepers than ever before. At the same time, business and financial software continues to evolve, in some cases making traditional bookwork much simpler, in others the tech simply adds more complexity.

But it’s in this space that the future bookkeeper will thrive: somewhere among the tangle of systems, fighting for the client’s goals while liaising with accountants and the tax office.

The concept of business advisory as a value-added service has been around for a while, but in talking to people working in bookkeeping it seems not to have been accepted universally. Truth is, bookkeepers have been offering their clients practical and highly valued advice for years whether it’s recognised or not.

Director at Ebiz Solutions (WA), Rob Marshall says it was only relatively recently that he realised it was time to get serious about this element of his offering.

“I’ve probably been providing advisory services for around 20 years, it just didn’t have a name,” said Marshall.

“I’ve realised in the last six or 12 months that I’ve needed to formalise what I’ve doing more than I have done before.”

And he’s far from alone, as the entire industry grapples with the idea of moving away from “basic bookkeeping” and the traditional, billable hours type of service.

In repositioning towards advisory services, bookkeepers and their clients stand to gain from strengthening relationships. Bookkeepers will also find they’re able to open new bandwidth for adding clients and possibly entirely new streams of revenue.

Better still, some bookkeepers are realising benefits in other ways, such as being able to reclaim personal time and achieve better work-life balance by shifting towards fixed-fee pricing off the back of their move to advisory.

For example, the ability to spread the dates for various clients across a given month so work comes in every few days — which helps with smooth cash flow and greater certainty in forecasting. Meanwhile, bookkeepers can focus on providing value to their client instead of  the infernal beating of the clock.

So if you’re a bookkeeper wondering how you can make the most of this rising tide, rather than become swamped by it, you’ll want to start thinking about which changes need to be made to your offering in order to get you there.

Of course, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach. But to get you started on the right track, we’ve created a handy guide, ‘Bookkeeper and Business Partner’ with everything you need to know from pricing, marketing and other information, which can be downloaded here.