What are the main responsibilities of a bookkeeper?

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responsibilities of a bookkeeper

If you’re thinking about a career as a bookkeeper, you may be wondering what exactly will be expected of you. Bookkeeping can be an incredibly varied and challenging role which also allows you to create a healthy work/life balance. You may be working as part of a large team, handing a small part of the bookkeeping process for a large company, or you may be working for a small company and responsible for all day-to-day bookkeeping. In some situations, you may also get involved with things like payroll and even HR.

That’s a general overview of the role, but what are the main responsibilities of a bookkeeper? If you’re thinking about bookkeeping training, you’ll likely want to know what your day-to-day tasks will look like. Let’s explore this in more detail below…

Keep daily financial records

The primary role of the bookkeeper is to keep the daily financial records up-to-date. Rather than looking back at the end of the month and trying to remember when invoices were paid in and out, the bookkeeper keeps daily records. This is perhaps the most important aspect of the job.

In most cases, you will be tasked with double bookkeeping, which means each transaction affects at least two accounts and will require a debit and credit value. A keen eye for detail is essential as mistakes can take a long time to be discovered and even longer to fix.

Processing sales invoices and receipts

If you work for a small company and are solely responsible for the accounts, you will also likely be the main point of contact for processing sales invoices and receipts. All suppliers will want to be paid in a timely manner, and they will expect clear communication alongside this.

As a bookkeeper, you may be responsible for representing the company to suppliers and customers, so you’ll need to be a confident communicator. You may need to pick up the phone to chase late invoices. Or you might be required to process invoices quickly and accurately before a bank holiday. These are just some of the skills that will serve you well when working as a bookkeeper.

Preparing VAT returns

Preparing VAT returns

Most companies pay VAT, so it’s down to the bookkeeper to keep track of this and prepare the VAT return for HMRC. As this is a legal requirement, it’s important that tax records are accurate and up-to-date. Bookkeepers not only need to have keen numeracy skills but they also need to be quick to learn new computing systems.

Since the making tax digital initiative was introduced, all accounts now need to be processed and stored in a digital system. Bookkeepers no longer use the namesake ledgers of the role and you are far more likely to be using a database or complex spreadsheet to keep track of the accounts.

Dealing with financial paperwork

In addition to everything listed above, bookkeepers are also responsible for the myriad financial paperwork as and when required. This might mean preparing cash flow statements for monthly management meetings. Or it could mean helping to add new employees to the payroll. Bookkeeping offers many different avenues for professional growth, depending on the type of organisation you work for.