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Professional Bookkeepers: 7 Key Things to Look for in a Bookkeeper

As a business, keeping your finances in order should be one of your most important goals. If your accounting is a mess, it can compromise everything from payroll to taxes. 

With all the amazing bookkeeping technology out there, it’s tempting to try to save money by doing the job yourself. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance this will end in disaster.

The value professional bookkeepers bring to a business is immeasurable. They help protect your finances and allow you to make plans for future growth. 

If you’re in the process of hiring a bookkeeper, you need to know what qualities to look for in candidates. Let’s go over seven of the most important ones. 

1. The Right Kind of Experience

Any candidate you consider for a bookkeeper position needs to have a college education followed by years of experience. However, this doesn’t mean anyone with these qualifications will be a good fit. 

The person you hire needs to have experience working with business entities similar to yours. For example, if you’re a startup, you need to find someone who understands the financial struggles that come with maintaining a small business. 

You should also look for someone who’s moved around in their career. A bookkeeper who worked for 25 years for the same business has ample experience but probably isn’t very versatile. 

Someone who provides good bookkeeping services has devoted their career to the skillset but has seen all manner of situations. This means they can adapt well and change their business practices when needed. 

2. Good Communication Skills 

You may think of a bookkeeper as a person who works on their own. While this is somewhat true, the person you hire needs to have excellent communication skills as well. 

The job a bookkeeper does is very complex. They’ll need to effectively explain things to you and upper management. 

The person you hire will also need to be able to work well in a team environment. Expect them to have to communicate with your HR department and whoever handles your payroll. 

A good bookkeeper should also be able to provide input on how to improve your operation. You need someone who takes the initiative and isn’t afraid to tell you when something needs to change. 

3. Organizational Skills

The management of business finances involves many moving parts. The person you hire needs to have superior organizational skills. 

Consider how many clients and accounts you have. Your bookkeeper needs to be able to juggle all these at once.

When interviewing candidates, ask how they approach time management. You need someone accountable for their own workflow and operational efficiency. 

Finally, a good bookkeeper understands the importance of deadlines. They should be able to prioritize tasks so nothing falls behind. 

4. Tax Knowledge 

Every business has a responsibility to stay on top of their taxes. Allowing things to fall between the cracks could lead to legal issues. 

A good bookkeeper should have an intimate knowledge of your state’s tax laws and procedures. They should also understand business tax requirements. 

Hiring someone with this knowledge will prove beneficial in several ways. First, they’ll be able to warn you of potential tax issues you can avoid. They can also offer alternative ways of filing your taxes that could result in savings. 

Expert bookkeepers know how to prepare and file taxes. At the very least, they can work with your tax professional to ensure an accurate and quick filing process. This will give you peace of mind that your business is in good shape for the upcoming year. 

5. A Desire to Learn

Some people learn a skill, start working, and never advance their knowledge. This isn’t a quality you want in your bookkeeper. 

Instead, you need someone who stays on top of their continuing education. They should have a passion for learning about developments in the accounting industry. 

A good bookkeeper also makes an effort to stay informed on new tax laws. They can then change your policies and procedures to ensure you’re in compliance. 

Many financial professionals go back to school to learn additional skills and practices. This ensures they remain on the cutting edge of their profession. The last thing you want is someone who’s stuck in the dark ages and doesn’t want to evolve. 

6. Technical Knowledge  

Today, accountants need to use state-of-the-art software on a daily basis. An excel spreadsheet won’t cut it anymore. 

This software is difficult to master. The bookkeeper you hire should be well-versed in the right technology with years of experience under their belt. 

Not only will this help streamline financial processes, but it will also reduce errors. That’s why businesses need to invest in bookkeeping software. 

Professional bookkeepers also have their eye on developments in financial technology related to their jobs. They can inform you if a new tool becomes available that will allow for a more seamless process. This is important when trying to stay ahead of your competition. 

7. An Understanding of Your Industry 

The more your bookkeeper knows about your industry, the better. This knowledge can give you a leg up and result in higher profits and even save you money when filing taxes. 

A solid understanding of business trends makes identifying patterns in your financial data much easier. There may be ways to cut costs you never spotted before. 

A bookkeeper with industry knowledge also understands the way clients typically pay for products. This could mean invoicing procedures or service contracts. Knowing all this cuts down on the learning curve. 

If a candidate you’re considering doesn’t have direct industry experience, they should show a willingness to learn. As long as they’re adaptable, they’ll be able to change their processes as needed. 

Professional Bookkeepers Can Turn Your Business Around

If the financial operation at your business is in disarray, you need an expert to step in and get things on course. It’ll surprise you how much your day-to-day functionality will change. 

All professional bookkeepers should possess the qualities discussed above. Keep them in mind when interviewing candidates. 

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