7 Questions to Ask Your Bookkeeper

(Before Hiring Them)

There’s a common saying that no two businesses are exactly the same. Even if they both offer the same services, there will be differences in approach, tools, personality, and skills that sets each apart. Bookkeepers are no exception! Every bookkeeper will have a different focus, use different tools, or have a slightly different way of doing things.

Since smaller businesses may need to ask more from their bookkeeper than they realise, it’s important to know which questions you should be asking your bookkeeper before you hire them to ensure that they’re the right fit for your company.

Many people prefer hiring those that they already have a relationship with because it seems easier, but that isn’t always the best idea. When it comes to finding the right bookkeeper for your company, you want someone who is professional, skilled, and able to have difficult conversations with you if needed! It can be a bit daunting trying to find that perfect person, so today we’ve rounded up seven great questions for you to ask your bookkeeper (or potential bookkeeper) to make sure that they’re a good fit for you.

Are You Registered and Qualified?

Many bookkeepers will have some kind of certification or diploma under their belt to prove their knowledge. Some may have an accounting degree or have bookkeeping qualifications; others may even be Chartered Accountants as well as bookkeepers. The exact qualification they hold will vary, but at the very least, your bookkeeper should have done some sort of professional qualification. After all, they’re handling sensitive financial information for your business, so you need the assurance that they know what they’re doing. Speaking of financial information, the UK government requires all bookkeepers to be registered with HMRC (or one of the main supervisory bodies) under the money laundering regulations. So, make sure you ask this before you go ahead!

What Experience Do You Have?

It’s unlikely that your business is looking for someone with no experience. Granted, all bookkeepers must start somewhere, but most will have worked either in an internal bookkeeping role before starting their own firm or will have taken on work during their studies to gain the experience they need. In short, the answer should never be ‘none’. Asking about their experience helps you understand what their specialist areas might be, and if they have enough experience to give you the support you need.

How Familiar Are You with My Industry?

A bookkeeper who doesn’t have any knowledge of your industry will have trouble with your accounts and records. Bookkeepers should have a basic understanding of how your industry and your company structure work. This means they will know which laws you need to be aware of, what deadlines you need to meet and if there are any more complex requirements. For example, if you import goods or trade overseas, you will need a bookkeeper who is experienced in foreign trade and knows how to find the information needed for the specific countries you deal with. If your company structure is more complex, then you need someone who has knowledge and experience dealing with that kind of structure. You don’t necessarily need an expert in your industry, but someone with an understanding of it is certainly a bonus!

What’s Your Response Time?

In business, things move extremely quickly, so sometimes you need information fast. You need a bookkeeper who can keep up with requests. A common issue that comes with having a professional bookkeeper is a slow response time. Ask your bookkeeper what you can expect from them in terms of turnaround time. This goes for both your emails and general queries, and the timeframes for getting the actual work done. Will you be getting reports every month, or will you end up having to chase them at the end of the financial year to get your books ready for submission to HMRC?

How Could Our Bookkeeping System Be More Effective?

Bookkeepers should constantly be looking for ways to make your business’ bookkeeping system more efficient. An efficient bookkeeping system makes both their life and your life easier, so they should be proactive in suggesting new ways of working. Whether that’s moving to a different software system, new ways to log receipts or ways to manage your employee expenses. A bookkeeper should be actively involved in making sure your business is as efficient as possible.

Where Are We Wasting Money?

Once a bookkeeper has been working with your business for a while, this is an important question to ask. Every business is looking for ways to save money, especially in the current economic climate. A bookkeeper will have intimate knowledge of your company finances – possibly more than you do! They will be able to tell you what spending is effective, what could be improved, and what should be cut to improve your cash flow. Remember, they want your business to succeed, and their knowledge can be invaluable when you’re looking at your finances.

What Extra Tasks Can You Take On?

Some bookkeepers don’t just do books. In fact, it’s quite rare! There are a lot of services that complement bookkeeping that your bookkeeper may be able to help you with. For example, providing management reports, submitting payroll, preparing VAT returns, and chasing overdue invoices are just a few. Ask what they offer outside of the basic bookkeeping services, and you may be surprised!

At GB Bookkeeping we are always happy to answer any of these questions, plus any more you can think of! We pride ourselves on being proactive bookkeepers, taking an interest in your business and making sure everything is running efficiently and smoothly. So if you’re feeling a bit stuck, or you’d like to know more about outsourcing your bookkeeping, just get in touch with us today to book your free, no-obligation consultation.

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