Skills to Look For When Hiring a Bookkeeper

Calculator pen and printed financial calculations

If you are thinking about hiring a bookkeeper, there are some important skills and characteristics to look for. In this post, we start off by summarising some of the benefits available to you when bringing someone in to do your books. Following that, we take you through some guidelines on what to look for.

Hiring a Bookkeeper Can Save Time, Reduce Stress and Help You Make Better Decisions

In one of our previous posts we discussed a DIY business admin trap that had the potential to limit growth in early stage businesses. The main focus on that discussion was increasing available time to focus on what you do best. Hiring a bookkeeper will do just that – you will save significant time. It will free you up so you can focus on your core business strengths.

In addition, hiring a bookkeeper will provide valuable assurance around the quality of your record keeping and compliance reporting. Knowing this aspect of your business is being taken care of will no doubt reduce the amount of late nights and stress for you. For example, you will be able to quickly and confidently answer any questions that come in from the relevant authorities. You’ll always know what the true financial state of your business is.

Importantly, having up-to-date books and accurate records will provide you with solid financial information to assist your business strategies and decision making. This sort of information is amazing once you start working with it. Making business decisions with the support of sound financial data and metrics is what helps you step-up to the next level of entrepreneurship.

What to Look For?

The role of bookkeeper is one of the most important in your business. We know this because most governments of the world create laws that require every business to keep accurate financial records. When you outsource this work, it is very important that you pick the right person. So how do you choose? Here are a couple of areas for you to consider:

Qualifications and Registrations

What qualifications does the person have? Have they completed any bookkeeping or accounting studies?

Is the person registered with the relevant authorities? For example, in Australia, in order to provide certain services a bookkeeper needs to be a registered ‘BAS Agent‘. This registration with the Australian Tax Practitioners Board is a requirement for anyone providing services that include the preparation of Business Activity Statements.

Are they a member of a professional association, for example the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or the Australian Bookkeepers Association? Being a member of these organisations helps professionals stay up to date with changes in legislation. It also provides opportunities for ongoing training and continuing professional development.


How long has the person been working as a bookkeeper? What experience does the person have with similar clients or those in the same industry as you?

Can they provide references? As we all know, people in any profession are only as good as their customers say they are. This is no different in bookkeeping, so being able to find out the truth from actual customers is very important.

Accounting Software

What experience does the person have with using relevant accounting software? E.g. MYOB and Xero. Are they a certified consultant or partner? Do they know how to use all the new features or Add On’s to ensure greater efficiency?

Other Services

Will the bookkeeper also undertake other tasks that I need? Will they tailor their services to actually fit with what the business owner needs? It is in your interest as the business owner to be working with someone that is flexible and can collaborate with you.

Reporting and Advice

Will the bookkeeper be able to provide regular reports and feedback on the state of the business? Can they help you identify any emerging issues? This regular feedback is so vital to a business owner and can provide great insight to assist with making timely decisions.


Consider the costs. How will you be charged – hourly, monthly or is there a package? Remember to consider this in light of what the opportunity costs are when you do this work directly yourself.

Additionally, is it possible that the bookkeeper can undertake more simple tasks that your accountant is currently doing. Could they do these tasks at a lower rate for you?


When will the person be available? Will they come to you or work offsite? What happens if they are sick or injured or go on holidays? Are they part of a team and will there be back up available?

Are Your Based in Australia?

For anyone reading this in Australia, we obviously have to recommend our own company, Trade Guardian, as an option you can consider. We have a full-service team, based in Canberra, who can take care of all your bookkeeping needs.

Getting It Right

Choosing the right bookkeeper is just like choosing any other staff member. If you use these guidelines prior to engaging someone it will assist in selecting the right person and creating a collaborative partnership that will provide you ongoing support and benefits.

We have put together a useful checklist that you can use when you are next hiring a bookkeeper. Drop us a line if you would like a copy of it.

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About the Author

Kristin Miller

3 Comments on “Skills to Look For When Hiring a Bookkeeper”

  1. I like that you suggest to think about what tasks your accountant is doing that the bookkeeper could be doing for a lower cost. It would probably be a good idea to ask the bookkeeper what their experience is and then find the tasks that they know how to do. It might be helpful to do this by making a list of everything that needs to be done and then sorting them.

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