The difference between accountants and bookkeepers


Many people use the term accountant and bookkeeper interchangeably, however there is a difference. So what is the difference between accountants and bookkeepers?




Bookkeepers also sometimes referred to as accounts clerks are principally responsible for the data entry of all financial transactions for a business in a consistent manner.


These financial transactions include;


  • all bank and credit card transactions,
  • sales invoices,
  • payroll data,
  • expense payments and
  • if registered as a BAS Agent the monthly or quarterly GST return.

Bookkeepers may or may not hold an accounting degree or be member of a professional association such as the Institute of certified bookkeepers (ICB).




Accountants will be degree qualified and will be either a member of one of three professional bodies in Australia being:


1. CPA Australia (Certified Practising Accountant or CPA),
2. Institute of Chartered Accountants (Chartered Accountant or CA)
3. Institute of Public Accountants (Public Accountant).

In the most basic of functions accountants are responsible for taking the information entered by bookkeepers and either


  • creating a set of financial accounts including a profit and loss statement
  • preparing adjusting entries for such items as depreciation, amortisation of loan repayments, bad debt write-offs and other accruals to ensure revenues and expenses are recorded when the transaction took place.
  • preparing tax returns (the accountant will need to be a registered tax agent)
  • assisting business owners to understand this information.

However with the growth of accounting software  and the development of cloud based systems the difference between accountants and bookkeepers are being blurred as these systems can generally allow a bookkeeper to prepare all the financial reports and adjusting entries that are repetitive.


Accountants therefore have had to move their functional responsibility to providing value added services by partnering with the business to ensure the improved financial performance of their client. This includes:


  • educating business owners on what drives their financial performance.
  • developing cash-flow models that enable the business to forecast their cash position over the coming months.
  • developing budgeting models
  • providing detailed analysis of the risks associated with their business and working with the owners to mitigate
  • providing effective tax planning strategies to ensure the business is tax efficient and compliant.




The difference between accountants and bookkeepers, whilst clear businesses often don’t understand who they need. For a business to succeed and prosper in the long-term then you need to consider hiring both a quality bookkeeper and accountant as they compliment each other. A bookkeeper will allow the owners to work on the business rather than spending this time, doing the accounts. Whilst the accountant can assist the owners focus on what is needed to prosper and grow the business.  Fledgling businesses may start-off doing the bookkeeping themselves and with the latest generation of cloud based accounting software this task is becoming easier and easier for business owners. however they should still hire a good accountant.


So at the end of the day businesses will receive tremendous benefit in hiring a quality accountant like ourselves. So if your looking for a new accountant then call us.

Preferred accounting systems

PB Accountants recommend Quickbooks Online (QBO) and XERO (both cloud based). We’ve had plenty of experience with both packages-- and believe that (except in rare cases) one or other of these will be the best accounting system for our clients.

Need help choosing an accounting system? Just get in touch with Michael and he’ll help you decide.

Switching to us (it’s easy!)

If you decide you’d like us to take over your accounting, we will contact your old accountants on your behalf and ask them to forward all your information to us. We’ll also notify the Australian Taxation Office of the change. Done.

It’s your choice

While we use and recommend Xero and Quickbooks Online, we’re happy to work with any accounting package you choose. After all, it’s you and your business we’re here to support.

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Want to find out more about PB Accountants and Advisory and what we can do for you? Contact Michael by phone or email