In everyday language, people often use “bookkeeper” and “accountant” to mean roughly the same thing: Both are people who deal with company finances. But for businesses and nonprofits, the differences between the two jobs are significant. Whether you need people to fill one or both roles depends on which tasks you need them to perform.
You need a bookkeeper if …
Bookkeepers literally keep the books, recording all the money flowing into and out of the organization. Among other tasks, they:
- Identify and record every financial transaction
- Post debits and credits
- Produce invoices
- Maintain and balance accounts
- Complete payroll
These days, most organizations use specialized bookkeeping software to maintain the general ledger (the document where receipts from transactions are posted), but you may well need a professional to ensure the software is used correctly. Bookkeepers should have specific training, but a bachelor’s degree is not a requirement.
The larger and more complex your organization is—and the more transactions you perform—the more likely it is that you will need to hire in-house or outsourced bookkeepers to ensure you stay organized and in compliance with IRS requirements.
You need an accountant if …
Accounting is a higher-level process than bookkeeping that requires highly specialized training and continuing education to stay abreast of changing requirements. Among other common tasks, accountants:
- Summarize, interpret, and communicate financial transactions
- Prepare financial statements
- Analyze operational costs
- Complete income tax returns
- Offers opinions on financial strategy to leadership
Accountants may specialize in tax preparation, auditing, or other areas, and they typically have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or another finance-related field. Some have advanced degrees or certifications, including Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), which signify professional experience and expertise.
Most organizations need in-house or outsourced accounting assistance with taxes, audits, reporting, or other critical tasks. Unless your organization is so small that you can file taxes and create and manage financial statements and reports on your own—without distracting from the true purpose of your business—you will need one or more accountants to help.
Professional assistance when you need it
Michaud Accounting Solutions has the skills, experience, and expertise to take any accounting process and transform it into an efficient and effective financial system that works for your organization. We have 4 CPA’s on staff with over 20 years of experience each, and we approach consulting and accounting software implementations from an accountants perspective, ensuring success for your organization.