The first point I have to give about this is that we have to remember that unlike certified accountants (CPAs), bookkeepers are unfortunately not regulated in Canada.
What does this mean to you?
There are no specific overarching education guidelines for bookkeepers or even codes of conduct for their behaviour or operating practices, by one governing body. Bottom line, anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper regardless of education or skills and there is no recourse for businesses who have damaging experiences with a bookkeeper outside of a lawsuit.
However, there are a few organizations in Canada, with a membership base of bookkeepers, that are dedicated to the bookkeeping profession and increasing the value of bookkeepers through professional development. They are doing this by creating their own codes of conduct and knowledge requirements to achieve certification within their organizations, for their members.
Though not formally recognized in Canada, what these organizations have done is create their own type of certification processes for their members so that their members can showcase their abilities to the general public in an effort to differentiate themselves from other bookkeeping professionals. These organizations also enforce ongoing development and education, through various channels, to their members as part of their certification.
Is a certified bookkeeper better than a bookkeeper that doesn’t have certification from one of these organizations?
Maybe, maybe not; the reality is it depends on the bookkeeper themselves. As bookkeepers are not regulated, getting a certification such as CPB, CB, or RPB, as a member of one of these organizations, is a choice for a bookkeeper and depends on if the bookkeeper feels this is of a benefit to them professionally. Depending upon the bookkeeper’s education or experience, these certifications may bring them up in line with others in their field or they may just be a way for the bookkeeper to stay connected to like professionals. There are fantastic bookkeepers out there, both certified, and not, that could have the same expertise and provide the same services to a business.
What is highly more important is that the bookkeeper is educated and skilled in what they offer. Education in bookkeeping and/or accounting fundamentals is a minimum for a bookkeeper to have, and for a business owner to expect. This may look different and come from different types of schools or institutions, but the fundamentals need to be there regardless of where they were learned. With the ease of accounting software today, some are mistaking the ability to use software, with a comprehension of the fundamentals; this is where we can end up with some problems in the record keeping and the ability to provide accurate analysis of the information generated.
The main goal for any business is to find a bookkeeper, certified or not, that is the right fit for them. This is not a one size fits all for the bookkeeper, or the business. Many bookkeepers will have similar fundamental knowledge, but not all will have specific industry comprehension, such as manufacturing, inventory, retail, or legal. Businesses need to understand not only what they want to achieve in their business, but what their business requires from an accounting standpoint.
Our goal with Find Our Bookkeeper™ is to understand the business, just as well as we understand the bookkeepers that we work with. Customizing a plan based on the business’ specific needs and wants helps narrow down the focus to find the bookkeeper that is the right fit for the business and its industry. All bookkeepers that we work with are put through comprehensive fundamentals and industry specific accounting aptitude tests, even if they are certified, so we can be sure of the expertise they can provide.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website at www.findourbookkeeper.ca to learn more about this unique program for finding bookkeepers in Canada, for Canadian businesses.
A self-proclaimed “non-blogger”, Susan has been an accounting professional for over 20 years. Education is a passion for Susan, and she can be found writing and editing for many organizations, such as Intuit Canada TurboTax, Knowledge Bureau, and QuickBooks Canada. She often speaks at events on businesses planning and taxation, teaches at Mohawk College, and works with many businesses and entrepreneurs as a financial management consultant. Susan is known to be approachable but pulls no punches when it comes to the reality of business finance and taxes.