Not all qualifications are created equal
Bookkeepers often share experiences and feedback with us about qualifications they have taken. We have discovered that some feel their qualifications have been disappointing as though essential parts of their training were missed out. This has led them to feel unprepared for the working world. Anti-money laundering (discussed further down) is often a subject that is virtually overlooked but is of huge importance. With the rise of online courses, it’s also hard to tell which are genuine, delivered by qualified experts, and which are poor quality or potential scams.
Before you consider studying for any sort of bookkeeping qualification do some research. Ask other bookkeepers (and feel free to ask us too) what their experiences have been. Our members and employees have completed their exams with a range of companies.
Experience is essential
Qualifications are all well and good for basic knowledge, but they do not offer much in the way of practical experience. They also tend not to cover software and these days bookkeeping is all about the software. We have many bookkeepers reach out to us because they start a job and feel lost because they have not been shown how to apply that knowledge in a working environment.
This is one of the things our membership can provide: work experience. We help to give bookkeepers the essentials they need to feel confident and able to perform what is expected of them.
Get stuck into software – early!
You are far more likely to be chosen for a role if you have software experience. Often these days firms specifically ask for a “Xero bookkeeper” or “Quickbooks Expert” etc. They often need a candidate who at least has the basic knowledge of the package they are using.
Do not wait until you have finished your studies to start using these systems. Many accountancy packages offer free trials, so get stuck in. If you are proactive and start to use them at an early stage, you could potentially end up with part time work alongside your studies which will help you gain valuable experience. Even if that part time work is unpaid, it is a start.
Anti-Money Laundering Regulations
This is particularly important if you are self-employed. All bookkeepers must, by law, be governed for anti-money laundering supervision by an awarding body. You can be governed by a number of organisations; these include but are not limited to:
We are ICB qualified and governed by them too. Many companies will only allow you to be governed by them if you have gained your qualifications with them.
HMRC are the alternative. You do not need any prior qualifications to be governed by them.
Anti-money laundering supervision comes at a cost and that cost is not cheap. If you are considering working part-time on a self-employed basis you need to realistically look at the costs and if it’s financially worth it. If you work for a bookkeeping firm, you will be covered under their certification and so there is no cost to you personally and you don’t need to be supervised if you are an employee.
Next comes the actual processes and paperwork involved that must be done before you can work for a new client. This is simply not a topic that can be summed up in an article like this one. It requires training and commitment to create processes that suit the requirements of your governing body.
We have helped and guided a number of our members with this often-infuriating topic. We cannot tell you the exact requirements for every governing body, but we can point you in the right direction.
Do you want to know more?
Our COS Membership is there to support bookkeepers and accountants on their journey. We are here to answer your questions, and to help you grow your skills and career prospects. Click here to organise a free video meeting with our Managing Director Karen to discuss how membership could support you.