In our business I believe having a qualification to do bookkeeping or payroll is essential. For me,studying to gain a qualification shows commitment to providing a professional service and is the foundation for building on that skill and knowledge.

Bookkeeping QualificationBookkeeping is a vital part of your business function and your business success so it seems quite important to employ someone who has committed to understanding it and obtaining a relevant qualification. Payroll can be complex too so having undertaken some study to gain a qualification gives a good foundation for understanding those more challenging issues.

I have advertised in the past for both experienced and trainee bookkeepers but have had more success with recruiting those who are already in the process of gaining a qualification than those who have already been working as a bookkeeper.  The applicants who are studying are keen and interested and welcome the opportunity to use their new found knowledge whilst they continue learning.  As bookkeepers we are always learning.  Every business is different; their accounts are different; the knowledge and skills needed are different.  And what we learn from one business is often useful for another business we take on.  

Bookkeeping is certainly interesting, challenging and rewarding.  As a bookkeeper you have responsibility for all accounting functions from sales invoicing through to management accounts and VAT returns and therefore are fully involved with the finance function of a business.  This frequently includes providing support and advice and managing cash flow.   It is really important therefore that bookkeepers are qualified because without the knowledge that manual bookkeeping training and subsequent qualification provides they are not able to solve accounting issues or develop appropriate recording methods.

Our bookkeepers are part of a team which not only ensures our customers have continuity it means that each member of the team will gain experience and develop skills by learning from each other.

Our payroll team have also taken qualifications in payroll so that they, too, have a good foundation of knowledge to build on.  Of course we come across many situations in payroll that cannot be taught and we have to use the knowledge we have to deal with these issues appropriately.  There is plenty of guidance on HMRC website for running payroll but it is not always easy to understand if you need to make a correction or have an unusual situation to deal with.  

Getting your employees' pay wrong does not go down well with them!  That is why so many businesses now use a resource such as ourselves to do the payroll for them.  Our experience and knowledge ensures that pay calculations and deductions are done correctly.  And with pension contributions for auto enrolment now further complicating payroll it is very important to know that both elements of this payroll processing are being done correctly.  It is surprising how many payrolls we have taken on have had incorrect pension contributions being made.

Payroll qualificationOur payroll department is expanding and we are currently recruiting for a trainee payroll administrator to join us.  For the first time i want to take on someone who is not part way through a qualification but who would like the opportunity to start a career in payroll and gain a qualification.  This is new route for us to take on someone from scratch but the longer I have been in business the more I want to provide opportunities for those starting out or wanting a change of career.

Everyone needs an opportunity to learn and gain experience and whilst in some careers it is essential to have previous experience, in our business we have a team to support those who are learning.  We just need people who are keen and want to learn our trade and who are prepared to work hard to achieve a qualification.

When I had my first interview many years ago I was told I did not have enough experience for the job.  I was qualified and this was my first interview.  I replied along the lines of how would I gain experience if you don't employ me!  Probably not very appropriate but I got the job.  People need opportunities in order to develop and grow and for someone to have faith in their abilities.  Now that I have my own business I want to help others get started just as I was helped.  

So, yes, I believe having a qualification is really important for the services we offer but having enthusiasm and an ability to learn are also key.  Not only for ourselves, but so that we become professional and provide our customers with a great service.