Whilst bookkeepers are not required to have a qualification it is obviously extremely useful for your business if your bookkeeper knows what they are doing!
With more and more accounts software coming to the market and the implication that your accounts or payroll can be done and submitted to HMRC by just simply pressing a button, the risk of getting it wrong just gets greater. That's why I believe studying for and completing a bookkeeping or payroll qualification is vital. Sending information to HMRC, be it through a VAT return or a tax return, which later needs to be corrected can only highlight inaccurate record keeping and may trigger a tax or VAT investigation. Frequent late or amended payroll submissions will also flag an issue with HMRC as will an employee directly contacting HMRC because they believe their deductions are incorrect.
Before I became a professional bookkeeper and payroll expert I spent 2 years gaining two bookkeeping qualifications (I already had 3 from several years earlier) and a further 2 years gaining two payroll qualifications. Over the 18 years I have been providing bookkeeping and payroll services I have trained up bookkeepers and payroll administrators who are studying or have recently qualified in order to give them the knowledge and experience needed to work with different types of business.
The studying and qualifications are the foundation of our work and we would not have a good understanding of how accounts or payroll work or the knowledge to be accurate without this foundation. When I take on trainees I build on this foundation and help them to relate their learning to the practical. Studying accounts or payroll does not give any insight to how it really is in practice but it is necessary to begin the development and make sense of all future work.
In our world studying doesn't just end when the qualification is achieved. We are constantly researching and learning to ensure we have up to date knowledge for the work we do with different businesses. We attend or watch HMRC webinars, we do accounts software updates to keep our certifications and we do anti-money laundering training annually to meet our responsibilities as providers of accountancy services.
In house we do training on topics such as VAT, GDPR, expenses and benefits to ensure that all the team are kept up to date. Working as a team we share good practice and frequently learn new things from each other on how to use software more efficiently.
Maybe you think anybody can do bookkeeping or payroll but my experience from 18 years in business and employing numerous trainees is that not everyone can! Some are good but some just don't get it at all. That's why I know that accounts can't be done by simply pressing a button. Knowledge is key.
If you are taking on a bookkeeper or payroll administrator, whether employed or self-employed, make sure you get a good one - for your own peace of mind!
And, if they are self-employed, make sure they are either registered with a professional body or are supervised by HMRC for Anti-Money Laundering. because everyone who provides bookkeeping, tax or payroll services to anyone outside of their own business is providing a professional service and must be registered under the Anti-Money Laundering regulations.