What are the traits of a successful Bookkeeper

  • 27-10-23
  • Cass Pratt | Richard Lloyd

Behind the scenes of a successful business often lies the unsung hero of the financial team, the Bookkeeper. The role of a Bookkeeper in a business is an essential role in maintaining the financial health and stability of a company. Often going unnoticed, Bookkeepers are the backbone of the finance function and ensure the smooth flow of financial data.

The role of a Bookkeeper

A Bookkeeper has arguably one of the most diverse job descriptions and covers a wide range of responsibilities. At its core, you’ll find a Bookkeeper’s skills range from basic transactional work such as recording transactions, processing payments, and daily banking, to producing and reconciling reports to payroll, preparing financial statements and providing accurate data to support decision-making. While Accountants typically focus on understanding financial data and providing strategic guidance, Bookkeepers are the ones responsible for keeping the financial machinery running smoothly. If you’re unsure about the typical bookkeeper job description in Australia read our Bookkeeper role profile.

Why a company needs a Bookkeeper

No matter the size of the company, every business needs a reliable Bookkeeper. They provide financial accuracy ensuring transactions are recorded accurately to reduce the risk of errors, they provide accurate records of financial transactions to help create realistic budgets and long-term business plans. They do this whilst ensuring tax compliance and providing up-to-date financial data for management to allow for informed strategic decision-making. They also allow stakeholders (both externally and internally) full transparency in the financial viability of the business.

Key traits of a successful Bookkeeper

At Richard Lloyd, we have over 140 years of accounting recruitment expertise combined. We know exactly what traits make up a successful Bookkeeper. Here are our top skills and attributes that you should look for in a Bookkeeper:

First and foremost, your Bookkeeper must have great technical accounting abilities and great attention to detail. They will be on the front lines of all accounting transactions for your business, any errors can have significant financial repercussions.

Excellent organisation and time management skills are key skills to look out for when hiring a Bookkeeper. They will be handling a multitude of transactions and will need to meet key deadlines for reporting and tax filing requirements.

Bookkeepers will often have access to a wide range of sensitive financial information including employee salaries. Ethical integrity is crucial to maintain confidentiality and trust throughout the business.

Communication skills. Bookkeepers should be good communicators in order to fully explain any issues they encounter with the accounts and to answer questions from internal and external stakeholders (e.g. questions about payroll from employees and tax from external accountants).

An analytical mindset and an ability to work with multiple systems. Bookkeepers need to be able to identify any irregularities in the accounts and be able to use accounting and computing software packages such as Excel to record and report on data.  

If you’re preparing for your next interview as a Bookkeeper check out our blog filled with tips and tricks on how to nail your interview here.

How to assess these Skills

Almost every resume you will read as a hiring manager will have the above traits listed, so when it comes to crunch time, how can you assess these skills?

Our best advice is to explore these skills in an interview by asking a variety of questions. Ask candidates to share examples of when their organisational skills or ethical integrity have been tested. Scenario-based questions are great for testing a candidate’s problem-solving and analytical abilities with situations that are specific to your role and/or organisation. You can also provide a short software proficiency test to gauge a candidate’s ability to navigate technology. Finally, conduct reference checks by reaching out to previous employers to verify the candidates’ technical skills, time management and overall capabilities. 

In the post-Covid world, online interviews are very common and can be challenging to navigate, read our advice on how best to prepare for an online interview versus in person

A Bookkeeper position plays a vital part in ensuring the accuracy of finance data and the overall success of the finance team. Their skills and qualities are pivotal in ensuring the financial health of the business from the ground up so it’s important to hire the correct person the first time. Look for a candidate’s attention to detail (grammatical errors in their CV), organisational skills (are they on time or early to the interview?) and analytical thinking when presented with scenario-based questions. 

Finding the right Bookkeeper with the right skills can often be a long process. If reading this article has made you question how you should go about recruiting your next Bookkeeper, contact us at 02 8324 5640 or submit your enquiry online, and let us do the hard work for you.

A skilled Bookkeeper will not only ensure the financial health of your business but will be an investment in the overall stability and growth of your business.