I haven’t yet gotten into blogging on my website but an article I just read has pushed me to put fingers to keys and speak up. I don’t define myself as a bookkeeper exclusively but I do a lot of bookkeeping in my business and have done so for many years as part of my working life as a financial professional so I get incredibly offended when those that work as bookkeepers are referred to as “just a bookkeeper” or have their abilities and benefits to a business down played. That isn’t to say all bookkeepers or accountants are good at what they do, like many professions, we have our “bad apples”.

My issue today is that I just read an article where a certified accountant actually recommended that a business owner hire their teenager to do their bookkeeping; needless to say I nearly fell off my chair. Though I am quite sure there are many teenagers that have the intelligence and aptitude to do the work, and might possibly be better than some professionals out there, to give this as serious advice to a business owner was laughable. Part of me understands using family members (even a teenager) to provide administrative assistance to a new and very small business, but when it comes to the money, it isn’t always the best idea.

Bookkeeping is serious business. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you it needs to be taken very seriously. Your business books are the information centre of your business. How do you know if you are making money on a particular product or service or spending too much on your expenses if you don’t keep accurate books? Expenses and revenue need to be tracked very accurately in order to report your HST properly and for your income tax filing. Without accurate bookkeeping you can’t expect to grow your business and the accountant you hired to do your taxes can’t do them properly. Most CAs and their firms do not do bookkeeping themselves, they hire professional bookkeepers, so I find it very surprising that one would recommend a sixteen year-old as suitable for the job.

As an accounting professional I have seen more than my share of bookkeeping nightmares and it is disheartening. Small business owners don’t have a lot of money and make the effort to get help only to find out that their “help” had no clue what they were doing. It can cost thousands of dollars to fix the errors of an under skilled bookkeeper so don’t be cavalier about it.

If you need help, get the help, but like anything else, do your due diligence and demand the expertise and service that you and your company deserves. It won’t be cheap but it is cheaper than having to pay for it twice!