Accounting Basics

Bookkeeping And Accounting: The Differences You Should Know

Last updated Friday, January 13, 2023

When most individuals think about the contrast between bookkeeping and accounting, they have a difficult time pinning down exactly what the two processes have in common with one another. Bookkeepers and accountants may work toward similar objectives, but their contributions to your company's financial health come at various points of the cycle.

In this tutorial, we will explain the functional distinctions between accounting and bookkeeping, as well as the variations between the jobs of bookkeepers and accountants. In addition, we will discuss the disparities between the two professions.

The Differences Between Accounting And Bookkeeping Explained

Bookkeeping is more of a transactional and administrative process, and its primary focus is on recording financial transactions.

Accounting is more of a subjective science that might provide you with insights into the financial health of your company based on bookkeeping information.

Bookkeeping’s Goal Simply Explained

The practice of documenting daily transactions in a manner that is consistent is referred to as bookkeeping, and it is an essential component of acquiring the financial information that is required to manage a successful firm.

The following elements make up bookkeeping:

  • Keeping a record of business and financial dealings
  • Making entries for debits and credits
  • Creating receipts and invoices
  • The process of preparing financial statements (balance sheet, cash flow statement, and income statement)
  • Keeping the subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts in order and ensuring that they are balanced.
  • Completing payroll

The Bookkeeping Process’ Overview

One of the most important aspects of keeping accurate books is to keep a general ledger updated. A general ledger is a simple document that a bookkeeper uses to record the amounts that were received from sales and expense receipts. The act of doing so is known as posting.

The ledger will be posted more often when there are greater numbers of completed sales. A ledger can be compiled using specialist software, an electronic spreadsheet, or even just a piece of lined paper with columns.

The size of an organization and the volume of transactions that are processed on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis are two primary factors that influence the level of complexity of a bookkeeping system.

Your company's ledger has to have an entry for every sale and purchase it makes, and in some cases, you may be required to provide supporting papers.

Accounting Simply Explained

Accounting is a high-level procedure that produces financial models via the utilization of financial data that has been gathered by a bookkeeper or a business owner. The process of accounting is more open to interpretation than bookkeeping, which is focused primarily on the transactions themselves.

The following elements constitute accounting:

  • The process of preparing to adjust entries, which entails entering costs that have already been incurred but have not yet been documented in the bookkeeping process
  • Examining the financial accounts of the firm
  • Examining the costs of running the business
  • Filling out one's annual income tax returns
  • Providing the proprietor of a firm with assistance in comprehending the effects of various financial decisions

The Accounting Process’ Overview

The process of accounting includes reviewing financial information to assist with making company choices, which is an important element of the process. The end result is a more in-depth comprehension of your company's actual profitability as well as an increased knowledge of its cash flow.

Accounting transforms the data in the general ledger into meaningful insights about a company's operations and the direction in which it is heading, so illuminating the "big picture" of the enterprise. When it comes to strategic tax planning, analyzing their current financial status, making projections, and filing their taxes, business owners frequently seek the assistance of accountants.

Read more about Fundamental Accounting Principles for Small Businesses.

More Key Differences Between Accounting And Bookkeeping

Bookkeepers and accountants are responsible for some of the same tasks, but each brings a unique set of abilities to the table. Bookkeepers' primary responsibility is to record transactions and to ensure that their clients' finances are well structured.

Accountants, on the other hand, offer consultation and analysis and are in a better position to offer advice about tax issues, for instance.

Bookkeepers’ Required Qualifications

Typically, formal schooling is not necessary for bookkeepers. Bookkeepers must be meticulous about accuracy and informed about important financial concepts in order to succeed in their employment. Usually, the bookkeeper's work is monitored by either an accountant or the small business owner whose records they are completing. Thus, a bookkeeper is not allowed to use the title "accountant."

Accountants’ Required Qualifications

A bachelor's degree in accounting is often required for someone to hold the title of an accountant. Finance degrees are frequently regarded as a suitable replacement for accounting degrees for people without them.

Unlike bookkeepers, accountants are also qualified to obtain extra professional certificates. One of the most popular credentials in accounting is Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which may be earned by accountants with the necessary training and education.

An accountant has to pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant test and have professional accounting experience in order to become a CPA. The price of an accountant is influenced by these necessary certifications.

As you can see, bookkeeping and accounting are two very different things. Yet, both are concerned with the books and financial numbers of companies, and one could not live up to its full potential without the other.

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