The main difference between bookkeeping and accounting is that accounting involves the interpretation and analysis of financial data, which bookkeeping does not.
Bookkeeping and accounting both form part of the accounting cycle: bookkeeping primarily covers the financial recordkeeping aspects, which form the first stage of the accounting cycle, while accounting involves the use of financial records to prepare reports, conduct financial analysis, and produce financial information.
Have a look at the table below to see the differences between bookkeepers and accountants:
|Responsible for the first step in the accounting process, i.e. recording financial transactions.||Responsible for the entire accounting process, including recording, interpreting, classifying, analysing, summarising and reporting on financial data.|
|Usually perform a fixed set of general tasks related to financial recordkeeping. These tasks are often mechanical and repetitive in nature.||Usually perform a variety of challenging tasks, and may choose to specialise in fields such as tax accounting, internal auditing, or management accounting.|
|Do not usually require any formal qualifications. (However, many organisations prefer to employ bookkeepers with some form of relevant training and/or certification.)||Require formal qualifications in accounting. Examples of relevant formal qualifications include:|
|Provide assistance to accountants.||Supervise bookkeepers and develop bookkeeping systems.|
The distinction between bookkeeping and accounting, or between bookkeepers and accountants, is not always so clear. In smaller firms, for example, bookkeepers may be required to perform certain accounting duties, or accountants may be required to perform the full bookkeeping function in addition to their usual accounting duties.
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