Bookkeeper vs. Accountant vs. Financial Planner: What Each Can Offer Sole Traders and Small Businesses
Bookkeepers, accountants, and financial planners practice specific skills in the UK. You may need to find additional financial team members as your sole trade operation or small business grows. In these cases, understanding the differences can help you choose the right partner at the right time.
What Does a Bookkeeper Do for Sole Traders?
When looking for a sole trader or small business bookkeeper, you want to find someone certified through the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and regulated by the Financial Reporting Council. An ICB bookkeeper, whether you collaborate with them in person or through online bookkeeping, can help you keep track of everything.
The function of a bookkeeper is to track your accounts receivable and accounts payable. They ensure all your sole trader or small business books are up to date so you can make decisions with accurate data.
Depending on your business model, you may find choosing online bookkeeping services is more convenient. However, verifying that the bookkeeper is certified by the ICB is still best. You may also want to look for “partner” certifications with your preferred bookkeeping software.
What Does an Accountant Do for Small Businesses?
An accountant is often the next step in the process as your business grows. Accountancy and bookkeeping services often go together, and you may find that potential accountants also offer bookkeeping.
The Financial Reporting Council regulates accountants, and each accountant can carry additional certifications from different bodies. Most commonly, you will see certifications from the Institute of Financial Accountants, the Certified Public Accountants Association (CPAA), and The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
An accountant can provide more in-depth analysis, interpretation, and presentation than a bookkeeper. Accountants have a broader education and must pass more exams before they can practice, so they can help you make decisions for your sole trade or small business operations.
What Does a Financial Planner Offer for Sole Traders and Small Businesses?
The Financial Conduct Authority regulates financial planners. Many financial planners also carry separate certifications from various organizations. You want to verify these to confirm the financial planner will act in your best interests.
A financial planner specializes in helping with large sums of money and can offer guidance for long-term planning. For example, when you want to retire from your sole trader or small business, a financial planner can help you set up a roadmap.
Financial planners may be part of your life for other reasons, as they advise individuals and families. Where bookkeepers and accountants tend to focus on businesses, financial planners are more ubiquitous.
How to Choose Which Professional You Need
The best way to choose is to know what you need. Bookkeepers help you manage your records, accountants provide analysis, and financial planners help you make decisions for the long term. Beyond that, you also want to find someone you are comfortable with.
An ethical professional will also tell you when you exceed their scope of practice. Many have relationships with other professionals they can refer you to.
Are You Looking for a UK-Based Bookkeeper?
Sherlock Accounts is here to help. Our professional team works with sole traders and small businesses using online bookkeeping services. Contact us today to set up a quick consultation call and answers to your questions.