In the accounting world, a bookkeeper is responsible for recording and managing financial statements for businesses. Their job is the starting point for the whole accounting process and is a valuable asset to have in certain companies. Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of a bookkeeper is like? Well – wonder no more! We spoke with three of our dedicated bookkeepers at HeimLantz, Shannon Matthews, Ellen McCullough-Eppard and Yolande Rubini,and gathered their accounts (pun intended) on what a typical day in their role is like. Hopefully these answers will help you learn if becoming a bookkeeper is right for you and your business!
What is a short description of what your job entails, in your own words?
Shannon: In my role, I gather the client financial data to prepare monthly, quarterly and annual reports
Ellen: I provide bookkeeping services to clients including payroll, sales tax returns, accounts payable, reconciling bank and credit card statements, reviewing income statements and balance sheets as well as month end close process.
How do you start your day?
Shannon: My day starts with first by tuning into my favorite radio station, checking emails, and finishing old business before moving on to new business
Ellen: I start my day by prioritizing tasks to be accomplished based on meetings to attend, email requests, and client deadlines to be met.
Yolande: A perfect start to the day would begin by sipping an iced coffee from Starbucks! My first task is to check emails. After looking over my emails, I check my calendar for any activity that is due that day so I can prioritize. Since I like to use a “to do” list, I’ll jot down what I want to accomplish and check off each as they’re done. Our office also has a morning huddle where we discuss our prior and daily goals. This helps me verbalize what I want to accomplish that day.
What does your work station look like?
Shannon: My workstation has a lot of folders and binders, since I prefer printing all my documents.
Yolande: My workstation is neat and organized. Although I have several piles of paper on my desk, I know exactly what is there. Since I work for many clients, I’ve come up with a very simple way to keep each organized – I make a manila folder for each client and keep important notes in the folder. These notes can be contact names, phone numbers, dates when something specific is due, etc. From these notes I can put important information in my calendar. It’s a double check for me.
Is every day the same?
Shannon: No day is the same. Each day I am working with different team members and clients.
Ellen: Each day is not the same. I am on site at client locations some days, working in the office some days or working remotely. Some types of tasks for my clients are repetitive either weekly or monthly such as payroll or bank reconcilements, or month end close process while others may include jumping in to help team members on urgent projects or taking care of client related issues.
Yolande: For the most part, every day is the same as far as my work duties – reconciling transactions for clients who use Xero, preparing bank reconciliations, payroll, scanning, using engagement, among other things.
What are the hardest things you deal with?
Shannon: The hardest thing to deal with is determining a stopping point for the day because I like to see my projects to completion.
Ellen: One of the most difficult aspects is to keep numerous projects ongoing simultaneously. Another difficult aspect is getting up to speed quickly on a new industry when onboarding a new client or an existing client.
What are your favorite parts of your job?
Shannon: The favorite part of my job is interacting with my team members and clients.
Ellen: My favorite part is interacting with different clients across various industries and client locations. The most rewarding part is receiving positive feedback from clients that appreciate what you do for them.
Yolande: My favorite part of my job is working independently.
How often do you talk with clients throughout the day? Is this job client-facing or more behind the scenes?
Shannon: Some clients have weekly meeting face-to-face. Others clients are more digital-driver. I would consider myself 50% behind the scenes and the other 50% client-facing.
Ellen: Every Monday I am on site at a client and on site at another client monthly. I am in contact most days with clients, either by email, phone or face-to-face.
Yolande: I love meeting with my clients to establish an open communication. Understanding the client’s business strategy and the client’s expectations of me are important to be an effective bookkeeper.
How do you end your day?
Shannon: I do not like unanswered mail in my inbox, so I try to answer all the day’s emails and check-off daily tasks before leaving for the day.
Ellen: I review what I have accomplished for the day and list what tasks will carry over the next day. I make sure that my workstation is cleaned up and organized for the next day before heading home to spend quality family time.
Yolande: I like to end my day knowing that I accomplished at least one of my daily goals. I also feel it is important to leave the job behind as I’m walking out the door for the day. Being able to go home to my family is my ultimate ending.
Is there anything else that you want to add about your job that others should know if they want to consider bookkeping as a career?
Ellen: I enjoy the variety that comes with the job. To be successful you have to have the ability to be flexible and adapt to the need to switch from project-to-project as proprieties change.
Yolande: I think a person who seeks out a bookkeeping career should be very organized, know how to meet deadlines, have good communication skills, and be open to learning new things all the time. This kind of job works well for me because I like closure and balance. For example, when doing a bank reconciliation, every penny has to be accounted for. If not in balance, I will go over and over figures until I find out the problem. Only then when the account is in complete balance that I can close out and go on to a different project.
Thank you Shannon, Ellen and Yolande!