Lately there’s been a lot of focus on how “the cloud” is affecting the accounting profession. Which is odd, because it’s actually the bookkeeping profession that’s being affected the most.

It’s been interesting to see how both industries have developed, and the different views people have about their survival. Some see the cloud as the end of the bookkeeping industry, while others see the accounting industry taking over their bookkeeping services.

But some people (including myself) see a whole new avenue of opportunities for bookkeepers. They just need to see the benefits it can bring to both their industry and their clients.

Xero and the cloud have helped automate a number of standard procedures. However, it will never (or at least not for a long time) replace key elements such as:

  • using human judgement to review and check the final results
  • making decisions on the options available to a business
  • handling actual money to pay bills, wages, etc.
  • providing client service and human interaction to discuss issues or opportunities that may affect a business.

Clients are happy to have some functions automated so they can be more productive. But they still want the benefit of people’s experience and knowledge to help make their businesses better.

In fact, it’s what they’ve always wanted more than anything else.

When we launched Zerobooks we expected a negative response from bookkeepers. But the response we got from a lot of bookkeepers was actually very positive. They saw us as a way to offer a higher level of service to their clients by automating/outsourcing their data processing.

Mel Power of Power Finance says using our outsourcing services means she can focus on building her business while we do the data processing for her. She’s now focussing on helping her business clients introduce new add-on partners and processes to make their business more efficient and profitable. And she can build her own business because she now has time to market her services.

To me, Mel is the perfect example of the Modern Bookkeeper. These are the new breed of bookkeepers who:

  1. focus less on data entry, and more on making clients’ business processes more efficient
  2. build expertise, and provide advice on suitable add-on partners for clients
  3. use outsourcing to fix their data processing costs and scale their business
  4. work with others and share ideas
  5. focus on their client service.

Small business owners want help managing its finances without having to pay employee wages or accounting firm rates. That’s why there will always be a demand for Modern Bookkeepers who can help manage business finances rather than just punch in data.

The bookkeeping industry isn’t dead. And if it recognises and embraces the opportunities the cloud provides, it will still be around for a long time to come.