Bookkeeper and Accountant

The Difference Between An Accountant And A Bookkeeper

As a business owner, you know that you need an accountant.

After all, who will do your taxes at the end of the year without a numbers whizz?

But then, the term bookkeeper gets thrown in the mix… what do they do?

Bookkeepers and accountants both look after the various aspects of your business finances. Many people use the words ‘accounting’ and ‘bookkeeping’ interchangeably, but they are actually quite different functions.

In essence, a bookkeeper is a record keeper, and they have an administrative, transactional function. An accountant has more of an analytical function, producing insights and information from the financial records.

Clear as mud? Let’s look into the different roles in a little more detail and the main differences between the two.

The Difference Between An Accountant And A Bookkeeper Is…


Bookkeeping is a very important part of day-to-day business. A bookkeeper maintains records of daily transactions. They record all financial incomings and outgoings, create invoices, balance ledgers, take care of payroll, and process debits and payments. It is their job to keep all financial records up to date to make sure that tax and payroll obligations can be met, and end-of-year reporting can be done efficiently and accurately.

A bookkeeper usually utilises the power of accounting software. It means that both you and your bookkeeper have real-time access to the financial position of your business. It also makes it easier to ensure all of your transactions are regularly updated.

Bookkeepers do not usually require any specific training, experience, or education. Their tasks can be learned by anyone with sufficient attention to detail and a good mind for numbers and finances.

However, many bookkeepers regularly attend training sessions and ongoing professional development to ensure their knowledge and skills remain current in an ever-changing market.


An accountant takes the information and records provided by a bookkeeper and uses them to produce financial analysis and reports. Accountants will prepare your financial statements, complete tax returns, provide analysis to help your business make financial and strategic decisions, and also assess operational costs.

An accountant helps a business to get a better understanding of its financial performance, cash flow, and profitability. They can be relied on to help with tax planning and filing and financial forecasting.

Unlike bookkeepers, accountants do require formal education and qualifications. They also have to complete a certain amount of work experience. Most accountants will have either an accounting degree or commerce or business degree with a major in accounting.

They can then go on to become a Chartered Accountant. Once completing their initial qualification, they would then undertake three years of professional accounting experience, and meet other requirements set by Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand, to become a Chartered Accountant.

How Do They Work Together?

The roles of bookkeeping and accounting are quite different, but they are closely connected. Good accounting relies on good bookkeeping for accurate and up to date data. Bookkeepers often use systems and processes established by accountants.

Regardless of the differences in their jobs, they are both very important for managing and maintaining healthy finances in any business.

How you approach bookkeeping and accounting for your business is up to you. You could take care of your own bookkeeping or have it done by admin staff, then have a third-party service take care of your accounting obligations.

Or you could outsource all of your financial work to an external bookkeeper and external accountant. This has many benefits, including saving your own time and ensuring the accuracy and independence of any financial analysis.

So, what do we do? Here at Accountants Plus, we are Chartered Accountants, Business Advisors and Taxation Specialists. That means we can help you with all of your accounting needs.

If you would like to talk to our experienced small business accountants to find out what would work for your business, then contact us here at Accountants Plus today.

Profit and Loss

How To Read Your Profit and Loss Statement Correctly

Financial reports can be a bit overwhelming. With columns of numbers everywhere, coding, and subtotals, it is hard to decipher what they all mean.

But your profit and loss statement is a pretty key report to understand. If you only learn about one aspect of financial reporting, then your P&L is a good place to start!

A profit and loss (P&L) statement (also known as an income statement) summarises the costs and expenses of your business, incurred during a particular period. It basically shows the money that comes in and the money that goes out.

With accounting software you can easily and regularly produce these reports to help you see revenue trends in your business. Or of course, your accountant can do it for you.

Let’s look at this vital report in a bit more detail.

Why is a profit and loss statement important?

Your P&L statement is an essential business tool. It helps you to keep an eye on your finances and to address any issues if they arise. For example, you might notice that certain expenses are increasing significantly each month or quarter. This may highlight to you that you need to look at new providers or suppliers.

This statement is also going to show your company’s ability or inability to generate profit. It shows you a total of all expenses and all income sources. This will display your total net profit. You will be able to see immediately if your business is spending too much money to be viable.

This will be a true indicator of whether you need to reduce costs, increase sales, increase marketing, or a combination of these things.

Your P&L statement helps you to monitor any changes you are making to your income and expenses monthly or quarterly (or however often you decide to run the reports). This allows you to easily compare statements from different periods, which shows you your progress over time.

How To Read Your P&L

The P&L/income statement is fairly easy to read and understand once you know what you are looking at. They will differ slightly between different accounting programmes, but will follow a general format. Below is a quick guide to the main parts of the statement and what they mean.

  • The report begins with your revenue entries from all sources of income. This will be your income from sales, interest, and any other avenues.
  • It will then list the various business costs underneath the income. These are sometimes separated into two types – fixed costs and cost of sales. Fixed costs are things like rent, Internet, or power bills. Cost of sales is the money you spend on things like materials and/or stock. These costs can be quite variable month-to-month.
  • If the expenses are not split into these categories they will just be listed as separate lines. They will include operating expenses, cost of goods sold, taxes, interest expenses, and any miscellaneous expenses. 
  • At the end of the statement it will give you your net profit. That is your total profit (including interest received) minus all of your expenses.

There are a couple of other key points to note about your P&L:

  • It is accrual based – which means it includes all income and expenses, regardless of whether they have been paid yet.
  • It does not include personal items, capital items, owner drawings, or any business loans (or repayments against loan principal).
  • It will include interest on loans, as this is an expense. It will also include depreciation on capital items.

So there you go, your P&L in a nutshell. Once you know what you are looking at, it is a reasonably easy report to understand. If you do need some help understanding the intricate ins and outs of it, then get in touch with us here at Accountants Plus.

We can help your small to medium-sized business in all aspects of business performance. Talk to us today!

Key Metrics In Your Business

Key Business Metrics You Should Be Monitoring

Do you know how healthy your business is? Could you say with confidence how much money is in your surplus budget, that all of your expenses are accounted for, and that there is little chance of a nasty surprise popping up?

If you answered no to any of that, you need to be monitoring aspects of your business more closely.

The secret to success is tracking key business metrics within your operation. Those metrics are…

Your Cashflow

Monitoring your cash flow is Business 101. It means looking at the physical dollars that are coming into your bank accounts, and the ones that are exiting your accounts too. The money that you pay out is known as negative cash flow, and the money that comes into your business is positive cash flow.

If you don’t know what is coming in and going out, then you don’t know if your business is doing well or not. Do you have enough to cover your expenses? Or do you have surplus money that you should be investing into a growth strategy? Remember this one key thing, positive cash flow does not equate to profits, it is simply the money that you have to spend in your business.

Short-Term Debt

Your most common form of short-term debt is your Accounts Payable. That is the bills that your business has received, but hasn’t paid yet. They will show up as a liability in your financial reports and statements. Tracking this metric is important, as you need to know that you have the cash flow to cover these upcoming bills.

You don’t want to fall into the trap of paying bills late as this can result in penalty fees or a black mark against your business’ credit rating. You also don’t want your bills to impact any debt repayments or your ability to pay your payroll. Keep a close eye on your short-term debt and manage it well.

Funds Owed

Generally, the biggest part of funds owed to your business is from your Accounts Receivable. This is generated by invoices you have sent out, or products sold and services completed that you have not yet been paid for. These funds will show as an asset on your financial statements, as they are revenue that you expect to receive in.

You should not recognise your funds owed as money in the bank until it actually hits your account. Encourage your customers to pay on time so that it doesn’t negatively impact your cash flow. If they are late in paying your invoices, make sure you follow up as quickly as possible. The longer a debt is outstanding, the harder it is to collect.

Direct Costs

Direct costs are also known as the cost of goods sold. They are costs directly associated with providing your products or services – wholesale costs, the cost of materials to make your products and even specific labour time specifically dedicated to producing your products. Monitoring your direct costs will show you how much it cost you to provide your products and services. If these costs become too high then you need to consider the viability of your offerings, or if you can make some cost savings.

Direct costs show on your Profit and Loss statements. If you subtract your direct costs from your revenue then you will be able to calculate your gross profit. Your direct costs do NOT include indirect fees like the cost of advertising, marketing, rent, or insurance.

Operating Margin

Your Operating Margin is the money you have left in your business after your income has been generated, and your direct and indirect costs have been paid. It is a good indication of how well your business is performing after you have paid for your products, all of your marketing and general expenses.

If the amount leftover is low then you might not have enough left to pay your taxes. This may mean you need to review your business model or pricing structure. But if you have a lot leftover, then there is potential you can reinvest the funds.

Net Profit

The net profit is the bottom line of your business. It is the money that is left over after you have paid all your costs, as well as Tax and GST. They are the funds that don’t have to be reinvested into your business. Tracking this helps you to establish how much money you have to invest in the growth of your business, or how much you can draw out.

Cash Balance

How quickly do you burn through any funds left in your business? Do you spend it as soon as it comes in, or can you maintain a healthy balance of positive cash flow? You should think long and hard about how you spend your cash balance as it is the funds you have to invest in your business. If you spend everything you have the second it hits your account, then you will have nothing available to support your future business growth.

While it is important to track these metrics in your business, it is not always possible to do it yourself. Financial terms can seem like a foreign language and who has the time to decipher a new language? After all, time is always an issue when it comes to running a business as you want to focus on the things you do best to generate revenue.

So, if you would rather rest easy knowing that your finances are being looked after, consider letting Accountants Plus monitor them for you. We have a team of financial gurus who are experts in measuring the financial health of your business with these metrics. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

Is Business Tax Really That Scary

Is Business Tax Really That Scary?

T… A… X. Three little letters that can strike fear into the heart of any small or medium business. And what about all those other acronyms… FBT, GST, IRD, ACC, and PAYE.

But is tax really all that scary?

Your business tax does not have to be an unsolvable mystery. Let’s have a look at how it works and what you can do to make the whole process easier for your business.

Is Business Tax Really That Scary?

When it comes to tax, you need to be well informed of what is going on in your business and what obligations you need to meet. Unless you are a financial whiz, it is 100% recommended to have an accountant on board to help you meet those obligations.

Here are the benefits of having an accountant when it comes to your tax:

  1. Accountants deal with tax on a day to day basis so have all the up to date information on changes to regulations
  2. There are many ways that you can streamline your tax process, an accountant can help you set up systems that will save you time and keep you compliant
  3. Dates are a fundamental part of your tax obligations, these dates are ingrained in an accountant’s brain so they will always be able to remind you of when milestones are coming up
  4. An accountant can help you claim on all the expenses that you are entitled to which can save you money
  5. Accountants can provide advice on the tax advantages for large purchases, leasing equipment, using a private vehicle, or other business queries

Here at Accountants Plus tax does not scare us at all. In fact, we are actually tax experts. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you need help figuring out what you have to pay and when you have to pay it.

What Is Tax?

Let’s cover off the basic question first. What is tax?

Tax is a compulsory financial payment that every New Zealand business must pay to the government to fund various public services and expenses. The amount of tax you have to pay will depend on your earnings and the setup of your business.

The different tax types are:

Income Tax: The main compulsory form of tax. It is calculated on your net profits (your total revenue, less your expenses) and the rate will differ depending on whether you are a sole trader, partnership or a company. To prevent the shock of a large tax bill, you are encouraged to pay in instalments throughout the year called provisional tax payments.

ACC: An annual levy that you must pay to cover the cost of workplace injuries. Even if you work in a low-risk profession or from home, you will still need to pay this levy. It is like an insurance policy in case injury does occur.

GST: Your business must be registered for GST if you have an annual turnover of more than $60,000. GST stands for Goods and Service Tax and applies to any product or service that is sold within New Zealand. The current GST rate is 15%.

PAYE: If you employ staff and pay them a wage or pay yourself a salary, then you will need to pay PAYE (Pay As You Earn) to the IRD on a monthly basis.

ESCT: A tax paid on any contributions to employee superannuation schemes including Kiwisaver.

FBT: This is payable if you provide perks or benefits to your employees as part of their employment.

This does look like a long and scary list of taxes. But, if you manage your business well and get the required help, then none of them should come as a shock when the bill arrives.

Ways To Make Tax Less Scary

There are a few things that you can do in the day to day running of your business to make tax less scary.

Have A Good System

The key thing with tax is having a clear picture of your earnings and expenses. The best way to do this is to have an effective accounting system in place that allows you to see your numbers at a glance. Something like Xero is easy to use and has great reporting that will help at tax time.

Regardless of the system you choose, it is important to stay on top of your financials regularly. So take the time to reconcile your incoming and outgoing funds on a daily or weekly basis.

Put Money Aside Regularly

It can be really difficult to come up with a large sum of money at tax time. If you set aside a portion of your earnings each month then you will never have to worry about being caught short. Have a chat with your accountant to find out how much you should be setting aside to cover all of your tax obligations.

Don’t Try And Muddle Through Or Stick Your Head In The Sand

Paying tax is a part of business. In fact, it is a positive part. If you have a tax bill then you must be turning a profit. So don’t ignore your tax and hope that it will go away because it won’t.

Likewise, don’t be naive about the process. There are some strict and specific regulations when it comes to tax. If you don’t really know what you are doing, seek help. You can end up paying more tax, or have penalties applied if you don’t follow the process correctly. There is information available online for free, but it is generic information. It is far better to get individual advice specific to your business from your accountant.

If you don’t have an accountant in place or you aren’t happy with your current one, then get in touch with us at Accountants Plus. We will be happy to take your scary tax monster and turn it into a very manageable process with no monster spray required!

The Statement of Financial Performance (AKA the ‘Profit & Loss’!)

The purpose of this report is to show all your taxable income and expenses so we can work out how much profit you have made, and what tax you have to pay on that.

This report feeds into your tax return for the year – your client manager will usually show you this in your end-of-year meeting.

There are also some calculations we can do from this report that will help you see things like your business model type, profit drivers, and efficiency.