Betty answers your questions on bookkeeper certification

Dear Betty


My wife hired a book keeper/accountant for her business…what should we be asking for from him re certification, What do they have to show to us to make us comfortable that they are legit?



Good Day Thomas,


There are different levels of accounting requirements for different types of entities, so let me start with the levels from an accounting point view:

Bookkeepers – Only certified to prepare financials up to trial balance. To be used in-house by employers, or by really small SME’s that do not need to submit any kind of financials or reports to anyone. Basically just for personal record keeping. Bookkeepers will only have a certificate or diploma qualification, 3 months to a year usually.

Accountants – Certified to prepare financials up to balance sheet. To be used by businesses that are only required to have an annual review of their financial reports. Normally companies that has a PIS (Public Interest Score) of 350 or less, do not specifically need to be audited every year, only reviewed. These companies would use an accountant only, for cost-effective reasons. Accountants can have a vast range of qualifications, from diploma’s to degrees, and will most likely also have membership to a certified professional body.

Chartered Accountants – They are the only ones certified to audit companies as required by law. Most banks when asking for audited financial statements will only accept statements signed off by a chartered accountant. That is why they are the most expensive.

So depending on the size of your company and the needs that you have for financial reporting, the above should be enough to guide you.



Don’t forget that I’m here to answer your questions about the ICBA, or just queries about your accounting at work. All you have to do is email me with a copy of your ICBA membership certificate. Not yet a member? Send in your application form!