The End of Bookkeeping?

Originally transactions were actually recorded in journals or “books” – hence the person recording them was called a bookkeeper. Today we still refer to accounting records as “the books of account”, but they’re almost never found in books any more.

Today transactions either begin in a digital form or are soon converted into electronic form. In 1985 97% of all payments were made by cheque. By 2017 only 14% of payments were made by cheque. However we generally don’t have cheques ‘returned’ any more. An image of the cheque is made available online – typically as a PDF file.

With online banking there is no longer any need to “record” bank transactions. Instead we download them – and “import” them into accounting software. Our cheque images can be reviewed online if we need to see them.

40 years of technological and societal change has had a profound effect on the way in which transactions are recorded in “the books of account”

In many ways this means less work – however the work is now more complex. So the traditional role of the bookkeeper has pretty much disappeared. Today we can simply download bank transactions from our online banking system.

For our smallest companies, the transactions can be summarized and compiled
using sophisticated spreadsheet software. For somewhat larger companies,
transactions are pulled automatically from the bank and imported into
accounting software.

Today a CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL BOOKKEEPER (“CPB”) uses accounting software. While we
still call it bookkeeping, it is actually much more sophisticated and complex than small business bookkeeping used to be. Unfortunately, the certification for CPBs is limited to examination by accounting software publishers in the use of their accounting software. 

In our view at least, post-secondary training in accounting and tax should actually be mandatory for anyone providing accounting services to the public. That is why some of our associates formed the RECORDS MANAGEMENT TECHNICIANS OF CANADA in 2019.

Published by Rob Farrow

accountant, entrepreneur, former chef, occasional artist, angel investor, business advisor, corporate tax specialist

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