Whether cash-based or built on credit, every business has incoming and outgoing money. Keeping thorough records of these monetary transactions is the heart of Well Balanced Bookkeeping.
In the past, bookkeepers recorded financial transactions manually using accounting ledgers and journals. Today, software and data analytics tools have transformed the role of the modern bookkeeper.
A business, whether large or small, must keep accurate financial records of its revenue and expenses. These are necessary to track where the money comes from and where it goes, to document inventory, and to establish a record of debts and assets. A bookkeeper records all financial transactions and events, whether they are sales, purchases, borrowings or payments. This ensures that the company’s financial statements accurately reflect its current and past financial standing.
Financial transactions are recorded as multi-column entries in what are called journals, also known as books of first entry or daybooks. Each entry corresponds to a specific account. For example, all credit sales would be recorded in the sales journal and all cash payments and receipts would be recorded in the cash payments journal. The totals of these journals are then summarized in a larger book called the ledger. In older systems, this process was often staged by recording the day’s credits and debits in smaller daybooks before transcribing them into the general ledger.
The bookkeeper is responsible for reconciling the totals of these primary books against third-party documents, such as bank or credit card statements, to ensure that the accounting data is complete and accurate. This is particularly important for small private companies and sole proprietorships that do not buy or sell on credit, and that don’t maintain significant inventories of goods or services. In addition to the daily maintenance and reconciliation of the books, the bookkeeper also must periodically make adjusting entries to the accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll accounts to prevent the accumulation of obsolete data.
An essential function of the bookkeeping process is to identify, classify and measure each financial transaction. Identification refers to recognizing that a particular event has occurred, while classification refers to the type of financial transaction it is, such as a sale or purchase of an asset, an expense or a payment. Finally, measurement refers to assigning a value to the transaction. For example, a dollar amount is assigned to each deposit and withdrawal from the business bank account or to each item of inventory purchased and sold.
Analyzing Financial Data
A business’s financial data is a crucial source of information that helps companies determine how well their operations are doing. It also helps them make better decisions about their future. But in order to be useful, that data must be properly analyzed. Financial data analysis involves examining a company’s financial statements and other data like balance sheets, invoices and more in order to assess a business’s health and prospects.
The process of analyzing financial data is typically divided into three steps: Gathering the data. Cleaning and preparing the data. Analyzing the data. There are several different techniques that can be used to analyze financial data, including calculating ratios, creating charts and graphs, and running statistical tests. The specific methods will vary depending on the purpose of the analysis and the type of data available.
Analyzing financial data is essential for investors, creditors and other stakeholders to gain insight into a company’s performance and prospects. It can be a complex and challenging process, but it is necessary to make informed financial decisions.
Proper bookkeeping is the foundation of effective financial analysis. This includes keeping accurate and up-to-date records of all financial transactions, reconciling accounts at the end of an accounting period, and generating reports based on the data. This allows businesses to identify trends and make improvements that will drive their growth.
There are several methods for analyzing financial data, such as horizontal and vertical analysis. Horizontal analysis is a common way to view changes in revenue and expenses over time. It compares totals from multiple years of financial statements, with one year serving as a baseline percentage. Then, the rest of the totals are compared to that percentage in order to spot changes in revenue and expense trends.
In addition to proper bookkeeping, the use of an accounting software application can help streamline this process. This makes it easier to produce reports in a timely manner and reduces the chance of error due to reporting delays. In addition, using a cloud-based bookkeeping system that offers real-time data can improve the quality of your financial data analysis by ensuring that all incoming and outgoing transactions are reflected in your accounting statement totals.
Preparing Financial Statements
Once all the daily transactions have been recorded, bookkeepers prepare consolidated financial statements. These are used for reporting and compliance purposes, as well as to provide insight into business performance. There are three primary statements that must be produced, and they are the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. An additional statement, the statement of retained earnings, is often included when preparing statements for lenders or investors.
Before creating any financial statements, the bookkeeper will need to reconcile all of the accounts in the general ledger, a document that lists all debits and credits at a point in time. This step is known as a trial balance and it helps to ensure that all of the accounting entries have been made correctly. It also verifies that the sum total of all the credits is equal to the sum total of all the debits. The bookkeeper will then make any necessary adjustments to bring these totals into alignment. For example, inventory accounts may be adjusted to bring them in line with the actual numbers counted during a stocktake, and expense accounts might be altered to reflect any prepaid revenue or expenses recorded in the past period.
This process is a bit like putting together a financial jigsaw puzzle, with each piece and each step carefully worked through to create the right result. Once the accounts are reconciled and any adjusting journal entries have been made, the net income from all operating activities will be added to the owner’s equity account to create the company’s profit and loss statement, or P&L.
Then, the bookkeeper will add up all of the company’s expenses to find its net income for that period, a number that is typically equal to the company’s gross profit. This figure will then be compared to the company’s assets and liabilities to create its balance sheet, which displays what the business owns, what it owes and how much equity the owners have in the company.
Preparing financial statements can be a daunting task, but it is one of the most important steps in the bookkeeping process. Fortunately, software solutions such as Zoho Books can help to streamline and simplify many of these tasks by automating the most repetitive ones, so that you can spend more time focusing on your business.
Bookkeepers also assist companies with tax filing by compiling and organizing financial data into reports that can be used to prepare business tax returns. Using these records, a company can minimize its tax liability by properly reporting income and expenses.
The responsibilities of a bookkeeper are closely related to those of an accountant, with some overlap between the two roles. Both work with raw financial data and require knowledge of accounting principles, but an accountant has additional skills that a bookkeeper doesn’t have, such as creating financial statements and analyzing data.
As a result, some people choose to make bookkeeping their career by becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). However, the duties of a bookkeeper can be performed by a professional who has not passed an accounting exam.
In addition to recording financial transactions, a good bookkeeper will ensure that all of the information in the company’s accounts, ledgers and financial statements adheres to the latest legal and accounting requirements. This includes making sure all payments are identified accurately and that all accounts payable and receivable are reconciled. Competent bookkeepers can help businesses avoid fines or penalties for noncompliance and enable finance teams to make more informed decisions based on complete, accurate data. This can lead to improved business performance and a stronger competitive position. In addition, well-organized financial records can be valuable evidence in the event of a fraud or illegal activity.