What is the difference between an accountant and a bookkeeper?

As a mental healthcare professional dedicated to your own practice, you’re probably more familiar with your session notes than with financial records. And while there are a lot of resources out there dedicated to helping you become a financially literate small business owner, many are happy to convince you to turn to expensive accountants who know little about how private practice works.

When growing your own small business, you’ll often hear the importance of hiring financial aid in the form of a bookkeeper or an accountant. However, the differences between these two roles are discussed far less often, or can just be downright confusing! As you build and maintain your practice, it’s important to learn the differences between the two in order to identify which you should hire and when. Outsourcing financial tasks can be enormously beneficial to your private practice, not to mention your stress levels as a therapist. You only have so much time in a day!

There are some key differences to how bookkeepers and accountants operate. Though the role is often chalked up to “someone who keeps your books”, a bookkeeper actually handles a variety of important tasks for your business. Some of these include:

  • Keeping a ledger of all monetary transactions
  • Tracking your budgeting and spending against quarterly or annual budgets
  • Flagging inconsistencies in your financial records
  • Reconciling expenses and verifying receipts
  • Managing accounts payable (bills you owe) and accounts receivable (bills you are owed) documents
  • Invoicing clients and conducting payroll

While the bulk of a bookkeeper’s role is to maintain the ledger of transactions, on the whole, they keep track of all the money coming in and walking out the door. Depending on how large your practice is and how many transactions you’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis, your bookkeeping needs can vary largely.

Meanwhile, accountants typically take the above information, whether put together by you or a bookkeeper, to offer you more of a big picture or long-term financial view of your practice. They can be immensely helpful for planning your practice’s financial future, and should be your go-to for tax filing. An accountant’s tasks can include:

  • Preparing financial statements for your practice or small business
  • Filling out and filing tax returns
  • Evaluating the operational costs of your practice
  • Understanding long-term financial decisions
  • Making financial suggestions where necessary

With a better understanding and delineation of these roles and responsibilities, you can make an informed decision about where you need financial help within your practice in order to achieve success. At Heard, we offer both bookkeeping and accounting services in one, with financial consulting that fulfills all of your needs as a private practice therapist. We are dedicated to making the financial health of your practice successful, and look to specifically support clinicians with their small businesses.

Heard is a bookkeeping and tax platform for therapists, intended to ease the financial burdens of mental health therapy services and track the financial health of your practice. Schedule your first consultation at joinheard.com.

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