As bookkeepers we need to keep to keep up to date if we want to be able to speak to our clients confidently and with accurate knowledge. Whether you’re studying towards a qualification, or a veteran of the profession, it pays to know your stuff. So we’ve put together a list of our favourite learning resources to share with you.
Each year, new regulations come into play and the role of the bookkeeper is changing. With the push towards automation, it’s important to take on the role of trusted adviser. In order to do so, it’s imperative that you can act as your clients’ finance encyclopedia.
If a client asks you about auto-enrolment, MTD or even GDPR, you can add value by giving them a concise, plain English answer. What all this means is that you need to be constantly learning, constantly improving and constantly aware of new regulations.
Here are our top five resources for keeping up to date with all things business and bookkeeping:
1. HMRC Talking Points
OK. We know. HMRC may not be the easiest to deal with from time to time, but they’re the ones you’re reporting your clients’ taxes to. So, where better to learn the regulations than from the enforcers?
We’ll admit that HMRCs Talking Points webinars can be a little dry. The delivery isn’t always as engaging as it could be. However, it’s worth your while to persevere and the content is important.
Sign up to their newsletter, which details the forthcoming webinars, and pick and choose the topics that interest you. You can find out more about HMRC’s learning resources here.
2. Freeagent Blogs and Newsletters
You might think learning resources from an accountancy software might be software-specific. Or even a little sales-y. But not in this case!
Freeagent’s resources are absolutely invaluable. They publish newsletters and blogs on everything from bookkeeping basics (business expenses for the self-employed) to updates on new regulations (Making Tax Digital is back on the agenda).
The best thing about Freeagent’s content is that its written in plain English. If you feel like tearing your hair out after reading HMRC guidelines, we guarantee Freeagent’s way with words will be like a breath of fresh air. The easy to understand style will also make it accessible to your clients.
Whatever your preferences when it comes to accountancy software, we think Freeagent outshines the rest when it comes to their knowledge sharing.
Conferences aren’t just a tick box exercise for CPD. You should be attending at least one conference a year to keep up to date and improve your knowledge.
This year we attended Accountex, Accounting Live and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Summit. This gave us the opportunity to hear from experts on VAT, Intellectual Property, MTDfB and GDPR, in both the keynotes and the breakout sessions. Our caveat: choose your sessions wisely (some will be glorified software demos) so be prepared to field sales calls from the exhibitors for the next for months.
If you’re not based in a major city it can be pricey to attend even the free conferences, however, think of it as an investment in terms of your knowledge and the value you can pass on to your clients.And remember it’s not just the talks that are valuable – you’ll have the opportunity to speak to other professionals at all levels, and hear their opinions, worries and tips about the profession.
Online forums can be a double-edged sword. For every valuable piece of information you glean, you’re likely to see another post with false information, negativity or rudeness.
It’s not so much the factual information that makes joining a forum worthwhile though, it’s that it gives you an opportunity to keep up with your fellow bookkeepers. You can see what they’re talking about and educate yourself on those topics.
If you join a bookkeeping forum, whether on a website or social media page, go into it with your eyes open. Trust information from reliable sources and well renowned bookkeepers. Always check the privacy of the page as well. We’ve seen some rather silly questions being asked on open forums. Remember that, if you’re using your full name or business name, potential and existing clients may see your questions and comments when researching you.
I’m a champion of podcasts in general. You can find stellar podcasts for any and all subjects you might be interested in, from True Crime to comedy. Given the rise in popularity of podcasting, there are plenty to choose from if you want to learn more about bookkeeping and business in general.
For a softer approach with more of a storytelling angle, try Start Up from Gimlet Media. Start Up describe themselves as ‘a podcast about what it’s really like to get a business off the ground’.
If you’re looking to build your confidence and your practice, The Successful Bookkeeper with Michael Palmer is a fovourite of ours.
The Economist: Money Talks should be your go-to podcast for finance news and updates. Their editors and correspondents ‘give their authoritative take on the markets, the economy and the world of business.’
Our new favourite is The GuestList Podcast from the amazing Jason Allan Scott where he often interviews successful business owners and you get some fab snippets of information.
Have any recommendations for us? We’re always looking for new learning resources. Get in touch!