It can be difficult to see where the line is drawn between a bookkeeper and a virtual assistant – to clarify – we at ValueAdd provide both Bookkeeping and Virtual Assistance services to our clients, as do many others across the world.
What exactly is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual Assistants are mostly known for providing high quality back-office support to businesses. You can easily find a VA specialising in website maintenance, social media management, diary management, transcription, business management – plus everything in between!
However, you need to protect yourself and your business. If you are thinking about letting your fab virtual assistant loose on your books, make sure they’re ALSO a competent bookkeeper. Here are three key things to look out for:
Bookkeeping is defined as the method of recording the financial aspects of any business transactions. In order to undertake ANY such work in the UK, bookkeepers required to register for Money Laundering Supervision. This can be direct with HMRC or through a professional body (if they are a member). If your bookkeeper isn’t registered, they are breaking the law. And if they’re not compliant with Money Laundering Regulations, then what else are they cutting corners on?
We recently read on a forum about a highly experienced bookkeeper losing a client to an unqualified virtual assistant, who offered to complete the work at significantly reduced price. As a business owner, we know it makes sense to keep your overheads down but bear in mind that you’re also losing invaluable know-how and a pair of safe hands. Worst case scenario, you may end up paying twice the price for an expert to pick up the pieces if things go wrong! Make sure you go into it with open eyes.
Qualifications and Professional Bodies
Before you engage with a VA/bookkeeper, check out their Linkedin profile and website for qualifications. These should help to convince you of their competence. Any bookkeeper worth their salt will also be a member of a professional body, such as the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or International Association of Bookkeepers. This protects you as their client, as they’ll be held to a code of ethics and standards. You’ll also have recourse to complain should anything go wrong.
So – long story short, protect yourself and your business by making sure your virtual assistant is also up to speed on the rules/regulations to do your bookkeeping.