Remote bookkeeper 101

What Is a Remote Bookkeeper? Responsibilities, Benefits, and Things To Consider

Learn all about the role of a remote bookkeeper, including their key responsibilities, the benefits they provide, and hiring considerations.

What Is a Remote Bookkeeper? Responsibilities, Benefits, and Things To Consider

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Businesses are increasingly turning to remote bookkeepers to streamline their financial management. Hiring a remote bookkeeper offers access to global talent, irrespective of geographical constraints. It enables companies to ensure accurate recordkeeping and compliance while freeing up resources to focus on growth.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to the role of a remote bookkeeper. It delves into their key responsibilities, the benefits of hiring a remote bookkeeper, and considerations to keep in mind when recruiting one. By the end of this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the value a remote bookkeeper can add to your business and how to choose one that best suits your needs.

What Is a Remote Bookkeeper?

Technology is transforming traditional business operations, and bookkeeping is no exception: 37% of small businesses are now outsourcing their accounting services, indicating a growing reliance on remote bookkeeping.

A remote bookkeeper, also known as a virtual or online bookkeeper, is a professional who manages a company’s financial records remotely, leveraging modern technologies to handle the financial needs of their employers or clients. The remote bookkeeping role is not confined by geographical boundaries or traditional office hours, giving businesses access to a wider pool of talent and more flexible service.

Remote bookkeepers accurately record and organize your company’s financial transactions, maintain financial compliance, and prepare and present financial reports in a timely manner. Their responsibilities include managing accounts payable and receivable, maintaining the general ledger, budgeting, and financial forecasting.

By providing you with a clear and accurate picture of your company’s financial situation, remote bookkeepers enable you to make informed decisions that can drive your business forward. By using their expertise to handle your bookkeeping tasks, they allow you to concentrate on your primary role—managing and growing your business.

When Should You Hire a Remote Bookkeeper?

As your business grows, so does the complexity of its finances. One clear sign that you might need a remote bookkeeper is if your current in-house staff is becoming increasingly bogged down by financial tasks, particularly when it is affecting their ability to focus on core business operations like fostering customer relationships or driving sales. 

Virtual bookkeepers can manage your financial tasks efficiently, freeing up your time to focus on other essential business activities.

It may also be a good idea to hire a remote bookkeeper if you’re finding it challenging to keep your financial records current. These professionals can regularly track your financial information, helping you make informed business decisions using real-time data and avoid making mistakes based on obsolete information.

Furthermore, they can ensure your books are accurate and tidy, helping to minimize errors and make tax season easier for your company.

Regardless of whether you’re dealing with cash flow issues or trying to avoid expensive financial errors, the precision and professional supervision of a remote bookkeeper can prove invaluable. They can analyze financial data to optimize cash flow and uncover underlying issues that may be affecting profit growth.

Key Responsibilities of a Remote Bookkeeper

Remote bookkeepers have a range of duties, from managing financial records to handling accounts payable and receivable.

Here, we’ll examine these responsibilities more thoroughly.

Financial recordkeeping

A remote bookkeeper’s primary duty is to maintain accurate financial records, which includes the following tasks:

  • Entering financial transactions into accounting software
  • Ensuring that financial records are kept up to date and compliant with financial regulations
  • Creating daily, monthly, and yearly financial entries
  • Sharing reports with clients to keep them informed about their business’ financial health

By performing these tasks, remote bookkeepers enable you to keep your finger on the pulse of your organization’s financial health while giving you valuable financial information you can use to promote its growth.

Budgeting and forecasting

Budgeting and forecasting are critical for business success, and remote bookkeepers play a significant role in these areas. They provide insights and make financial information understandable and actionable, aiding informed decision-making.

Additionally, they ensure that your organization has the necessary resources to implement strategic initiatives and achieve its goals.

For example, comparing historical budgets can shed light on the precision of financial forecasts and the overall effectiveness of your management, as well as the accuracy of your financial statements and financial reports.

General ledger

Remote bookkeepers also manage general ledger accounts, which are the backbone of any bookkeeping system. This involves the following tasks:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Reconciling accounts
  • Ensuring that the business’ financial records correspond with bank accounts
  • Handling credit card receipts
  • Categorizing expenses correctly
  • Ensuring that the company’s financial records are always in order

Accounts payable

Managing accounts payable is another key responsibility of remote bookkeepers. They automate bill payments and streamline invoice processing, ensuring that your business stays on track with its financial obligations. This not only helps maintain good relationships with suppliers but also ensures a smooth cash flow for the business.

Accounts receivable

Remote bookkeepers also handle accounts receivable. They create invoices and track and manage payments, ensuring that you are promptly paid for your services or products. This is crucial for maintaining healthy cash flow and ensuring the financial sustainability of your business.

remote bookkeeper checking out files while holding a calculator

5 Benefits of Hiring a Remote Bookkeeper

Hiring a remote bookkeeper brings a multitude of compelling advantages. From specialized expertise to cost-saving opportunities, here are five benefits of hiring one of these remote professionals.

1. Access to global talent

With a remote bookkeeper, geographical boundaries become irrelevant. This means you can hire the best talent from anywhere in the world. Access to a larger pool of candidates can lead to higher-quality services and fresh perspectives.

2. Specialized expertise

One of the key benefits of hiring a remote bookkeeper is the specialized knowledge they bring to the table. Their expertise allows them to ensure accuracy in compliance and financial tasks and eliminate the need for you to divert internal resources to these areas.

Since they are already knowledgeable about virtual bookkeeping, these professionals are often ready to start work immediately, meaning you can save on significant training and recruitment costs.

3. Fresh ideas

By bringing a fresh perspective to your financial matters, a remote bookkeeper can provide new insights and help you uncover opportunities or challenges you might have missed. This can reduce the chances of neglecting important financial considerations and ensure you stay on track and meet your business goals.

4. Cost savings

You can also save substantially on other costs by hiring a remote bookkeeper. By eliminating certain overhead costs, such as office space and additional computers, you can allocate resources more effectively.

If you hire a contract bookkeeper or remote bookkeeping agency, you will also be able to save on the cost of a full-time salary and benefits that you would have to pay for in-house employees.

5. Flexibility and scalability

A remote bookkeeper offers more flexibility than a full-time in-house bookkeeper. This includes the flexibility to scale their bookkeeping services up or down based on your business’ needs, which is particularly beneficial for businesses with variable bookkeeping requirements or those in a growth phase.

You may also choose to hire a remote bookkeeper on a part-time or project basis, receiving their support when needed without a long-term commitment.

Things To Consider When Hiring a Remote Bookkeeper

Although there are many benefits of hiring a remote bookkeeper, it’s important to take into account several factors during recruitment to ensure you choose the right bookkeeper for your organization.

Here are the most important considerations to keep in mind when hiring a remote bookkeeper.

Choosing between an agency and a freelancer

Choosing whether to hire a remote bookkeeping agency or a freelance bookkeeper is a significant decision. Freelancers tend to offer more flexibility in their work schedules and assignments, which can be beneficial for businesses that value independence and adaptability. However, they often work with multiple clients, which might affect their response times and availability during peak periods.

On the other hand, an agency might offer more stable and consistent services. They are also better equipped to scale up as your financial needs grow. However, their higher rates may be less cost-effective, especially for small to medium-sized enterprises.

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both choices and consider the scale and complexity of your bookkeeping needs.

A remote bookkeeper focused on his work

Services offered

Consider the specific services offered by the remote bookkeeper. Ensure that they offer the services you require and that they can tailor their services to the specific needs of your business. This will ensure you get the most value from your investment in remote bookkeeping services.

Experience and credentials

When hiring a remote bookkeeper, consider their bookkeeping experience and credentials. A higher educational background, like an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in accounting or business administration, is often a requirement. Bookkeeping certifications such as the Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) also demonstrate a bookkeeper’s knowledge and commitment to their field, ensuring that you’re hiring a professional who can deliver high-quality services.

Industry knowledge

A remote bookkeeper should have a deep understanding of bookkeeping in your industry. This knowledge ensures they can accurately categorize transactions and understand the financial implications of industry-specific practices. This can be especially advantageous for businesses in specialized or highly regulated industries.

Software proficiency

Proficiency with modern technologies is another factor to consider when hiring a remote bookkeeper. Specifically, they should be proficient in:

  • Cloud-based accounting software, allowing for real-time financial monitoring and collaboration with clients
  • Electronic signature software for efficient and secure documentation management
  • Secure cloud file storage applications for easy access to and storage of important files
  • Digital receipt capture software for accurate and organized recordkeeping

Familiarity with these tools is vital for efficient and secure financial management.

Communication abilities

A remote bookkeeper’s ability to provide clear and timely communication is paramount. They should be able to establish and maintain strong communication systems, utilizing applications such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. This ensures seamless collaboration and fosters a productive working relationship.

It’s also essential for a remote bookkeeper to adhere to a regular communication schedule, ensuring that all necessary information is relayed in a timely manner. This includes setting clear expectations for response times to emails and messages, which is critical in maintaining a consistent flow of communication and ensuring the smooth operation of financial tasks.

Security protocols

Security is a crucial concern when hiring a remote bookkeeper. Ensuring they follow security protocols and have a secure disaster recovery plan can help protect your sensitive financial data.

You should also verify that the remote bookkeeper uses reputable cloud-based accounting software with robust security measures in place.

Final Thoughts

The rise of remote bookkeeping presents a host of benefits, from cost savings to flexibility and scalability. However, you should only choose to hire a remote bookkeeper after carefully considering their previous experience, industry knowledge, and software proficiency, as well as the specific services they offer.

By following best practices when hiring a remote bookkeeper, you can leverage the power of remote bookkeeping to drive your company’s financial success.

If you’d like to learn more about the top remote bookkeeping services available, see our article on the best bookkeeping outsourcing services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a remote bookkeeper cost?

The cost of a remote bookkeeper can vary widely depending on their level of expertise, the complexity of the work, the specific services required, and whether you are working with an individual bookkeeper or an agency.

On average, bookkeepers in the US earn between $33,000 and $54,000 annually. Their rates could be higher if they provide more comprehensive services.

But as you are hiring remotely, you can look outside the US, where salary expectations can be lower. For example, the average salary of a bookkeeper in Latin America is $15,000 to $42,000—potentially saving you around 36% over hiring in the US. 

Are remote bookkeepers as reliable as in-house bookkeepers?

Yes, remote bookkeepers can match and even surpass the reliability of in-house bookkeepers. Their flexible working schedule, proficiency in up-to-date accounting software, and diverse industry experience can make them an efficient and accurate choice for managing financial tasks. However, it’s essential to confirm their qualifications, experience, and security protocols to ensure optimal service.

How can I find a remote bookkeeper?

There are several ways to find a remote bookkeeper. Freelance job boards such as Upwork or Fiverr have numerous profiles of remote bookkeepers from around the world, each with their own specializations. Social media platforms like LinkedIn can also be a great resource for finding professional remote bookkeepers. 

Additionally, your professional network can be a valuable source of referrals, as people you trust may have already worked with and can vouch for the reliability and competence of their bookkeeper.

If finding a remote bookkeeper on your own seems overwhelming, you can use a recruitment agency like Near to help streamline the process and ensure you find a qualified and reliable professional.

Recruitment agencies have vast databases of candidates and can match you with a bookkeeper who fits your specific needs and budget (we have over 35k pre-vetted candidates on ours). They can also handle the initial screening and interview process, saving you time and effort.

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