A bookkeeper is exposed to the kind of financial information that normally, only directors of a company would be privy to.
This can put a heavy weight on their shoulders. What happens if you see figures that don’t add up? How do you go about addressing this? And what happens if you’re expected to be less than transparent?
“Being pressured to do something unethical is a real problem,” says Paul Connolly, Director of The Tax Shop Group. Bookkeepers need to be vigilant to omissions, errors or even deliberate accounting violations. For Connolly, the key is to trust your instincts. “You have to understand the company culture you are going into – research them. Ethics is an upper management problem – that’s where most unethical behaviour is.”
If a bookkeeper has suspicions that all is not right, what should they do? “Talk to people. Go to two or three knowledgeable close friends. With accounts, there can be case-by-case grey areas about what you can and cannot do legally. The particular situation you’re facing might not be in the manual. If that’s the case, you need to discuss.”