The term “bookkeeper” can conjure an image of a middle-aged woman with greying hair wrapped in a crochet shawl fussing over a pile of paperwork, “tut-tutting” to herself over some mysterious calculation, whilst furiously punching numbers repeatedly into a large desktop calculator.
Before you think “OMG, Mel! How can you say that?”, let me tell you: I AM a bookkeeper, and very proud to be one! And I can assure you, that stereotypical image I just depicted for you is certainly not what a bookkeeper looks like today!
What a bookkeeper looks like and does has changed, and for various reasons. The industry is no longer a cottage one. Bookkeeping is now a highly skilled professional class of service, whose providers add a huge amount of value and contribution to the success of a small business.
The role of a Bookkeeper has evolved
I recently attended the New Zealand Bookkeepers Association ( NZBAI ) Annual Conference on August 7th & 8th, where 150+ attendees gathered in support of the profession and to share their passion.
NZBAI was founded in 2010 by Melanie Morris with Xero as the founding sponsor. Both Mel and Xero had a vision to unite and raise the bar for bookkeepers as a profession throughout New Zealand. Seven years later, they have 400 members and are quickly growing.
Bookkeepers in New Zealand have definitely been ahead of the technology curve. Bookies have been part of that wave from the very beginning, way back to when Xero was born from an idea around a kitchen table in a small apartment in Wellington.
This has shown that bookkeepers in New Zealand are running very efficient, tech savvy and scaleable practices with the Xero cloud platform, and have much to share from their adoption of technology.
Rewarding the best of the best
The highlight of the conference was definitely the awards and we had several categories this year:
Bookkeeper of the Year — Tax Agent 99 Janine Gardner
Bookkeeping Business of the Year — Calculated Advantage, Julie East
Bookkeeping Marketing Innovation Award — Julie Russell Bookkeeping, Julie Russell
Bookkeeping Trainer of the Year — Gayle Buchanan Memorial Trophy — On Track Bookkeeping, Di Crawford-Ermington
Cloud Innovation Award — Calculated Advantage, Julie East
Emerging Bookkeeper of the Year — Zharna Letfus
Bookkeeping Community Contributor of the Year – GoFi8ure, Lisa Martin
Outstanding Service to the Bookkeeping Profession — Janine Gartner Tax Agent 99
Congratulations to all the winners! It was wonderful to see some of our top Xero partners recognised.
One particular award really captured my heart, and that was the Bookkeeping Trainer of the Year – Gayle Buchanan Memorial Trophy. Gayle was a pioneer in the Cloud Bookkeeping Space, sadly we lost Gayle last year. I can remember her welcoming me “across the ditch” to my first ever Xerocon in NZ in 2013, she was a true inspiration and such vibrant part of the Bookkeeping Community, she is dearly missed. Di Crawford- Ermington was the recipient of this award and in her words she states “ Gayle was a personal friend of mine who passed away far too young last October. She was extremely passionate about training and education and supporting Bookkeepers worldwide. I am so so honored to announce that I am the first recipient of this award. Amazing.”
I have been to many bookkeeping conferences across the globe, from Canada, the USA, the UK, and Australia. But the NZBAI conference was such an incredible place to be. I was taken in like family and made to truly feel part of the community, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and success over this weekend.
As part of the Xero initiative I hosted a panel on “The Value Of A Bookkeeper” where we heard from Daniel Hunt, CEO The Career Academy, Rod Tapp, Executive Director PWC NZ, Janine Gartner, Director, Tax Agent 99 & Melanie Morris, President NZBAI, The session clearly showed how Bookkeepers are the facilitators and connectors of the SME relationship and Rod Tapp from PWC clearly showed his support and recognition of the value we play!
Daniel Hunt from the Career Academy share his passion for certified Bookkeepers and also stated publicly that he wanted to see memberships double in the next year, this was well received with cheers from the conference attendees.
To balance the views from Education and Accounting, Mel Morris and Janine Gartner both shared their thoughts with Janine placing particular emphasis on the relationships that bookkeepers build with their client, they put the client at the centre of all interactions, which Mel Morris reiterated and also stated that this is one of the foundations within the members operate their practice around. Everything revolves around the client.
The people involved with the NZBAI are admirable. It is a community that support, empowers, and educates each other to uplift the entire profession and build on the value they can deliver to small businesses.
Thank you, NZBAI, for involving Xero as part of your bookkeeping journey. It is a true privilege and we look forward to many years ahead!