Chapter 3

What does a bookkeeper do?

Keeping the books is just one of the tasks modern bookkeepers might handle. Here’s a breakdown of bookkeeping duties.

Responsibilities of a bookkeeper

Bookkeepers are responsible for providing accurate, up-to-date financial information about a business. They’re always taking the pulse of a business.

Most often, their reports go to business owners and managers to help them make decisions. Some bookkeepers, however, are actually involved in strategy development.

Bookkeepers may also share some jobs with accountants, such as the preparation of annual financial reports and tax returns.

Bookkeeping duties

The two foundational tasks in small business bookkeeping are data entry and bank reconciliation. Without these, all other bookkeeping tasks fall over. Let’s walk through the core duties, common additional duties, and advanced bookkeeping.

Core duties

  • Data entry: Recording financial transactions and balancing the books. Learn more..
  • Bank reconciliation: Cross-referencing the books against bank statements and other source documents to confirm accuracy. Learn more.
  • Monthly reports: Summarising the business’s financial position. Learn more.

Additional duties

  • Accounts receivable (and credit control): Creating and sending invoices, and following up to get them paid. Learn more.
  • Accounts payable: Making sure invoices from suppliers are accurate and paid in a timely manner. Learn more.
  • Payroll: Calculating pay and deductions. Learn more.

Advanced duties

  • Tax filing: Filing GST returns and helping with income returns. Learn more.
  • End of year reporting: Assisting with annual profit and loss and balance sheet reports.
  • Business strategy: Creating budgets and forecasts, and advising on how to improve the business.
  • Business process: Reviewing, researching and implementing software solutions and internal controls to streamline the business and enhance performance.
  • Training: Working with staff on best practice bookkeeping and use of software solutions.
  • Virtual office: Providing a full-service virtual office, for example telephones, postal address, and email communications.
  • Liaison: Meeting with accountants, on behalf of their clients, about financials and tax queries. Acting on behalf of the client with the tax authorities.


Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

What is bookkeeping?

Whether you’re bookkeeping for a family business, or planning a career in it – this is a good place to start learning.

  1. Introduction to bookkeeping

    What does bookkeeping involve? What’s the end product? And how does it compare to accounting? We take a look.

  2. Double-entry bookkeeping explained

    With double-entry bookkeeping, you create two accounting entries for each of your business transactions. Find out why.

  3. What does a bookkeeper do?

    Keeping the books is just one of the tasks modern bookkeepers might handle. Here’s a breakdown of bookkeeping duties.

  4. What types of bookkeeper are there?

    With their variety of skills and tasks, bookkeepers come in many shapes and sizes. You may even be one and not know it.

Download the guide about bookkeeping

Find out what bookkeepers do, and get an intro to double-entry bookkeeping. Fill out the form to receive the guide as a PDF.

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