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Start your finance career as an ICB Bookkeeper

posted by Rob on Thursday, 15 November 2018

Without a bookkeeper, managing our finances is a daily challenge

Numbers love being the centre of attention, don’t they? The little devils are involved in everything from the size of our brains to the size of a Cadbury’s Creme Egg. For regular Joes like you and me, numbers best represent our finances, our tax returns or, thankfully, kick-ass rebates. However, they’re also vital for the day-to-day functioning of a business. So, unless you’re a bookkeeper, an accountant or Matt Damon from Good Will Hunting, managing your finances can be confusing.

Approximately 80 new businesses are launched every hour

In 2016, research from StartUp Britain estimated 80 new businesses being launched every hour. As people get more adventurous and daring in life and those entrepreneurial ideas start trickling in, high-hopes of becoming the next Richard Branson and a kazillionaire see many set-up new companies. Probably a reason why in 2017, there was a total of 5.7 million businesses registered in the UK alone.

So, now there are more businesses with new debts, transactions, and work-space payments. Daily, backs hunched, notebook in hand, more owners are crunching numbers and scrawling gobbledegook all over the page until their finances make sense, or until they look like this:

Business owners get stressed when there's no bookkeeper around

One solution business owners need 99.9% of the time is a bookkeeper to balance their books

If you’re a total number cruncher who likes the idea of mining data, surfing spreadsheets, and keeping a business’s accounts updated, you might be wondering if bookkeeping is an ideal starting point for a long career in finance. If so, the answer to that question is YES, so keep reading to find out more about how to get started. You won’t regret it; if nothing else, you’ll gain extra knowledge for 5 minutes of your time.

However, if you already know bookkeeping is for you and you’re looking to gain those initial skills, you can start by checking out our bookkeeping courses.

Why a little bookkeeping knowledge goes a long way

As a lover of numbers, you’ll be surprised to find that in 2015 the Financial Capability Board discovered 22% of adults in the UK didn’t know how to read a bank statement. Astonishing, we know, and we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before the ICB take to the streets with placards in hand. But seriously, managing finances is hard for many, which is why businesses hire a sturdy bookkeeper to manage their transactions.

22% of adults in the UK didn’t know how to read a bank statement

You see, a lot of business owners are scared senseless of their accounts. They avoid them because:

a) They’re intimidated, but really
b) One thing goes wrong and HMRC is going have their guts for garters

A lovely sight, eh? So, unless they’re completely green and try to manage all aspects of their business, all business owners eventually end up doing this whenever the idea of managing their accounts comes up in conversation:


Now, this puts you as a bookkeeper in a sweet spot. Not only do you get to jump around all that data but make a massive difference to the business in question. And because every business owner  and we mean EVERY needs people to balance their books, you’re going to be their best friend, whether directly working in-house or from your own home. Now think about how well a boss will treat you when you’re a key reason for eliminating part of their daily stress.

While we’re talking bosses and finance, here’s a nice little statistic for you (we know bookkeepers love their stats). Did you know that 55% of UK CEOs on the FTSE 100 have a background in finance? Meaning a core number of influential business leaders and innovators started their business story with foundations in bookkeeping essential skills all businesses require.

If you’re great with numbers, bookkeeping might be the career path for you, too. Maybe one day you’ll be earning as much as an investment banker – by the way, the national average is £62,483 (Glassdoor).

A Quick Rundown of Bookkeeping: The Nutshell Version

Quick rundown of bookkeeping and how to become and ICB bookkeeper

What exactly is bookkeeping?

Bookkeeping is the updating, processing, and recording of financial transactions and accounts for a business, balancing its books and making sure everything is all nice and tidy. In preparing the data for accountants and keeping accounts up-to-date, owners can focus on the business at hand.

55% of UK CEOs on the FTSE 100 have a background in finance

What does a bookkeeper do?

Bookkeepers are data-entry magicians that accurately process and record financial information for a business, such as daily transactions and finance reports to track how much they spend. Often hired by small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), they will use specialist software to prepare critical data that lets business owners make those all-important financial decisions.

What are the daily duties of a bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping duties vary based on the size and type of company. Here are some of the duties you might encounter on a daily basis:

  • Recording financial transactions or data, e.g., a company’s income and expenditures
  • Balancing the accounts and maintain accurate ledgers double-entry bookkeeping
  • Process payroll and pay employees
  • Managing company debts and bills, maintain petty cash and chequebooks
  • Calculate tax payments and complete VAT returns
  • Prepare checks, payments and bank deposits
  • Pay vendor invoices and track bank account balances
  • Maintain internal records and financial paper work ensuring company figures are accurate
  • Draw up information for auditors, accountants and business owners
  • Develop financial statements: balance sheets, cashflow, income and profit/loss statements
  • Work with relevant computer software (SAGE), spreadsheets and databases
  • Why not just become an accountant? Is there a difference?

There are similarities between the two professions, which often causes confusion because both professions deal with the finances of a business. However, the main difference is that a bookkeeper records and prepares financial data that accountants will use to provide advice that affects the business as a whole. The entry requirements for a career in bookkeeping are also lower and easier to acquire.

Do I need a degree to for a career as an ICB Bookkeeper?

No. Unlike accountancy, where firms usually want and like to hire graduates with a Bachelor’s degree, all you need to start your professional career in bookkeeping is a Level 2 ICB Bookkeeping qualification, which allows you to attain Associate ICB status and a qualified bookkeeper.

There are three levels of ICB Bookkeeping qualifications you can take levels 2 to 4. Upon completing each stage, you’ll be become even more qualified, and after attaining certified status, you’ll be able to offer more services to businesses and clients. Please see the infographic below for insight each level can offer you and your career.













Where can I gain my ICB bookkeeping qualifications?

Here at Oxbridge Home Learning, we offer everything you need to flourish, grow and become a fully-qualified and certified ICB Bookkeeper. From a short introductory course that eases you into the basis of bookkeeping all the way to level 4. Our online distance learning bookkeeping courses have been carefully designed to offer you maximum flexibility so that you can study at a time that suits you best from anywhere in the world even your bathtub on an iPad. So, if you already have a job, you can work around it to get the grades needed to evolve into the person you want to be.

Let’s say you’ve just completed your ICB Bookkeeping Level 2 and have got a job offer for a basic role with a firm as a part-qualified bookkeeper. The flexibility of our courses will allow you to gain skills with your new career while studying for your level three and four qualifications. It makes it easy for you to achieve the grades and career goals you’re looking for. Not forgetting to mention that our expert tutors will be there to offer you unlimited support every step of the way. And we mean unlimited!

One key benefit of being an ICB Bookkeeper is that you become a member of the illustrious ICB the world’s leading bookkeeping organisation. And once a member, you’re considered family for life and they’ll always be there to support your professional career as an ICB Bookkeeper. Take a gander at the ICB website to see the family you could be joining.

What are my options upon graduating?

So, you’ve finished your studies after working your socks off, and you’ve discovered why bookkeeping lays the ideal groundwork needed for a successful career in finance. What’s next. Well, believe it or not, you’ve got three interesting career options, and we’re going to go through each one for you!

4 Potential Pathways to Bookkeeping Success

Pathways of an ICB Bookkeeper

1) Become an Industry Bookkeeper

When you work for an industry-based firm, you’re essentially working in-house for one business. Depending on the business’s size, you’ll likely do the whole bookkeeping mix from recording financial data, dealing with payroll, tax returns, etc. Everything you do will be for that business only. An example business might be small independent retailers to a medium-sized online business.

2) Become an Accountancy Practice Bookkeeper

When you work for an accountancy practice, you’ll handle the bookkeeping for several of their clients. Your duties will vary depending on the client’s arrangement with the practice. An example of a successful accountancy practice would be Ernst & Young LLP.

3) Open Your Own Business

Now you know the tricks of the trade you’ll have everything you need to establish your own business. That means you can start offering clients your impressive bookkeeping services at a price of your choosing. Better yet, as you’ll be removing the middle-man, you’ll be reaping all the profits and the rewards. Not sure how to start your business, check out our post on How to start your own bookkeeping business.

Okay, so we’ll add a fourth option for all current business owners out there.

4) Eliminate the Bookkeeper

No, there will be no executions on our watch. What we mean is if you’re already a business owner who is spending a lot of cash on a bookkeeper, you can cut costs because you’ll have the skills to do the accounts yourself.

No matter where you’re in your career right now, whether you’re a school leaver looking for those qualifications or an adult looking for a new break, Oxbridge Home Learning can help you get there. For you, it’s as simple as picking up the phone and speaking to one of our dedicated advisors about your future. They’re super friendly and ready to guide you on your new journey to greatness. Start your journey to becoming a certified ICB Bookkeeper today by calling us on 0121 272 9910 for assistance.