The Book Keepers Role, duties and responsibilities

A book keepers role typically conjures up images of a person sat at a desk, with a quill pen in one hand, little round metal rimmed glasses, meticulously updating a pile of folioed ledgers, books or journals in a dim candle lit office in Dickensian England.

Though for some smaller companies and businesses this basic image of a book keeper has not changed that much – nowadays if you are lucky you may have a light bulb and a biro – in essence the role and task that they fulfil is predominantly the same.

However, since the advent of computers and integrated accounting solutions, much of the drudgery and repetitive tasks associated with the role of book keeper have been eliminated or significantly reduced.

Rather than updating manual books and ledgers, the book-keepers’ role is in most organisations or companies has been reduced to data input into computerised systems. Here accounts software has dramatically reduced the need for skilled book keepers, de-skilling those tasks that can be computerised.

Typically in larger organisations the modern book-keepers roles and tasks have evolved into functions within an accounts department. The number of roles undertaken by each book keeper will depend on the organisation’s own size and will also be determined by internal control procedures set up by that organisation in liaison with auditors to protect the shareholders assets and to help prevent fraud.

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Many of the old book keeping terms used in book keeping circles, have been replaced by more modern terms which better describe the function or duties that the book-keeper fulfils within that organisation. Take the Bought Ledger Clerk’s role for example. Typically this is role the book keepers or clerks responsible for recording the items purchased for the company would fulfill . Depending on the size of the organisation will depend on how much  of that function the Bought Ledger Clerk or Accounts Payable Clerk fulfills.

For example a Bought Ledger Clerk in a small company may not only be responsible for recording the purchases of that organisation but may additionally be a Sales Ledger Clerk and responsible for recording accurately the sales transactiions of that organisation. In a large organisation it is most unlikely that in an  individual would have responsibility for both the ledgers or, using more modern accounting terms, accounts payable and accounts receivable.