Bookkeeping vs. Accounting: What’s the Difference

Staff Writer

March 7, 2024

What’s in the article?

One of the most important parts of running a business in Singapore is efficiently managing your company’s finances, and this is where both bookkeeping and accounting come into play. Both services are in high demand by Singaporean companies, but they’re often used interchangeably as many believe them to be the same. 

Bookkeeping vs. Accounting

Bookkeeping is an administrative position that handles the recording of a company’s financial transactions, as well as the incoming and outgoing of the company’s money, in an organized and consistent manner. On the other hand, accounting is the act of analyzing the financial data collected during bookkeeping in order to gain insights regarding the business’s performance and determine additional steps that need to be taken to increase the company’s profitability.

What is a Bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is an employee in charge of handling the records and documentation of a company’s finances. One of the more important tasks of a bookkeeper is maintaining the company’s general ledger, which is a document that records all the amounts of expenses and profits that the company has incurred within a particular period of time.

The following are other examples of tasks that a bookkeeper may be tasked with:

  • Creating invoices
  • Preparing payroll
  • Posting credits and debits
  • Paying suppliers
  • Updating inventory records
  • Filing receipts, bills, and other business transactions
  • Handling petty cash

To become a bookkeeper, one must have a relevant qualification from a recognized institution, such as a degree or diploma in accounting, finance, or other related courses. Additionally, one must also have a minimum of two years of relevant experience in bookkeeping or accounting. 

Once you’ve acquired these, you’ll then have to apply with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) in order to become a certified bookkeeper. This will involve passing an examination and meeting the professional requirements set forth by the ICB, as well as completing yearly training sessions to stay updated with the latest developments in the industry.

What is an Accountant?

An accountant maintains and analyzes the financial data and business transactions collected by bookkeepers to help company owners and stakeholders make more informed decisions moving forward. The following are examples of tasks that may be assigned to accountants:

  • Analyzing the company’s operating expenses
  • Filing company taxes
  • Preparing reports and financial statements
  • Accruing or deferring company expenses and revenue
  • Making loan proposals
  • Planning the company’s budget
  • Performing audits

To become an accountant in Singapore, one must have a relevant qualification from a recognized institution, such as a degree in accounting or a related course. Then, you’ll have to take the Singapore Qualification Programme, which is an accounting course that covers both theoretical and practical training.

Once completed, you’ll have to pass the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA) Chartered Accountant Qualification Exam to be certified. You’ll also have to maintain your certification by completing courses and other requirements in the following years to maintain your knowledge and competence in the industry.

To be recognized as a public accountant, you will also need to register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), which will incur a fee of SGD 216. You must meet the following qualifications:

  • At least 21 years old
  • Have relevant qualifications and practical experience
  • A member of any professional accounting body or organization
  • Have a Continuing Professional Education
  • Have successfully taken a course on ethics and professional practice subjects
  • Are or will carry on the public practice of accounting in Singapore
  • Are or will maintain an office or place where your services may be engaged
  • Are or will make yourself available for work on behalf of any member of the public

Bookkeeper vs. Accountant

Bookkeeper Accountant
Requirements Only requires a relevant academic qualification, at least two years of experience, and a certification from ICB Requires a relevant academic qualification, a mandatory accounting course, a passing score in the qualification exam, and a successful registration with ACRA
Scope of Work Handles and updates records of a company’s financial transactions and activity Analyzes the financial data gathered during bookkeeping to make sound recommendations for the company’s future
Example of Tasks Maintaining the company’s general ledger Performing company audits

While similar, both bookkeeping and accounting services have very different focuses and roles when it comes to managing the finances of a company. However, both of these tasks are best left to the professionals, and WealthBridge is here to help your company run more smoothly. 

With more than a decade of experience handling the financial needs of various companies in Singapore, our team of professionals is here to help your company grow further.

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