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As your business grows your bookkeeping staff will encounter new challenges and demands. You need someone that can handle the extra responsibility for all your accounting needs.

This guide covers the major reasons how a full charge bookkeeper will help your business. Learn all about the role and their responsibilities, qualifications, and salary expectations. You’ll also understand your alternatives are, and how to hire for this position.

What Is a Full Charge Bookkeeper?

A full charge bookkeeper covers a regular bookkeeper’s tasks but does additional, more complex duties. The ‘full charge’ element means that they take full responsibility for the company’s finances. As mentioned above, this includes preparing monthly statements, balance ledgers, and tax returns for inspection by your CPA.

Full charge bookkeepers have more work experience and demand a slightly higher salary than a standard bookkeeper. They are usually employed at smaller companies that don’t need the expertise of a Financial Controller or CPA. 

Full Charge Bookkeepers

1. Make General Ledger Adjustments

A full charge bookkeeper has a lot more oversight over your general ledger than a regular bookkeeper. One major difference is they prepare and enter journal entries for fixed assets and depreciation. Your full charge bookkeeper will also run a trial balance each month to ensure general ledger accounts are in balance. During this process, they will adjust journal entries to correct any discrepancies they find.

2. Handle Your Banking

Relax knowing that all your bank accounts are covered. FCB’s help reconcile your monthly bank statements. They oversee all bank deposits, petty cash accounts, credit card accounts, and lines of credit. Your full charge bookkeeper can also help maintain your cash position by managing invoice factoring and accounts payable.

3. Prepare Tax Returns

While full charge bookkeepers are not CPAs, they can help prepare monthly and quarterly taxes. Their returns get submitted to your CPA for review, to get tax advice, and process tax returns. Reducing the time your CPA needs to spend working on your taxes should translate to a significant cost savings.

4. Produce Financial Statements and Reports

They can produce all the general purpose financial statements, but can also help with reports for budgeting and forecasting. Financial planning and budget forecasting will help increase your profitability – creating opportunities for growth.

5. Process Payroll and Timesheets

Full charge bookkeepers are often responsible for processing payroll. They may handle the task themselves or could oversee a payroll specialist. If you outsource your payroll, your FCB can help manage the relationship.

6. Supervise Junior Accounting Staff

A full charge bookkeeper will supervise junior employees, develop efficient workflows, and verify their work is accurate and done on time. The junior accounting roles they usually oversee include payroll clerk, payables clerk, or billing clerk. In smaller companies, they might also oversee inventory, purchasing, and human resources.

Full Charge Bookkeeper Qualifications and Salary

There are no formal qualifications or requirements needed to work as a full charge bookkeeper. You’ll probably find many applicants entered the accounting field as junior/assistant bookkeepers and have worked their way up the profession.

Most full charge bookkeepers have some college education. The role clearly demands a good understanding of Math and business software. When reviewing candidates, you may consider long-term experience sufficient. 

Expect a full charge bookkeeper to understand and apply Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), double-entry bookkeeping, and be able to read the chart of accounts. They should also be able to make journal entries and take a trial balance.

A candidate should have at least an intermediate knowledge of the accounting software your business uses. Aside from their accounting knowledge, they need to have the ability to prioritize their workload, communicate effectively, and hit deadlines. 

Full Charge Bookkeeper Salary

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The AIPB and the NACPB both offer exam-based certifications that test applicants on their bookkeeping knowledge. These certifications could be useful to help you decide between otherwise equal applicants.

Full Charge Bookkeeper vs Controller vs CPA

There are many financial tasks all businesses need to do, and they are rarely performed by a single position. Here is a breakdown of typical financial duties and where the responsibility usually lies. 

TaskBookkeeperFull Charge BookkeeperControllerAccountantCPA
Produce Invoices
Issue Supplier Payments
Control Petty Cash
Accounts Receivable / Payable
Pay Taxes
Monitor Cash Flow
Bank Account Reconciliation
Prepare Tax Return
Prepare Financial Statements
Coordinate with CPA
Produce Financial Reports
Complex Accounting Transactions
Processing Payroll
Adjusting Ledger Entries
Supervise Junior Accounting Staff
Audit Financial Statements
Tax Planning Advice

Full Charge Bookkeeper Interview Questions

A full charge bookkeeper is a critical job position for your business. When recruiting for this role, do an in-depth examination of the character and capabilities of all potential candidates. Ask questions that probe their knowledge. Prompt them to show sound financial knowledge that will benefit your business.

Role and Responsibility Questions: 

What are the primary responsibilities of a full charge bookkeeper? This question can enlighten you on a candidate’s previous experience.  Even though they think themselves a full charge bookkeeper, your understanding of the role and theirs may differ – perhaps in a crucial area. 

What skills are needed by an effective full charge bookkeeper? This question examines the candidate’s knowledge of standard accounting practices. Excellent candidates should also highlight non-financial core skills like teamwork and task management.

What are the most challenging aspects of this role? This question makes the candidate think about challenging situations they previously faced. Getting a candidate to explain how they approach difficulties can help to illuminate their character.  

What was an issue you faced in your previous role, and how did you deal with it? This question forces a candidate to explain in granular detail about their approach to problems that arise in any business’s accounts. An excellent candidate should be able to choose from a wide variety of situations they previously handled competently and ethically.

GAAP Specific Concepts:

  • What is the principle of permanence of methods?
  • How would you account for a $750 tax rebate?

Test Their Critical Thinking Ability:

How many movie theatres are there are in your home state?
You aren’t looking for an accurate answer. Instead, examine the candidate’s logical reasoning. A good candidate should answer the question along the lines of; ‘well, there are three movie theatres in my home city, which has a population of 100,000. I know my state has a population of approximately 4 million, so I would estimate the number is 120.’ 

Full Charge Bookkeeper Alternatives

Before hiring a full charge bookkeeper it’s a good idea to review the alternatives.

Established or growing businesses could benefit by hiring a senior staff member like a Financial Controller, Accountant, or a CPA.  

Outsourcing your bookkeeping is a cost effective method that is growing in popularity. If your business has relatively few transactions, you can outsource your finance functions with a specialized service. By definition, specialist outsourcing services have the expertise, so you can always be sure that your accounts are accurate.

If expenses are a concern, but you still want to offload the responsibility, virtual bookkeeping services can be significantly less expensive, but you do lose the control and expertise that comes with having an employee that knows your specific business.

For businesses bootstrapping in the startup phase, there are free accounting tool that give you the basic structure for your own set of accounts. If you are just getting your business off the ground, here is the best free accounting software we recommend.  

Hire a Full Charge Bookkeeper

A junior finance clerk can’t be expected to transform your financial records into real business intelligence. Likewise, recruiting a more qualified employee, such as a Financial Controller or Accountant, could be overkill for your current requirements. 

A full charge bookkeeper can handle complex financial tasks like preparing management reports, processing payroll, and taking a trial balance. Then, when needed, liaise with your CPA for auditing and tax purposes. 

If hiring a full charge bookkeeper is the best option for your business right now, Master of Finance and Glassdoor have great templates to help you create a job listing.

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