Australian bookkeepers were changing their business practices away from being tied to the office, a recent survey has found. Over 70 percent of bookkeepers looked forward to using cloud software and the ability to work remotely compared to just under 60 percent in 2013, the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) 2009-2013 Bookkeeper Comparison Survey reported.
The percentage of those who opposed the cloud, didn’t understand the concept or were scared to lose their job was less than 10 percent for both 2012 and 2013.
The survey revealed changing tastes in the accounting programs bookkeepers used to run their own businesses. While MYOB had the largest percentage of business users, there was a noticeable drop from 72 percent to 65 percent in the past five years. Xero users had jumped to 21 percent in the same period, doubling from 11 percent of bookkeepers in the past 12 months. Reckon users maintained a consistent 10 percent of bookkeepers over the same period.
Similar trends appeared in the software bookkeepers were recommending to clients. MYOB fell from 55 percent to 43 percent and Reckon dropped 21 percent to 15 percent in the past three years. Xero and QuickBooks Online were 9 percent and 7 percent respectively.
Bookkeepers were also charging more, with a trend to raising fees over $50 per hour. The percentage of bookkeepers charging less than $50 per hour fell from 33 percent to 17 percent.
Bookkeepers were increasingly submitting tax-file number declarations electronically. Less bookkeepers processed TFN declarations via mail to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and 10 percent of Xero-using bookkeepers used the program to submit TFNs.
The use of the electronic commerce interface (ECI) fell from 44 percent to 28 percent in the past five years. Seventy percent of bookkeepers used the BAS Agent portal to access the integrated client account, which had improved productivity in the past two years.
For the past three years, over 30 percent of bookkeepers weren’t a member of any software partner program.
The bookkeeping sector was dominated by women (80 percent) and more than half were over 40 years old. Sole traders represented 40 percent of the survey and more than 70 percent of bookkeepers surveyed didn’t have another full-time employee.
The 2014 ICB survey covered 626 bookkeepers in Australia.