Matthew Addison is the Executive Director of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers and shares his views and experiences with us. Thank you, Matthew, for your insights and excellent tips for all businesses, small or large.

  1. Many small businesses gain new clients through word of mouth, is that similar for Bookkeepers too?

Professional Services succeed and fail on a number of factors including technical competence but also on the perception held by the client or employer as to the integrity and professionalism (the reputation) of the Service Provider.  The reputation leads to positive referrals or leads to a current client indicating to others that they aren’t happy and hence the external vibe about the provider doesn’t engender positive referrals.  This same positive vibe due to reputation applies to all types of business: be it service, product, wholesale or retail.

  1. How are Bookkeepers maintaining their reputations in this very competitive world?

A Bookkeeper maintains their reputation in the first place by performing their work professionally.  To be professional includes timeliness, it means meeting deadlines, it means communicating strongly and appropriately, it means being competent.

Competence in Bookkeeping has a number of aspects:  it is not just about debits and credits and ledgers, in today’s world it is knowing how the software works or should work.  It is knowing how to achieve best practice and efficient processing using the appropriate software solutions.  It is about knowing the GST law that applies to each set of business circumstances, it is about knowing the Payroll laws (PAYG Withholding, Payroll Tax, Fairwork, HR etc.) that apply.

A bookkeepers reputation is enhanced when they show extreme competence in performing their own areas of expertise and also when they call on other experts to fill the gaps.

  1. How does the technical landscape affect Bookkeepers?

Technology is delivering better tools to the bookkeeping process.  Bookkeepers must endeavor to stay up to date with the latest features available in the software they use.  Software providers report regularly how features they have developed in the last few years are taken up by less than 50% of customers.

Bookkeepers should continually challenge their thinking to adopt new processes and new approaches to bookkeeping based on the improving software.  We are in a world where Machine Learning and the connected world of the internet are providing Data to the bookkeeper.  In the past, we would spend most of our time creating the data and normally as a record of what has already happened.  Today we have the software business tools to create the accounting data at the same time as the business activity occurs, if not as part of the business process.  Bookkeepers should be using bank feeds, OCR invoice technology, sending electronic invoices, using electronic timesheets etc. etc.

  1. In your role as Executive Director of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers, how do you juggle all the priorities you have on at the moment?

The ICB is involved in many aspects of the Business world, the tax world, the education of bookkeepers, the software.  You are correct in observing that it is a juggle of priorities.

We are privileged to have grown to have nearly 4000 members of our ICB bookkeeping community and 20 members of the engaged team able to achieve momentum, influence, and solutions in different areas either on behalf of our community or for our community.

We have committed to regular output on a number of member based services, therefore these take priority.  We then assess what other involvements will most impact our community and what we can have a significant influence upon.

It is a juggle and we mostly get it right

  1. Managing professional relationships is critical to business success and I’m sure you have seen some mistakes made over the years. What in your mind is the best way to manage relationships to ensure everyone gets the best service and outcome?

Unfortunately, it is an easy answer but not always easy to execute.  It is about communication.  People write emails from their perspective.  Emails are black and white and we read them from whatever perspective we are in at the time.  We don’t have the same background information, we don’t have the same emotion or perspective that the writer may have had so as a reader we interpret it differently.  If the Sender and Receiver don’t spend that extra time checking they have correctly interpreted the message to say what it was meant to say, things can spiral out of control very quickly.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given over the years about business success?

Spending time with the people is important.  People being:  your own team, your clients, other influencers on your environment.

  1. If you were given $200, what would you do with it?

$200:  team lunch

$2000:  maybe some external marketing

$20,000:  increase some of the teams hours

$200,000 employ a new person and breathe a little more freely


  1. What are three characteristics that you have seen work well in business?

Articulating the vision and ensuring it is what you do.

Spend time with your people and ensure you are on the same page and enjoying doing it.

Identify issues and spend the time fixing and communicating the journey to fix it.
Thank you, Matthew. You can check out The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers by clicking here.