What a word. It makes you think of scene of the crime officers, blood and empty bullet cases.
In my case, it means sifting through reams of paper, looking for clues. I’m a forensic bookkeeper.
I work for a small firm that looks into the accounts when they start to look dodgy. It’s usually the owner manager who brings us in, often at the suggestion of their external accountant.
I’ve been doing it now for 3 years and I’m getting to the point where I can smell a rat before I even log onto Sage. Maybe it’s something to do with the working environment or the characters involved. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I’m pretty good at it.
In my mind, I’m a detective looking for clues, maybe wearing a trenchcoat and a hat, but the reality is I wear business clothes and a lot of the time I do pure grunt work, looking at invoices, checking VAT numbers and entering figures on Excel.
I’m sort of qualified, but nothing like an accountant who would do this kind of work for larger clients. I’m just not that bright or sufficiently motivated to aim that high.
I took a number of bookkeeping courses and got my Accounting Technician diploma with Pitman Training, but that’s about it.
I think one of the reasons I got this job is that Pitman made me take some pretty in-depth manual bookkeeping courses before letting me loose on a Sage Line 50 course, so I know the real nitty gritty stuff.
When I went for the interview, my boss liked the practicality of what I’d studied, took me on for low pay and trained me in the finer points of the forensic stuff. The job has grown faster than the pay, but it’s really interesting.
At the moment I’m working at a client’s in the East End, a garment manufacturer. The owner can’t understand why he’s not making any money yet as he has contracts with some huge retailers. It’s a bit complicated because his brother-in-law is the internal bookkeeper.
I’m picking up that there’s something a bit wrong with the purchase ledger but I’m not sure what it is yet and I’ve learned over time not to jump to conclusions. If you start off thinking it’s the purchase ledger, it’ll probably end up being something to do with the journals, or maybe even a little VAT jiggery pokery. Who knows?
Could you do this job if you hadn’t taken any bookkeeping courses? I don’t think so. It’s so detailed that I think you have to fully understand the mechanics of the subject.
I’ve got my Dad to thank for starting me on this path.
I was working as a beautician but I hurt my elbow and it was just too difficult to continue, so I had to find something else.
My Dad said he would help me retrain for office work if I wanted, so I cast around for a real career. Something that would last me for a good few years. And it was Dad who came up with the idea of getting into bookkeeping. After beauty, I thought it would be a bit boring but he said he’d pay for my training so I thought I’d give it a go.
I imagined I’d be working in some big, glamorous firm in the City, fighting my way up the career ladder, so I’m really pleased I fell into this role. It’s funny to think that a handful of bookkeeping courses can make you end up as a detective, even if it is only in my head!
If you want to copy my career path, I’d say the first thing to do is take some Pitman Training bookkeeping courses and then Google forensic bookkeeping firms and make a nuisance of yourself until they take you on.
You can learn more at www.holborntraining.co.uk or phone Pitman Training:
London Notting Hill – 020 7792 5214
London Holborn – 020 7025 4700
Manchester – 0161 923 6814