Empowering and Encouraging Women in Finance: an interview with Lisa Newton of www.workasabookkeeper.com
Lisa is the Finance Director of a number of companies including Boogles Bookkeeping Ltd which helps small business owners with their bookkeeping (www.Boogles.co.uk); Work as a Bookkeeper Ltd helps those wanting to get into the world of bookkeeping to find work and SoliBooks is an accounting software specifically for solicitors (www.Solibooks.com).
How did you get into this? Did you train straight out of school/Uni or was it a more roundabout journey?
The main theme throughout everything has been finance (mainly bookkeeping and money management). When I left school, I joined the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) and did their qualification alongside my A-Levels. I then went onto Middlesex University where I did a degree in Accounting with Marketing.
I then did an MSc at City University in Investment Management. Where most of my counterparts went to work with Investment Banks in the city, I used £150 (from my overdraft and £50 from my mum) and I formed my first company which was a bookkeeping business. Going forward, I’ve never actually had a full time 9 to 5 job in my life. I’ve always been a believer in starting your own business. I think everyone should do it. And although I set out on the journey at 16 to become an Accountant, I soon realised that the world was full of them, yet it was the bookkeepers who actually do the real work, and who are the people that small businesses really need, so thats the area I decided to stick to and to specialise in. I’ve also got a website called www.FindMeABookkeeper.com – to help SME’s in the UK to find someone decent, local and competent to help.
Can you explain what a typical day for you might be?
Currently, I’m working on creating courses – so I’ll create a course – I might spend 1/2 the month doing the slides, and the other half recording the course in my home studio. I’m also writing a book on an accounting software – so I spend part of the day working on a chapter. I just started a new business (telecommunications) so right now, I’m just doing the training module for the staff and working on the website for that. I will look at the numbers for each business periodically – it may be weekly or monthly, but I’m the one who files the accounts each year – so I have to make time for that task for each company. Occasionally I do some face-to-face group training.
What’s your experience from a women’s point of view. Would you say it is a good job for a woman?
I think working in bookkeeping has been very convenient because its very flexible. Often our staff have childcare responsibilities, and the nature of the job means working ‘school hours’ e.g. 10am to 2.30pm is completely possible. In addition, often bookkeeping involves some financial administration (so you need good organisational skills) and being able to explain things such as if the business is doing well / not so well to the owner/manager (communication skills) can really help. Sadly, we don’t get the respect (or the pay) that accountants do, but women don’t have to stop at being the bookkeeper – they can go further. It would be good to see more women higher up the chain, as I think we tend to stay towards the lower end – but in my humble opinion, I still think bookkeepers do the donkey work, and its more valuable to the success of a business then the accountants annual input.
What would your advice be to someone thinking of entering this profession?
If you want to get into bookkeeping, I’d suggest you find a local course at college e.g. 10 weeks – and try it ad see if you enjoy it. If you like it, then go for a recognised qualification – either a basic bookkeeping certificate or (a bit more) – go for the AAT. I’d recommend learning manual bookkeeping so that you understand debits and credits, and then get familiar with a few popular accounting software packages such as Quickbooks, Xero and Kashflow (there’s lots out there). Look at the jobs adverts and see what software packages potential employers/clients are asking for, and learn those first.
What’s your best financial advice for any woman?
I’d recommend reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and my own book – Constant Cashflow by Lisa Newton. In a nutshell ‘just buy assets’… in other words, buy income-producing assets that will put money in your pocket and work for you. Examples – shares, bonds, property.
Start a part time home-based business and get your expenses under control. Don’t waste money. Cut back on all the little leaks. And have a plan! I have a 30 year plan. I appreciate that many people can’t seem to ‘think’ that far ahead – but you have to have ‘some idea’. Unfortunately, (despite being about half the worlds population) most of the wealth is in the hands of men. If you want to have some control over your life and your future – you need to start taking responsibility because its unlikely anyone is going to be taking care of you. Women have a raw deal. They’re often the unpaid carers of everyone else. So just make sure that at LEAST 10% of what you earn, is yours to save and keep. Start an automatic savings plan. Start putting yourself first. Pay yourself first and don’t be tempted to ‘dip into’ it. Ever. Another very good and easy book to read is the Richest Man in Babylon by George Classon. If you think you can’t afford to save anything now, or make the ends meet now… ask yourself – do you honestly think it really gets any better or easier as an aging women? Society judges us far more harshly than they do men – so start getting on top of your money game!! You’ll only wish you began to do it sooner !!!