Member Spotlight Interview

Joyce O'Leary MCIPP, MIAB 
River Bookkeeping Ltd
by Jennifer Barker

Meet Joyce O'Leary MCIPP, MIAB, founder of River Bookkeeping Ltd and Support Team Leader of Bookkeeper’s Detox Ltd. I had the opportunity to interview Joyce at the Festival of Accounting & Bookkeeping 2024. Join me as I dive deeper into Joyce's journey and the exceptional services offered by River Bookkeeping.

After leaving school, Joyce went to college to study hospitality. Interestingly, her older sister ended up being one of her lecturers. It became a bit hectic when Joyce was typing up her sister’s lessons the night before class. Consequently, she made the decision to leave college and secured a position as an office assistant at a manufacturing company in Hoddesdon. It was in this role that Joyce was introduced to purchase ledger work, sparking her interest in the fantastic field of bookkeeping!

At River Bookkeeping, Joyce specialises in payroll management, offering a comprehensive range of bookkeeping services. With expertise in trial balances and tax preparation, Joyce delivers various aspects of financial management with exceptional precision. Clients appreciate the tailored services Joyce provides, allowing them to customise their experience, from reviewing their transactions before submitting VAT returns to receiving personalised training packages. From detailed 1-2-1 sessions to reduced rates on a sliding scale, Joyce also moves clients onto 6 monthly check-ins and hourly fees to ensure ongoing support and guidance as required.

Whether starting from scratch or enhancing existing skills, clients can count on Joyce to guide them through mastering their own chosen systems independently.

I personally believe, that my clients like to feel in control with my guidance, so I completely identify with Joyce in this way of working as a bookkeeper.


Contact Joyce at River Bookkeeping Ltd:



Services Offered:



Training for Bookkeeping & Payroll Software

Bookkeeper Support Sessions


What sets River Bookkeeping apart? It's Joyce's unwavering commitment to transparency and client satisfaction. Clients trust Joyce implicitly, knowing that their financial matters are in capable hands. Joyce informs her clients of what she feels they need to know and works hard to seek this knowledge and keep up to date with current legislation, to support the services she provides as a bookkeeper.

Joyce believes in tailoring her approach to suit each client's unique needs and preferences. Whether it's conducting face-to-face meetings or maintaining seamless communication via email, Joyce ensures a collaborative and personalised experience for every client.

Joyce stays current with industry trends by actively engaging with various sources, including HMRC emails and webinars, IAB quarterly newsletters and monthly coffee mornings, Croner-i for VAT queries, and CIPP for payroll advice. Joyce highly values the CIPP, finding them to be an invaluable resource. She praises their dedicated helpline and informative newsletters that keep her well-informed about payroll legislation. Joyce particularly appreciated their presence at FAB24 and has loved attending their annual conferences.

Joyce has much feedback of how accurate her work is and how personable her engagement is with clients, helping them to feel comfortable in the overwhelm of their numbers.

Both Joyce and I agree on the importance of maintaining a delicate balance between recognising our limitations and operating within our skill set when engaging with clients. We also shared a laugh as we reminisced about instances where clients mistakenly believed that software could handle most tasks on its own, or where clients failed to utilise the powerful tools that software offers and added two days extra work to the task at hand!

I inquired of Joyce, "If bookkeeping were a recipe, what ingredients would it entail?" Joyce's response was succinct: she requires just four key elements to fulfil her role effectively - excellent software, spreadsheets, bank statements and timely provision of information (avoiding last-minute submissions)!

Joyce remains at the forefront of industry trends and regulations by actively engaging in continuous professional development. Whether attending CPD webinars or staying up-to-date with accounting rules, Joyce's dedication to growth and learning shines through in her outstanding service delivery. As an ambassador under the IAB, Joyce plays a crucial voluntary role in supporting fellow bookkeepers and accountants through the IAB's ambassador program with great dedication.

Joyce says “I am passionate about supporting fellow bookkeepers facing challenges such as AML compliance and navigating the complexities of running a business. My role as an ambassador with the IAB allows me to fulfil this commitment. With over 30 years of experience in both practice and industry, I have learned the importance of offering assistance and seeking help from peers in the field. Serving as an ambassador enables me to continue this ethos. The camaraderie within my group is welcoming and enjoyable, and the backing of the IAB adds valuable support to our endeavours.”

One of the most fulfilling aspects of Joyce's journey is witnessing the ‘lightbulb’ moment in others as she teaches them something new and they grasp the concept.

Despite the demands of her profession, Joyce understands the significance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Whether relaxing with beloved box-sets or enjoying audiobooks during her leisure time, Joyce ensures she recharges her batteries for optimal performance, especially when doing a walking exercise on her Nintendo Wii console!

In 2023, Joyce joined me at the Bookkeeper’s Detox as both a leader and a member. This community-driven initiative fosters collaboration, support, and the exchange of knowledge among fellow bookkeepers, paving the way for innovation, excellence, and growth in the industry.

Joyce says “The reason I eagerly embraced the opportunity to support bookkeepers stems from my past experience at a large accounting firm. In that environment, the bookkeepers and payroll teams were often disregarded and belittled. I observed instances where colleagues seeking assistance were either ignored or intentionally provided with incorrect information to elevate someone else's status by pointing out errors. The toxic atmosphere compelled me to seek a different path.

These experiences have instilled in me a deep commitment to aiding those in need. The daunting prospect of running a business, especially one that supports others in their entrepreneurial endeavours, is not lost on me.

Regrettably, bookkeepers and payroll professionals are frequently undervalued and overlooked within the industry. By leading a team of like-minded bookkeepers, we aim to illuminate the value we bring and demonstrate our ability to collaborate effectively with our industry peers.

The challenges of AML compliance, navigating legislative changes, dealing with overdue payments, declining client requests, managing a solo business venture and lacking a support system can indeed be intimidating. However, these fears dissipate when you are part of a supportive team where you can freely ask questions and receive genuine assistance. This is why I find fulfilment in leading teams - knowing that even if I do not have all the answers, someone within our team will.

My primary motivation is to assist individuals because once you have the necessary knowledge, the daunting aspects cease to be intimidating. Witnessing the bonds of friendship form and seeing people come together to achieve common goals is a truly gratifying experience.”

If you're a bookkeeper looking for support, check out our memberships for a community of like-minded professionals and small mastermind teams. It's the perfect place to network, learn and grow your bookkeeping practice. We have members from all different professional bodies and HMRC, sharing our experiences, challenges and needs. We discuss what software can help us, how to give value to our clients and explore how to manage our AML compliance.

Join us, and let's grow support in this bookkeeping world together!







Bookkeeper's Detox Ltd   Company No: 14045342    Registered Address: 28, Nunnery St, Castle Hedingham, Halstead, Essex CO9 3DW

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