I have always recommended that business owners have an accountant for compliance services and tax advice and a bookkeeper to keep the day to day accounts up to date along with VAT returns filed promptly. Having two professionals with different responsibilities ensures you are receiving the best support possible for your business.
Lots of accountants now offer bookkeeping services alongside accountancy and other compliance services. There are also bookkeepers who will offer accountancy services even though they haven't done the years of training an accountant will have done. But is a one stop shop the best solution for your business?
Can accountants really offer the same service as a dedicated bookkeeper?
If you only use one professional to do your accounts you need a good understanding of the figures in your tax return or statutory accounts because once you sign them you are confirming that they are accurate. It is simple enough to check that the income is what you expect but how can you know whether all the expenses have been included or whether all the VAT has been claimed which can be claimed. I have seen some very poor bookkeeping done by accountancy firms over the years but business owners just trust that it is being done correctly because they are paying a professional.
Of course there will be some very poor bookkeepers out there producing VAT returns, tax returns and statutory accounts too and you will never realise unless you have a good understanding of the finances of your business.
That is why I always recommend using a bookkeeper as well as an accountant. I know that our bookkeeping is good but it makes a lot of sense to me to have another professional review the accounts each year and advise our mutual client on tax savings and future planning.
Bookkeepers aren't just about numbers. Our role is about recording income and expenses and ensuring we meet VAT deadlines but it is also about being part of your business, being approachable when you want to discuss something, and keeping you informed. The statement I hear most from new clients is that their accountant never advises them on things which could help their business. The relationship we build with each of our clients is important so that they feel they can ask or talk through anything about their business when they need to.
Not only will a bookkeeper give you peace of mind, they will take away that overwhelming feeling you get when your business is flying and there is no time to keep the accounts up to date or even to work out how to simplify what you are doing. You will never again be doing three months of accounts on the day your VAT return is due.
Do you think a bookkeeper is an expense you can't afford?
We are working with businesses whose bookkeeping costs have reduced by half or two thirds of what they were paying before coming to us. Of course if you haven't used a bookkeeper before the cost will be more than doing it yourself but consider the time you will save and the value which will be added to your business by having up to date, compliant, accurate accounts with the bonus of someone to talk through any accounts related issues with? Value is far more than cost.
How about a bookkeeper AND an accountant?
It is always worth checking out the costs of having both a bookkeeper and an accountant because you may be pleasantly surprised that the cost is not what you might have expected. It doesn't mean that you will pay double costs. When you are obtaining quotes for bookkeeping and accountancy services it is worth asking an accountant for the split between bookkeeping (including VAT returns) and accountancy so that you can compare like with like. You will need to know how frequently they will be done, especially if it is important for you to have regular management reports. And always consider having your accounts done remotely as this can work out more cost effective for your business.
An accountant who knows your bookkeeper will provide accounts which are accurately presented to them promptly soon after year end will most likely give you a much better price than you would get if you were doing it yourself and they had to rework the figures.
Are you ready to find out more about outsourcing your bookkeeping?
If so, give us a call and talk to one of our friendly bookkeepers to see how we can help you. We work with businesses just starting out to those who have been trading a while and need more efficiency or are looking for a new bookkeeper.