Choosing the right accountant

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By Jonathan London on 25th June 2015

Choosing the right accountant

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Whilst most people are pretty comfortable with how a traditional accountancy firm works, the new breed of online accounting firms can be a bit of a grey area for those used to vast spreadsheets, face-to-face meetings and end-of-year reviews. Not to be confused with ‘cloud accounting’ (which is just the software used to store your accounts online), online accountancy firms can manage your books just as your traditional accountant would, except your contact is more regular, and much more convenient.

Here we breakdown some of the main differences between traditional vs online, to help you choose the right accountant:

Guide to help choose the right accountant

Access

Online accountants provide a dedicated platform where you have 24/7 access to your accounts, meaning that if you want to claim your expenses at 4am, you can. Unless your regular accountant uses a separate cloud accounting provider, you’ll have to wait until business hours before you can make any changes. Plus, you may also have to pay extra to use a third party platform. Depending on how antiquated their bookkeeping systems are you might find yourself wasting days photocopying invoices and receipts to send over monthly or quarterly. Whilst it might not sound like much now, you’ll be thinking very differently three hours in and you’ve just dropped your jam-packed receipt folder and they’ve fluttered across your office floor.

Instead of lengthy spreadsheets, online accountancy firms tend to have custom software, sometimes also including an app for your phone. So you can update your accounts whilst waiting at the train station, if you wanted to be really time-efficient with those otherwise wasted minutes. This also makes it far easier to keep track of your accounts in real-time, as you have an up-to-date reminder of your business’s financial situation which can be carried around in your pocket.

Management

Many contractors or small business owners may only see their accountant once a year, when they’re filling out the tax return and rifling through too many receipts from Starbucks. Online accountants provide more flexibility with how your accounts are managed. Usually with an online accountancy firm, you get unlimited access to your personal account manager (although not at 9pm just as they’re winding down on the sofa with a nice chilled Pinot Grigio in hand, ready to watch the latest release on Netflix). This means they’re always on hand to help with your invoices/expenses/tax queries and makes managing your accounts much easier for both of you.

Cost

Face-to-face time with an accountant doesn’t come cheap, especially when you have to cover travel expenses too. However, an online accountancy firm can be more cost effective (and work better for your business too). Depending on the level of package you require for your business, the cost for an online accountancy firm can be as little as half of how much you would pay for a regular accountant, and you don’t need to be Einstein to be happy about that saving.

With an online accountancy firm you also know exactly how much you’re going to pay for the service, with a fixed monthly cost and clear breakdown of what you get for your money. Confusing fee structures, random invoices and large lump costs quickly become a thing of the past.

Multiple routes of contact

With a traditional accountant you can generally only contact them by phone, email or in a private meeting. Whereas if you have an online accountant you can call, email, text, web chat or video call them to your heart’s content (although maybe consider postponing that 2am brainwave text about your IR35 until later in the morning, just in case).

Want to learn more about how an online accountancy firm could help your business? Read more about our services here. Alternatively, you can download our guide to help you choose the right accountant by clicking the link at the top of this page.

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