Freelance Accountants

by | Sep 3, 2015

Do I need to pay a Freelance accountant?

Since online accounting systems has grown in popularity and effectiveness, it is always tempting to do-it-yourself instead of paying a Freelancer accountant for helping you with your business accounts.

However, it may look like a good saving in the beginning, you may face real problems in the long run. The cost in the end may just be too high when you operate without a Freelancer accountant.

What is wrong with running your accounts?

When you are considering pros and cons of hiring a professional accountant, you have to understand different costs involved. Usually, there are two kinds of different costs, which also signal two different opportunities to save money.

One of the most important reasons to hand over your accounts to a financial accountant is that it saves plenty of time. The best way to estimate cost and time is to check out the time that you will be spending doing it yourself. Calculate the number of hours and then multiply them by your hourly rate. Now check out the average monthly fee that a Freelancer accountant will be charging. You will notice that you are not only saving money, but you can dedicate your hours to your work and make more money, in fact.

A professional accountant will also be able to help you get maximum returns from your finances by rendering professional advice. If you are looking to acquire this sort of knowledge, be aware that it will be time and effort, that you may not afford.

How to test the market

Before you use the services of a Freelancer accountant, you need to ensure that they are providing you the best option and has experience and services suiting to your business. You may want to investigate the following points while hiring your accountant

  • Check whether a Freelancer accountant has experience with other freelancers. Ask if the Freelancer has worked with any other Freelancers since this can help you save money in the end.
  • Inquire about IR35 and ask the accountant if he or she can help you stay away from IR35.
  • Learn about all the details related to services and the charges.
  • It is important to know whether you will be able to use your accountant as your personal account manager or not. Moreover, you need to know your responsibilities for record keeping.
  • Ask for supporting information such as accreditations, membership of professional bodies, and qualifications. An accountant serious about doing business with you will always be happy to provide all this information.

How to choose an IT Freelancer accountant

Freelancer accountants are always valuable assets for Freelancers and their business since they can help save money and time by providing their valuable advice. They will also provide useful information related to legislation affecting you. However, many Freelancers find it difficult to keep their accountants in order. If you are also a Freelancer having trouble to spend time with your accountant, then you need to find an accountant who can make the process painless and smooth.

When searching for an accountant, always prefer accountants that will ask for a monthly fixed amount as accountancy fees. The accountant should deal with HMRC and provide complete services including administration services within the monthly accountancy fee. The services offered in that fee should also include tax returns, VAT registrations, and PAYE system management. If a service provider is charging relatively lower fees, you need to check out the services that the provider is skipping.

Before you start speaking to different Freelancer accountants about hiring them, always ensure that you know your business needs. If any particular areas of your business require special attention, know about it before hand, this will help you to talk to them about those issues in particular.

You will also need to ensure that you are checking the following factors before hiring an accountant.

  • Check their professional qualification and see accreditations they hold.
  • Check if the Accountant specializes in the freelancing market.
  • Check experience that a freelancer accountant holds in the freelance field.
  • Check if all the services part of the central contract or you may need to pay for extras like self-assessment returns.
  • Talk to the accountant about accountancy fees and know when you need to pay it.
  • Check if the accountant is willing to look after your business on a day-to-day basis and also know how they will be communicating with you.
  • Learn about response time for your queries. Ask the accountant if he or she will provide unlimited support or not?
  • Ask the freelancer accountant about your responsibilities related to the accountancy work.

How to pick an accountant- Quick Checklist for Freelancers

Since there are so many accountants out there, it may prove out to be a difficult choice when you are looking to pick someone to help you with company accounts.

What to look for in good accountants

Communication

A good accountant will always be good at communication. He or she should be able to speak plain English and communicate effectively. He or she should be able to keep you up to dated with the latest happening in finance, particularly the sections that concern your business.

Charges

Although you can pay accountants on an hourly basis, it is always a  good idea to find someone who requires fixed fee and charges for his or her services.

IT-friendly

Since bookkeeping and other account-related tasks are not dependent on software programs, you need to find an accountant who is good at understanding new software quickly while having a solid grip of conventional bookkeeping software programs.

Industry-specific

Always look for someone who understands your business and has experience in the same industry. Working with an accountant who has experience in your field will mean that you do not have to allow for any pieces of training or wait until the accountant develops sufficient understanding of your industry or business.

Forward-looking

Now the world is moving to the internet and so should your accountant. If he or she is stuck in the past refusing to promote services through a friendly website that provides useful tips, you may not want to work with that accountant. A forward-looking accountant is always good to work with.

Well connected

Finding an accountant with good social contacts will mean that you can find a good solicitor, bank manager, and even financial advisors through that accountant. A well-connected accountant will be able to link you up with professionals who will help you with investments and even pensions.

Accounting mistakes to avoid

Managing accounts is one of the most important and challenging aspects of running a successful freelance business. There is no escape if you make accounting mistakes and yet they are common with new and experienced Freelancers.

If you have been making these mistakes, it’s time for a fresh start. The new tax year is approaching, and you can make some new resolutions to keep. The best you can do is to avoid these fatal mistakes.

Ignoring claimable expenses

Doing the books is probably the least enjoyable part of running a business, and it’s something that keeps slipping down the priority list for the majority of Freelancers.

When you put accounts at low priority, you tend to miss small expenses that you can claim. These expenses are usually under £10. Now these expenses usually make one-third of total claimable expenses so if you ignore them, you are paying a lot of additional tax and making a huge mistake.

You can avoid this error by simply being more efficient. You can use different tools that will help you keep better track of your finances and accounting. For example, there are some smartphone apps out there that let you take a picture of your receipt and then send it directly to your accounting program as a receipt.

Ignoring tax deadlines

There is no doubt that running a Freelancer business leaves with little time for anything else especially when you are new and still settling into your industry. This situation may lead to a disastrous situation where you might start ignoring tax deadlines. If you miss your deadlines, you are going to be in big trouble as HMRC will impose penalties for delay. If you continue doing this, your penalties will keep increasing, and you will have to pay an enormous amount of interest. Once you’re caught in this trap, you are simply going to find it impossible to get rid of surcharges and get your finances back to normal.

The best way to avoid missing tax deadlines is to keep track of deadlines somewhere. Make a note or add them to your calendar but whatever you do, be sure to look at them. You can set reminders a week ahead if you are kind of a person who usually forgets deadlines. If you are unsure about a deadline, you should get in touch with HMRC at the earliest and ask for additional time. In most cases, they will give you some relaxation or let you pay through installments.

Failing to keep things simple

One of the most common mistakes is over-doing things and making bookkeeping way too complex. You just need to keep track of the money you are making and tax that you need to pay. Adding too much of unnecessary detail can sometimes lead to complications that don’t need to be there. Sometimes your only problem may be using a complicated software that doesn’t fit your needs.

Doing too much yourself

Sometimes you might simply be doing too much yourself. Ideally, you should take some help with accounting and other financial matters. Hiring a good Freelancer accountant will let you relax and avoid all the mistakes that Freelancers usually make. Just make sure that you are hiring someone who understands contracting finance and has experience in your industry.

Evaluate your accountant’s services

When you have hired a Freelancer accountant, you need to evaluate its services from time to time to know whether it represents the best fit for your business. You also need to assess the value for money you are getting. Your business may also develop over period requiring further services or expertise to keep your business tax efficient. In case your current accountant cannot help you with that, you do not have to worry about moving on to a newer accountant.

When you are hiring a Freelancer accountant, you may have to bear high upfront costs. However, this should not exclude the costs and troubles you will be getting into when going the DIY route. Remember, hiring a professional accountant will almost always help. Ditching an accountant will not be the best option for most of us.


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