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How to find a good accountant?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Cutting Tax
27 replies 30.6K views
Legacy_userLegacy_user
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MoneySaving Newbie
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Cutting Tax
Hi, I have a limited company and so far have used two accountancy firms. The first one was a small firm with around 20 staff and their charging was by the amount of work they did on your accounts, and their hourly rates were high so I was paying alot for their services.

The second was a large accountanty firm who have a set charge of £112 per month (inc VAT) and they provide :-

Year-end accounts, Unlimited access to your accountant,
Completion of Annual Returns, Personal Tax Returns, Payroll bureau
Completion of VAT returns, Dividend administration, Free bookkeeping software, Invoice template, Corporation Tax Calculations and HM Revenue and Customs, Companies House and use of a registered office
IR35 support


I am looking to move away from large firms and would like to work with an accountant who maybe works from home and has a good reputation and was hoping their might be some good tips out there as to how to go about finding someone.

Having spoken to other contractors with Limited Company they are with big firms such as JSA & SJD. It's not really what I am looking for and reading some of the posts on here already there are thoughts that you are paying for plush offices etc..

Would anyone know of any good accounts in the London, Berkshire or Buckinghamshire area?

Also what is a reasonable cost for either monthly/yearly?

I don't have a complicated set up, I am happy to complete my own VAT returns and book keeping spreadsheet but it's the tax returns, payroll, P11D etc I need assistance this...

Would appreciate any comments, advise and thoughts please...
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Replies

  • fengirl_2fengirl_2 Forumite
    4.5K posts
    The problem with a one man band might be that s/he would also be a one trick pony. I would go with a small firm with maybe 2/3 partners and a staff which would be able to give you a range of expertise.
    The best recommendation is generally from freinds and colleagues.
    £705,000 raised by client groups in the past 18 mths :beer:
  • edited 28 July 2009 at 12:15PM
    Ste_CSte_C Forumite
    676 posts
    edited 28 July 2009 at 12:15PM
    summer01 wrote: »
    Also what is a reasonable cost for either monthly/yearly?

    Pretty impossible to answer this without knowing more about your business and the state of your records.

    But for a Ltd company, even with immaculate bookkeeping, you shouldn't expect to pay less than £1000 for annual accounts with extra for PAYE compliance, P11d, Annual return filing etc So £112/month isn't unreasonable.

    I would also say that moving around every 5 minutes will cost you more money. The time it takes to prepare accounts is reduced as your accountant gets to know you and your business and the amount of red tape involved with taking on a new client is ridiculous so you'll be paying for all of that again.
  • horseykittyhorseykitty Forumite
    633 posts
    I would recommend word of mouth. We had an accountant who was so useless he didn't even tell us to shift our saving into just my name (other half is a higher rate tax payer). Then a friend of a friend mentioned that he had a brilliant accountant who absolutely hated the tax man - we switched and he has saved us a lot of money.
  • SystemSystem
    177.7K posts
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    I have only been using two accountancy firms in the last four years or so, the large well known one I moved to during the last year on recommendations from contractors that I knew. This company operates a reward scheme for recommendations, if someone you know joins them they give you £50.

    Unfortunately I have found they misadvised me on something quite important which was simply due to carelessness as they'd failed to look at my whole accounts/info and only focused on the current financial year. If I hadn't picked up on it this would have cost me dearly.

    I currently invoice an agency once a month, take out a small salary each month and claim expenses for travel & sub etc.. Some of the money is taken out in Dividends. The set up is straight forward.

    I got a letter from Companies House re an Annual Return, emailed my account to ask what needed to be done, and they sent me a link to complete it online and contact him if any problems. However this is something they cover as part of their monthly fee so I don't know why they asked me to complete it if it's a service they provide.

    My previous accountant has said they'll change their charging to a set rate of £90 + VAT and if this is a reasonable rate then I might consider this option. This will include the year end accounts, P11D, payroll etc. In all fairness I was happy with this previous accounting firm, the only problem I had was they confused me with another one of their clients sometimes and sent me forms to sign/complete which weren't relevant to me and as I was being charged for work by the hour etc I wasn't sure if they charged any of this work to my account as their invoicing was very vague..

    I really don't want to move accountants and this time want to make sure I'm completely happy so it's the last time.
  • PennywisePennywise Forumite
    13K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
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    It sounds as if you are a freelance contractor/consultant, so you probably need to look at firms that specialise in that kind of business. You can usually save a lot of time/cost if you do your own basic book-keeping, VAT returns, etc. There is a piece of specialist software called freeagentcentral that has been written for freelancers so it doesn't have all the complicated accounting-speak to learn - it's more simple and only does what a freelancer is likely to need, i.e. invoicing, expenses, etc. What makes it unique is that it has running-totals for all taxes, (including personal), dividend availability, etc., so that you really don't "need" an accountant from one year to the next, except for the year end submissions. There are already several accountants using this relatively new system, some large and some small, as you can see from the link below.

    http://www.freeagentcentral.com/accountant-zone/freeagent-friendly

    And no, it isn't an affiliate link, and I'm not getting any kick-backs from mentioning it. My own accountancy practice has taken on several clients using it and they are happy with how it works and puts them back in control of their finances/taxes etc. I'd say it is worth a look for you, and if you are interested, contact a few of the accountants mentioned on that list to see if any are offering what you need.
  • hippyadamhippyadam Forumite
    645 posts
    Fengirl wrote: »
    The best recommendation is generally from freinds and colleagues.

    Seconded :T

    I'd always go with a personal recommendation from a trusted source...
  • SystemSystem
    177.7K posts
    10,000 Posts
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    Pennywise wrote: »
    It sounds as if you are a freelance contractor/consultant, so you probably need to look at firms that specialise in that kind of business. You can usually save a lot of time/cost if you do your own basic book-keeping, VAT returns, etc. There is a piece of specialist software called freeagentcentral that has been written for freelancers so it doesn't have all the complicated accounting-speak to learn - it's more simple and only does what a freelancer is likely to need, i.e. invoicing, expenses, etc. What makes it unique is that it has running-totals for all taxes, (including personal), dividend availability, etc., so that you really don't "need" an accountant from one year to the next, except for the year end submissions. There are already several accountants using this relatively new system, some large and some small, as you can see from the link below.

    http://www.freeagentcentral.com/accountant-zone/freeagent-friendly

    And no, it isn't an affiliate link, and I'm not getting any kick-backs from mentioning it. My own accountancy practice has taken on several clients using it and they are happy with how it works and puts them back in control of their finances/taxes etc. I'd say it is worth a look for you, and if you are interested, contact a few of the accountants mentioned on that list to see if any are offering what you need.

    Thank you, this is a good link, I will read through it..
  • SystemSystem
    177.7K posts
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    Just an update - I spoke to a couple of people I know who use accountants and got some quotes - they are charging approx £175 a month to cover pretty much the standard services companies such as JSA & SJD provide so you're paying more but they are well recommended by someone I know.. however location wise neither company is that near to me so I will keep looking for the moment

    I don't mind paying the going rate however I just don't want to join a company who is a little careless when providing advice or gives me inaccurate advise
  • olly300olly300 Forumite
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    SJD have an office in London.

    Anyway all accountants and lawyers I've dealt with have no problems use email, fax, post and the telephone. So if your needs are simple then it doesn't matter where they are in England and Wales.

    I forgot to add in my PM that a few of them actually will deal with you outside the hours of 9-5.30 or even when they are on holiday. So I suggest you ring them up and speak to them.
    I'm not cynical I'm realistic :p

    (If a link I give opens pop ups I won't know I don't use windows)
  • SystemSystem
    177.7K posts
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    Has anyone had any good experiences with SJD?

    I know they have offices all over the UK but a couple of people I know moved from them as they said they didn't find them extremely efficient in alot of areas and often gave them different answers on the same question

    - for example my friend said they emailed with a question re payroll and one person replied with one way forward and other person from same department gave a totally different opinion on best option - seems rather odd...
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