View Full Version : Help!Advice needed on Accountants!

Louise Coldwell
16-12-2002, 06:55 PM
Hi all

Anyone know anything about accountants...?

Having probs trying to find one that makes sense!

Am in need of one to set books up,but find they offer 1st hour free and then after that am having probs finding out what basic fees are.......anyone any idea?

Also need to find out more about VAT....just got reg details through and tried reading info they sent on it but God it just goes over my head...NONE of it makes any real sense!!

Cheers Lou

16-12-2002, 07:14 PM
Your local Yellow Pages will list many accountants, so maybe contact a few of them. You may also want to ask Business Link to recommend one, or find one that is a member of your local Chamber Of Commerce, as they will usually give discounts for new/ start up businesses.

Design R Web Solutions

16-12-2002, 07:38 PM

Tell me about it!! I have had to get rid of two of the accountants i have hired. At present i have no accountant. Was trying to avoid the issue but youve just made me think that i need to find one quick fast.

Its so hard finding someone that offers a good value service, understands a startup and isn't lazy.

My first accountant used to keep me waiting for ages. Nothing was ever done on time. It was a nightmare especially as i was just setting up ooh la laa.

The second said she knew how to use quick books but didn't and we were incompatible.

So basically i want someone young, understands tax issues and can explain them in english.

Any suggestions?

Louise Coldwell
16-12-2002, 07:49 PM
Cheers Designr....

Elena.......your on my wave length!Soz thats last thing you need to be reminded of...!!

Its like they are on different planet...we dont want all the jargon and **** they come out with just words of wisdom and for them to work their magic!!(IN ENGLISH).

Seems like a job for columbo....theres some investigating to be done!



17-12-2002, 11:12 AM
As some of you will know from reading my posts, I am a Chartered Accountant and so I can answer any accounting questions you have with ease but I am not in what we call general practice, I have specialised in an area called Corporate Finance so I do not provide the services you have mentioned.

Fees are charged on an hourly basis (charge out rate) and the fees vary for the different staff working on your job and the size of the firm. Just to give you and idea, I used to work for a National firm of accountants and I had a charge out rate of 100, but I was highly qualified and expereined and worked on large companies, a junior member of staff who was unqualified with little experience had a charge out rate of 25. Fees will be lower for smaller firms and even lower for sole traders or very small partnerships.
If you're having trouble finding out what fees are, just ask them what their charge out rates are (some may not have them and just charge an overall fee) and how long it will take them roughly to do the work you require OR just ask for a fee quote, they should be willing to give you an idea.

I do know a very good sole trader accountant based in Manchester but it is best to find one who is near you otherwise you will never get to meet or have him sit at your office and show you how to use e.g. Quickbooks or Sage or Pegasus or whatever.

If I can be of any more help, please let me know.

Louise Coldwell
17-12-2002, 04:21 PM

Thanks very much for advice.....think ive got a bit of calling round to do.....

May take you up on that offer.......



17-12-2002, 08:10 PM
Hi Louise,

Try Yellow pages, make an appointment to see a couple or three companies and see which one you feel comfortable with.

I know what you mean by their "jargons". How I deal with is just simply ask them to explain it again in the manner you understand, straight up, plain english.

Just a little advice, check with accountant that they don't charge you each time you ring up for some info or advice because my employer's previous accountant used to do just that, as soon as the conversation finishes an invoice will be on it's way. It's best they charge you on the work they do rather than per hour.

Write down what you require from an accountant ie: would you be needing them to do your VAT returns, book-keeping, PAYE etc.
or just to audit end of year accounts and forward to companies house.

What I used to do was I did all the book-keeping, vat return (quarterly) and almost everything and then just send all the receipts, invoices and other document to accountant to summarise and finalise the accounts.

How about using the excel for your spreadsheets, you can use it for your book-keeping etc.

Best to go for recommendation!! Good luck!

18-12-2002, 05:28 AM
That's great advice from businesslady1 and KevinL. Thanks.

I'm about to start a company & have some nieve questions for you guys:

Just how difficult are a startup company's accounts? Couldn't I do them myself? Why use an accountant?


Louise Coldwell
18-12-2002, 09:18 AM
Hi Tim.......

Good luck by the way on starting your biz.If you have done previous book work in the past or know of it or feel confident enough that you can do your own books then theres no probs with that,it will save you some money,just remember to get them checked out say quarterley.

I will do my own books once seen accountant as getting help in setting up book keeping system as my invoicing is quite complicated and in need of more advice on how to send out VAT reciepts etc

I suppose its like everything its all new a first a you think it will take forever to learn,understand or pick up but then it finally happens,you grasp it and it all starts to fit in place.....you've been running your own Business!

What will you be doing?


18-12-2002, 10:37 AM
Unfortunately nearly all accountants will charge by the hour but will give you a quote for the wrok you want done and should more or less stick to it.
I understand what you're saying about when you phone up they charge you for the advice immediately, well some do and some don't but you must bear in mind that everyone is in business to make money so by giving hours of free advice to clients when is the accountant supposed to make a living? If for example you phoned your accountant for 1/2 hour every other week, and you didn't expect to be charged, he woulds have lost 13 hours chargeable work per year just on you, at say 40 an hour, that's 520 he's lost just on you so please bear this in mind. That said, I don't personally agree or would recommend accountants that did send you a bill every time they spoke to you or handled some of your correspondence, an element of this should be built into the fee quote they give you but of course like I said, they can't give you loads of time for free, it's not good business.

On another point made, Company's accounts (i.e. Ltd, unless you meant sole trader or partnership accounts) are difficult to put together unless you have knowledge of the Companies Act 1985 and all the latest disclosure requirements, FRS's, SSAP's, FRSSE's, etc - all technical but highlights my point, you really need an accountant to do these. You also need an understanding of basic double entry bookkeeping - debits and credits - plus how to put together a profit and loss account and balance sheet. Sole trader and partnership accounts are easier because obviously not being a company you don't have to prepare accounts to comply with all the aforementioned. You still need an understanding of basic double entry bookkeeping though so enrol on a course if you want to do it yourself or find someone who understands it and ask them to teach you, it's actually not difficult to understand the very basics but some people can grasp it and some people can't - don't ask me why but that's how it is.

As for finding an accountant I very much agree BusinessLady, get a recommendation because if you go to the yellow pages some people call themselves accountants but don't have any formal qualifications and really don't have a clue.

18-12-2002, 03:04 PM
Greetings everbody,

Ok. First Post. Tim, If it would help I can forward you a copy of Profit/Loss and Balance sheet for a LTD with some notes.(info@keep-trying.com) it will probably be overkill for what you need to start out with but might give you an idea. (Note I am note I hold no quals in accounts)

On my booking keeping side I will also be taking care of all of my general accounts and producing myself a monthly set of trading figures as well as a balance sheet and in Sept next year (which is my year end) I will forward all the accounts to the accountant who will look over them for filing, etc. I would agree with the people above and try to get a recommendation for an accountant. I chose my accountant as I knew them through my old firm and they are local to me. They also are acting as company secretary for me at the moment. Which is a great benefit.

As to doing the actual book keeping I would say the basics were not to difficult but you need get some accounting knowledge just to know where to start. So like it had been mentioned you should try and get yourself on a course which goes through the basics or get someone to start you out on the right track. Some accounts software may also help. One thing I would recommend is ensuring that you keep on top of you accounts, it can get very messy and expensive if it slides. However it all part of the fun of running you own buisness.


18-12-2002, 09:48 PM
Thanks for your advice, guys. Plenty more nieve questions where that came from!

ion_star, I would greatly appreciate a copy of the docs you mentioned. Would you please send them to me at:

KevinL, thx for the detailed explanation. I've just been handed an obese Business Accounting book to work through over Christmas. Hopefully that will teach me about book-keeping.

Hey Louise, I'll be starting an IT Solutions company, covering both development and training. I'm cramming business knowledge at the moment as this is my 1st company, and I want to be ready to start trading as the New Year bell tolls.

18-12-2002, 11:45 PM
Hi Lou

The best advice I can give for Accountants is around. See what others people say about there own accountant.

When getting quotes, ask for a fixed fee up front. Specify the work you want them to do and what sort of detail you would require from them. In regard to producing your own accounts. The best advice I can give if you are a beginner is keep good records.

I.E, for you sales invoices, list them in a book or in excel Net V.A.T Gross. When they paid, how much and if it was by cheque or cash.

List the totals for Cheques and cash seperate. it makes analysing the amounts easier!

As for purchases, Do the same buut split them out into telephone, motor , rent rates etc. The more detail the better. I have seen cases where people have the list and then put most of the analysis into 'Sundries' or 'Misc Purchases'. As an accountant it then takes a long time (And therefore expensive) to analysis this out!

Another good tip is to Make sure, If you are keeping manual books and not on excel add the totals up and the bottom of the pages and make sure they all agree. Again, this is easy stuff that will save you a lot of money.

The other big tip i would say is stay away from computer packages for account unless you know what you are doing (This could invlove going on a bookkeepping course etc). People tend to get very muddled up if they don't.

Hope this has helped a but. Being an accountant I know what its like!



19-12-2002, 12:27 AM
That advise is brilliant.

I am going to sort this all out. I use a computer package but im not on a course till next year and it can't cause any harm to use this aswell


19-12-2002, 01:39 AM
Ok Tim, I will foward them to you tomorrow once I get in the office.

For anybody in general if you use a computer system including excel make certain you backup, backup and backup and keep a copy OFF site. I can say that backups have saved me from a lot of trouble over the years and check that the backups work.

Also if anybody is looking for a good priced MS Office Suite. There is openoffice (www.openoffice.org) which I have used for sometime and you cannot beat the price (free) and it includes and excel like program.



Louise Coldwell
19-12-2002, 10:01 AM
Hi all....

What can i say,you are all full of such good advice,this has really helped me out alot!

Tim your biz sounds good,wish you all the best for it,Good Luck,am sure you wont need it!

Peterm...Brill advice,Cheers...not the greatest person with computers or any technology for that matter......will certainly take your advice up....will need to look into doing some sort of computer course....it took me 4hrs to install printer to laptop other week!Am useless!!

Thanks All again for Brill advice...


21-12-2002, 07:30 AM
Thanks ion_star (RG)! I've received the files.

Best regards

21-12-2002, 09:59 PM
Hi, I know an accountant myself, I've known her for about a year now and we've supported each other during that time in our business endeavours, her business is called Willertons Accountancy and she'd be happy to hear from you, tell her Amanda sent you her way.



Louise Coldwell
22-12-2002, 10:11 AM
Hi Amanda....

Cheers may just try that....

I saw a couple last week but werent really on my wave length!!

I had better get a move on with it....

What is it that you do if you dont mind me asking?


22-12-2002, 10:38 AM
Hi, I offer business administration/secretarial services as a traditional Virtual Assistant would (have you heard of Virtual Assistants? not everyone has).

But on top of this I write personal finance articles as my background and qualifications when I was an employee were in this area, and I also provide graphic design in the form of company logos. To be honest I really love the graphic design side of things.

Louise Coldwell
03-01-2003, 08:01 PM
Hi all......

Found accountant today and she's great.

Took note of what everyone advised and it helped!

Got on with her really well which i think helps.

Anyway she said she will charge me 50.00 per month this is lessd than what other acc's have qouted......does this sound reasonable?


03-01-2003, 08:22 PM
I know the accountant I recommend charges 20 per hour, so it would be hard for me to say without knowing how many hours your accountant will be working on your books each month.

Logo design and business adminstration

Louise Coldwell
04-01-2003, 02:27 PM
Hi Amanda...

She advised that she will deal with all my invoicing which will be approx 50 invoices per month,she will provide all staionary send out invoices,chase up any late payments and also do books once per month.

She advised she will produce a profit and loss account every month also!

Got her details from my local Business Venture Agency,she said she will invoice me every month end and the only extras would be the stamps and the initial books.

She seems ok but i suppose wont find out until some time down the line!

Fingers Crossed!


04-01-2003, 02:46 PM
In that case she sounds very cheap to me.

Louise Coldwell
07-01-2003, 07:27 PM
Hi Richard

Have tried your reccomended openoffice suite....Fantastic !!


Its brill how everyone on here are so knowlegable................

Am taking it all in....

You can never get enough advice and information no matter how long you've been working at something!