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Becoming a self-employed bookkeeper

Hi,
can anyone give me advice on becoming a self-employed bookkeeper. I am currently working in financial sales and have done so for a number of years. I have decided to look for a career that I have more control over and is a bit more specialised than just reeling off some sales pitch day in day out. I have read about people taking the plunge and starting out as freelance bookkeepers with very limited practical experience and just a bunch of qualifications under their belt. So I guess my question is, firstly is it viable to become a successful freelance bookkeeper just through studding the relevant qualifications? If so, what qualifications do I need, and what regularly bodies should I qualify with that would be most recognised and sort after by potential customers.

all advice welcome

Thanks Andy
anon

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By Anonymous
18th Nov 2008 07:31

Money laundering aspects
I always follow the money laundering procedures meticulously with new clients. About 50% of potential new clients go dead on me when I tell them what is needed. When I follow up a month later, they nearly always say that they have decided to use an accountant who doesn't bother about the procedures!

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By frauke
17th Nov 2008 13:13

Setting up as a book-keeper
On July 1, 2008 the law changed and It does not matter if you are a book-keeper or an accountant - if you set up now in business in the UK you have to have a practice certificate with a recognised body - which currently include - in alphabetical order:

Association of Accounting Technicians
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Association of International Accountants
Association of Taxation Technicians
Chartered Institute of Taxation
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
Insolvency Practitioners Association
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales
Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
Institute of Financial Accountants
International Association of Bookkeepers

OR REGISTER DIRECTLY WITH THE HMRC for Money Laundering monitoring.

I would suggest doing the International Association of Bookkeepers exams to start with, they give a good grounding in book-keeping. Are available to study at many colleges as well as by distance learning. But like any of the organisations above to move up from Associate, to Members and finally to Fellow, you will also require to have experience and not just exams.

I'd be interested to know what is (if anything) is happening to anyone who is setting up with either no practice certificate or registering with the HMRC.

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By Anonymous
15th Nov 2008 09:49

but all disciplines need training .....
Apart from a couple of helpful postings, what a negative bunch of replies in response to someone asking for help.

Richard - Of course you are right. However, exactly the same charges could be levied at accountants who dabble in computers with NO training and worse still advise clients on the basis of their credibility as an accountant. We have all encountered these horror stories but unfortunately in the field of computers everyone is an expert

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By Anonymous
14th Nov 2008 23:56

I just hope...
...that your book-keeping will be more accurate than your typing!

As for qualifications, try AAT and/or RSA book-keeping.

Once you've got a feel for the basics probably wouldn't hurt to do some SAGE courses.

Best of luck

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14th Nov 2008 16:44

Self Employed or a Business?
What are you after from your bookkeeping business? A “job” where you work 40, 50 plus hours a week or a business?

If you want a job then listen to the advice and learn how to be a fantastic bookkeeper. You’ll earn some money, help some people along the way but you’ll never be free from work.

On the other hand, if you want a business then you can simply employ a qualified bookkeeper from day one and you deal instantly with all the issues and concerns others have posted. Your problem then becomes cashflow. So, make sure you have enough money before you start and invest in developing an effective sales and marketing strategy. Call the office on 0800 915 4225 and I’ll arrange to send you some CDs that may help you.

Maybe you’ll think that starting off doing the work yourself and reducing the cashflow requirement is a good idea. But, you’ll need a strategy for leveraging yourself – have you read The E-Myth?

Bob Harper
CRUNCHERS

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By Anonymous
13th Nov 2008 23:25

Go for it...
* Studying
* Regulatory
* sought

Generally speaking, they are all **** and charge way too much. My 1st impression is that you have what it takes.

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14th Nov 2008 15:13

Enough!
There's enough useless bookkeepers out there without yet another one!

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By Anonymous
14th Nov 2008 13:06

your first client!!
It look as if Mark will sign you up but I would not count on him to help you pay your bills.

Richard is absolutely right - to try and be a bookkeeper with no expereience is madness. Try brain surgery as Richard suggests or better still lion taming - you will do less damage to your clients there.

But seriously - you need to train and you need to get practical experience because without those two things not only will you not be able to solve the numerous problems that you will come across you won't even be able to see that they are problems.

And you clients will not be appreciative....not at all

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14th Nov 2008 10:27

I am thinking of becoming a brain surgeon!
Hi Andy Anon

I am frankly aghast that anyone would advise you to go down this path with little or no practical experience, with or without book-learned qualifications. The vagaries and pitfalls of running the books for even relatively simple operations are so numerous that you would struggle to get it right. You only have to look at some of the postings on Aweb to see that even people WITH training and experience sometimes struggle.

One problem is that the expectations of non-financial business people is often way beyond what you may think that you are signing up for. If you constantly have to say 'sorry, I don't do that' or refer to their auditors for advice they will not be very impressed.

If you want a career change then get a junior job in your target profession and at least learn the ropes.

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By Anonymous
14th Nov 2008 06:44

Query
Will you be looking to be computer-based or are you going for manual book-keeping? Do you plan also to offer payroll services?

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