Barclays chooses FreeAgent for new client promotion

Barclays Bank has put its faith in Cloud computing with a support package for new business clients that includes FreeAgent’s online accounting system.

Where previously Barclays offered new clients a copy of Sage or QuickBooks though its ClearlyBookkeeping initiative, Barclays this week launched MyBusinessWorks, a package of Cloud-based services available for £12.50 a month that include:

  • FreeAgent bookkeeping software
  • LivePlan business plan program
  • Legal Essentials - document templates and compliance news
  • MozyPro data backup service
  • MindLeaders training services

For FreeAgent founder and managing director Ed Molyneux, the announcement was a big validation for Cloud computing.

After going through a fairly extensive evaluation process, Molyneux said FreeAgent central won the deal on the strength of its UK-specific functionality, with features such as the built-in tax timeline (which shows a real-time total of outstanding tax liabilities), VAT modelling and online filing.

As the current holder of the Software Satisfaction Award for small company accounting, FreeAgent’s customer satisfaction numbers helped to convince Barclays, as did the developer’s relationship with IRIS.

Following its investment last year, IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions managing director Phill Robinson sits on the FreeAgent board and was involved in the negotiations with Barclays.

“They weren’t entirely confident diving in with a relatively new supplier who didn’t have a readymade relationship with accountancy practices. We needed to deliver it in scale with buy-in from accountancy side as well,” Molyneux continued.

The customers who take up the Barclays offer may well be business that are also looking for an accountant, he added. “With customers coming from Barclays, from accountants and from the wild, we can meet them in the middle. It’s an interesting opportunity on both sides to meet those people on a common platform.”

Development work is under way to to enable FreeAgent to access Barclays’ and other bank account data through its Yodlee data integration partner. This should be available for MyBusinessWorks users by September, Molyneux said. To win the coveted contract, FreeAgent also had to carry through a project to make its chart of accounts more flexible and to deliver stock control functionality.

Comments
torbenhalvorsen's picture

MyBusinessWorks & Accountants

torbenhalvorsen | | Permalink

Congratulations FreeAgent - a well deserved show of confidence in you from Barclays.

Reading this it seems that there may be an opportunity for Accountants interested in the SME market to work with their local Barclays Business section as the pricing on MyBusinessWorks is excellent value, it seems.

Have any local Accountants had success with working closely with people in the Barclays Business teams ? Is Barclays Business interested in working with local Accountants and are they doing anything proactive in this regard ?

Phil

-- Accounting the PaperLess way™

John Stokdyk's picture

Differences from the ClearlyBookkeeping offering?

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

I'd be curious to hear from anyone who was, or still is involved in the ClearlyBookkeeping initiative. Besides the Cloud angle - which is what excited Ed Molyneux and other commentators - I'm wondering if this isn't a sign of accountants being "disintermediated" as they say in the digital world.

For all its flaws, my memory was that ClearlyBookkeeping was based on a referral relationship with accountants, while that element has disappeared from the MyBusinessWorks package. Ed talked about the IRIS relationship and the links to practitioners - but it's more of an afterthought than a core part of the initiative.

Can anyone with more first-hand knowledge refresh my memory?

Barclays Partner Programme

willfarnell | | Permalink

Hi Phil

 

Barclays have a professional partners programme, there is a cost but Barclays provide software and all bank charges are included.  We are members and do a fair amount of cross referral work with a coupled of our local business managers.

 

Will be interested to see how the IRIS accountants in practice link works here with the FreeAgent software as IRIS are keen to sell the software through their clients and I am not sure if there is a accountants back end admin site and if so whether we can get access to this without paying fees ourselves direct to IRIS?

 

Good to see Barclays embracing the cloud technology though

 

Will

 

Adrian Pearson's picture

Memory jogger

Adrian Pearson | | Permalink

Hi John

Have a look at my blog posting on this at http://adrianpearson.com/2011/06/21/can-barclays-do-their-bit-for-freeagent/ and follow the link to the "old" ClearlyBusiness website. These might refresh your memory.

Adrian 

John Stokdyk's picture

Thanks both

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

I'm in a bit of a rush at the moment, so while I'm aware there could be issues lurking in the undergrowth I haven't had time to research them.

@Will - I'm very curious about how this will be marketed to Barclays partners (particularly as it concerns migration from the CB/QuickBooks software). Ed Molyneux did mention the situation as it affects IRIS OpenBooks users. The software systems are essentially the same, but there are some licensing concerns at IRIS (who sell their version for more than Barclays), which he thinks may be resolved with a "small" upgrade fee to bring MyBusinessWorks users on to the accountant's platform. Suggest you question FreeAgent or IRIS more closely about this, depending on who acts as your front-line supplier.

IRIS

willfarnell | | Permalink

Thanks John

 

I will pick this up with IRIS when they pay me a visit next month

 

Will

torbenhalvorsen's picture

Barclays, IRIS and FreeAgent

torbenhalvorsen | | Permalink

Hi Will

I think it would be very interesting if you could let us know the outcome of your discussions.

To me it is an all round strength that Barclays and IRIS make FreeAgent available throyhgh different partnerships, but the position of the advising accountant is an interesting one.

Phil

-- Accounting the PaperLess way™

...my experience of barclays is not good....

justsotax | | Permalink

and seems representative of those I meet and talk to.....so forgive me for being a little negative but getting validation from a bank like barclays is not going to get me excited.....

Perhaps Barclays should spend more time putting together a package that helps business survive and prosper (including working with the respective financial adviser) - rather than putting something together a package that will probably enable them to just keep an even closer eye on the businesses so that they can withdraw support at the earliest opportunity (or see how cash rich the business is and then send numerous marketing material to sell an 'investment' opportunity) cynical.....quite possibly

As for freeagent - I haven't used it but believe it is very good.....but like I say an endorsement from a high street bank is not something I want - perhaps if they managed their own affairs a little better I would have a little more respect!

What do Barclays know about accounting for small businesses?    1 thanks

AdShawBPR | | Permalink

I think this could be a bit of pain.  I don't use FreeAgent though I did look at it in the past.  I'm sure it's excellent.  I use Xero and Banklink as appropriate, but if there's something else more appropriate to the client I'd use that.

Barclays Bank - any bank - are not the right people to recommend an accounts package.  One size doesn't fit all.

For Barclays Bank I suppose it means they can make money without having to lend the stuff!

....Adhsaw .... spot on....

justsotax | | Permalink

even if freeagent is great it will not be suitable for everyone......onesize fits all is a strategy they not only use for their investment arm then......

Paul Scholes's picture

Just getting up off the floor

Paul Scholes | | Permalink

Think we were one of the first to sign up for Iris OpenBooks last year and I've been in the Barclays Prof Partner Programme for as far back as I can remember.

One of the many ironies for me is that last week I told my Barclays manager that I wanted out of the programme, one of the reason being that I had been presented with a couple of leads from Barclays over the past couple of years, clutching their brand new boxes of Sage or QuickBooks when, they were far better suited to a cashbook/spreadsheet or better still OpenBooks.

For John:

The BPP programme only worked for me when there was a local hands on manager involved.  4-5 years ago I received several new clients from Barclays from a great manager but, I have to say, she was also my manager and she had already said that she was happy to refer new businesses to me as the guy she had been using was retiring, so I'm not sure the BPP came into it.

We never use Sage but have used the QB's 2 user licence that comes with the programme.  we also used the HR bit of the other software bundle but got fed up with loading problems onto any new PC we bought and so haven't used any of it for years.  So I've been paying £35 pm for QBs and "free" banking.  Another reason to drop out.

As far as feeding new biz back to Barclays, I don't know if I'm jinxed, but 99% of new businesses that turn up here already have a bank account so until a couple of months ago I don't think I had ever moved a cliient over to Barclays.  An existing client fell out with her bank as she moved into a Ltd Company and so I referred her to Barclays back in March. We moved her to QBs a few years back and so I doubt we'll get the £50 (now £75) cash back under the scheme, plus the rotten "Moo" has dumped us!

 

Hi John you say that this

psheraton | | Permalink

Hi John you say that this package includes FreeAgentCentral and only costs £12.50 a month where did you get this price from as I dont see it on the MyBusinessWorks Website.

To buy FreeAgentCentral directly via IRIS costs alot more than £12.5 I would know as im a FreeAgent user whats the differance between the MyBusinessWorks version and the IRIS one?