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Do many one-man bands outsource bookkeeping?

Or do you do it yourself?

Its low margin, time consuming..but on the up-side means you get to know a business/client from the inside out so helps with the final accounts prep and tax .


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By mabzden
13th Oct 2017 14:43

It depends what you mean by outsourcing.

I once sent some work to a firm of bookkeepers about 3-4 weeks ahead of a deadline. They returned it to me untouched about a week before the deadline saying sorry, we won't have time to do it. I wasn't happy.

So I've always tried to encourage clients to do their own record keeping, and have supplied them with various tools and systems to help.

If someone still insists on sending me their paperwork I ask the bookkeeper who prepares my own VAT Returns to help out. But it only happens maybe once or twice a year.

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13th Oct 2017 14:57

I have no faith in local bookkeepers, so if client can't do it I will do it myself.

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13th Oct 2017 15:04

I do not have that much to do so no, do not outsource, though did for about 10 months have a part time assistant.

One client I still write up everything, but it needs particular client knowledge as involves, amongst other things, landlord ledger balances plus a fair bit of work dealing with pooling records for stockmarket investments. (think hybrid trading and investment company). I do not mind rolling up my sleeves as having everything spot on means less work correcting at year end and it is a very good fee.

Other client I just write up receipts side, 10 transactions a quarter, and tidy up payments side. Including collecting/returning books only takes about 2 hours a quarter. The business used to operate as a traditional travel agent handling customer monies but these days works on a monthly commission basis so far less work than in the past.

These are both very long standing clients >18 years, so they are throwbacks re type of work and I also still keep my hand in re my employer as I pretty much write up all accounting records for their various entities; even with these far less these days as we used to have 10 entities to deal with, now down to 6.

The rest of my clients write up the bulk of their own records, usually using excel templates I have designed, and my role is merely correcting these quarterly and using for year end; this is deliberate, I am picky re types of clients I take on.

Having said the above not sure I am a typical one man band as I am part time and not terribly bothered about expanding.

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By Tornado
13th Oct 2017 16:39

There are a lot of factors related to circumstances here but in general, a one-person-band has a only a limited number of hours each year in which to carry out his/her work and will be able to calculate in advance what sort of charge out rate per hour is required in order to cover overheads and the desired net profit for the year.

If the charge out rate comes to £50.00 per hour, for example, then one would not be able to charge that rate for book-keeping work so there is a very good argument for outsourcing book-keeping work at say up to £20 per hour and charging the client say £25 and then there is more time available to do the £50.00 per hour work.

With regard to preparing final accounts and tax returns then, yes it does help to be familiar with the way the books have been prepared but that is really just ensuring that the outsourced book-keeper maintains the records in a way that makes it easy for you to extract the information you require.

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13th Oct 2017 17:50

Do it myself. I see it as part of the work on the accounts - as I don't need to check it at the year end.

Looking at it as a package, it's not particularly low margin

Thanks (1)
13th Oct 2017 19:29

I do it myself. I've no faith at all in our local book-keepers who produce shoddy half-baked Sage reports yet charge the Earth for it. Not yet found a decent book-keeper who does the job properly.

Just been handed some Sage reports for a small guest house. Book-keeper charged the client nearly £2,000 for the year. It's mostly garbage. Massive cash difference not even noticed let alone investigated - I found several data entry errors which, once corrected, reduce the cash difference to less than £50. Loads of mispostings - nothing at all capitalised despite lots of big items in the revenue expense accounts. Purchase ledger is a mess, with unmatched invoices/payments and fouled up standing orders etc.

I've told the client I'll do it next year for £1,000 and feel bad about that as I know I'll be making a huge profit over my normal hourly rate. No way can it take more than an hour per month as there are such few transactions!

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13th Oct 2017 20:26

Yes, local freelancer who I trained up. Know her family very well.

Excellent quality work, completed very quickly.

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By chatman
17th Oct 2017 12:53

I have one client who sends me a huge number of purchase invoices each quarter, in multiple currencies and paid from four different accounts. Some are duplicates and some payments do not have corresponding invoices. I upload them to Auto Entry and then export them to Xero. Next quarter, I am going to try outsourcing the matching of invoices to payments in Xero. I don't outsource anything else.

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17th Oct 2017 14:40

Bookkeepers are few and far between. I've tried a few locals for various clients and found every one of them to be a data entry clerk masquerading under the grander title. Furthermore, most lack the ability to identify simple issues, such as long outstanding invoices!

I try to explain to clients the difference between the two lies in looking at whatever they end up with and checking it through. It is that extra bit of work which makes them worthwhile.

I've ended up with most being dealt with in house. The one really good bookkeeper doesn't want any more work as she's over 65! I'd employ 10 of her any day over the rest

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