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FreeAgent taken over by RBS in £53m deal

FreeAgent taken over by RBS in £53m deal

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27th Mar 2018 21:57

Interesting. Won’t be recommending them again.

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By Matrix
27th Mar 2018 22:30

I had already decided they weren't targeting accountants any more since they have introduced CH and CT600 filing. In their press release it says that management wouldn't change but I don't see why Ed & co would stay on once they get their money.

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28th Mar 2018 03:06

Not very happy I like it as piece of software, but I am bothered by it been owned by RBS.

I probably will not recommend it now unless a RBS client really wants it.

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28th Mar 2018 07:51

RBS have been pushing this software for free via their small business offerings (incl NatWest) for quite a few months, with it linking directly through to a customer's business manager on a monthly basis.

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to TomHerbert
28th Mar 2018 16:31

Tom when I posted this yesterday. I never saw John article sorry for doubling up.

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to sarah douglas
01st Apr 2018 11:49

Not a problem at all Sarah, it's me who should be apologising. There are AWebbers who mostly read AA and so may not have seen John's story, so I thought I'd piggyback on your thread. I try not to do it too brazenly, but this seemed like a decent fit. Hope your Easter is going well :-)

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28th Mar 2018 09:57

This makes business sense for both FA as well as RBS and, having had dealings with the people at FA for years, I have no reason to doubt that the software and the service will suffer, in fact quite the reverse.

I am no fan of the big 4, in fact I steer clear of all of them but, as I said on the main article, at least this one is Scottish!

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to Paul Scholes
28th Mar 2018 10:21

Paul Scholes wrote:

I have no reason to doubt that the software and the service will suffer, in fact quite the reverse.

Sorry Paul, I have not yet drunk enough coffee to make sense of this! Are you saying this is a good thing or a bad one?
RM

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By Mr_awol
to runningmate
28th Mar 2018 10:32

runningmate wrote:

Paul Scholes wrote:

I have no reason to doubt that the software and the service will suffer, in fact quite the reverse.

Sorry Paul, I have not yet drunk enough coffee to make sense of this! Are you saying this is a good thing or a bad one?
RM

It reads as he is pretty sure that the software and service will suffer, but I agree - it could be that the started saying he doubts it would suffer, changed it (incompletely) to 'no reason to believe' it would suffer, and then ended up with a post that may completely contradict the intention (or not).

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to runningmate
28th Mar 2018 11:59

OOOOPS! with coffee in hand "not" suffer

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to Paul Scholes
28th Mar 2018 12:17

Paul

Can you make it easy for me? In a word, do you expect the software & service to get better or worse?

RM

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to runningmate
28th Mar 2018 13:30

Try this:

I have no reason to doubt Ed's statement that "We're not going anywhere soon" and so I'm not worrying about the software or service going downhill, just cos they've been bought out by a bank.

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to Paul Scholes
28th Mar 2018 16:37

Hi Paul

Personal view but Ed is his own boss a very strong individual. I will give him a few months maybe a year before he leaves.

RBS is riddled with so many chiefs and no Indians and could not organise a pxxx up in a brewery. This will become a great irritation to ED everything with the RBS is hard work. They are his boss and RBS will make sure he knows they own him.

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to sarah douglas
28th Mar 2018 17:50

Fair enough Sarah - I was just thinking that I knew nothing about RBS but you've reminded me that about 6 months ago, whilst walking my dog in the park, with the normal bunch of poo-baggers, I happened to start talking to one about cloud accounting and he asked me if I'd ever heard of FreeAgent, turns out he headed up one of the RBS teams working with Ed & the others. Nice bloke but I never asked him if he'd worked with any breweries :)

As I say, I avoid the monolith banks like the plague.

What can you do though, you have to go with how things are today, and FA is great.

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to Paul Scholes
28th Mar 2018 18:08

I am a certified Expert Partner for Free Agent and I like the software but I do not like or trust RBS.

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By DJKL
28th Mar 2018 18:10

All one needs to know re RBS.

Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy Kindle Edition
by Iain Martin (Author)

Shredded: Inside RBS: The Bank that Broke Britain Kindle Edition
by Ian Fraser (Author)

But not to be outdone, our other great export to the world,

Hubris: How HBOS Wrecked the Best Bank in Britain Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
by Ray Perman (Author), Alistair Darling (Author, Foreword)

Actually have not read Shredded yet (have read the other two) so a quick purchase and it can come on holiday with me over Easter.

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30th Mar 2018 14:40

Just to chip in, I thought it might be worth pointing at some details from the full, and quite comprehensive city announcement that might help address some of the points raised in this thread, and also covered in Ed’s blog from earlier this week:

https://www.freeagent.com/central/freeagent-recommended-takeover-offer-b...

It is really important to FreeAgent and RBS that we continue to operate as a independent member of the larger RBS group, but at the same time giving us access to much greater financial resources and other wider opportunities to grow the FreeAgent proposition and business faster.

Also the three founders, Ed, Olly & Roan, have rolled over a fairly sizable chunk of their shareholding in to the new entity, so they are not going anywhere for a while!

Happy to answer any other questions either here or feel free to email me on [email protected]

Kevin McCallum
Chief Commercial Officer
FreeAgent

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to Kevin_McCallum
30th Mar 2018 15:44

Thank you Kevin for replying to this post. I mention the RBS issue to a member of your staff at RBS event about RBS using the data on the Free Version in Glasgow. I was brushed off saying that they I was the only one who mentioned it. This is clearly not the case. That response did not leave a good impression on me.

I certified as a Free Agent Expert and I really like the software. I admit I put a halt to this and recommending it to clients due to the brush off.

My understanding is on the paid version that is not the case, but do you know what it is not clear. Personal view but I think it should be made very clear in the T and C for the paid version that no data will be exchange with RBS under any circumstances. It is clear that you will have a marketing issue here with accountant partners.

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By Matrix
01st Apr 2018 10:14

So I have made the decision that I can no longer plug this very expensive software to my clients when there is similar more affordable software around. Given more clients will need software for MTD I have found another similar software which is less than £50 a year.

FreeAgent now has a special offer for new customers which is not available through their accountant. They are introducing accounts and CT600 filing removing the need for an accountant (which they deny). They do not listen when I give them feedback that their prices are uncompetitive. Their discounts only apply to my 100th client (previously the 10th) so no incentive for me to sell this software anymore.

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to Matrix
02nd Apr 2018 10:13

Hi Matrix

Just because they are introducing CT600s etc, doesn't mean the user will use it or not need an accountant, you can give a 17 year old a car but it's useless unless they know how to drive. Plus about a third of small businesses don't use (and probably don't need) an accountant.

I and many on this site complained when Xero & ClearBooks withdrew their plans for year end accounts and tax because it's daft to have to take a bunch of data out of one piece of software to another just for one incident a year.

I value the fact one of my FA clients can do his own simple tax return in the software, a salary, dividends and some interest, why on earth should I have to gather, input and process that data on my software and charge him for it? He still pays me a fee each year to check it over before he submits.

I agree that FA is not cheap but, for a bunch of my clients it's perfect, not overburdened with features they will never need and the clients love it. I introduced it to them because it's a near perfect fit for them and so the price is a minor issue as is any discount to me.

Are you really saying that your prime motive to suggest software to your clients is the discount you can make?

With respect, given they have thousands of accountants who are, like me, happy to use it and pay for it, why should they listen to your price feedback?

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By Matrix
to Paul Scholes
02nd Apr 2018 10:23

Paul - it is all the factors together which make me wonder if their target market is now the end user and not accountants. I used to really upsell this and wanted all my clients to use it but it just didn't happen and price was a factor.

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to Matrix
02nd Apr 2018 12:24

Fair enough but I have to say that in the 6-7 years I've been using it I've always seen FreeAgent as being targeted at the user rather than the accountant, it's why it so suits my half a dozen clients with little if any accounting experience.

It's also why so many accountants have complained in the past at it's semi-fixed chart of accounts, inability to post transactions to all balance sheet accounts and the lack of transaction/journal imports.

Having said that, there's no way I could ever use it for all my clients, it lacks features and, as you say, is expensive compared to cheaper but more sophisticated systems.

Out of interest, what is the cheaper system you're looking at? I'm currently trialling Pandle at £30 pa, but I'd like to try another system at the cheaper end.

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By Matrix
to Paul Scholes
03rd Apr 2018 08:07

I am looking at QuickFile as the alternative MTD solution. I have one client who uses it and gets on OK. I am not loving learning how to use new cloud software as was going to stick to just FreeAgent and Xero but I need a low cost solution to suggest to clients, especially now that VT don't have the MTD button.

When I say I wanted all my clients to use FreeAgent, I meant micro service businesses looking for cloud software to do the bookkeeping themselves.

I have got round most of FreeAgent's limitations for bookings in the past. One client has a 7 figure turnover and a sub but have always found a workaround.

I want to be in a position to give my clients options and then they decide.

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to Matrix
03rd Apr 2018 09:58

Thanks Matrix.

I'm fortunate in being at the tail end of my career and so have spare time to try out the different products, I also find it marginally more exciting than doing accounts and tax!

I've tried QF, it's surprisingly feature rich for the money and I can see why it's worth trying out as a replacement to FA.

Even so, it still has too many screens and options for my smallest clients and so Pandle will suit those I think by the time MTD hits.

What's been surprising with these newer entrants, including systems like Taxfiler, is how quickly they can develop and add features compared to the established systems, that are overburdened with legacy stuff.

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