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Had my first too expensive email today

Whats a reasonable quote?

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I know, i know, how long is a piece of string etc

A newly formed company, two directors, both lawyers, quoted for bookkeeping, accounts, corp and 2 satrs, inc general tax advice.

South east.

How much would you quote?

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25th Jul 2019 10:23

how much did you quote?!

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25th Jul 2019 10:24

No idea until we know what's in the books. If it's a grocer and general goods store the bookkeeping could run to thousands, if they're IT contractors with 24 invoices a year and negligible expenses then not so much.

Baseline for that would be about £1200 at the very low end, could easily be twice that or more.

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25th Jul 2019 10:31

You seriously think that anyone can give a sensible response with zero details about the business, transaction volumes, etc.?? Make an effort!

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25th Jul 2019 10:32

Forgot to say they were lawyers, there are no books, they are not sure how "busy" they will be.

I quoted £1,140 (I'm not VAT registered) because

After going in low with a couple of start ups, I've learnt two things.

1 - they take up a disproportionate amount of time

2 - they soon grow and fees have to go up quickly

but maybe I am too expensive. 

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to SouthCoastAcc
25th Jul 2019 10:36

SouthCoastAcc wrote:

but maybe I am too expensive. 

No, you are still going in too low particularly bearing in mind you included book-keeping.
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By Jdopus
to SouthCoastAcc
25th Jul 2019 10:43

I agree with wanderer. The best advice I've ever heard about billing is that if no one ever tells you you're too expensive, then you're far too cheap. You shouldn't be billing at a level that every single potential client finds acceptable, you should be cutting off a few of the real cheapskates at the bottom.

Also, frankly, I would add a premium on for dealing with Lawyers. They might be better in England, but in Northern Ireland there's no profession I've ever run into that are as consistently disorganized and consistently a pain in the [***] to deal with in every interaction.

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to Jdopus
25th Jul 2019 12:40

You should try GP s !

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to SouthCoastAcc
25th Jul 2019 14:20

SouthCoastAcc wrote:

I quoted £1,140

I would probably have charged £125pcm with them raising sales invoices on Xero, us doing PIs & Bank rec. or £150pcm if they do sales invoices on Excel/Word (solicitors seem to like doing them on Word).

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25th Jul 2019 10:42

Quite frankly if this is the first "too expensive" you have had, you are not charging enough.

We don't do bookkeeping, so cant really compare our fees, but we would charge around £900+VAT for year end + SA only, and £1,300+VAT for VAT returns, directors PAYE etc etc from their (half decent) records.

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25th Jul 2019 10:51

Called them to discuss, they have been quoted £57.50 inc VAT (a month), so £575 for the accounts and corp tax return.

They arent sure what bookkeeping is but assume they will do it themselves and don't want directors satrs.

And apparently that's from someone local.

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to SouthCoastAcc
25th Jul 2019 10:55

SouthCoastAcc wrote:

Called them to discuss, they have been quoted £57.50 inc VAT (a month), so £575 for the accounts and corp tax return.

Suggest they accept.

Not sure what quality they'll get for that, mind you. Even they must know it's ridiculously cheap.

It's a bit like energy companies ringing up offering you a supply for £10 a month on standing order and then you find out you owe them hundreds three months later.

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to lionofludesch
25th Jul 2019 10:58

I must say, I didn't think they would be that price sensitive

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to SouthCoastAcc
25th Jul 2019 11:01

SouthCoastAcc wrote:

Called them to discuss, they have been quoted £57.50 inc VAT (a month), so £575 for the accounts and corp tax return.

Wonder what the lawyers charge out rate is, wouldn't be surprised if it was £150-£200 per hour minimum. So it appears that they value their accounts & tax advice at about the same as 3-4 hours of their own work.

Best avoided.

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By JoF
to SouthCoastAcc
25th Jul 2019 18:50

[quote=SouthCoastAcc]

They arent sure what bookkeeping is but assume they will do it themselves and don't want directors satrs.

Have I read this correctly? Or has the heat blown my brain?

'They arent sure what bookkeeping is'. But they will attempt to do it themselves. Good luck to them with the clients account regs.

You've dodged a bullet. If they want to be cheapskates, leave them to it. These guys wouldnt get out of bed for such low rates!

Next time they call, when they are in an almighty mess, go with the WP type of quote.

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to SouthCoastAcc
26th Jul 2019 16:02

So that is just about one hours fee they charge to pay for what will be many hours of work.

You are better off if they go with that quote (Assuming its not from the chap at the pub after a few G&T's)

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25th Jul 2019 10:49

Thanks for the replies.

I didn't think I could compete with that, I'd be working all hours for a pittance. It's bad enough at the moment!

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25th Jul 2019 11:00

Looks like they are comparing Apples and Pears then.

Year end ONLY for £700 is reasonable if the books are complete and there is little need for advice etc, no SATR, no directors PAYE, no VAT, no bookkeping......

However in practice i imagine the fee will be much more once the client realises they do actually need the rest of it too....

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to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
25th Jul 2019 11:15

I agree my price wasnt directly comparable, as I had included 2 directors satrs but in reality that will be the only difference. Like you say, they will most likely need the other services added on later.

It was £575 before VAT.

Edit: They did say they wanted general tax advice, which means plenty of emails and calls.

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25th Jul 2019 12:47

If they have a clients account they will also need that audited.

I reckon you probably dodged a bullet!

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25th Jul 2019 12:48

For company accounts, monthly book-keeping, CT return, SATRs, VAT and ad hoc tax advice - no less than £4,500 plus VAT - probably closer to £6,400 plus VAT.

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25th Jul 2019 14:36

Tell them good luck with the £50 quote.

If you did not get a bite at the level you quoted you are well rid of them.

Do they not need audits of cleints accounts etc or SRA reports signed off.

If they are starting off small with minimum costs on Xero with them dealing with invoicing etc I would £250+ per month.

If there is cleint account stuff deal with you could double nightmare to that as will be a right ball ache as lawyers can be a nightmare.

Dont worry about it, you have lost a job that you would have made a loss on, who needs that type of work.

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25th Jul 2019 14:49

At least £200x2 for SAR
A/cs & CT return £1500
Will they be VAT registered - you didn't mention VAT returns
Bookkeeping £800 minimum

Total so far £2700

You're far too cheap or eager/hungry

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By Matrix
25th Jul 2019 15:04

£2,000 assuming VAT registered and doing own bookkeeping on FreeAgent or Xero including cloud software fees and SA returns.

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By sash100
25th Jul 2019 15:58

Surely the lawyers will be VAT Registered with the huge hourly fees they normally charge potentially could cross £85K in a couple of months.

I agree the client accounts could create extra work.

I would quote for 2.5K for any filings made in the year, teach them to do their own book-keeping as it would be more expensive for them to use an accountant and charge an hourly rate for tax advice etc.

With new companies they often need hand holding and take up alot of of your time. In the second year tell them that you will review the fees as there should be more structure and maybe one fixed price. If you do the book-keeping I would charge an hourly fee as likely the volume of transactions could go grow quickly and its difficult to know at this stage to know the quantum.

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By pawncob
25th Jul 2019 16:09

Explain that it's a "blind" quote and reserve the right to amend the fee.

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By marks
26th Jul 2019 00:33

You're too cheap.

Any Ltd company job that involves you doing the bookkeeping (other than contractor type jobs that have have less than 100 tranactions per year) should be at least £3k per year. Contraction type jobs about £1500 per year.

There is certain sectors that I dont deal with, lawyers/solicitors are one of them as hated doing they audits when was training and there is a lot more enjoyable ways of earning money.

You will always have people who dont value what you do and look for the cheapest price.

I would say to them "what is your hourly charge out rate?" (lawyers love to charge by the clock) and say that you will charge the same per hour as them. As a fellow professional I would say that is reasonable.

Then see their jaw hit the floor when you bill them £10k at the end of the year. (no better still bill them on a monthly basis)

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26th Jul 2019 10:14

I would suggest that you offer them say 3 hours per month of your time at a rate that they think is reasonable for a professional to charge, plus a fee for the final year end stuff. If it takes more than 3 hours of your time, tell them and bump it up.
If they suggest anything less than £40 per hour, ask them if they would work for that !

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By Platta
26th Jul 2019 10:33

£1140 a year ?? and they think it is expensive ?? I would charge at least that just to do end of year accts/tax, self -assessments, and basic tax advice (assuming they have no other complexities on their self-assessments such as property income). Bookkeeping would be additional, and I would suggest an hourly rate initially until the business is up and running, and then agreeing a fixed rate once you have some knowledge of the level of activity.

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By Jimess
26th Jul 2019 10:38

Way too cheap - don't forget the legal profession are subject to Solicitors accounts rules which you need to build in to your bookkeeping routine, ensuring client account rules are observed, regular bank reconciliations on both office and client account, regular management accounts, reconciliations of legal aid statements and if they are contract funded, you need to determine who processes the monthly claims. Need I say the endless chasing for documents because an invoice has been placed on a case file instead of handed to cashiers, or the fee earner did not think cashiers needed to know about an agency invoice they raised for emergency work they did at the weekend and the first you know of it is when the money drops into the account. Furthermore, solicitors often use the accounting module attached to their legal software instead of the usual accounting software as the SRA rules mean that each client must have a client account and a summary of the office transactions - i.e bills issued, disbursements paid out, payments against bills and disbursements etc and the legal software integrates all of this into the accounting function. So unless you can organise remote access you could end up spending a huge amount of time on site. My advice is rather than quote an all in annual fee, quote for the accounts prep, tax returns etc and put the bookkeeping on hourly rates and bill for the time spent during the billing period.

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26th Jul 2019 10:45

partnership / Ltd co / LLP : all require compliance and for lawyers moneylaundreing / personal tax palnning and client accounting/monies and any law society inputs ? !!

oh - any payroll for staff? and filings etc asscociated
forgot vat.....
50/mth someone will be sued very shortly !!

nb 50/mth is cheaper than an oustide ir35 consultant with one invoice / mth and modest entries for exps

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By JD
26th Jul 2019 10:42

It sound like they do not understand the complexities and joys that come with these sorts of jobs. If they start using one of the legal practice managements/workflow pieces of software (which really are not that good) with book keeping/client account built in, you will find you have a bit of a mess to sort out.

I think I would ask them if they understand the ''risks '' to them professional if it is not undertaken to a suitable standard and properly resourced (it involves other peoples money, recharging of disbursements and getting the VAT right) or they go cheap - in which case run a mile and charge them a premium when they come back to you in 12/18 months time.

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26th Jul 2019 10:47

What trade is the company involved in ?
I assume it's not a solicitors practice
Does it involve handling client's money?
If so it's a whole new ball game on fees

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26th Jul 2019 11:04

I work a lot with lawyers; their standard reply to anything is "it's too expensive" and generally want everything free or paid in arrears by 3 years....

My favorite reply to these replies is to remind them
"Pay peanuts; get monkeys"!

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26th Jul 2019 11:20

Have you helped them realise - for themselves - the full value of having an Accountant do the things you are quoting for? How does your quote compare with that value? - i.e. Does it offer a good RoI, or an astronomical RoI? Hopefully the former, but if it's the latter you're definitely undercharging.

Presuming you have tightly defined the scope of what you are quoting for, and that the RoI should seem appealing to them, my advised response to "That's too expensive" is "Compared with what?" When they answer that question you can start pointing out why your offering cannot be compared with the alternative. For a start it won't involve you delivering the service.

However, if the response is fractionally different - such as "We can't afford that" - then I would advise asking "What would you like me to leave out so I have the ability to consider a lower price?"

It's a fair bet their mindset will initially be that they should get all you're offering but for a lower fee. You now have a solid platform from which to put them straight.

David Winch
Sales, Marketing and Pricing Consultant, Cambridge

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26th Jul 2019 14:31

As I mentioned on another thread I have seen an accountant offer £12 per hour!

All I can assume is that he/she has wafer thin margins or the final price is a lot higher than we may consider.

Remember the slow accountant earns more than the fast accountant on the per hour job.

Your peers have warned you. Why not respond I am sorry at that rate I cant make a profit. However if you are not satisfied with the accountant that offered you the lower fee please feel free to come back to me and we can talk again, even if this is next year.

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By KH
26th Jul 2019 16:24

I wouldn't touch them for less than £2,500 pa ... and even then, I'd wash my hands after touching them ... lawyers! Yuck!

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26th Jul 2019 18:20

If there was no bookkeeping £1500 but with BK its impossible to say

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29th Jul 2019 12:40

I find "professionals" are the cheapskate clients despite being higher earners.

I rarely have fee disagreements/quote rejections from shops, B&Bs, tradesmen, etc.

But professionals are a different breed. Particularly highly paid doctors and dentists who seem even worse than solicitors. They higher paid there are, the more "entitled" they seem to become.

Latest was a quantity surveyor going self employed (not a practice) doing contracts for larger contractors. I quoted a discounted £60 per hour which was exactly the same rate he told me he'd be charging himself out for, but then got a rejection email saying it was too high. So, he basically values himself more than a fellow professional!

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