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Practical advice for setting up a practice at home

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I qualified as a Chartered Accountant 14 years ago and have worked in industry and also in the education and training sector.

I have recently been considering setting up my own practice and would be very grateful for any practical advice you can provide. I know I will need to obtain a members in practice certificate from the relevant institute, professional indemnity insurance and register with HMRC as an agent. Is there anything else I would need to do when setting my business up?

Many Thanks



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By Accountant A
13th Sep 2019 00:55

I might be wrong, but I doubt that you will qualify for a practising certificate.

Irrespective of that, do you think you have the knowledge and experience to be in general practice? Seems highly unlikely reading your post.

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By Tim Vane
13th Sep 2019 01:37

Have you considered being a lion tamer?

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My photo
By Matrix
13th Sep 2019 06:54

There are loads of useful threads on here so I would do a search and also read up about software, marketing etc.

Make sure you have enough money to live off for a year or so since it is quite slow at the beginning. While you are quiet then get good practices in place, learn bookkeeping software, set up engagement letter templates etc.

Only you know if you have the experience to charge the paying public for services. For small businesses/individuals, assuming these are your target market, you will need to have a robust tax knowledge. And know when to seek help.

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By lionofludesch
13th Sep 2019 08:15

Normally, you'd need some experience in practice to get a practising certificate but your time in education may or may not be helpful in this respect. Nevertheless, talking about dealing with HMRC isn't the same as dealing with them on a day to day basis and only you will know whether you feel confident to do that.

As a new business, getting clients is the biggest challenge.

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By Duggimon
13th Sep 2019 08:44

Is your practice going to be doing the same thing you did in industry? Because if you're relying on your training 14 years ago to cover the common aspects of general accountancy practice, there's quite a lot you need to catch up on.

I only qualified ten years ago and vast swathes of my tax training has been usurped already.

Which institute are you a member of? I know ICAS (mine) won't give you a practising certificate without experience in practice, which it sounds like you don't have.

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By accountantccole
13th Sep 2019 11:54

I did ATT when I moved from big 4 into a local practice as although I had studied tax with ACCA, I hadn't had a chance to use it. I found that a useful way to get back up to speed. It is a massive jump if you haven't worked in practice for a while though, just depends what CPD you have been doing for the last 14 years.

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By Vaughan Blake1
13th Sep 2019 12:08

What sort of firm did you train at and qualify. If it was a smaller firm although it was 14 years ago it should have given you a good basis on which to build. If you have kept up to date with your CPD and in your training work there may not be a huge gap. Doing the ATT qualification would bring you up to speed on the tax front. It won't cover the more practical aspects of dealing with HMRC in real life though!

The stumbling block as others have pointed out is getting your practising certificate. You may need to work for another firm for the requisite period to achieve this.

Thanks (2)
13th Sep 2019 12:16

Thank you for all your helpful comments.

I probably should have mentioned that as well as qualifying as a chartered accountant I also passed the ATT qualification 3 years ago. My husband runs his own small company as does my sister in law and I have been managing their book keeping and tax responsibilities for a couple of years on a voluntary basis and have recently been approached by 2 acquaintances who would like me to offer my services in their new business set ups, hence my original post. I will be doing this alongside my current work as an accountancy and tax tutor on a trial basis initially.

Many Thanks

Thanks (0)
Replying to NUMBERS TALK:
By zarar
13th Sep 2019 15:44

You will need a practicing certificate though - do you have the knowledge to get this?

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By Bob Loblaw
13th Sep 2019 13:32

1 - Plastic wrap your furniture. Many times I've had to dispose of a Chesterfield down the back lane of some slum because a common miscreant masquerading as a tradesman has parked his caulk covered denims in it.

2 - Put your chattels in safe storage unless you want Peter Public to case the joint with one eye whilst you're explaining basis periods in vain.

3 - Embrace the home set up. Park yourself in sight of ITV from 11am - 4pm. Their daytime schedule is vastly superior to the BBC. As an added bonus, if you have quiet periods, you can sit at the top of your stairs and pretend to be The Chaser as the show airs. I suggest you make your work space equidistant between the television and the fridge (Assuming of course you're one of the brave 1% who doesn't employ help to fetch you your Fridge Raiders)

Thanks (7)
Hallerud at Easter
13th Sep 2019 17:00

The mundane things- check there is space for all the paper the venture will generate, client files, textbooks, stationery etc- I have spent yesterday/today clearing out client records etc (my work has space to store them all and they get the bonus of all my unused stationery) and it is staggering how much builds up over the years, even with a micro part time practice.

By chance I am just back from Wickes with a load of timber to start tomorrow refitting my home office as a hobbies room- catch is other half seems to be saying something I have not been able to blank out/ignore about more shelves needed in a walk in cupboard for her jigsaws - if I am not careful and do not get on with them high chance her jigsaws will start invading my space.

There is a very big plus having a home practice- you can escape family by claiming you need to work to get some peace and quiet.

Thanks (1)
By In a Daze
13th Sep 2019 17:38

Running a home practice is fine. long gone of the days where you need a physical office.

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
13th Sep 2019 18:09

Having read the additional info in your comments below, I'm less concerned for you than I was when reading your initial post.

My best advice these days to anyone starting a practice is to get hold of a copy of Della Hudson's book 'The Numbers Business'. Terrific value and it covers everything you'll need to take into account at the outset.

I wrote a review of the book here:

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By [email protected]
17th Sep 2019 11:15

Data Protection registration with the Information Commissioners Office.

Arrange a suitable locum that you can call on if you go long-time sick, as you will certainly rack up penalties for your clients for late submission.

Amend your will, to make it clear what is to happen to the business should the worst happens

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17th Sep 2019 13:29


I am Practice Manager at ICAEW and can signpost you to some key resources. Firstly you can call and speak to one of ICAEW's RI's to run you through everything you need. All you need to do is call +44 (0)1908 248 250.

You can also visit our resource pages at

Alternatively we are also running a serious of Start your own accountancy practice workshops in October. You can find out more at . Please let me know if you need any additional information.

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