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Quickbooks v Clearbooks

The Big Match

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I'm currently looking at candidates for systems for VAT registered traders who currently either keep their books on spreadsheets or paper.

I seem to have narrowed it down to Clearbooks and Quickbooks Online.  Has anyone got any thoughts on the relative merits (or difficulties) of these two rivals ?

Or are there other options at which I should be looking ?

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14th Apr 2018 18:40

The main advantage of Clearbooks in my view are that it has better responses to user queries.

The main advantage of Quickbooks is the parent company has big pockets.

I think this could become increasingly important as it dawns on these companies - to be fair I think it already is - that they "bought a pup" when they relied on HMRC's promises on MTD, which are obviously not worth using as loo paper never mind worth the paper they were written on.

My own approach to MTD is going to be "Just In Time" management. See my earlier posts on this subject, I think there are more risks than benefits in making early decisions on this stupid HMRC nonsense.

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14th Apr 2018 21:43

Don’t like either. Clearbooks has idiosyncrasies and Quickbooks is a beast of a system with an unwieldy user interface.

At present I am recommending QuickFile.

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to andy.partridge
19th Apr 2018 11:46

I have been using Quickfile for a year and am very impressed with the software. It allows a high degree of automation and is popular with clients.

The only downside that I have found is that the reporting is not quite as good as other packages that I have used eg VAT calculations are downloaded as a CSV file which needs to be tidied up before it can be printed.

I recommend Quickfile as well.

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By chatman
to andy.partridge
19th Apr 2018 22:45

andy.partridge wrote:
At present I am recommending QuickFile.

Andy, I worry that, with free online software, you run a higher risk of it being switched off or something going wrong and losing all your data with no recourse. Doesn't that worry you?

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15th Apr 2018 14:13

How did you get down to those 2 as your shortlist?

What about Xero, Sageone & FreeAgent, or some of the other 20 systems available.

Clearbooks has such a small user base is it worth offering yourself as a Clearbooks practice , when the others currently support 1000's of customers.

QBO is cheap if you get the special deals but has terrible tech support, from some bot in America called "Hank, thanks for reaching to us, but we won't be able to deal with any query"

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By chatman
to Glennzy
19th Apr 2018 10:47

Glennzy wrote:
QBO is cheap if you get the special deals but has terrible tech support, from some bot in America called "Hank, thanks for reaching to us, but we won't be able to deal with any query"

I don't like QBO, but I have always found it very easy to speak to an English person on the phone when I need help with QBO.

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By Matrix
15th Apr 2018 14:45

I am going to look at QuickFile and Pandle for clients who don't want to pay for FreeAgent or Xero. These are clients where I would have used VT. I am not planning to move those already using VT.

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to Matrix
15th Apr 2018 19:18

Matrix wrote:

I am going to look at QuickFile and Pandle for clients who don't want to pay for FreeAgent or Xero. These are clients where I would have used VT. I am not planning to move those already using VT.

So why not stick with VT+ It's almost inevitable there will be bridging software (indeed as there will be for spreadsheets) so no reason to go to cloud unless that's what the client wants.

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By Matrix
to legerman
15th Apr 2018 19:38

As a practice I want to find a low cost solution to MTD for VAT and future filings. So I need to add low cost cloud software to the software packages I currently use. If I am happy with one of the lower cost ones then the plan is to roll this out to clients registering for VAT or clients doing their own bookkeeping.

I am not moving anyone from VT or suggesting that clients who use it should move. However this was initially my MTD solution when they put the MTD button on there (and I also discussed pricing with them), then a very good client moved from Sage to VT a few weeks before VT announced they were not developing MTD software.

Personally and professionally I think it is inadvisable to recommend software to clients which is not being developed. I have already been bitten by this.

Also I have not thought through costs yet but, if I buy the bridging software and charge VT clients for my time and these costs, I can't believe this would be less than the low cost cloud software.

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to Matrix
16th Apr 2018 12:49

Matrix wrote:

I am not moving anyone from VT or suggesting that clients who use it should move. However this was initially my MTD solution when they put the MTD button on there (and I also discussed pricing with them), then a very good client moved from Sage to VT a few weeks before VT announced they were not developing MTD software.

Yes that was a bit of a shock, and it looked like they were giving up on MTD altogether. However with the 2018 version of VT+ you can export the VAT data. Not quite the same as pressing the MTD button and job done, but certainly a viable work round.

Matrix wrote:

Personally and professionally I think it is inadvisable to recommend software to clients which is not being developed. I have already been bitten by this.

Ok fair point. I've no idea what bridging software will be available but I love VT+ and will continue to use it, even for any new VAT clients. (And I did notice that you said it's for new clients rather than existing ones) But then again I do bookkeeping as well for all but one of my clients so it's me doing the inputting as well. I'm going to be trialling Pandle next month anyway so we'll see if there's any noticeable difference in speed, although I would imagine VT+ to be faster inputting with it being desktop.

Matrix wrote:

Also I have not thought through costs yet but, if I buy the bridging software and charge VT clients for my time and these costs, I can't believe this would be less than the low cost cloud software.

If you're going to be using Pandle or Quick File the cost is minimal anyway. Obviously we don't know as yet the proper process via VT+ but I'm guessing at most a 10 minute job every quarter?

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By chatman
to legerman
19th Apr 2018 10:42

legerman wrote:
why not stick with VT+ It's almost inevitable there will be bridging software

There already is! http://www.neilsonjamestech.co.uk/

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to chatman
19th Apr 2018 15:24

Thanks for the link to the bridging software. I too am a VT fan who has been put off by the decision not to support MTD so, since I saw that notice, I have not put any new clients onto VT but have been experimenting with QB. I am still working my way through the 10 special deal licences so am still only paying £12 per month for all 10 licences. I also went on the free advanced QBO training course last week and it was very good, came away enthused with all the new ideas I had learned. Not getting much input from clients wanting to do things themselves though and a bit of resistance along the line of "well, if it is all automated I won't need to pay you anything" when trying to get them to set up the bank feed! As I understand it though it is still not clear just what will be needed for MTD even for VAT returns, are we sure the Neilson James software will be sufficient to file VT MTD VAT returns? I tried to get ahead of it all a couple of years ago but as someone else said on here, the pull back from HMRC/government probably does mean it is better not to rush into things, but to try and let the dust settle a little before pushing more clients into new software. QB was my preferred option partly because of their of deep pockets, I would love to support smaller firms, like VT, but don't want to spend time getting clients used to one system only to have to change if that system goes out of business or is taken over. I used to love Drummohr software but moved a couple of years after they were taken over as the service level deteriorated.
PS your post made me go back to the VT website and their "MTD" message is looking a bit more positive now. the message I saw seemed to wash their hands of things saying they were not getting involved but were sure there would be bridging software out there, now they say they are in touch with providers and will post details of apps when available.

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to debrahuzzard
19th Apr 2018 21:11

debrahuzzard wrote:

Thanks for the link to the bridging software. I too am a VT fan who has been put off by the decision not to support MTD so, since I saw that notice, I have not put any new clients onto VT but have been experimenting with QB.

I am still working my way through the 10 special deal licences so am still only paying £12 per month for all 10 licences. I also went on the free advanced QBO training course last week and it was very good, came away enthused with all the new ideas I had learned.

Not getting much input from clients wanting to do things themselves though and a bit of resistance along the line of "well, if it is all automated I won't need to pay you anything" when trying to get them to set up the bank feed!

As I understand it though it is still not clear just what will be needed for MTD even for VAT returns, are we sure the Neilson James software will be sufficient to file VT MTD VAT returns?

I tried to get ahead of it all a couple of years ago but as someone else said on here, the pull back from HMRC/government probably does mean it is better not to rush into things, but to try and let the dust settle a little before pushing more clients into new software.

QB was my preferred option partly because of their of deep pockets, I would love to support smaller firms, like VT, but don't want to spend time getting clients used to one system only to have to change if that system goes out of business or is taken over.

I used to love Drummohr software but moved a couple of years after they were taken over as the service level deteriorated.

PS your post made me go back to the VT website and their "MTD" message is looking a bit more positive now. the message I saw seemed to wash their hands of things saying they were not getting involved but were sure there would be bridging software out there, now they say they are in touch with providers and will post details of apps when available.

Learning to love paragraphs.

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By DJKL
15th Apr 2018 18:06

Follow thread

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15th Apr 2018 20:52

Quickbooks v Clearbooks

I know the score, I've seen it already.

Both sides score a big fat XERO!!!

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By chatman
to Kent accountant
19th Apr 2018 10:45

Ha ha! I see what you did there.

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16th Apr 2018 08:19

The problem with these sort if threads is that they always elicit comments from posters pushing their own preferred solution.

I'm not sure what it is about software which makes accountants forget about the need to see both sides of the story and become cheerleaders for one solution only.

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to adam.arca
16th Apr 2018 09:37

So is it Quickbooks or Clearbooks for you? You forgot to mention that bit.

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to andy.partridge
16th Apr 2018 12:36

I think you're getting me mixed up with the OP?

In any case, most likely for me it will be both QB and CB or neither QB and CB, but most certainly not one only of QB / CB.

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to adam.arca
16th Apr 2018 15:01

Great value. Keep at it.

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to andy.partridge
17th Apr 2018 09:27

andy.partridge wrote:

Great value. Keep at it.

Not sure what I've done to irk you (it wasn't you that my original post was directed at, if that's the issue) but each to his own...

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to adam.arca
17th Apr 2018 09:32

Aimed at me by any chance ??? :o)

OP did ask for other options - so I gave him a Premier League alternative rather than Championship.

Or City instead of Utd.

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to adam.arca
17th Apr 2018 10:23

Just a bit of fun on a boring Monday. No irk received and none intended.

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to adam.arca
16th Apr 2018 13:38

Depends how you look at it, they could be offering you the value of the vast experience of trying them out and which worked best for them and why, to help others who have left it late with the decision making.

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to Glennzy
17th Apr 2018 09:32

Glennzy wrote:

Depends how you look at it, they could be offering you the value of the vast experience of trying them out and which worked best for them and why, to help others who have left it late with the decision making.

Yes, that's a fair point and I've got absolutely no problem with people throwing their preferred solutions into the ring and, even better, saying why they like them.

What I don't really get but see quite a lot on these threads are posters who respond to a thread about ABC software by saying "ABC is rubbish, it's got to be XYZ" with absolutely no justification for their point of view.

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16th Apr 2018 13:01

we use clear books ad we think its good....not sure why so many seem to disregard it??

its easy to use and crucially easy to correct if a client goes wrong, we have a lot of clients using it without too much hassle

the only draw back for us is it that it doesnt have the integrations of some other software, but as a core product to maintain your bookkeeping its pretty robust

Quickbooks we find to be not very user friendly, all clients who have tried it have got into a mess with it, the bank import in particular seems dangerous and tries to second guess whats happened, leading many clients to go wrong

we do use quickfile for some small clients who are price sensitive, it many ways its a good system

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By chatman
to ohgoodgodno
19th Apr 2018 22:34

ohgoodgodno wrote:

clear books ... its easy to correct if a client goes wrong

What do you do if a client receives money for a sales invoice, books it as if it were new income (instead of allocating it to the outstanding invoice) and then files a VAT return for that period?

In Xero, I would simply cancel the transaction, return to the bank "Reconcile" screen and allocate the money to the outstanding invoice.

In Clear Books, you cannot amend the the transaction once the VAT return is filed, so how do you go about easily correcting the accounts?

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to chatman
20th Apr 2018 09:02

quite easily - the original invoice will still be on the system as unpaid - simply credit it off and everything is sorted

its not rocket science

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By chatman
to ohgoodgodno
20th Apr 2018 09:40

Yes, obviously the intention is to do that, but how do you do it when Clear Books won't let you delete the original transaction? That is why I don't think it is easy to correct client mistakes in Clear Books.

And why say "It's not rocket science"? I wasn't rude to you so why did you decide to be rude to me?

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to chatman
20th Apr 2018 10:16

in your scenario:

1. client has issued a sales invoice
2. client has duplicated the sale on receipt of payment instead of allocating the payment against the invoice issued

therefore sales are overstated

therefore applying a credit note to the original invoice issued (1) will return both sales and vat to the correct position

not sure why you would think you'd need to delete anything?

don't think we have been rude to be honest, merely stating a fact that's it not hard to correct

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By chatman
to ohgoodgodno
20th Apr 2018 17:19

So then you have a VAT sale for which you have not issued a VAT invoice and you now have an invoice that the client's customer thinks has been settled by their payment, but which the client thinks has been settled by a credit note. If the account is a complicated one, and there is a dispute with the customer, this is not going to help.

Seems like this bookkeeping lark might as well be rocket science for you after all.

Anyway, my point is that it is not easy to correct clients' mistakes on Clear Books without causing additional errors, as this exchange has demonstrated.

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to chatman
20th Apr 2018 17:26

your point is really non existent

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By chatman
to ohgoodgodno
20th Apr 2018 17:37

Now that is not really an argument is it? Such a retort could be applied in any argument by either side and it would always be invalid unless you could demonstrate why it was true. You might as well say "you're just jealous because I'm prettier than you".

This exchange has shown the problem with correcting errors in Clear Books, so it appears that it does, in fact, exist.

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to ohgoodgodno
20th Apr 2018 17:29

ohgoodgodno wrote:

in your scenario:

1. client has issued a sales invoice
2. client has duplicated the sale on receipt of payment instead of allocating the payment against the invoice issued

therefore sales are overstated

therefore applying a credit note to the original invoice issued (1) will return both sales and vat to the correct position

not sure why you would think you'd need to delete anything?

don't think we have been rude to be honest, merely stating a fact that's it not hard to correct

So what if that means the output tax falls in the wrong period ?

Maybe you've got a sales invoice in March replaced by a "cash sales" invoice in April ?

It's not an elegant solution. It's a fudge.

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17th Apr 2018 08:37

Thanks for all this. No doubt software will come onto the market in the next twelve months and, on the one hand, I don't want to make the decision too early yet, on the other, I have clients with a June year end whose first MTD VAT return will fall into the year commencing 1 July 2018.

I'll probably end up cobbling together sets of accounts from two software packages.

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to lionofludesch
17th Apr 2018 09:38

I haven't given it much thought at all yet but, on the question of a changeover in system at April 2019 which isn't co-terminous with an accounts year end, I think I would be tempted to run with the existing system until y/e and rely on the MTD soft landing provisions for year one (assuming a) MTDfV even starts on time and b) a further concession to tie start dates into start of a/cs years isn't introduced down the line as a sop to us mugs who're going to have to implement this rubbish).

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17th Apr 2018 11:41

Digita have created a transaction reporting option as a first time users recording tool called Onbalance No bells and whistles yet but nice and simple.

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By chatman
to Marion Hayes
20th Apr 2018 17:22

I had terrible experience with Digita and would never use them again. I found them very expensive too.

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17th Apr 2018 20:38

About 18 months ago we spent a lot of time comparing Sage One, Xero, Quickbooks, Freeagent and Clearbooks.

Xero seemed more connectable with other apps than its competitors, but we found it rather hard to work with. Reports not as easy to see on screen, missing some basics like a single report showing debit, credit and running balance (eg to locate a bank difference), and a 12-month report whose total column was wrong.

SageOne - at the time - more complex pricing structure, some complexity with sharing / number of users, and trouble getting a trial version login so we didn't actually try it.

Freeagent, Clearbooks and Kashflow - can't find my notes, but from memory not as feature-rich as Xero and Quickbooks. Quite likeable interfaces however, and no particular dislikes.

We settled on Quickbooks because it was better with some of the basics, eg importing bank transactions, better reports, and ease of understanding.

18 months later, we find Quickbooks support unhelpful for software faults. We've found a few, eg duplicated bank transactions (over 100) which we tried to delete individually, but which kept reappearing minutes after being deleted. Accounts rendered useless. QB Support agreed they couldn't be deleted, and the hours in chat sessions just wasted more time.

The apparent unwillingness or inability of Quickbooks to fix those few things that don't work, or even to communicate with us about them, has considerably undermined our confidence in it.

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By chatman
19th Apr 2018 10:55

My biggest complaint about VAT in Clear Books is that, once a transaction has been reported on a VAT return, you cannot change it. I don't know about QBO, but in Xero, if you change a VAT transaction, Xero automatically puts the adjustment through in the next return.

My biggest complaint overall about Clear Books is that clients find it so much harder to convert their bank transactions correctly into ledger entries.

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19th Apr 2018 11:08

I use Quickbooks. Cannot recognise any of the negative comments reflected here.

I get a UK based support person who fixes quick. The chatline gets you a India or USA based person with mixed results.

Contineous upgrading and further functionality.

Its the easiest simplest system to drive (talking cloud version not desktop)

The only competitor in my view is Xero. Clearbooks is not. Free Agent I have not used for 2 years so do not know how good it is now.

But like one commentator says, QB has deep pockets and are spending it. £1,000 marketing budget for accounting firms.

Its not perfect by any means but with Xero probably the best at the moment.

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to richardterhorst
19th Apr 2018 12:41

Very informative. Thank you. Therefore did you decide to stick with Quickbooks or have you changed? If so, to whom and did you find the change-over a challenge both for your practice and for your clients-persuading them to change to another software provider?
I am considering Quickbooks and am very far down the line with my decision. What attracted me to them was the training they give to us accountants.
Also, are you using Quickbooks for payroll? We have used Moneysoft for several years but of course, it is a desktop application . We would like to switch here to the cloud but are not sure of the functionality of Quickbooks payroll software. Thank you.

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to davidbarry
19th Apr 2018 20:59

We are staying with Quickbooks, but keeping a foot in the door in case we might want to move away in future.

Not as daunting as it seems at first - most of our clients leave the bookkeeping to us. (Bookkeeping is not where we planned to be, but with the changes cloud software brings we're trying to be open-minded.) Most of these clients seem indifferent as to which software package we or they buy, so long as we make it work for them.

To balance my negative comments on 17th, Quickbooks does have many positives. Reports are good. We schedule email reports to ourselves and clients to backup data outside Quickbooks. The basics work well. We are still confident enough to promote Quickbooks to our clients.

I do still like Quickbooks, it's just that 18 months ago I envisaged building our practice future on Quickbooks. Now however it's a friendship rather than a marriage.

Going back to the Original Post, my comparisons are out-of-date by 18 months, but as a user I would still recommend Quickbooks, and (given my willingness to criticise QB) I hope my thoughts are objective enough to be helpful.

We prefer Moneysoft for payroll, but will move as soon as we find a system with a portal so sub-contractors of our builder clients can post their own hours etc online.

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By Ray051
19th Apr 2018 11:15

We have been using cloud accounting systems for around 10 years now and recommend QBO first because of its superior reporting ability. Xero has some features which are attractive in some cases like draft bills for letting Clients approve them for payment. The smaller providers tend not to have as good integration with add-on Apps so from an automation perspective we don't consider them. The new QuickBooks sole trader version is cheap and has handy apps built in such as a GPS business miles logger.

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19th Apr 2018 12:34

Glennzy wrote:

QBO is cheap if you get the special deals but has terrible tech support, from some bot in America called "Hank, thanks for reaching to us, but we won't be able to deal with any query"


I wonder whether you have been given the tech support telephone number, Glennzy? They are fantastic. Based in London, highly knowledgeable and helpful, and usually pretty quick to answer the phone. I can't fault it.

andy.partridge wrote:

Quickbooks is a beast of a system with an unwieldy user interface.


Are you referring to the desktop version or QBO, as the cloud version (QBO) is extremely easy to use. I have a couple of clients who had never even worked in an office before, let alone used any accounting software, and I taught them to do the basics (import & post bank transactions, raise invoices, etc.) in under an hour (over 2 or 3 phone calls).

I'd be interested to know what you find hard to use from the UI. There are three main menus: (i) the broad categories on the left (sales, purchases, banking, etc.) (ii) the "create" menu to create an invoice or bill or expense, etc. and (iii) a settings menu (rarely needed once the file has been set up). Once you get a feel for those 3 areas, it's pretty simple to navigate. Reports are a breeze and I haven't seen any other software that makes it so easy to customise and save the amended reports to re-run when you want. As Akkountant points out, many of Xero's reports don't offer running balances, whereas QBO is totally configurable.

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to charliecarne
20th Apr 2018 18:02

charliecarne wrote:

<
Are you referring to the desktop version or QBO, as the cloud version (QBO) is extremely easy to use.
.

I'm referring to the cloud version. Horrible mess for the user compared with other programs.

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to andy.partridge
20th Apr 2018 21:23

I'd be very interested to know why you think so. I find that training clients on QBO is a breeze and very much easier than Xero. I can't compare to FreeAgent or ClearBooks, etc. as I don't use them.

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19th Apr 2018 13:12

Now that we're mentioning Xero I will add my bit on that. In my view it has the worst features on the two criteria I gave back at the start:

1. Dismal query resolution service, their performance on payroll and P60 last year was an absolute joke.

2. Dodgy balance sheet, looks like a company overtrading to me and not investible in my view.

I really like VT, it saves me masses of time compared to Clearbooks, Xero or QBO. I have communicated to all clients the reasons why I will be leaving an MTD decision until the last possible moment and had a lot of positive feedback on this.

All 150 clients have been offered the opportunity to move to one of these cloud systems right now if they wish. They know I have clients on all 3 of the systems mentioned in this thread, and they've all been given an idea of the costs in moving. So far none has expressed any interest since I sent out the MTD note 5 days ago.

In a nutshell Captain Smith at the helm of the Titanic was better prepared for the iceberg than HMRC is for MTD, and I expect the outcome to be very similar.

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19th Apr 2018 13:28

Still can't get my head around the money that these cost. If I put 200 clients on one of the top packages at around £15/month, then thats £36,000 per year I'm paying, that compares to around £1,000 for a sage 50 bureau license which is MTD compliant

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to Cheesy-peas
19th Apr 2018 13:52

Your comparing apples with pears.

I am amazed if you have bureau licence of Sage 50 for 200 companies that only costs £1000 per year.

If you are only using the software in house the bureau cost of xero is only £9, drops to £5 if you commit to 100 licences. QBO have similar deals on licences for £1 per month etc.

Do you really do 100% of the books for 200 clients, if so what do you do with bank feeds and data entry as it must cost a fortune in staff costs to do it.

Also all of the data will sit with you when its the clients information which they can have access to with cloud software.

You might find you price yourself out of the market with this approach and how will you cope with MTD and the extra reporting

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