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Setting up on my own

Setting up on my own

I've been thinking quite a lot recently about quitting my job in a Chartered Accountants and setting up myself in business.  My job is slow and not at all challenging and I've been getting increasingly lazy.

I have already written advertising letters and have a business card design ready.  In addition to this, I have costed the relevant software and I have enough savings in case I don't earn enough for a while.

The main concern I have is that I'm still only part ACCA qualified.  I will continue and can afford to pay for the relevant books/courses/exams etc myself.

I want to offer more than just accountancy/bookkeeping/payroll etc, but business advice too (Which my current employer doesn't).

My question is, have others done this and how have they fared?  Would they recommend it?

Also, for any who have done this, what was the response from your employer knowing you would be in competition?

I'm 24, and have 4 years of practice experience where I complete a job start to finish.  I'm fairly confident, but not an excessive risk taker!

Thanks in advance.


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12th Dec 2011 16:45

It is a while since I set up my practice

I had to throw a lot of money into marketing when I first started, and times are even tougher now. I don't need to spend anything on marketing now, but those early efforts paid off.

Would your current situation allow you to get started part time (evenings and weekends) while you build up a client base? This would be hard work, but a lot less stressful than wondering how you are going to pay the bills!

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12th Dec 2011 16:53


Hold on and qualify would be my answer.

Not least as I think ACCA might have a little something to say about your plans...

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By blok
12th Dec 2011 16:53


I think you need to contact ACCA, they wont allow this to happen unless you qualify and hold a practising certificate.  Or leave ACCA.

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By Deranja
12th Dec 2011 16:55

Response - ShirleyM

May I ask how much you spent on Advertising?

I've budgeted to spend £1,000 on around 1,750 letters to be posted locally (Doing this myself over 7 weeks).  I'm also looking to set up my own website (My sister will be paid in chocolate)!

The problem I have is that surely my work will be in the same area, and thus, a conflict of interest to work?

I'm still living at home, so bills are a minimum and I have saved enough to last a few years if need be, but that is hoping to be my house deposit.

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12th Dec 2011 16:57

Beware ACCA Guidelines

Before taking any further steps, you should get yourself acquainted with the rules on what services ACCA student members can and cannot offer until they are fully qualified and hold a practising certificate.

There's nothing in law to stop you providing accounting, tax and advice (excluding audit and other regulated areas). But you will find yourself in a long drawn out disciplinary (and fines) should you keep hold of the ACCA studies and get caught.

While you may stay under the radar, your erstwhile employer may take it upon themselves to be ACCA police and drop you in it.

You can choose to drop ACCA and strike out into the world, remembering to register with HMRC for MLR, etc. There's ICO for data protection and PII cover will be necessary too. Don't offer cheap prices to get work now because they'll clear off as soon as you try to charge a commercial rate in the future.

Assuming you dump ACCA and start up in January, good luck - it's a very hard world out here and the warmth of employment is quite appealing at times!

Sure there's more I could have said, but my brain has just detected a cup of tea and biscuits.

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12th Dec 2011 17:17

Qualify first and do as much as you can whilst qualifying to build up your commercial nouse, is my advice.  I've been very successful since I set up 2 years ago, but I would have been a dangerous punter to let loose on any decent client as a part-qualified 20 year s ago.


Unless you're just after £200 tax return clients it is commercial experience that will potentially attract you to clients.  It is taken for granted you can do accounts and tax return for people.

Yes auidting is boring is hell and completely pointless as at the end of the day the 3 principles of auditing are "What is my fee, what is my fee and after that what is my fee?"  But at least you get to see the good the bad and the ugly of how various businesses are run.


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By Deranja
12th Dec 2011 18:49

Thank you

I'm a bit gutted to be honest.

I have spoken to ACCA regarding their terms and conditions which limit me to accounts prep to trial balance level, payroll, vat and basic bookkeeping.

That means I wouldn't even be allowed to do tax returns!

I'm not leaving ACCA because one of the reasons I started training was the knowledge that I would never have to completely retrain.  Accountants are still going to be needed in 40 years or so!

Well, if I can't go alone just yet, I suppose i'm going to have to sort my boss out and get him moving.  I could be diplomatic and gently/slowly push him out since he is 61.

Thanks for all the responses.

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12th Dec 2011 19:02

Why not?

Can't you make an offer to take over the practice eventually?

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12th Dec 2011 20:27

not the answer

"My job is slow and not at all challenging and I've been getting increasingly lazy."

This is not the answer.  I have used a job I was in complete command of to my advantage twice in my career:

1.  In 2001 I became an expert in arbitrage sports betting, which in turn led to an expertise in sports betting especially on rugby and tennis.  Hard work but it delivered an average income of just over £10k a year for 7 years, no tax to pay as I was based in the UK.


2.  Then in 07-08 researched the local accountancy market whilst still at work under threat of redundancy.  This didn't work so well initially as despite being made redundant in Sep 08 I then got put in charge of a division with just over £80m sales which was nearly double the size of my previous role.  So I finally left in April 09 after seeing off the auditors, nonetheless my initial research work which highlighted weak competition has been proven correct.

A non-challenging job is a development opportunity if you truly have the character to set up and run your own business in the middle of a recession.




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By Deranja
to Zebedee Zibidad
12th Dec 2011 21:34

this is not the answer - mr. mischief

"This is not the answer." followed by "A non-challenging job is a development opportunity if you truly have the character to set up and run your own business in the middle of a recession.".

Are you saying that turning self employed is or isn't the answer?

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13th Dec 2011 02:17

Find a new job?
Have considered moving jobs, to a new practice, where you will be challenged?

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13th Dec 2011 09:12

@Deranja, I think what Mr Mischief is saying, is if you current role is dull and you have acres of time to spare because the work you are doing is easy, if you are a true business person you can use the time wisely to develop your knowledge and skills. Ie still produce the work that is required of you, but at the same time do other things too to. Its not exactly hard to sit there looking at tax books on topics you dont know much about for example.

Quite frankly if I was traning and had a cushy little number I would just use my work time to study and make it look like I was working so I didnt have to do it in the evenings. When I was training I was working flat during the day, often long days and then studying every night and much of the weekend.

I would then quit the second I had served my time and move to a more appropriate role to develop my skills properly before striking out on my own. Time spent in practice learning from others is a far quicker way to learn then on your own, but only if you are in a good learning enviroment.

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13th Dec 2011 13:13

wait for now

i agree with the above post, take it easy while you study - it makes a big difference.

But if it's getting you down, move jobs. The experience of a different firm and systems will help you in the long run.


Dont rush into to working for yourself to quickly. plus i think you need to wait at least 2 years til after you qaulify to get a PC. 3 years experience are needed - one can be before qualification.


Also make sure your employer is a registered employer with ACCA so they can sign of your PC application. It can be backdated as long as it's not audit experience. They were the rules when i applied anyway.


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13th Dec 2011 20:04

Great advice above
It's frustrating working for an employer doing work that doesn't challenge you, but I think you need another 3 r 4 years of experience before you are fully prepared to go it alone.

Firstly, you need to get your practising certificate because it will be almost impossible to get it if you start on your own now.

Secondly, once you start your own business, you don't have anyone else to learn from so there is much more pressure to do your own research which is hard when you are also the only fee earner, marketing person, finance manager etc.

You should prepare a plan to show your boss what you want to do in the practice and what the benefits to him would be - and discuss your ambition with him. At 61 he is probably considering his options for retirement and if you are willing to buy him out in say 4 years it will save him a lot of fees and hassle, plus you get to buy a business that you know and retention rates would be high.

The preparation of accounts and tax returns is very basic stuff - so you should ask for more complex assignments such as tax planning, business plans, forecasts and also ask to get involved in marketing and new client meetings - you will learn a lot from this and can cut your teeth at his expense perfecting your sales an marketing skills!

Good luck and I hope you can strike a deal that works for you

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13th Dec 2011 20:59

agree with others

I was there, hadbeen in practice ACCA part qual and thought I could go alone so I took advice of my mentor and qualified first.

I then did not leave though despite my mentor saying I should, I hung around for 2 years as pa to one of the partners, I can tell you in those two years I learnt so much that had I had gone earlier I would not have known

Be patient, you will be doing this until you are 60/70 if you go too early with not enough knowledge you will regret it - or prove me wrong!

Also, ACCA will not let you set up, you will have to qualify, then get some PQE towards a practicing cert before getting it.

I almost left ACCA as the burden to get a cert was more onerous than a peer who was ICAEW who could just apply without the additional praticing cert evidence ! But I decided to carry on and a few years down the line very glad I did

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14th Dec 2011 11:25

Get a qualification

You don't need to go for ACCA, although I would suggest that having started it would be a great pity to stop - nothing wrong with the ACCA qualification. The thought occurs that your alternative is to go down the AAT or ATT route and work up via there.

Lots of people consider leaving when part-qualified but I think that long term you will regret that decision.

Good luck

Virtual Tax Support for Accountants:

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14th Dec 2011 11:51

Why won't ACCA let students submit tax returns? Just because ACCA don't want them to?

Anyone could register as tax agent and submit SA returns...not qualified, part qualified or fully qualified.

Just curious.


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14th Dec 2011 17:28


@accountslady - I imagine its because it risks damaging their reputation if someone who is PQ holds themselves out to be competent and fiddles about with some tax returns on the side and quite probably makes a hash of it. Lets face most people are simply not competent at that point.  Even after 3 years, all the exams and 2-3 years PQE 95% of people are STILL as green as can be when it comes to being set lose unaided with real world situations and no-one to filter away all the tricky bits upfront and review it at the end.

I would say its like growing up, when many people are 16 or 17 they feel like an adult, and 5 years later they start to realise how young they really were at 17.  You try telling someone at that age and they cant even comprehend what you are on about, and 5 years later they know exactly what you mean.

Just the same going from someone who can knock together a tax return into a proper accountant.  Huge gap although most of it would be invisible to the outsider. Ie how many times do you wrestle with a complex issue only to arrive back at the same point you would have if you didn't know it existed? Still the same tick in the same box on the return, but one is done out of luck, one out of knowledge.



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16th Dec 2011 08:53


If you are PQ ACCA you may be able to transfer to their CAT qualification instead - this is similar to an AAT.

It used to be that if you had completed 2/3 of the ACCA it was a straightforward process to transfer and gain the qualification. There didn't used to be a practicing certificate requirement for that qualification.

It's one option, although I may suggest perhaps taking interim part time roles to give you the time to build up your practice rather than go straight to running it full time.

That way you can be earning as well as working on your business, and also getting more experience from different firms.

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20th Dec 2011 12:54

Part Qualified!

Why after 4 years are you still part qualified? If you can't motivate yourself to complete the exams then what makes you think you will be able to motivate yourself when things are a bit difficult when self-employed? I would suggest you spend more time planning how to become qualified first. 

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29th Jul 2012 17:17

That's a bit harsh mate, not all of us are great with exams or have the time to just rush through and do 4 exams in every sitting or something. 

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