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should I outsource book-keeping and payroll

Fed up of trying to recruit good young staff

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Good Morning fellow Awebbers, 

I know they are out there.  You know, thost youngsters that are keen as mustard to learn, that want to train to become an accountant. That aren't frightened of hard work and sacrificing time at the pub to study hard, but is it just me or are they getting much harder to find? obviously the last 12 months has been a very unusual and extraordinary year, but I've just found recruiting good young staff particularly difficult in recent years.  As a result (and possibly because I'm getting old and less patient I think) I'm considering outsourcing the book-keeping side of things.  Am I alone in this or have others outsourced and if you don't mind sharing, how was the experience and what were the costs and benefits you saw?

Cheers everyone, have a great weekend.

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By sarahg
07th May 2021 07:45

Why not just employ a more experienced person?

We do both - we outsource payroll as it is a hassle, then we have some bookkeepers on the payroll and some freelance - all are very experienced

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Replying to sarahg:
By scrasey
07th May 2021 08:04

Thanks for the reply. Two reasons we haven't gone down the more experienced route. 1st is that I've always found it quite satisfying to see trainees become good accountants, but that's becoming so difficult now. 2nd is that we've found experienced book-keepers wanting salaries in excess of 30k.

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Replying to scrasey:
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By sarahg
07th May 2021 08:18

Depending on where you are £30k is not an unreasonable salary for a bookkeeper

However, they should be able to produce a lot more work than a junior, and keep your time free to do other things

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ghm
By TaxTeddy
07th May 2021 07:51

I went through this process a few years back with fantastic results.

I was approached by a nice chap who was running a bookkeeping business with his wife and I took a chance. Well, they were fantastic - professional, diligent and always tried to do the best job for the clients, bearing in mind that client data is often far from perfect.

That's not to say I never needed to chase them up but managing anyone who is subcontracting is just part of the process.

Unfortunately, a couple of years ago he had a good job offer and closed his business so I was back to square one. Having handled everything myself for the last year or so I am now in the process of starting again with a lady who looks very promising and is starting to put together some good work for me.

There is no doubt that you have to have confidence in the person you are outsourcing to and, as I say, management is part of the package. But my experience is that most bookkeepers are very conscientious and want to do just as good a job as you do.

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Caroline
By accountantccole
07th May 2021 08:25

I outsourced all my payroll (when I had a practice in the UK) - they dealt with everything directly. It was at the time RTI was coming in and I just didn't want to deal with the extra hassle.
Message me if you want contact details as I know they look after a couple of firms.
Bookkeeping/VAT is harder to separate out as they are more closely linked

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By zebaa
07th May 2021 08:29

I suggest you go for someone part time. Usually this will be an older person, as younger workers want a full wage, while older ones want a mix of free time & money. We have seen that remote working is possible, although I know there are very mixed feeling & opinions on this. Good sub-contractors are very hard to find I think and like the previous poster mentioned, they tend to move on. Good luck anyway, let us know how you get on.

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By memyself-eye
07th May 2021 09:09

youngsters are not enthused by the term 'bookkeeper': when asked what do you do? down the pub who would want to impress their mates by answering 'I'm a bookkeeper'
The job is on a par with 'bank teller' - seen as dull and boring.
I know good bookkeeping is the bedrock of good accounts and older folks no longer have to impress anyone and have the patience, knowledge and maturity to do a good job in that regard - my wife is carrying on 'bookkeeping' (and charges far more pro rata than £30k a year) even though I've retired!
Perhaps you should advertise the role as 'multi skilled financial analyst/input programmer/compliance specialist'
required?

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By scrasey
07th May 2021 09:42

Thanks for all the feedback. 30k to a freelancer is a little different to 30k for a member of staff. with holidays, employers NI, pension and the fact a freelancer will correct their mistakes at their own cost, the actual cost is far more than £30k for a full time member of staff. We've also tried re-naming the roles. Apprentice Accountant, Trainee Accountant, etc. etc. what I'm finding is that every CV coming through the door has a gazillion GCSE's and A levels with good grades but few of them can use spell checker, at interview most come across (dare I say it) as thick as two short planks. When we do take people on their attention span seems to last all of 5 minutes and they think after 3 months they're suddenly worth 40k. It seems every year just trying to find someone of reasonable intelligence, that wants to learn is getting more and more difficult.

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Replying to scrasey:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th May 2021 10:14

Not paying attention to detail on a CV doesn't bode well, does it!

Maybe you should hire wrinklies. Someone who can string a sentence together without having their card marked by Grammarly; and can work out simple maths in their head without tip-tapping into their calculator and getting the answer wrong by a factor of 10.

Think of the advantages: anything over £8,500 is higher paid; no time off for maternity / paternity leave; and no problem with titles as they'll all be senior bookkeepers!

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
07th May 2021 16:45
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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
08th May 2021 14:26

Employment for the over sixties! This is good news indeed for DJKL.

They're aiming a little high in one of their job descriptions, where they want
..someone passionate about outstanding customer service and with excellent leadership skills. You must be commercially aware, driven, well organised and very hands on.
Uhhu. And as if that isn't enough:
You must be commercially aware, driven, well organised and very hands on.
Between naps, I suppose they must mean.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Hugo Fair
08th May 2021 17:10

The strange thing about experience combined with attitude is that - despite taking regular naps - many over 6os get more done (and more often get it 'right first time') than the younger cohort who are still gaining experience (although fully qualified).
Of course it's the combined dearth of both attributes that tends to make effective youngsters as rare as rocking-horse droppings. As per OP, they do exist with potential but are hard to find - and tend to want to fly the nest as soon as they start to get more right than wrong!

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By scrasey
07th May 2021 09:42

Thanks for all the feedback. 30k to a freelancer is a little different to 30k for a member of staff. with holidays, employers NI, pension and the fact a freelancer will correct their mistakes at their own cost, the actual cost is far more than £30k for a full time member of staff. We've also tried re-naming the roles. Apprentice Accountant, Trainee Accountant, etc. etc. what I'm finding is that every CV coming through the door has a gazillion GCSE's and A levels with good grades but few of them can use spell checker, at interview most come across (dare I say it) as thick as two short planks. When we do take people on their attention span seems to last all of 5 minutes and they think after 3 months they're suddenly worth 40k. It seems every year just trying to find someone of reasonable intelligence, that wants to learn is getting more and more difficult.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th May 2021 09:56

I found the whole operation a hassle: being Piggy-in-the-Middle can be a thankless task, and the ROI wasn't worth the flak.

Worked a lot better for me when clients dealt directly with the outsource bookkeeper. Their deadlines, their issues, not mine; instead I got to play the (charging) knight in shining armour whenever something needed putting right.

Thanks (1)
Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
08th May 2021 10:47

I have wrestled with this one, my experience being that its hard not to be PITM, you have to review what the bookkeeper has done and you invariably find errors. And the client then expects me to sort these with the bookkeeper.

So unless the size of the business merits a separate bookkeeper, my current line is that rather than pushing back work, by giving the client a cloud platform I am enabling them to do the admin side of the work a different way that doesn't cost them extra.

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By Zinoti
07th May 2021 10:41

Hi,
i outsource bookkeeping and never was more happier! The only thing I regret that I did not do it earlier. It freed so much time for me to have longer chats with my exisiting clients, and looking for new ones. The job is done perfectly, everyone is happy.
I have tried employment route too, like you, -younger generation. But after few months i have been told by some young accountant: 'i have realised that accountancy is not my passion'. slap in the face.
Not to talk about value for money.

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
07th May 2021 23:23

Keeping clients onside of the nuances of MTD, not to mention all the newly formulated VAT implications of Brexit, is no easy task. I cannot imagine why any bookkeeper worth their salt would possibly operate sub £30k pa.

Unless of course you're hiring a data input clerk, in which event they'll be able to rely upon your expertise every five minutes or so. Good luck with that!

The times, they are a-changin'

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By tom123
08th May 2021 09:30

As a client, rather than in practice - I view my 'accountant' as someone who I have 'outsourced' stuff to already.

I would not be particularly happy if my chosen outsourcing partner had moved my work further down the line.

As 'I'm sorry' says - just don't put yourself in the middle. Be honest, tell the client if this is not your 'thing' and make a recommendation.

If I ring you about payroll, I would expect you to know - not to have to further defer to your 'outsourcer'.

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Replying to tom123:
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By Hugo Fair
08th May 2021 11:28

Agree, but then that's presumably why I've always felt a frisson of annoyance on building projects when the building contractor refers me to the 'specialist' (and invariably subcontracted) plumber / electrician / 'piles and steels' / or whatever.
It is possible to find builders who handle everything in house (or at least avoid putting clients into direct contact with sub-contractors), but they're getting rare and tend to be very expensive.
Maybe that's the heart of the problem ... even a first-time house owner sort of knows there's a difference between what an electrician and a plumber does - but most of our clients don't have the first clue about any difference between, say, VAT processes and Tax calcs (it's "all just accounts innit?")

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SMH
By ShakingMyHead
11th May 2021 10:03

I've ran a bookkeeping service for years. Here's the thing - I think your 'junior accountant' may not really like the bookkeeping work. Its a hard slog. They're there to be an accountant. Not a bookkeeper. You need the right person for the right job. We make it very clear. We are bookkeepers. We do bookkeeping. What you're probably getting is people who are just trying it. They think they'll get to do more exciting work after a bit. Staff don't have to be 'young'. There is a saying - recruit for attitude, train for skill. I've found 'people' in general (any age) can just be quite flimsy. Above all else - remember no-one cares about your business more than you. They'll come along and pretend to want the work (just to get their foot in the door). You can waste time training them, fixing their work- and they'll be out the door if a better offer comes along. If bookkeeping isn't your thing, leave it to the client to find someone and let it be their headache. Just stick to the year end accounts. Or just find a good bookkeeping service to outsource to BUT if you want to make your money out of bookkeeping and to offer it yourself as a standalone service - these 'young people' may not be the best ones to use. Our oldest bookkeeper is 70+ been with us over 10 years - great chap. If our entire team were silver I wouldn't have a problem with it. Substance over anything. I hope that helps :)

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By Peter Bussey
11th May 2021 10:40

We prefer taking on book-keeping for other Accountants - as when the client tries to put a non-business expense through or doesnt provide a receipt - we don't need to get into a discussion with the client but just advise them we are following the rules and they should speak to the accountant. We also provide payroll on behalf of a number of accountants for their clients - as many do not like this but I can never understand why. Happy to discuss helping you out with these.

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By CatherineR5
11th May 2021 11:08

I'm a bookkeeper. I'd be delighted to take outsourced work from Accountants, but none who I've approached seem interested, preferring I assume to keep it in-house as a training tool, or bread&butter money earner.
I see outsourced work as less hassle than direct - I can ask the accountant for advice if necessary, and as Peter_Bussey says, don't have to get into complex discussions with the client.

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By kishan21
09th Jun 2021 11:57

Hello, with the work happening through cloud and fast scanners, undoubtedly outsourcing will increase the productivity & profitability for any practice. I have worked in 2 large outsourcing companies based in India and at EY Shared sercvice (US audit clients).

Here, experienced CA members are hired. have review and quality control systems.
Dedicated professional would cost 1/3rd of UK wage and assignment based services are also provided, with focus on data security and long relationship building.
Do let me know in case of any queries.

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