Share this content

Teaching Basic Accounts to Clients

Looking for some useful tips on purchase ledger / bank payments.

A lot of clients are now starting to have a more hands on approach, I am happy training them, and explain all the basic principles, which I appreciate is a lot to take in in one or two sessions.


I explain that the purchase ledger is for things on credit terms and you can use bank payments for payments made straight away. However despite explanations I frequently see the purchase ledger being used for transactions I would put as bank payments i.e. fuel, subsistence, the Post Office etc. I know it’s not the end of the world, but I like tidy ledgers (as much as possible) and wanted to know if in anyones experience there was a simpler explanation for the client to follow! Thanks.


Please login or register to join the discussion.

22nd Aug 2018 21:06

I tend to make up a silly story and use sock puppets to act it out, which is at around the right sort of intellect level for most of my clients.

Thanks (7)
By Matrix
22nd Aug 2018 21:19

Clients who do their own bookkeeping just book entries from the bank account using cloud software apart from the young, IT savvy ones. One once used the billing function in FreeAgent and then booked the expense again when they saw it in the bank account.

Thanks (1)
22nd Aug 2018 21:30
Thanks (5)
22nd Aug 2018 22:47

The confusion may be giving them two routes to enter payments to suppliers, they maybe do not appreciate/ understand your subtle difference re approach, reduce that uncertainty by giving them just one route and discouraging small purchases direct by the business.

Get them to say use fuel cards ,I cannot understand why every accountant does not advocate their use, yes they may have a fee but the tax relief because one receipt has been lost is possibly greater than the fee; the saving in accounting time alone can make it pay for itself.

Given MTD and vat and the apparent individual invoice posting requirement, frankly using a PL is possibly how we may all have to go anyway.

If MTD and vat is not an issue ( say below threshold), get them to pay for odds and ends themselves and do an expense sheet to reclaim from business, entering sheet as a P Inv.

The key is make it really simple for them to follow and if possible try to have very similar systems for as many clients as possible,so when they call with a question you do not need to rack your brain remembering how you previously advised them to keep their records.

And rule number 1, if getting them to number PIs always get them to file them by lowest number at the back of the ringbinder up to the latest number at the front; over the course of a year it saves hours and reduces wear on the ringbinder)

Thanks (4)
23rd Aug 2018 01:19

Some good advice there from DJKL as always.

I have to concur with the op, it is very difficult. Most of my clients generate their own sake invoices through Xero and we then take care of the rest. I have two clients who insisted on doing the whole bookkeeping themselves; one does a fairly good job and it only takes me around an hour or two per quarter to sort out their errors. The other one (fairly new) has made a complete hash of it, but genuinely believes she has done a sterling job.

I find it much quicker to just get them to email invoices through, which then flow into Xero via auto entry, then it's largely just a matter of reconciling the bank.

Some accountants are good teachers, however I'm not. I find it very difficult trying to teach clients how to use bookkeeping software.

Thanks (2)
to Manchester_man
23rd Aug 2018 11:03

"Most of my clients generate their own sake invoices"

There's your problem, get them to sober up and the records will improve.

Thanks (1)
23rd Aug 2018 11:43

And where are they finding Sake? I haven't seen it outside of Japan for years.

Thanks (0)
26th Aug 2018 11:50

It's a zero sum game- all the debits equal the credits! With today's cloud software, this should be a mere formality as any transaction cannot be posted without the total being zero, (or should I say Xero). However, when clients get involved, this philosophy goes out of the window. I thought it was us that were supposed to know how many blue beans make five, but clients often do strange things, because the basic understanding of account types is absent. I have witnessed many innovative ways to ensure that the bookkeeping is compromised and many bring a wry smile.

Thanks (1)
to raybackler
26th Aug 2018 17:19

My "favourite" over the years has been the correcting entry.

Posting made, mistake spotted, correction made but it is not itself correct, this further corrected ,again not correct, before you know it ledgers littered with the same figure (and said figure doubled or trebled ) flying around the ledgers until you start doubting your own sanity and run out of different coloured pens as you try to track the elusive entries within the printouts. (If you have the printouts)

Thanks (2)
26th Aug 2018 18:01

Problem is, some of the online programs don’t allow you to post a bank payment, especially for a VAT registered business, without putting it through the purchase ledger.

Thanks (1)
Share this content