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What are the key issues involved in becoming a freelance accountant?

What are the key issues involved in becoming a...


I am ACA qualified - 5 years post qual - have worked in a plc and a charity, and would like to take on accounts prep and compilation of statutory accounts, management accounts, corp tax, personal tax. Having had limited exposure to tax, I'm going to have to go back to the books - is this a wise move?  Any suggestions on must haves?  eg Tolleys.  I am considering doing some freelance accounting, but what are the main issues I should be aware of?  And what kind of price should I charge?  I know this is a very open ended question, but I am really in the dark on this one.


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By chatman
27th May 2013 21:45

Work for a small firm of accountants for a year

I would recommend getting a job with a small firm of accountants for a year or so. It will give you all the answers you need.

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By imbs
27th May 2013 22:54

Absolutely chatman
That is the best advice. It's probably not what you want to hear though. I trained in big 4 audit but by a massive stroke of luck, got into a small firm for 5 years and then started out on my own. Without those years in small firm I simply could not have done this. There is so much to learn. On the job experience is the only way.

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28th May 2013 07:45

freelance / sub-contract work

I did a lot of freelance / sub-contract work for local firms when I first started out.  I am ACA qualified, trained in Big 4 firm but had no experience outside audit - not very useful for personal or corporate tax knowledge!  The freelance work was incredibly useful and taught me a lot in a relatively small space of time.  After two years, I no longer had the capacity or need to continue to freelance. Good luck!

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By law man
28th May 2013 11:59

One person business

I agree with the above, but if you do proceed:

Many make the mistake of thinking it is like employment: it is not.

Start with the cost of insurance and regulation: it may be so expensive it makes the business unviable: it would for a solicitor.

Do not accept long term commitments e.g. long term lease. Buy your equipment (perhaps second hand), do not borrow.

Set aside cash of suffient amount that:

(1) you can fund the business for 6 months even if it has no income, and

(2) pay your own costs of living for 6 months.

Never take on a client without:

(1) agreeing your costs and obtainng a signed letter of engagement, and

(2) checking that the client has the means and intention to pay.





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28th May 2013 13:27

Practising certificate

If you don't already have one, you will need to obtain a practising certificate before you take on any freelance work.

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28th May 2013 16:12

Given your stated experience I'll suggest .....

....doing a minimum of 2 years in practice.

I think that you'll find the most daunting element, often unbelievable, is the nonsense from HMRC.

Anyone taking you on will have concerns that even if there is payback, you may end up taking their clients. Try and find someone around 50 who is looking toward retirement/semi-retirement.

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By query
28th May 2013 16:29

Go and join a local firm and who knows...they might make you a partner after a few years!

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