Staff Writer AccountingWEB
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FreshBooks expansion: From Amsterdam to the UK

Following its October announcement of plans to open an office in Amsterdam, accounting platform FreshBooks has now made its first official launch into the UK. FreshBooks Matt Baker speaks to AccountingWEB about the new UK-specific services being offered by the platform.

26th Feb 2020
Staff Writer AccountingWEB
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Image of FreshBooks senior vice president Matt Baker
FreshBooks: Matt Baker

The North American small business accounting platform FreshBooks has announced an official launch into the UK this month with an offering of new UK-specific services. The opening of FreshBooks’s first European office in Amsterdam, Netherlands enabled it to expand support hours and cater for EU and UK-based customers, kickstarting a further move into the UK market. 

FreshBooks senior vice president Matt Baker told AccountingWEB, “We've been in the UK for 10-15 years, but only recently have we doubled down on a whole set of services specifically for the UK.” FreshBooks started working on the UK services when it had to amend its bank feeds to meet Open Banking requirements. 

Changes to the platform for MTD regulations were quick to follow, “which we've continued to improve when we launched the [MTD] workflow”, said Baker. Opening the office in Amsterdam was “the first time we were able to put these pieces together and launch in the UK”.

HMRC-approved MTD for VAT

The first of its new 2020 UK services is FreshBooks HMRC-approved Making Tax Digital for VAT, aimed at simplifying the VAT return process for small businesses under MTD regulations. With the feature, FreshBooks gives users an HMRC-approved VAT report with an integration to then digitally submit to HMRC. 

Baker explained that the feature became imperative in the market given HMRC’s regulations. “We've seen a large uptake with the integration, being a piece of compliance that everyone in the UK has to adopt. Without that type of feature, our product becomes harder to use in the market.”

FreshBooks banking connections

With the addition of new banking connections, FreshBooks now offers the ability to connect to UK-specific bank accounts like Barclays, HSBC UK, NatWest, Lloyds Banks, and Santander UK. The integration enables small businesses to automatically import transactions and view their overall financial position for tax deadlines.

“We made improvements with our bank feed technology so that anybody with a UK bank account can connect it into FreshBooks,” said Baker. The integration means the platform can pull in the revenue and expenses from the bank account which can then be reconciled with the data in FreshBooks. “If you use FreshBooks to invoice people, when you get the revenue and your transactions through, you can match them,” explained Baker.

“On the expense side, if you pull in the bank feed, you can view all your expenses and then we're able to give you things like a profit and loss statement.” Users can also connect with neo banks like Revolut, Monzo and TransferWise, he added. 

New FreshBooks partnerships

FreshBooks has been working on building its partnerships to provide its users with an ecosystem of 90+ complementary apps and integrations. According to Baker, FreshBooks targeted specific UK partners, and so “a big chunk are integrations we feel are relevant to our UK customer-base”. 

“The one we're particularly proud of is GoSimple Tax,” said Baker. As a UK online tax returns and self assessment software leader, they're focused on the self assessment space, which attracts FreshBooks users, as freelancers, the self-employed and small business owners. 

“Given the fact that the fiscal year in the UK is different from the US, it’s important for us to stay aware and get these integrations in place at the right time for the customers.”

FreshBooks events - #imakealiving

#imakealiving is FreshBooks’s travelling event series for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers to build a community, which debuts in the UK in May 2020. 

Currently, FreshBooks has held events across North America, which it plans to bring to the UK “to help foster a greater sense of community among entrepreneurs in the UK.”

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