It’s all change at accounting software vendors Clear Books, as the firm launches two new products with the government’s Making Tax Digital scheme in mind and welcomes a new chief executive.
After overseeing the soft launch of the cloud developer’s Clear Books Micro and Practice Edition products, news broke late last week that CEO Phil Sayers had left the business.
Sayers succeeded Tim Fouracre in October 2017, when the Clear Books founder left to launch his accounting bank, Countingup. Sayers is succeeded by Tim’s wife, Ruth Fouracre. Formerly a lawyer with Allen & Overy and the global bank Citi, she has been head of legal and HR at the company since June 2014 and a board director since October 2016.
Clear Books non-executive director Joe McLoughlin said she was the “standout candidate” for the role. “I’m not aware of any other female CEOs in the accounting software industry [sic - see comment below, Ed], so I’m really proud of Clear Books making such a progressive appointment,” he commented.
The arrival of the government’s tax transformation programme kicked-started a rush of products to help accountants and their clients become Making Tax Digital (MTD) compliant. Speaking before his departure, former CEO Phil Sayers told AccountingWEB he felt that smaller businesses were unlikely to be well catered for under MTD by the big software firms.
“There is a whole group of businesses where a lot of the software offerings are too complex and sophisticated for their needs,” said Sayers. “They need a simple product that just complies with the regulations.”
After previewing its products in August last year, Clear Books has now gone live with two MTD versions catering for the smaller end of the market: Clear Books Micro and Practice Edition.
Clear Books Micro is aimed at tech-averse shoebox clients, who would like their accountant or bookkeeper to turn bags of receipts and statements into accounts, and smaller spreadsheet clients who are used to Excel and not interested in changing.
As both groups are extremely price-sensitive, Clear Books Micro is free for the client and configured so that only accountants preparing and producing accounts on behalf of their client can access it.
Micro is a simple data entry tool designed to act as an alternative to using spreadsheets but look and feel like one, albeit with just three simple tabs:
- Enter sales invoices
- Record money coming into the business (and allocate it to outstanding sales invoices)
- Record expenses
The second new Clear Books product is Practice Edition. Accountants can manage the accounts of clients using Clear Books Micro and submit their returns directly to HMRC by subscribing to Practice Edition, which brings different client accounts under a single interface to manage the different record-keeping formats they are using. The only difference between Practice Edition and the Clear Books normal “large” product is that the client can’t access it.
Because Practice Edition shares the same database as Micro, if the client enters invoices into Micro this appears in Practice Edition. The accountant can review what has been entered and can adjust if needed, and any amendments the accountant makes are reflected in Micro.
Because Micro links with Practice Edition, if a client grows or is prepared to move towards entering the data themselves, they can move onto a more mainstream product with a single change in subscription.
All transaction listings are available, and the accountant can produce a PDF at the touch of a button.
Both Micro and Practice Edition are accessible via a browser on a desktop or tablet, but as they resemble a spreadsheet they do not work so well on a mobile screen.
Practice Edition is £5 per client per month and is now available to accountants as a free trial version. Micro is free to trial via the Clear Books website.
Are you a user of Clear Books or any other accounting application? As part of our annual Accounting Excellence Awards, we want to know which ones are keeping up best with your requirements. Let us know by taking part in the Accounting Excellence software survey.