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Advice on leaving 'Contractor Accounting Service'

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    Advice on leaving 'Contractor Accounting Service'

    Hi Guys,

    I recently entered the world of contracting when I was offered a contract following an introduction by a recruitment agency.
    It was a quick start and the recruitment agency also introduced me to a company which provides contractor accounting services.
    Following the sales pitch which included personalised breakdowns and browsing through the shiny brochure, I opted for the 'premium' subscription as it included setting up the company, prestigious company office address for all mail, VAT registration, all insurances, accounting portal, dedicated accountant, monthly/quarterly forecasts, all accounts, all submissions, everything I had ever dreamt of for the sum of £230 a month.
    As I was all excited about my new opportunity and wanted to avoid getting caught up in form filling & admin, I thought why not, looks like a reputable 'global' company who will take care of it all for a smooth experience

    So 3 months later and the only 'premium' I'm feeling is the monthly subscription
    Firstly, looks like my prestigious office address is actually my home address and I have had to forward correspondence to them - customer services says its setup correct and how it works; directors can't avoid their address being used for correspondence - not what their brochure says.
    Then nobody advised me that they can't submit my VAT registration application until I get a business bank account; five week delay.
    Then I started being chased as a debtor for not paying my subscription when it wasn't due.
    Then customer services told me not to contact them anymore instead my 'dedicated accountant' will contact me and to deal with them from now on. My accountant did contact me to repeat some previous information and I haven't heard from them since.
    I was chased by the HMRC for further information and when I asked my 'premium' contractor accounting service to deal with it, I was told to fill out the form, send it to them and they'll have a look.
    My 'accounting portal' just looks like a quickbooks £15 a month jobbie.

    Other contractors I've spoken with basically went "HOW MUCH???" when I told them what I'm paying.
    They basically said they use quickbooks or equivalent for day-to-day accounting/payroll and an accountant to review their accounts monthly/quarterly - which costs £150 a quarter.
    Some use registered office services for £100 per annum but the majority just use their home address without any issues.
    As for insurances they just have basic £1m/£1m/£10m (Indemnity/Public/Employers) policies for hardly anything per month.

    So I've decided to leave my 'premium service' and do what others do, handle it myself - well get an accountant to check over things 2-3 times a year

    If you're still awake...

    I wanted to ask for your advice into how to make the transition from a contractor accounting service to handling my own accounting

    1. I'll need to take out new insurance policies.
    2. Check/change the company registered address.
    3. Accounting portal; extract my existing data from the current one and sign up with a new one, then import the data - is that possible to do?
    4. Find an accountant.
    5. HMRC; my VAT registration is still in progress - would it be wiser to wait until it is complete?
    6. Government Gateway (PAYE); ask for existing logon details or get new user id created?
    7. Should there be a set of monthly/quarterly accounts I should expect to be given?

    What else do I need to do/forgotten to consider?


    When reading this through I think I have enough information to know exactly which contractor Accountancy firm you are talking about...

    As you said and from speaking to other contractors the price you can get for an all in service, using a portal for your bookkeeping can easily be achieved for half that price. The main thing is you need an Accountant that isn't just going to do the standard things an Accountant should do, but also provide that level of personal service to ensure you get the best out of your business.

    The points you have listed below are all things you should allow an Accountant to take care of whilst you concentrate on your day job and know that it is taken care of for a fee that is of its value.

    There are lots of recommended contractor Accountants on here and I'm sure you will be able to identify one that can help take this forward for you.


      Neils provided some good answers there.

      I think I would add that make finding the new accountant a priority, and they will guide you through the other questions and save stressing yourself over them.

      Re 7, monthly / quarterly accounts, it will depend what you ask for. IMV they aren't necessqry for a one man business; a good piece of software, e.g. Freeagent or Quickbooks, or a good spreadsheet, will give you the basics you neeed, viz what's my tax provision, and how much is free for dividend.

      In choosing an accountant, think about how much you want to to your self, and how much you want an accountant to do, and that will help you decide what's right for you.

      Good luck.



        Never, ever fall for the 'smooth' talk of an agency. Personally, I find my time is too precious to spend it doing my own accounts and, am more than happy to pay for the A1 service and advice I get from mine. Cost wise is roughly 1200 quid for a complete service including payroll / RTI and Im happy with that.

        Do some local leg work to find an accountant who deals with and understands IT Contractors. Despite what you might read here, they do exist and are not as rare as hen's teeth.

        Dont go with one of these large faceless internet businesses.


          How much you do yourself is a personal thing - some people don't have the time/inclincation/knowledge to do the work themselves. Others (I'll include myself in this) do pretty much everything and only speak to their accountant once a year. I am lucky to have a background in accounts so do everything except prepare the final accounts for CoHo and HMRC, and the CT calculation. I hand those off so I have an independent look over my books and make sure I've not done anything silly. I paid £500 for that this year and got my final accounts turned around in a week. I don't have premium anything.

          Your level of knowledge/comfort (even with things like FreeAgent) may not be sufficient to take it all on yourself. What you do want is an accountant who will step you through all this and scale back their fees as and when you feel ready to take on more, should you decide you want to do this. There's a huge thread of accounts recommendations, give a few a call.

          1. Take a look at the likes of Caunce O'Hara, Hiscox, Kingsbridge (there's more, I can't remember them off the top of my head)
          2. Just go to Companies House website, pop in your registration number and see what the record says. Your new accountant can handle any changes if you're not sure.
          3. Two options - give the log in details to your new accountant (before you tell the current ones to go away) and they pull what they need, or you just run a report called a Trial Balance and give that to your new accountant along with bank statements for the same period.
          4. This should be #1 (see the accountants thread)
          5. New accountant can handle the registration process
          6. It's easy to get a new logon. In fact, it doesn't have a recovery option, they just tell you to reregister so I would hope that means any old ID's associated with your company get binned (but this is HMG so unlikely). Worth asking though, for a laugh.
          7. Depends on the nature of your business TBH. I would expect to see a monthly/quarterly P&L if only to make sure any dividends paid in that period were legal (assuming you pay a regular dividend, I don't). It's overkill for a small company

          Good luck!


            Hi Guys,

            I've just seen your replies;

            washed up contractor

            Thank you all for you replies I DIDN'T get any notifications and have only just seen them...

            Unfortunately it didn't all go to plan due to illness.

            I canx my accounting 'service' paid the getout fee then found access to the 'Freeagent portal' turned off days before the subscription end date . Apparently this is because the last day of the month was a non-working day.
            Then they didn't bother submitting my DEC17 VAT return and had to be reminded as it covers a period my subscription was active, and they have been paid to do it.

            I've been doing it since using BPT, a spreadsheet and reminders setup on Gov website.

            I'm no accountant but have an accounting degree, calculator and know how to use a spreadsheet
            Just need to list all legal requirements with HMRC, Companies house and Directors duties and get it done.


              That’s a sorry tale of woes, good example of paying more doesn’t always mean a premium service. In this modern day accountants providing mandatory filing services and FreeAgent shouldn’t cost more than £120/month. Some include self assessment and others don’t so keep an eye out for this.

              There are many recommended accountants on here and I’d avoid any firm that has been bought by a large private equity firms.

              I had to move accountants numerous times before I found one that satisfied my requirements, pro-active and timely notifications.

              All the issues you’ve highlighted are resolveable by a decent accountant.
              Last edited by rocketjet; 23 June 2018, 15:10.