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Crunch vs FreeAgent

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    Crunch vs FreeAgent

    When I formed my limited company in 2018, I signed up with Crunch. However, I recently switched over to FreeAgent. This post summarises the pros/cons of each.

    As a general point, with FreeAgent you have a wide choice of accountants. If you don't like the service at accountancy X, you can shift over to accountancy Y and keep everything intact. By contrast, Crunch is the only company that uses their particular software. You can export all your data, but there's no automated conversion process to import it into FreeAgent. (SJD is a recent example of where this can be a problem.) In my case, I manually re-entered everything, which was a bit tedious, and it will be a bigger job the longer you've been in business. That said, you don't necessarily need to enter a complete history; you could just enter the balance from the end of your previous year. In my case, it was worth the effort to keep everything in one place.

    I've had some problems with the service at Crunch, but in this post I'm focusing on the software. Some of these issues are more significant than others, but I've listed everything that I'm aware of.

    Disadvantages of Crunch

    Crunch only support cash accounting (not accrual accounting); FreeAgent supports both.
    Paying VAT | Crunch
    What is invoice accounting for VAT? - FreeAgent

    Crunch don't support bank accounts in foreign currencies (only GBP). That means I can't track what I'm doing in Wise (with an account in USD).
    "However, many software providers, including Crunch, do not allow bank accounts in foreign currencies because of the increased risk associated with currency fluctuations."
    Getting Paid in Foreign Currencies - Is Your Bank The Best Way? (crunch.co.uk)
    FreeAgent supports bank accounts in foreign currencies:
    How FreeAgent handles bank transactions in foreign currencies – FreeAgent
    (This was the deal-breaker for me.)

    Crunch and FreeAgent can both sync to bank accounts. However, Crunch is 14 days behind whereas FreeAgent is 1 day behind.

    FreeAgent handles expenses and director loans separately; Crunch merges them together.
    FreeAgent distinguishes between bills and bank payments; Crunch merges them together.
    Using a Director's Loan Account in Crunch | Crunch
    What's the difference between an expense, a bill and a bank payment? – FreeAgent

    Crunch has predefined categories, and sometimes it's tricky to shoehorn items into them. E.g. does an IT textbook count as "professional subscription" or "staff training"? FreeAgent has a longer list (including "Books and journals") and you can define your own categories.
    What are the expense categories? | Crunch
    How to add a new accounting category – FreeAgent

    Crunch don't support 2FA. When I logged in, I had to enter certain characters from my "memorable word" (e.g. 1st, 2nd, and 5th) so that word must be stored in plaintext in their database rather than using a hash, which is vulnerable to compromise and inconvenient. FreeAgent does support 2FA via an authenticator app.
    How to enable 2-Step Verification in your FreeAgent account – FreeAgent
    (I haven't linked to the Crunch site, because they don't even mention the concept of 2FA.)

    FreeAgent lets you change the date format, and they support ISO 8601 ("yyyy-mm-dd"). Crunch has a fixed format, either "d mmm yyyy" (beta) or "dd/mm/yyyy" (classic).

    Disadvantages of FreeAgent

    Crunch can submit P11D forms to HMRC, but FreeAgent can't:
    How to submit a P11D Form in your Crunch account | Crunch
    HMRC form P11D – FreeAgent

    In FreeAgent, you can't split a bill between multiple categories. E.g. if you're sent an invoice which contains goods and shipping (with different VAT rates), you have to enter each item as a separate bill. In Crunch, you can assign each line item to a different expense category.
    How to create a new bill – FreeAgent
    How to add expenses | Crunch

    In April 2020, someone from FreeAgent said:
    "However, adding multi-category bills is on our roadmap and we plan to introduce this functionality later this year."
    Bills - adding multiple categories / cost lines - FreeAgent API Discussion Forum
    Unfortunately, as of April 2022, there's no sign of it yet.

    On the plus side, you can pay off "multiple bills" (really the same bill) with a single payment:
    How to pay off multiple bills with one payment – FreeAgent

    NB The same limitation applies to expenses in FreeAgent, so I've been attaching the same invoice to multiple entries.

    Cost

    (All prices ex VAT.)

    Crunch costs £75.50/month for "Limited Company Pro" = £906/year.
    Pricing - Online Accounting from just £12.25 +VAT per month | Crunch
    NB That includes the software and the accountancy service.

    If you want them to do your SATR (Self-Assessment Tax Return), it will cost £90 from 1st April to 30th Nov, or £300 from 1st Dec to 1st Feb:
    Self Assessment service | Crunch

    Comparing like for like (i.e. not just the cost of the software), it will depend which FreeAgent accountant you go to. Taking Maslins as an example (since I switched to them), they charge £99/month (=£1,188/year), which includes the SATR for 2 directors.

    So, Crunch are a bit cheaper (particularly if you do your own SATR), but there's not much in it.

    #2
    Disadvantages of Crunch
    .
    .
    .
    .
    YourCo might end up being declared an MSC.

    As an aside, you cannot really compare FA and Crunch, it's apples and pears. FA is a bookkeeping tool, Crunch is an accountancy practice with its own portal software. You can use FA with or without the assistance of an accountant. Also, you can get FA for free (if you don't mind opening a free bank account).

    Comment


      #3
      Crunch and its own portal? *sucks teeth*

      it depends on

      1. How long will Crunch keep their own portal?
      2. How well you want to sleep at night?

      If I was using Crunch I would email and save every instruction, and make sure the subject is:

      “VAT/Salary/anything else INSTRUCTION”

      (and add that to the Notes section in the portal page)
      "I can put any old tat in my sig, put quotes around it and attribute to someone of whom I've heard, to make it sound true."
      - Voltaire/Benjamin Franklin/Anne Frank...

      Comment


        #4
        Really?..

        you spent time writing this? You on the bench?

        crunch is an accountancy service with a software add on. Compare it with NW/SJD.
        Freeagent is a software package. Compare it with Sage/Xero.
        See You Next Tuesday

        Comment


          #5
          I really don't understand what the OP is trying to achieve here. Comparing an accountants own portal (one of many) to an industry wide award winning product fast becoming the standard, if not the go to? It's not even a proper comparison.

          All that time and effort spend for what?
          'CUK forum personality of 2011 - Winner - Yes really!!!!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Lance View Post
            you spent time writing this? You on the bench?
            Originally posted by northernladuk View Post
            I really don't understand what the OP is trying to achieve here. Comparing an accountants own portal (one of many) to an industry wide award winning product fast becoming the standard, if not the go to? It's not even a proper comparison.
            When I started out, I was aware that I'd be locking myself in by using proprietary software; however, I heard good reviews of Crunch (from friends outside this forum). The purpose of this post is "If I knew then what I know now", i.e. this is something that I would have liked to read back then, and I haven't seen a similar summary from anyone else.

            I've been grumbling about Crunch for a year or so, but I wasn't sure whether it was worth the hassle of switching. So, I created a text file with a list of everything I didn't like about Crunch, and added to it as I went along. When I switched to FreeAgent, I also made notes about the things I didn't like there. So, my post here was basically a copy/paste job, just tidied up a bit for other people's benefit.

            Lance mentioned Sage/Xero, but I've never used them so I can't comment; I'll leave that to others with the relevant experience.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by hobnob View Post



              When I started out, I was aware that I'd be locking myself in by using proprietary software; however, I heard good reviews of Crunch (from friends outside this forum). The purpose of this post is "If I knew then what I know now", i.e. this is something that I would have liked to read back then, and I haven't seen a similar summary from anyone else.

              I've been grumbling about Crunch for a year or so, but I wasn't sure whether it was worth the hassle of switching. So, I created a text file with a list of everything I didn't like about Crunch, and added to it as I went along. When I switched to FreeAgent, I also made notes about the things I didn't like there. So, my post here was basically a copy/paste job, just tidied up a bit for other people's benefit.

              Lance mentioned Sage/Xero, but I've never used them so I can't comment; I'll leave that to others with the relevant experience.
              My bold. Then move accountant before it gets a lot worse. I have lost count of the number of times someone said that. Then a few months later is here posting for help to unravel a big mess. On top of that, read the Churchill Knight and Boox managed service company threads. In house portals have always been a bad idea. Today, they are looking far too risky to use.

              Do yourself a big favour and migrate to a FreeAgent accountant while you can.
              Public Service Posting by the BBC - Bloggs Bulls**t Corp.
              Officially CUK certified - Thick as f**k.

              Comment


                #8
                So it sounds like you have entered your opening balances from your last period end. We’re you able to export your history for transactions and journals for previous periods?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Fred Bloggs View Post
                  Do yourself a big favour and migrate to a FreeAgent accountant while you can.
                  As a general point, I agree. If you're talking about me specifically, I've already migrated (as per my original post and the post you quoted) - that's what allowed me to make the comparison between them, rather than just thinking "the grass is greener on the other side".

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Abbot View Post
                    So it sounds like you have entered your opening balances from your last period end. We’re you able to export your history for transactions and journals for previous periods?
                    Initially, I entered my opening balance in FreeAgent to match my previous year end. I later changed that to zero, so that I could enter everything from day 1.

                    Crunch doesn't have a concept of "journals" in the same way as FreeAgent. I have done a big export from Crunch (for reference), but I didn't use it during the migration. Instead, I went to online banking and exported all my historical statements, then imported them into FreeAgent (since the feed would only go back a certain number of days). I then went through each bank transaction and categorised it. I'd already got a local copy of all my invoices/receipts, so I manually uploaded them to create new bills or attach them to bank payments. Similarly, I recreated all my invoices and clicked "Mark as sent" without actually sending them, so that I could mark deposits against them. I had Crunch and FreeAgent side by side (different monitors) so that I could check for personal expenses and enter them.

                    Comment

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