Bookkeepers: If you are a sole trader, run an online store or own a small business in the UK, you're entirely responsible for maintaining "true and fair", accurate accounting and financial records for a minimum of six years to comply with the Companies Act. You might be disqualified as a Company Director and face a hefty fine, if you cannot produce such information. It can pay you to use a professional bookkeeping company or accountant to conduct this for you, since according to Accounting Today over 40% of small business owners spend over eighty hours every year doing their accounts, which is a significant investment of time, and could be better spent on your key business activities.
If just the thought of producing balance sheets, preparing profit, loss and fiscal reports, tracking assets and liabilities or filling out ledgers brings you feelings of terror, then the time has come to contact a bookkeeper in the UK for help and advice.
BOOKKEEPER OR ACCOUNTANT?
For many small business owners in the UK, the first question that springs to mind when faced with this challenge is "What exactly is the difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant?" The truth is that although in the past the bookkeeping process, was considered to be beneath the qualifications, experience and skill set of an accountant, due to substantial software improvements over the past ten years or so, most accountancy firms in the UK will now undertake bookkeeping. It's common practice for accountancy firms to have a flat rate for bookkeeping services in keeping with a dedicated bookkeeper's fee. This is good news for business owners since it provides a wider variety of competition within this sector and can make the cost of your bookkeeping far more affordable than previously imagined.
When thinking about the big difference between a bookkeeper and an accountant, it's the level of training that is necessary for each of these disciplines. At least an accounting degree with further training in the field of taxes and other business and financial management, will typically be held by an accountant. A bookkeeper in the UK will invariably have an understanding of these disciplines, but may not hold the qualifications or levels of experience and training.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF A BOOKKEEPER IN UK
The process of bookkeeping in simple terms, is the recording of the day by day transactions of any business or enterprise in the UK. This can include, but is not limited to;
- Logging of all financial incomings; cash, electronic and card payments included.
- Documenting invoices received and ensuring that payment is completed on time.
- Payroll services.
- Making sure that double-entry bookkeeping and accounting practices are followed.
- VAT recording and submissions.
- Highlighting any discrepancies in financial accounts and rectifying them.
- The billing of customers for work completed or goods.
- Monthly reports and reconciliation.
If you are able to undertake the majority of bookkeeping work yourself; a bookkeeper might only be necessary for double-checking your accounts every once in a while. So any problems or mistakes can be identified and amended promptly, at the bare minimum, this ought to be from month to month. This could be the most cost-effective trade-off, providing you are able to stay on top of your financial transactions without compromising your everyday business operations.
If you are seriously thinking of hiring a bookkeeper in the UK, whatever your situation, it's a good bet that you might be having problems with your financial and tax procedures. Offering advice on everything from creating expense reports, stocktaking and invoicing, a professional bookkeeping company will also be able to walk you through the process of linking your business accounts with the most suitable software program to facilitate the seamless processing of your business's data.
The ability to reconcile cash flow with accounts payable, is an especially crucial element of a good bookkeeper. Which means that rather than waiting for a final notice, which many small businesses in the UK are guilty of, or paying off a bill immediately, your bookkeeper will organise bill payments to times when your accounts are buoyant and in good order. This is not only to ensure your enterprise or business is on a secure financial footing at all times, but also to keep you in good stead with those businesses who provide your materials or services. This is a balancing act that you may find tricky to perform on your own when you're mostly focussed on running your company.
If you are a sole trader, or own a small business, employing a qualified bookkeeper in the UK, also gives them the opportunity to cast a critical eye over the operation of your business. It's entirely possible that an impartial assessment like this will highlight business patterns and trends that have been missed previously. It is not unusual for a bookkeeper to spot an opportunity or flag up an area which is falling in profits. These key performance indicators are vital in driving growth for any small business in the UK.
It can sometimes be rather humiliating to chase up a late payment if your business sends out invoices. Having an individual outside your business situation, can take away the apprehension of making that phone call or visit to your customer. To help take care of the matter, if you have problems with a persistent late or non-payer, there are legal methods that can be made use of by a bookkeeper, so that legal proceedings can be avoided.
SOLE TRADER'S BOOKKEEPING REQUIREMENTS
There are some reasonably uncomplicated bookkeeping requirements for sole traders, which are set out in law. Sole traders are required to monitor expenditure and income on a monthly basis and keep all invoices and receipts. Now, this doesn't sound too hard does it? But, it's still a wise move to retain the expertise of a bookkeeping company to make sure that it's all done accurately. A professional sole trader bookkeeper in the UK will be able to advise you on what you are able to claim back from HMRC as business expenses. This may include bills and rent if working from home, printer ink, items such as laptops, advertising and stationery. For more detailed advice, talk to a trusted bookkeeper, and discover how they might help your small business to thrive and grow moving forward.
Certain business enterprises that operate in niche areas, might need to hire a specialised bookkeeper. If, for example, you run an online store, you will require a bookkeeper in the UK who is familiar with international and cross-border taxes, multi-currency processing, exchange rate transfers and online payment procedures. Keeping track of your inventory on a 24/7 basis is also a vital priority, if the same store sells goods that you produce or hold, after all the internet never sleeps, so nor should your bookkeeping services and software.
A remote virtual office can also be provided together with bookkeeping service. This enables a sole trader or online only business to provide a physical link with their customers, via a telephone service and postal address. Not all bookkeepers in the UK will be in a position to supply this service, but it's worthwhile discussing the possibilities if it's something that could be of benefit.
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS
A certified UK bookkeeper needn't hold a university degree and many the industry qualifications are at Diploma or Certificate level. Qualifications can be gained through further education colleges and universities but there are also an ever-growing number of online courses available.
There are two principal certification and training organisations representing bookkeepers:
The Association of Accounting Technicians or AAT: With fully trained bookkeepers being able to use the letters AATQB, the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) provides a training schedule with advanced qualifications. This then entitles them to become a registered AAT bookkeeper and promises a decent level of service which is backed up by the organisation. To safeguard the trustworthiness of the AAT, a bookkeeper who is affiliated with the AAT can be liable to tribunal and disciplinary procedures if it is found that they've broken the code of practice or have had a complaint filed against them.
The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB): The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or ICB is the largest on the planet and provides accreditation to certified bookkeepers, in addition to reference material and training to keep their associated members up-to-date.
By visiting the register of AAT or ICB members on their respective websites, you're able to verify the accreditations of any bookkeeper in the UK. It is advised to implement this check, before hiring any professional bookkeeper in the UK.
UK Bookkeeper Tasks
Most UK bookkeepers will be ready to offer you the following accounting and bookkeeping services: Xero bookkeeping, bookkeeping for pubs in the UK, bookkeeping services for societies, bookkeeping and accounting, bookkeeping for retail outlets, bookkeeping for home-based businesses, bookkeeping services for startups, accountancy packages, bank reconciliations in the UK, bookkeeping services for charities, cheap bookkeeping services, bookkeeping services for organisations, general bookkeeping services UK, management accounts, tax returns in the UK, bookkeeping for sole traders in the UK, management reports in the UK, invoice processing, tax return preparation, payroll bookkeeping, PAYE & wages, payment services, cash books, bookkeeping and accounting services in the UK, cash flow analysis UK, bookkeeping services for self-employed people, and more. Listed are just a selection of the activities that are performed by local bookkeepers. UK providers will let you know their entire range of bookkeeping services. If there happen to be different UK bookkeeper requirements that you want but cannot see here, you can mention them on the QUOTE FORM provided. We'll get back to you with specifics just as soon as we are able.
- UK Payroll Services
- UK Credit Control
- UK Tax Preparation
- UK Profit and Loss Reporting
- UK Accountancy Packages
- UK Tax Returns
- UK Bookkeeping Services
- UK Double-Entry Bookkeeping
- UK Self-Assessment Bookkeeping
- UK VAT Returns
- UK Sole Trader Bookkeeping
- UK Bookkeeping Estimates
- UK Cash Flow Analysis
- UK PAYE Wages and CIS
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