Employing a virtual accountant is a great way to get the job you need done but what can really be done virtually, what are the pros and cons and what are the things you should look out for when choosing a virtual route for your accounting. Here are some common scenarios:
You’re an Individual needing to File a Tax Return
If you have fairly straight forward tax affairs for example, you earn property income as well as holding down a full time job or you are a self employed freelancer, finding a virtual accountant could be a great way to save money on filing your returns and getting some basic tax advice. Virtual Accountants often work from home and so don’t have expensive offices, staff and coffee machines to pay for! So they are able to complete a simple tax return for you at a very reasonable price.
If you do choose to opt for a Virtual Accountant who is an individual working from home, they may have limited experience so always check they have the knowledge which is relevant to what you need, especially if you are searching for specialist tax advice. Also, anyone can get sick/busy/go on holiday and a virtual accountant working on their own may not have any support network of other Accountants around them so you could find yourself in a position where you need your virtual accountant but can’t get hold of them. Ask whether they work as part of a network and make sure you feel comfortable that they have a history of being self employed.
You run a Start Up Limited Company needing an Accountant to help take care of all your Returns & Obligations
As a start up with a Limited Budget, choosing a Virtual Accountant code be the perfect way to stay on to of your legal obligations and avoid penalties, while paying a reasonable fee. Depending on the type of Start Up you have set up, you may need specialist advice and knowledge from your advisor so do make sure that they have the relevant experience. After all receiving the wrong advice could end up costing you more than the money you save than choosing a Virtual Accountant who you have never met.
Your accountant, especially at Start Up stages will be a trusted advisor to you and your business. You may prefer to meet your accountant so you can look them in the eye rather than choose a Virtual Accountant who you have never meet and will never be able to arrange face to face meetings with. Getting to know you and your start up is critical at the early stages of a business so your accountant will give you the right strategic advice.
You Need Help with Your Bookkeeping and Day to Day Accounting
The term Accountant covers so many different disciplines and specialisms – bookkeeping, tax, auditing are just three. Cloud Accounting Softwares like Xero or Quickbooks allow Virtual Accountants to work as part of your business without actually being in your office, saving the cost of a desk and typically meaning the individual can focus on the job and not get distracted by office going ons. If you have own a growing business you may feel that you do not have enough time to take care of your day to day accounting and credit control and a Virtual Accountant may be the solution you are searching for. There are many freelance or self employed accountants working from home at really reasonable fixed hourly rates, who can help you stay on top of your paperwork and you can find them on all the freelancing websites. If you do choose to engage with a Virtual Accountant to help you with you bookkeeping and accounting, then always agree fees up front, set tasks and a fixed number of hours to avoid receiving huge bills because your accountant won’t be in front of you where you can watch what they are doing. Also agree how you will send the necessary paperwork and always keep originals for yourself so you have complete records (as required by law).
Always take the time to consider what you truly need from your Virtual Accountant before engaging with them, don’t just consider cost. You need to trust that you are receiving the right advice from whichever Accountant you choose and be comfortable disclosing personal information to them.