Basic bookkeeping dominates UK accountants� time with small business clients


Accountants are spending too much of their time working with small businesses on basic admin and bookkeeping tasks rather than offering deeper insights to their clients, according to new research from award-winning cloud accounting provider FreeAgent.  

In a poll commissioned by FreeAgent - which surveyed more than 100 accountants who work with micro-businesses - one in five (20%) accountants said that managing or processing expenses was the task they spent most of their time doing for their small business clients. Another fifth (19%) of respondents said they spent most of their time with small business clients reconciling bank transactions, while 18% said that they spent most of their time correcting financial and admin errors.

The survey also revealed that one in three respondents (33%) said that completing tax returns was the task they spent most of their time on with small business clients. In contrast, just one in 50 (2%) said that they spent most of their time with small business clients providing advice on their business finances or tax affairs.

What do you spend most of your time doing for your small business clients?

Completing tax returns

Managing/processing expenses

Reconciling bank transactions

Correcting financial/admin errors

Chasing missing information (ie, receipts, bank records etc�)       

Giving advice about their business finances/tax affairs



Source: FreeAgent (July 2015) - all figures rounded up to nearest percentage

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, said that the results showed that many accountants are having to spend too much time on basic tasks and admin, rather than providing value and expertise for their clients.

He added: It's unlikely that many accountants worked hard for their qualifications just to perform manual data entry or admin - yet that's the picture that our research is painting. Around two thirds of accountants in our survey said that most of their time with small business clients is spent doing tasks that are essentially basic bookkeeping activities, rather than in-depth accounting.  

We've found that most of this time is spent doing things like correcting errors, reconciling bank transactions and processing expenses, while hardly any accountants in our survey said they spend most of their time giving their clients advice about their accounts or tax affairs. Those deeper financial insights are the very thing that small business clients will value the most.

We believe our research demonstrates the need for a better method of working with small businesses; one that minimises the amount of time spent on admin and frees accountants up to provide an even better service to these clients. Rather than spending their time on basic bookkeeping admin, using a cloud system could allow them to work more effectively with their clients and offer more of their wider accounting expertise. (