"You have to know accounting. It's the language of practical business life. It was a very useful thing to deliver to civilization. I've heard it came to civilization through Venice which of course was once the great commercial power in the Mediterranean. However, double entry bookkeeping was a hell of an invention." -Charlie Munger
Many people would agree that in order to be successful at business and become a wealthy entrepreneur, knowing the basics of accounting or hiring a highly qualified accountant is essential.
According to various people accounting is a very boring job. However, it is not dull for those who love to crunch numbers, examine expenses, uncover errors in finance and analyze ways in which clients can receive tax breaks.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, there are six accounting boards that are registered and recognized by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) with approximately 278,000 registered working accountants.
The IFAC reports that there are over 2,000,000 accountants working worldwide and the UK, with less than 1% of the world's population, has over 13% of registered accountants.
This means that if you have dreams of becoming an accountant in the UK you need to study harder and shine brighter than the rest in order to get the best jobs.
Superprof is here to show aspiring accountants, small-business owners and other working individuals the resources that are available online to make work easier and acquire certain skills that will make you a lot better than the rest of the competition when studying accounting.
Becoming a Working Accountant in the United Kingdom
The preparation to become a chartered accountant in the UK starts in secondary school. While no specific A-Level subjects are required by most schools, it is highly recommended to have taken A-Level courses in maths and economics. A BTEC in business studies is also favourably looked upon by schools, universities and future employers.
To be a working and qualified accountant there are many different qualifications that can be studied. The AAT or ATT qualification is the minimal one studied in order to become a working accountant. However, to continue your postsecondary studies and become a chartered accountant higher levels of qualifications are required such as the ACA, ACCA or CIMA.
It is important to note that a Bachelor's degree in accounting is more desirable than required. Most students study some form of business or finance before getting accredited but even if some lines of work necessitate a university degree it can be in any subject.
Let's start by analyzing the ATT (Association of Taxation Technicians). They are a charity organization that promotes education and the study of tax practice. They provide aspiring accountants with the necessary qualifications to work in the field of accounting or taxes. The members of the ATT are registered by passing an examination and demonstrating relevant work practice.
The ATT is recognized by many employers as being a reputable resource. Members of this association are guaranteed to have the right knowledge and skills to be better than the rest. Here are the requirements for budding accountants:
- Passes two mandatory Certificate papers such as personal taxation, business taxation or accounting principles,
- The necessity to receive passing marks in two required Computer Based Exams (CBEs),
- A passing mark in any of the other four Certificate papers (Inheritance Tax, VAT or Trusts & Estates),
- A demonstration of at least 2 years work experience in UK taxation,
- Be a strapping young chap or lass with good morals and work ethic!
After going through this enter process you receive a certificate of accreditation from the ATT and the job opportunities are infinite!
Now the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is made up of two levels, the fundamentals and the professionals. Different modules are studied such as corporate and business law, audit and assurance. The ACCA qualification demands three years of previous work experience in accounting and it takes about one year to complete all the necessary qualification courses.
In total it takes about four years to be registered and recognized by the ACCA. After this, you can work as a chartered accountant.
Best Resources Online for Accounting
As we previously saw in the introduction to this article, due to the increasing amount of registered accountants in the UK, the competition is fierce. Using supplementary resources to perfect your skills and work more efficiently is now necessary to ensure a good job and be better than the competition.
Thankfully, as a consequence of the technological world we live, there are many helpful resources online that aid accountants in a wide range of categories.
The following resources are for registered accountants, small-business owners and for individuals who want to do their own taxes, bookkeeping and accounting.
Best Overall Accounting Softwares
Here are some of the best software and resources available to make accounting easier and more interactive:
- Freshbooks: makes you run your little accounting business more efficiently and effectively. Extremely easy to use and helps accountants send invoices to clients, organize the expenses of customers and create easy to understand reports that can be sent to the clients. An impressive feature is the time tracker, this allows you to send your exact time to employers and builds confidence because clients know that you are not overcharging them in any way.
- Xero: this online resource offers a free 30-day trial to get familiar with their software. Great for small business owners but also self-employed accountants who have many clients. Their interactive app allows accountants to send invoices and calculate expenses on the run. Comes highly recommended because it was awarded accountancy software provider of the year in 2017 by the British Small Business Awards.
Best Sales and Payment Resources
Waiting for payments from clients can be annoying and exhausting. Also, knowing how much a business earned and spent gives insight into future business transactions. Here are some of the best online resources for handling these matters:
- Pipedrive: tracks your expenses and sales progress to keep all partners and clients on the same page. They determine if the sales goals you set are realistic or idealistic. Offers advice and suggestions about ways to improve. Emails, calls and progress are all tracked automatically. Helps accountants keep track of sales.
- PayPal: perfect for self-employed accountants who send invoices to clients to ensure payment. Extremely safe, secure and used by over 200 million users worldwide. Probably the best resource to get paid for accounting services by international companies.
Best Document Management Systems
Sharing files is necessary between small-business owners, working individuals and accountants. Nevertheless, some files are extremely personal and confidential, therefore, extreme security and caution need to exercises when sending documents. Here are some of the best resources for sending files securely:
- The Box: lets you manage secure files, documents and notes from anywhere in the world. All the required documents are stored securely in the cloud and only those with authorized permission can access these confidential documents. It also saves time because everyone involved can edit, share advice or write a note electronically without using the long and slow postal service. Paper handling becomes a thing of the past!
- Share File: using this resource saves 76% of accountants, business owners and other users at least 5 hours per week. Extremely safe because it has bank-level data encryption that secures files from anywhere. A 30-day trial is offered without even providing a credit card number.
Best Productivity Resources
Saving time equals saving more money. Working smart and productively will make your business and everything you do more successful. Here are some of the best time-saving resources available:
- Calendly: helps you schedule meetings without sending too many emails back and forth between clients. Let this software know your availabilities and it will do a lot of the work for you. Share your link on your website or email it to potential clients and they will choose one of your available times. If you have international clients an amazing feature is the timezone detection to prevent confusion. Great for accountants and business owners who want to fit all their clients in their schedule and avoid overbooking.
- Right Signature: allows you to cut your admin time by 93%. With this resource, there is no need to go and visit clients requesting their signature. Upload the e-documents to your customers and request the required signatures needed to continue on. Completely secure and legally binding just like regular old-fashioned signatures with a pen!
Best Online Tax Software
Accountants and auditors are usually swamped during tax season and it is hard to get your taxes done on time. Nevertheless, now there are many online resources that help accountants and other working individuals to do their taxes from the comfort of their own home. Here is the most highly recommended:
- Intuit QuickBooks: this accounting tool is the top-rated app in the UK for online accounting. Many people feel as if this app is like having an accountant in your back pocket! Detailed invoices showing off your business can be created on the spot, tax deductions can be increased due to automatic mileage tracking and a great feature to save time is the ability to invite your accountant or bookkeeper to collaborate and examine your QuickBooks.
All of the aforementioned resources help accounting stay tech savvy and work more efficiently. If time is saved, more clients can be helped and that ultimately means more money in your pocket.
Helpful Tips to Successfully Do Your Own Accounting and Taxes
Accountants are very busy people with many clients needing services year round. The best accountants are efficient and use online resources to do their personal accounting and that of clients. Nevertheless, many non-qualified accountants who work in other fields and have their own small businesses are now doing their own accounting online.
Superprof is here to offer helpful tips to avoid common mistakes and save time. Here are the best suggestions to successfully do your accounting and taxes online:
- Keep track of financial records from the start: this can be done electronically using one of the previously mentioned online apps or websites or by keeping all relevant papers and documents throughout the year. It is highly suggested to get tech-savvy and use an app. It prevents you from getting discouraged at the mounting piles of paper. Keep up to date and make sure you are not missing any payments to the VAT or PAYE because late payments mean fees and penalties.
- Attend an HMRC workshop: these courses are offered free by the HM Revenue & Customs. Classes cover a variety of topics such as employer online filling, running a payroll and introduction to the VAT.
- Set aside some money for taxes: having your own business means paying taxes at the end of the year. Not all the profits you made are yours. Sad, huh? Opening a business saving account and set aside money for taxes. Setting aside between 25 to 30% of your total profits will most likely give you enough money to pay for your taxes.
- Claim all business expenses: claim absolutely everything that is associated with your business. This will give you deductions and allow you to save money in the long run. Many apps offer business expense trackers.
The internet is filled with helpful online resources for accounting as well as outlets for accounting tuition should you decide you wish to learn accounting.
Whether it's for accountants, small business owners or people who want to do their own taxes all can benefit from the tools offered.
Check out our blog on the best books to study for accountants.