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Post Info TOPIC: Working from home


Member

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Working from home


Hello,

I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right place but I'd like advice if possible.

I am hoping to start a bookkeeping business from home due to other commitments, I'm AAT qualified and have been employed in accounts and bookkeeping for over 6 years so I feel I have enough experience. The only problem is I have no idea how to structure working from home, for example:

1. How do I go about getting all their paperwork together? Do I ask them to post it to me on a regular basis, do I ask their suppliers to re-direct electronic invoices to me, or do I arrange to collect it at certain times? And if so, what if they aren't local to me?

2. What if they are already in the middle of their financial year and have recorded the majority of their records on their own software? Do I go back and input all their records into my own software?

3. What process do I use for new customers, is there a checklist anyone could suggest on what details to collect from them, or an example of a letter of engagement?

I'm aware of the other processes like insurance and licensing.

Thanks for any help in advance



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Master Book-keeper

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Abby1992 wrote:

Hello,

I'm not sure if I'm posting in the right place but I'd like advice if possible.

I am hoping to start a bookkeeping business from home due to other commitments, I'm AAT qualified and have been employed in accounts and bookkeeping for over 6 years so I feel I have enough experience. The only problem is I have no idea how to structure working from home, for example:

1. How do I go about getting all their paperwork together? Do I ask them to post it to me on a regular basis, do I ask their suppliers to re-direct electronic invoices to me, or do I arrange to collect it at certain times? And if so, what if they aren't local to me?

Hi Abby, welcome to the forum.  I would say a mixture, and this should  be discussed with your client beforehand.  I have an office (at £30 a week why not?) but used to work from home.  The majority I collect, a minority bring it in to me and 3 post.  I would have your client forward invoices to you rather than the supplier, unless you are also involved with advising the client of bills needing to be paid.

2. What if they are already in the middle of their financial year and have recorded the majority of their records on their own software? Do I go back and input all their records into my own software?

That could be a PITA. Personally I would ask the client to print of all the reports you needed, together with a trial balance, and then start from there.  What software are you going to be using?

3. What process do I use for new customers, is there a checklist anyone could suggest on what details to collect from them, or an example of a letter of engagement?

Off the top of my head you're going to need sales and purchase invoices, purchase receipts, till receipts if retail, bank/credit card statements plus any other paperwork you think relevant

I'm aware of the other processes like insurance and licensing.  Are you aware of MLR?

Thanks for any help in advance


 



__________________

John 

 

 

 Any advice given is for general guidance and professional advice should be sought applicable to your circumstances.



Member

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Posts: 5
Date:

Hi,

Thank you for replying :)

I will probably be using Sage as I am most familiar with it.

What personal information would I require from a customer in addition to their records? I.e. is there a standard questionnaire or bullet points to go by, or is it all depending on the type of customer?

I'm aware of MLR, I would probably go through AAT as a supervisory body as I am a full member.

Is there any other words of wisdom you could give?

Thanks for any help in advance (again!)



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Master Book-keeper

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Date:

Hi Abby
Welcome to the forum.

To get MLR through the AAT you need to gain MAAT MIP status and as this can take several weeks I would suggest you get that application process started off as soon as possible. You need to be able to submit evidence that you are competent to complete services before they will licence you in those areas, so given your background that should be easy enough to do and the application should go through fairly quickly. Failing that you may need to look at signing up with HMRC direct for your MLR.

I agree with John on the methods of obtaining paperwork from clients and I too have a mix of handover processes. I also have one who just emails everything to me, despite me suggesting they just copy and dump it into eg dropbox so I can access it that way. Most suppliers will want to send their invoices direct to their customer because that gives the customer a chance to check/agree or indeed dispute the contents.

Re them being in the middle of the year - if a client is using their own software then they will have paid for that and if its desktop based then I do not think ethically we should be suggesting they move on to another platform, unless of course the software they use is not up to the task at hand, or you can provide the service much much cheaper by moving it to something else. Most clients who use their own would probably want you to visit their premises to continue the upkeep of such a system. That, or if its cloud based software then they can provide access for you to work on it from home.

For letters of engagement - you can get one from the AAT, but I would suggest you consider getting your own drawn up by a reputable solicitors.

Also - you need to arrange for an appropriately worded letter to be sent to any present incumbent that you are taking over from, be it bookkeeper or accountant - called Professional Clearance. Worded well this can ensure you get the help you need at handover by way of ensuring you get all of the information required - suggest you provide a list with the letter and make sure you include things such as Fixed Asset Registers, which I find are the one things not handed over if not asked for. There are protocols for this and it always works much better if your client has done their bit and informed the incumbent that they are moving on, are up to date with paying their bills and keep it civil! This letter will prompt the flagging up of any issues about your client that you may need to be aware of, so is a must.

If you do need to move things into your own software, depending on volume of work involved, then I would suggest you start at the beginning of a new VAT period, in not the new year, rather than from the beginning, or at the very least make your client aware of the fact they are paying for the work to effectively be done twice (which in most cases wouldnt go down well!)

I have a list of questions for when I initially go to see a client which will enable me to decide if I even want to take them on, with more questions for a more indepth fact find at a later date. The list for the second visit is VERY long, but encompasses every available situation (or most of them) to ensure I dont miss anything, so will cover personal as well as business, plus the range of products and services I will be supplying and even to their terms of trade and how they interact with their suppliers/staff etc. I dont necessarily ask all of them all the time, and timing of the fact find can be crucial (you dont want to be seen as mithering, but then dont want to not get the info you need!) One minor thing as an example - I get the last four digits of all of their personal v business credit/debit cards - makes life a lot easier when wading through a pile of receipts to know at least who has paid for what, as many of them have a habit of paying for things on the wrong cards. Write down everything you can think of that you would need to set up each product that they might want you to be involved in, then strip out the main ones from each for that first meeting.

With regards to the software you wish to use - dont be prescriptive with your clients as thats a surefire way to lose some elements of business that could be great income earners. Its fine to use one software package as a main one, but generally if you can find your way around one you can find your way around others. With regards to the sage package, we were having a chat on here the other day about start up software that you might want to take a read of. I have listed the link below. If you manage to get through to Sage to price up the Accountants club before I do - can you post an update on this or the thread below please. (The thread did not start off as a Sage one, but its worth looking at, and even considering the VT software mentioned as an alternative)

http://forum.bookkeepers.network/t62741035/newbie-saying-hello/

Only other thing I can think of right now - get your agent numbers set up with HMRC for whatever services you are offering.





__________________

Joanne  McCormick

Fallows  Hall  Ltd

Winner - Bookkeeper of the Year 2015, 2016 and 2017

Thoughts are my own/not to be regarded as official advice,which should be sought from a suitably qualified Accountant.

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