Free Agent – a brilliant online accounting option
I have recently done a comprehensive assessment of the online accounting services. If you just want the referral code that will give you 10% off for the lifetime of your account then please use the following code or this link http://fre.ag/467oprbp
However rather than discuss all the options I will tell you about the features that I needed and why I feel they have been answered by freeagent.com. The world is moving to online systems and the HMRC are moving to online completely.
Up front there are less than half a dozen other other software apps that come close. Some features were harder to make the decision than others however the overall freeagent.com package stood head and shoulders above the others when I took all of my needs into account. I run a limited company (LTD) and have some of my income from self employed work. With all that said and to save the (tl;dr) here are the features that were relevant to me.
My accountant has been running my payroll since the company started and with the HMRC moving to Real Time Information (RTI) PAYE payments and deductions I was considering a change. So as a cost reduction FreeAgent.com handles the payroll for me and makes this a no brainer – the reduction on the accountant costs is noticeable compared to the monthly cost for free agent as a limited company.
Invoicing & Credit Note
I wanted the ability to easily create the invoice, use predefined elements, discounting, send it automatically, sort the reminders and cross reference it all to the bank accounts when paid. I also had one credit note I needed to resolve that seemed confusing in the software I was previously using. Luckily FreeAgent support has been very helpful in the set up of the software in the 30 day trial.
These are not commonly needed in my line of work but with the previous software I used gave me this facility so I am glad of this feature as things move forward. This facility makes transferring estimates to the invoicing system simple.
In my line of work we process a lot of out of pocket expenses. Processing these for many years in previous employment was always a real pain. In the last few years I have been using a great system, however it did not integrate directly into the accounting software which led me to have to do some extra work.
In days gone by the miles allowance and the shift that alters the monetary amount above 10,000 was always something to keep an eye on. FreeAgent handles this, to my knowledge, as it asks when you add mileage that you are on the rate. If I am wrong I will update this post when I get over 10,000 business miles.
With the previous software I have been using a smartphone and uploading photos and data for years. So the transfer to the free agent app was a breeze, however the benefits of having it directly enter the accounting software and updating all the figures it is relevant to immediately is superb.
With my previous software I could not include the bank account feed. Having this feature within freeagent is a superb upgrade to my accounting experience. Not only does it bring in my main bank feed but also all the paypal transactions and GoCARDLESS as well (more about that in integrated apps later).
FreeAgent resolves all the banking with the bills, expenses and invoice payments etc. Over time it guesses those transactions you have already resolved and you can batch resolve the transactions that are recurring.
This was calculated and processed by my accountant – again as freeagent works all this out I am hopeful the accountant will bill slightly less next time around. While freeagent does not submit this yet it does continuously work out the figures that are relevant giving me a running total. In a previous employment the accountant always seemed surprised by the corporation tax being due. Not likely now!
I have been on the flat rate for the last few years and have been submitting my own VAT returns. This has been simple enough but again having all the info already calculated makes the task simple. Even better than before I can login to the HMRC through the freeagent software and submit the VAT directly. Wow that is very labour saving.
On April 1st the rules around the flat rate are changing, this may mean I move the company back to the normal VAT system. More research on this is needed. However if I do move back to the normal VAT system I am now assured that the process of calculating the VAT return will be much easier than before. As a side note I was registered for VAT twenty odd years ago and the paperwork involved in doing a manual return was extensive. Now if I move to normal VAT I will not have to have any concerns over the accounting time as it is all processed from my current activities.
Being able to submit my self assessment is helpful however not as relevant to me as I intend to have other income outside the LTD company. So I think for the average company Director this would be very attractive – again it may even be, for the normal person, cheaper for their accountant’s bill.
On a side note about this the current situation for FreeAgent is they would suggest you use a sole trader account for your self employed accounting. This would be easy as they have told me the two accounts would be on the same login however I have not yet gone down this route.
With all these areas of business the bottom line is you need to account for, well, everything! So it would be nice if all these areas played fair and adding a transaction from one account would automatically add the correspondin transfer to the other account – DONE.
FreeAgent covers all these issues.
FreeAgent has a number of apps that are integrated with the system, one of these is GoCARDLESS. I have used GoCARDLESS in a previous life 😉 so I am happy with this integration. It means that people can not only pay invoices online but we can also set up regular payments with standard orders that are very easily set up.
More to follow