Record Handover

sek Registered Posts: 3 New contributor ?
Hi! I am a new student member and currently offer book-keeping and payroll services. Can anyone advise me as to what I need to pass on to a new accountant with regard to client's records, i.e. obviously any paperwork of the clients such as bank statements, invoices etc but do I need to supply a backup copy of the computerised records i have on Sage etc or will a print out of Trial Balance be enough, basically I suppose what I am asking is who owns the computerised data? Any help would be great, thanks.


  • accountant
    accountant Registered Posts: 10 Regular contributor ⭐ ? ⭐
    who owns what

    An accountants working papers are his or her property so only necessary information contained within them would be given to a new accountant not the working papers themselves. The same would apply to computerised records insofar as they formed part of the working papers.

    However if you are only doing bookkeeping for a client then I believe the situation is different. A client's books are his property and responsibility he is simply employing you to write them up for him. If they were being done manually the cash books and ledgers would be given to the client along with his paperwork. That they are being kept electronically makes no difference.

    On that basis I would send a backup disc to the new accountant if what is on the computer is in effect the client's books. I can't quote case law or anything for the above but maybe someone else can, or correct me if I'm wrong.
  • Sue
    Sue Registered Posts: 217 ? ? ?

    Are you handing the work over to the Accountant for the end of year accounts to be produced or to a new Bookkeeper?

    I've found a lot of Accountants don't want a back up, they prefer PDF reports of P&L, BS, TB, Nominal Analysis, Aged Debtors and Aged creditors. I usually also provide excel reconciliations of the Control Accounts and year end notes in word with anything I thing should be pointed out to the Accountant.

    If you are handing the work over to a new Bookkeeper I would say all you need to provide is PDF Reports of P&L, BS, TB, Nominal Analysis, Aged Debtors and Aged Creditors. You could hand over a back up of your work but they might not necessarily use the same software as you.

    Who owns the licence for the software you or the Client? If the Client then I think you should hand over a back up, if you own it then it was your choice on how you produced the work as long as you have completed and handed over the work that has been paid in some format.

    I guess it really depends on how helpful you want to be. Although you may want to contact the AAT direct to see whether they have any guidance on this.

    Most of the work I have picked up from other Bookkeepers has so many errors that I have found it best to start afresh with Opening Balances anyway and the Accountants I have discussed it with always feel the same way. Not that I'm saying there will be lots of errors with your work, but the new Bookkeeper may decide they want to start with a fresh set of books so they can set them up in their own format. In which case all they will need is the reports.
  • deanshepherd
    deanshepherd Registered Posts: 1,809
    All good comments above.

    If I were taking on a new client and the previous bookkeeper had the records on Sage then I would absolutely want a copy of that back-up file and I would find it very unprofessional if that data was held back.

    On the flip side, what has the new accountant requested from you?

    If he has asked for it then give it to him. When I receive a professional clearance letter I tend to provide what I am asked for, within reason of course.

    I had one letter asking for the last 6 agreed corporation tax returns, computations and accounts. I opted to provide him with only one and pointed out where he could obtain the others from - not least because he referred to them as CT200s!
  • sek
    sek Registered Posts: 3 New contributor ?
    Thanks for those comments. Yes I own the licensed copy of sage and the customer did not specifically ask for computerised books just bookkeeping to be completed. The accountant that it is going to was approached by my customer to complete the year end and tax returns etc but he has managed to "poach" the book-keeping and payroll as well and between the customer and the accountant nobody has been honest with me about the whole situation until i recently received an email from the accountant saying he was taking over the whole lot with immediate effect and would i hand over the paperwork asap. So obviously I really dont feel like being anymore helpful than I need to be but dont want to be unprofessional about it so just wanted to clarify what i HAD to give.
  • Sue
    Sue Registered Posts: 217 ? ? ?
    Have you spoken to the Client to confirm you should hand everything over to the Accountant and to ask whether they were unhappy with your work or charges? An Accountant is going to charge a lot more than a Bookkeeper for Bookkeeping work.

    Is the Accountant a Member of an Accounting Association?

    If you are not planning to hand everything over I would suggest trying to speak to someone at the AAT for guidance.

    If you own the licence then I would say you don't have to supply a back up, but then is it worth upsetting an Accountant and perhaps getting yourself a bad name locally.
  • sek
    sek Registered Posts: 3 New contributor ?
    Thanks for your comments Sue. I have written to the client asking for clarification of the matter as of yet they have not been honest enough to tell me they do not intend to carry on using me. There has been no mention of them not being happy with my charges or my work and less than a week before this i was sent all latest paperwork, so to the best my knowledge there are no problems with anything i have done. I am aware that it will cost them a lot more for an accountant to do their payroll and book-keeping, they are only just approaching the end of their first year in business this month and i can only imagine that the accountant has offered them some kind of deal to have the whole package - i think they will learn the hard way :laugh:

    The accountant has FCCA after his name so i am assuming he is a member of ACCA.

    I am not planning to not hand over everything he needs to be able to carry on just dont want to give him more than necessary and make things too easy under the circumstances. Normally i would supply a backup and all printouts etc. I am not too worried about upsetting him as i have been in business in this area for nearly 11 years and have a good working relationship with alot of the accountants in the town but have not until now had any dealings with this one but am aware that his business does offer book-keeping, payroll and accountancy.
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