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Bookkeeping queries

Raging PineapplesRaging Pineapples Well-KnownRegistered Posts: 110
Hi Guys

Because of the state of the job market I'm considering going into basic bookkeeping. However, since my experience is purely industry-based not practice-based, I'd like to make a few queries, lol.

I'm only intending to do basic bookkeeping to start with, like just up to trial balance while I get myself used to the environment.


1. Biggest question of all: Would you advise that I definitely get some practice experience first? Obviously it would be preferable to already have spent some time working with a bookkeeper, but at the moment none I've asked are hiring. This is very much a decision out of necessity.

2. Due to the job situation, have you found lots of people are going into Bookkeeping? I don't want to try breaking into a market right when everyone else who's been made redundant decides to do the same.

3. The kinds of bookkeeping; I'm imagining that you've got:
- In-house visits, where a bookkeeper visits a place of work and handles the documentation on the premesis.
- Monthly/Periodical arrangements where the bookkeeper obtains the documentation, processes them, and provides the trial balance and other data for the accountant.
- Where the bookkeeper is hired by the accountant rather than the client, to process the paperwork to trial balance and other data and send it back to the accountant?

Are these correct, and could you give me a few more details on what specifically would be required of me as a bookkeeper?

4. I should imagine that under most situations it would involve preparing the trial balance, but what other statements would the client/accountant require of a 'basic bookkeeper'? I'm thinking bank reconciliations and such, but is there anything crucial I'm missing?

5. Would I have to set up as an MIP to do basic bookkeeping? I have a feeling i would, but thought I'd just double check.

Thanks VERY much in advance, I know it's a lot, so I'd be happy even if you only answered one question each if you're pushed for time.

I've always wanted to be a bookkeeper, but I wasn't anticipating having to start quite so soon.:huh:


  • claudialoweclaudialowe Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 275
    Hi Chris

    I will try and answer some of your questions :001_smile:

    What have you been doing so far? You say that your experience is industry rather than practice based, but doing what? If you have been doing bookkeeping for a company, then there is really very little difference between industry and practice, except timing (you are not there every day!) - that sort of answers 1.

    2. No idea - sorry - perhaps others can answer that - and perhaps the lack of an answer could be taken as a positive response that loads of people are NOT rushing into that particular field!

    3. Yes - and it varies according to the client - each are different and want different things.

    4. About right.

    5. I think that you probably would - worth checking - however you will definitely have to register with either AAT or HMRC for MLR, so probably worth registering with AAT as a MIP so as to avoid HMRC!!!!!! Also register with HMRC for self-employment, get PI cover etc etc.

    A good way (IMHO) of selling yourself at the moment, is that by being freelance the company will only be paying for what you actually do - ie not paying for sick/holiday leave, hours to suit them, you can change (up/down scale) according to their needs.

    I hope that this helps a bit!

  • sarahwilsonsarahwilson Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 567
    I don't know answers to any except number 2!!!

    According to another forum I've been on www.book-keepers.org.uk, theres a lot of people setting up as book-keepers at the moment and some people are finding it difficult to get clients, thats not to say you will though.
  • Raging PineapplesRaging Pineapples Well-Known Registered Posts: 110
    Thanks Claudia!

    So far I've managed the accounts side of Sales, Purchase and Nominal ledgers as well as various custom ledgers (a Sales Rep ledger and a Subcontractors Ledger), had to account for and reconcile lots of bank accounts and intercompany loan accounts and such, so I'm convinced that I've got the knowledge I need to actually perform.

    It's literally just a case of knowing what work they would expect me to do (like pulling off TBs, reconciling bank accounts, etc).

    I think I'll almost certainly have to go MIP actually, since I'd likely be putting the work through my Dad's new family firm (a limited company which I'm now a director of).

    Any other advice people can give on the ins and outs of bookkeeping?
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    You'll need a working knowledge of the most common lower level accounting programs, generally Sage and Quickbooks. If you're freelancing and offering in-house services, I'd have thought it up to you to provide this training yourself as this will be reflected in your fees. While many clients might show you their systems and processes, I'd have thought it less likely they'll train you in the software they use unless you're starting from scratch.

    Also, do you have multi-currency book keeping experience and some knowledge of foreign traits and customs?
  • claudialoweclaudialowe Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 275
    Whoa Blobby - you are getting quite specialised there - I would have thought that 90% of small companies in the UK would not need that level of expertise - if you have got it, it would be worth a premium to a company.

  • Raging PineapplesRaging Pineapples Well-Known Registered Posts: 110
    Sage I have some exposure to as we use it in my Dad's new firm, and I did a course using Line 50 at the start of my AAT studies. I handle the whole electronic bookkeeping process for my Dad, so I'm familiar with entering purchase and sales invoices on it, preparing and posting nominals, handling supplier and customer accounts, etc.

    Quickbooks I have absolutely no experience with, which is a definite bummer, so I'll have to arrange some training on that score.

    I have a degree of knowledge of accounting for Spain, as a friend of mine lives there and I've looked up quite a few things for him in the past. But I've not handle multi-currency bank accounts or sales before, so I should imagine that could have a bearing on Ebay clients.
  • PAMDILLPAMDILL Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 716
    I am swithering about going s/e as bookkeeper if things go belly up in the construction industry. I had been approached by a franchise company called The Local Bookkeeper but you have to be MICB. Fortunately I am, but they do appear to offer quite a good marketing service and website advertising. They only thing is there is quite a substantial initital outlay for the franchise fee.

    The other option I had looked at was approaching local accountants for part time subcontract work.

    I have been doing bookkeeping to trial balance including accruals, prepayments etc, wages, PAYE, CIS, VAT Returns, monthly management reports for over 17 years now and that does seem to be the sort of work they expect you to do.
  • farmergilesfarmergiles Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,693
    I find that the problem with these franchise deals is that a) they want at least 10% of your turnover and b) they want you to concentrate on getting new clients whilst using someone else to do the number crunching for you. They only want you to concentrate on bookkeeping as well, although they still want 10% of any other work you get.
    I'm sorry, but if I'm going to put all that effort into finding new business, why the hell should I give 10% of my gross to some one else!!
  • PAMDILLPAMDILL Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 716
    That was my thought along with the initial fee, if I have to find a minimum of £5K to spay them to start up then why not get hold of that and bank it to pay living costs while trying to start up myself.

    Anyway hopefully council planning dept will get their finger out their bum and we can get trading again and I won't have to worry about self employment and part time work.
  • groundygroundy Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 495
    I would staywell clear of the franchise idea. I have dealt with many franchises over the last couple of years and for all there promises the only people who make money are the franchisor plus the contracts tend to tie you to them and make it difficult when you want to leave.
  • Raging PineapplesRaging Pineapples Well-Known Registered Posts: 110
    I have been doing bookkeeping to trial balance including accruals, prepayments etc, wages, PAYE, CIS, VAT Returns, monthly management reports for over 17 years now and that does seem to be the sort of work they expect you to do.

    Yeah, I can do the bookkeeping to trial balance, including accruals, prepayments and the like. In the case of wages, PAYE, CIS and VAT, I can handle the calculations and extract the necessary figures from the books without too much trouble - but I've no experience in preparing the returns associated with them, or in the case of CIS performing the validation checks on subbies before paying them.

    I should get some experience with some of those things now I'm helping my Dad with his new LTD firm, but that won't breach the territory of CIS.

    Really, I had been hoping to be able to start small with just the basic bookkeeping side of things, splitting up the various NI, PAYE Vat elements and clearly showing them in the books, handling any accruals and preps, showing the VAT elements in an account for each tax code plus sales from EU etc and just leaving the Accountant to perform the actual returns.

    Is that normalish? I had always hoped to just earn my money by giving the accountant the base figures he needs for the returns and highlighting anything that's beyond my expertise... I hadn't banked on having to do returns myself :(
  • PAMDILLPAMDILL Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 716
    I have always done the returns myself, I have a couple of friends who have smallish businesses and they have their accountant doing them and it costs a fortune. So I would say most small businesses would be looking for that to be done by their bookkeeper at a reduced rate.

    Before someone says why don't you volunteer to do them, I don't want to be mixing business with pleasure as the last thing I want is to be calling up someone one day saying where is my money and then visiting them as a friend having that hang over you.
  • Raging PineapplesRaging Pineapples Well-Known Registered Posts: 110
    Yeah, it's a tough situation isn't it?

    Especially looking at the forum that Sarah Wilson quoted, it seems a lot of people are trying to get into bookkeeping so it would be incredibly tight, especially if I'm only targeting sole traders who are not VAT registered. :(

    Failing that, any suggestions on what I CAN do to get some cash? It's a real worry especially as the number of bookkeeping roles under employ is dwindling, and the number of accountants out of work is rising. I saw a fairly meagre role advertised the other day, and it had 60 applicants already!!

    I'm scared :(
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    Not quite the same thing but bear with me. When I ran a betting shop a few years ago, instead of trying to get customers to come to me, I went to them instead. I decided to drink in the same places with them and eventually became their friend. By establishing contact on common ground, my shop boomed.

    While drumming up business for book keeping isn't exactly the same, many sole traders, builders, window fitters etc, frequent the same pubs, know each other and are notorious for "the missus trying to do the books but making a mess of things". When I worked in the windows business, I had numerous offers of private work (which I didn't want to do at the time). So you could be pro-active, get yourself some business cards or flyers printed up, find these haunts and hand them out. Most will go in the bin or on the floor but nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you get one client more may follow due to the word of mouth nature of the construction trade where everyone knows everyone. If you need CIS knowledge, find an HMRC CIS class and attend that; pretty sure they run those (and other one day courses) in Worthing and they're usually free to attend.

    As for a flooded market, it appears that everyone seems to "know how to do the books" these days, but there are many who overrate their own abilities and lack even basic knowledge. Unless you have previous experience, I'd say you need to be at high Technician level or beyond (which I know you are Chris) to be a decent book keeper, certainly not at Foundation and possibly Intermediate.
  • claudialoweclaudialowe Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 275
    One of the best ways of getting new clients is having people mend your washing machine, service your boiler, clean your windows etc etc - the list is endless - but the very big downside is that is costs a fortune!!!!!!! The lower cost alternative is to sell your house, buy a wreck and pay people to do it up for you, and hope to get them as clients :lol::lol::lol::lol:

  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    One of the best ways of getting new clients is having people mend your washing machine, service your boiler, clean your windows etc etc - the list is endless - but the very big downside is that is costs a fortune!!!!!!!

    so have i reached the dizzy heights of success as yesterday I had a client fix both my dishwasher & tumble dryer FOR FREE?!!

    As for your methods, I have picked up a taxi driver client in that way... and it was only a £3 taxi ride - bargin :thumbup:
  • Raging PineapplesRaging Pineapples Well-Known Registered Posts: 110
    You picked up a taxi-driver?

    Isn't that a bit back to front? ;)
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