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Help and advice please

jaybagjaybag Settling In NicelyRegistered Posts: 16
Hi
I am new on this forum and would like some help and advice
I have been carrying out my duties as the "accounts director" for a small a business(now £3 million per year turnover) for 10 years.I am not formally qualified but carry all finances duties,from purchase/bought ledger,bank/petty cash/credit card reconciliation/cash flow/bank payments etc,etc
using sage.
I have now moved to a part of the country where there are many small business and 1 man bands who need assistance in accounting duties,so I have decided to home study AAT level 2 and 3 and become a self employed accountant and eventually work my way to getting my own client base
I am hoping to do around 9-12 hrs study a week-family duties permitting-how long realistically will it be before I can start bookkeeping for the local clients? I have looked at the modules for level 2 and am guessing I will get through that pretty quick due to the amount of experience I have had
Eventually when I complete level 3 I can carry out VAT returns and TAX duties also(is this correct?),but what to do I with the figures of these clients once I have calculated them? At the company I work for,we have an outsourced accountant that deals with all this once a year,as a one man band myself I am a little confused-do I send the details onto HMRC myself? (may be a silly question)
Would I be able to buy a copy of sage to keep on my laptop and then load the different company on it from a back up once I start?
And can anyone recommend a home study company?
Sorry for the questions,I am sure there will be more to come but would like to the important ones cleared up first
thanking you all in advance,hope to hear from someone soon

Comments

  • steve2008steve2008 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 89
    Someone in your position should be able to get exemption from doing level 2. I didn't look into that myself, but think you would need to do it via your chosen learning provider (so make sure they offer this facility)
    Check out http://www.aatskillcheck.org/ that will give you an indication on whether level 2 will be needed.

    Eagle seems to be the most popular home study company on here at the moment. If money is an issue you might consider just going self study though, with your experience there is definitely no point in paying for tutor support for level 2.

    I can't help you with the rest of your questions but suspect that it would be best to complete level 4 before offering your services as self employed. I know that AAT offer some protections for you in this area BUT only after completing level 4.
  • RobClarkeRobClarke Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 820
    Exempt from Level 2?

    I am sure I have read elsewhere that strictly speaking you do not need to do level 2 to become fully qualified?
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Thanks to both for the above
    I think I will start from level 2-I have used Sage for the entire time and may have got a bit lazy with regards to the admin side,so would rather start at beginning without using sage first of all so I have all bases covered.It would probably mean that I finish level 2 quickly,but at least in my mind I know I can do it-does that make sense?

    Can anyone recommend who to go with self study?
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    jaybag wrote: »
    Thanks to both for the above
    I think I will start from level 2-I have used Sage for the entire time and may have got a bit lazy with regards to the admin side,so would rather start at beginning without using sage first of all so I have all bases covered.It would probably mean that I finish level 2 quickly,but at least in my mind I know I can do it-does that make sense?

    Can anyone recommend who to go with self study?

    ***forgot to add-have also decided to study level 4 too***
  • Rachie278Rachie278 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 55
    HI Jaybag!

    I am currently studying Level 3, I too had previous experience but I wanted a qualification rather than the ability to just work on Sage! For my level 2, I went with Premier Training, highly recommend them, one of the cheapest, quick feedback and response etc, HOWEVER....

    If you have as much experience as it sounds like you have had, I would really consider twice about doing level 2. I signed up to Premier and didnt really use them to their full potential as I simply picked up everything I needed from the books. Including the exams, doing Level 2 cost me about £900, If you have the spare cash, and feel like you will need tutor support, then go for it! I personally though, would recommend you buy the books you need for level 2, sit and read them, do the practice assessments, and go through the AAT online, then if you feel happy, go on to Level 3 without paying to do the 'real' exams. Unfortunatly for me, I found this forum too late and spent a lot of cash I didnt have, that looking back, I didnt need to spend. You dont have to sit the level 2 exams to progress to Level 3. I am going through Level 3 by myself, just with the books and getting on fine, and saving loads in the process :)

    Hope that all makes sense, I only wrote it quick!

    Rachel
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Rachie278 wrote: »
    HI Jaybag!

    I am currently studying Level 3, I too had previous experience but I wanted a qualification rather than the ability to just work on Sage! For my level 2, I went with Premier Training, highly recommend them, one of the cheapest, quick feedback and response etc, HOWEVER....

    If you have as much experience as it sounds like you have had, I would really consider twice about doing level 2. I signed up to Premier and didnt really use them to their full potential as I simply picked up everything I needed from the books. Including the exams, doing Level 2 cost me about £900, If you have the spare cash, and feel like you will need tutor support, then go for it! I personally though, would recommend you buy the books you need for level 2, sit and read them, do the practice assessments, and go through the AAT online, then if you feel happy, go on to Level 3 without paying to do the 'real' exams. Unfortunatly for me, I found this forum too late and spent a lot of cash I didnt have, that looking back, I didnt need to spend. You dont have to sit the level 2 exams to progress to Level 3. I am going through Level 3 by myself, just with the books and getting on fine, and saving loads in the process :)

    Hope that all makes sense, I only wrote it quick!

    Rachel
    Hi Rachel
    thank you for the information,that sounds like a good idea (excuse me for asking a silly questions) which books do I need to study level 2?,where would I get the practical exams from and how do I "go through AAT on line" to pass this?
  • Rachie278Rachie278 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 55
    Have you signed up to AAT yet, as in have yo got AAT membership? If you have, then sign in and go to MYAAT and you will find links there for Green Light tests, which test your ability, and practice assessments.

    With Premier Training, they supplied Osborne books, I found them fine, but for Level 3, I am using BPP and finding them easier to get on with, but everyone is different. Ibought all my Level 3 books from EBay, saved a fortune, otherwise, look on amazon, or Foyles, or BPP website, Foyles is cheapest I believe. Look for Level 2 books on there

    http://www.bpp.com/learning-media-listing/lmlist/3619 this gives the names of the Level 2 books, I wouldnt bother with the computerised accounting book.

    Rachel
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Rachie278 wrote: »
    Have you signed up to AAT yet, as in have yo got AAT membership? If you have, then sign in and go to MYAAT and you will find links there for Green Light tests, which test your ability, and practice assessments.

    With Premier Training, they supplied Osborne books, I found them fine, but for Level 3, I am using BPP and finding them easier to get on with, but everyone is different. Ibought all my Level 3 books from EBay, saved a fortune, otherwise, look on amazon, or Foyles, or BPP website, Foyles is cheapest I believe. Look for Level 2 books on there

    http://www.bpp.com/learning-media-listing/lmlist/3619 this gives the names of the Level 2 books, I wouldnt bother with the computerised accounting book.

    Rachel

    So I can apply for AAT membership before I even study,read the books(purchase the ones from the list on the link you sent),do the green light test,study,practice and do more of the green light tests-then if I am confident enough start level 3 through a training provider? Am I right? and save me around £900 in the process?
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Rachie278 wrote: »
    Have you signed up to AAT yet, as in have yo got AAT membership? If you have, then sign in and go to MYAAT and you will find links there for Green Light tests, which test your ability, and practice assessments.

    With Premier Training, they supplied Osborne books, I found them fine, but for Level 3, I am using BPP and finding them easier to get on with, but everyone is different. Ibought all my Level 3 books from EBay, saved a fortune, otherwise, look on amazon, or Foyles, or BPP website, Foyles is cheapest I believe. Look for Level 2 books on there

    http://www.bpp.com/learning-media-listing/lmlist/3619 this gives the names of the Level 2 books, I wouldnt bother with the computerised accounting book.

    Rachel
    So I can sign up with AAT without starting study? purchase the books from the list in the link,read and study myself,carry out the green light tests,and then when confident sign up with a provider and start level 3? all while saving cash not going through a provider for level 2?
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    You've already had lots of good advice here. I would agree that you will probably find level 2 far too basic with your level of experience. As has been said, there is no harm in buying the level 2 books, skimming through them to check there are no surprises, but then going straight onto level 3.

    As for brushing up your Sage skills, why not look at Sage's own self study courses instead of the AAT module. I've just done exactly this. I paid £200 for all three levels (including online exams and official certification) of Sage 50 accounts which is far in excess of the knowledge/qualification that the computerised module of AAT provides. Purchasing just one level from Sage is about £100.

    You don't need permission as such to skip level 2, I just started booking level 3 exams with local centres as an external candidate, and to be honest they have no interest in which exams you are taking, they just provide the facilities. If you choose to go with a training company, it is their own company policies which will determine whether you need to do level 2 or not. For your own info, there is a self test exam on the AAT website which advises as to whether you should start at level 2 or 3 based on your results.

    With all of that experience, you may also find that levels 3 and 4 are easily achievable without a training provider (I studied purely from text books, saved a fortune, did the exams as quickly or as slowly as I wanted to, and have absolutely no accounting experience). I went from zero accounting knowledge to AAT completion in 6 months whilst at home looking after 2 children under 2, so you really can get it done quite quickly if you are determined to do so. Your experience can only help in that respect.

    I personally always used BPP books and I have never come across a practice or exam question which was not more than adequately covered (I've heard others complain at BPP go into too much detail, however I wanted to learn as much as possible so this never bothered me). The books are readily available at most online book shops but I can recommend www.foyles.co.uk (cheapest for BPP and a 20% discount with the code BPPFOY2 - disclaimer, I don't work for Foyles despite seemingly always recommending them, I just wish I'd discovered them sooner as I could have saved a fortune!)
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    That's fantastic Nps1976 what you have done in 6 months,well done!

    I have been looking at costs via the provider websites,and if I were to purchase all books,study material and exams for levels 2,3 and 4 I would be looking at around £3.5k!!! That is a lot of cash,cash I haven't got to spare!
    I will get the study books for level 2 and go from there,just finishing a project management course home study)had a change of plan-exam in may then will crack in with the AAT
    If I were to not go with any providers for say,level 3,how would I sit an exam like you have done? Just get in touch with a exam center and then they submit the results to AAT themselves? Where would I also find the practice exams?
    Lastly,I think the Sage exam is a good idea since I work on it day in and day out-I have looked on sage website and couldn't find everything I need for £200 only like you have said the modules that are £100 each,can you let me know where you got that deal from please?

    I did do the AAT test and said I should start on level 2,but I think that is down to me working on a computerised system look long,will brush up and then re-do test(you can retry it cant you?)
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    That's a lot of money. I quickly totted up my costs a few days ago, and I spent a max of £70-£100 per exam (£50-70 for the exam, £15 for the text and £10-15 for a book of questions). The only exception was ICAS at level 4 which cost £200 as you have to use a training provider). Using a training provider was not financially an option for me, but in hindsight I'm glad as I doubt I would have used the tutor support so it would have been a waste of money anyway.

    To take an exam, you just call up your local BPP/Kaplan/other centre, and book direct. They take your AAT membership number, download your exam from AAT, and basically just act as facilitators on behalf of AAT.

    Practice exams are on MyAAT, which you will get access to when you become an AAT member. And yes, you can re-do the skills test as many times as you like as it is purely for your own information.

    I purchased the Sage 50 package (3 levels in total) but there is also a Sage Instants package (just the 1 level - this is the level which gains the relevant AAT exemption). They are very expensive to purchase direct from Sage but there are loads of authorised resellers online and most charge about £100 per level, or do special offers of around £200 if you purchase all 3 levels together. I bought mine from SJStartup, but there were so many at the same price that to be honest I just chose one at random! I have heard that Amazon often do ridiculous deals on the individuals levels (eg. £30) but they are very short lived (I've personally never seen them, I've just read about them on a book keeping forum). You could also just pay £55 to take the Sage certification exam (online so you do it from home) if you are a confident user.

    I think that's all your questions answered, feel free to ask more!
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    What do you mean by sage excemption?
    Also,I had a quick look on sjstartup,could you let me know if this is the correct package please ?

    http://www.sjstartup.co.uk/products/sage-training-2/sage-training/sage-self-study-workbooks-with-online-2-product.html


    Sorry to be a pain,really appreciate your help
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Nps1976 wrote: »
    That's a lot of money. I quickly totted up my costs a few days ago, and I spent a max of £70-£100 per exam (£50-70 for the exam, £15 for the text and £10-15 for a book of questions). The only exception was ICAS at level 4 which cost £200 as you have to use a training provider). Using a training provider was not financially an option for me, but in hindsight I'm glad as I doubt I would have used the tutor support so it would have been a waste of money anyway.

    To take an exam, you just call up your local BPP/Kaplan/other centre, and book direct. They take your AAT membership number, download your exam from AAT, and basically just act as facilitators on behalf of AAT.

    Practice exams are on MyAAT, which you will get access to when you become an AAT member. And yes, you can re-do the skills test as many times as you like as it is purely for your own information.

    I purchased the Sage 50 package (3 levels in total) but there is also a Sage Instants package (just the 1 level - this is the level which gains the relevant AAT exemption). They are very expensive to purchase direct from Sage but there are loads of authorised resellers online and most charge about £100 per level, or do special offers of around £200 if you purchase all 3 levels together. I bought mine from SJStartup, but there were so many at the same price that to be honest I just chose one at random! I have heard that Amazon often do ridiculous deals on the individuals levels (eg. £30) but they are very short lived (I've personally never seen them, I've just read about them on a book keeping forum). You could also just pay £55 to take the Sage certification exam (online so you do it from home) if you are a confident user.

    I think that's all your questions answered, feel free to ask more!

    What do you mean by the "relevant AAT exemption"? I looked at at sjstartup and found "Sage Self Study Workbooks with Online Certification" -is this the one I would need to get certified?
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Yes they are the ones which I used. They are the most comprehensive of the Sage courses (Sage 50). However I believe they are very much in excess of what someone would need in order to claim the AAT level 2 Computerised Accounts module. For this, I think you only need to do the Sage Instants course which is just one level. You'd need to double check this though a I didn't do level 2 so never needed to confirm that this is correct.
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Nps1976 wrote: »
    Yes they are the ones which I used. They are the most comprehensive of the Sage courses (Sage 50). However I believe they are very much in excess of what someone would need in order to claim the AAT level 2 Computerised Accounts module. For this, I think you only need to do the Sage Instants course which is just one level. You'd need to double check this though a I didn't do level 2 so never needed to confirm that this is correct.

    Brilliant,thank you for all your help.I will get cracking with joining MYAAT,have a chat with the AAT guys and start getting the books-I guess I will be back to ask more questions-thank you again!
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    When speaking with AAT on the phone, just be aware that a few people have posted on here in the last few weeks saying that AAT told them it was impossible to self study and that you HAVE to go through a training provider. This is not correct. I'm hoping that those people were just unlucky and spoke to people who were misinformed (worrying as that is seeing as you would hope AAT staff gave out correct info).

    If you do get told that, just name any random provider and then just carry on as normal!
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    I've just re-read some of your posts, and I think you might be wasting money by buying the Sage workbooks. Why not consider just sitting the Sage certification exam as it sounds like you could probably do them standing on your head. I think they are £55 each (thought the 3 level packages include 3 certification exams so only work out a little more expensive).

    However, I posted on a book keeping forum, asking advice as to which Sage levels I should do. Basically my situation is that I have never used Sage so wanted the certification to add on to my CV to try and compensate for not being able to demonstrate any actual work experience. Most of the responses suggested that employers don't actually care about certification if you can demonstrate actual work experience in using Sage, but that for someone like me, doing the certification may be a good option. In your case, as you are considering skipping level 2 AAT anyway, you don't need the certification for that, and if you have bags of Sage experience anyway, you won't need the certification for job searches either. Perhaps consider holding off on such a large purchase when you may not need it anyway.
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Hi Again
    Just looked at the BPP website,do I need to get all the books,text,passcards and question bank ? Or would the the text books be ok?
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Personally, I just bought the text and the question bank for each subject. I have never used the pass cards so don't know how useful they are. I fully believe though that the most important part of passing exams is the question practice so for me, the question banks are a must as they really ensure that you know the subject.

    Before you buy the books check the ISBN number matches that on the BPP website, as I find that a lot of book sellers use stock photos of the book so it's not always clear if you are getting the most up to date one. Searching by ISBN ensures that you are getting the exact edition you want.
  • Rachie278Rachie278 Feels At Home Registered Posts: 55
    No!! I think these would be fine. Look at this on eBay:

    complete set of aat level 2 bpp text books

    http://bit.ly/1505aAc
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Brilliant thanks Rachie278
    It doesn't give me all the info of what books,but just bagged the lot for £12 + postage-bargain!
    If a few missing,will just buy elsewhere
    Thank you again!
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Rachie278 wrote: »
    No!! I think these would be fine. Look at this on eBay:

    complete set of aat level 2 bpp text books

    http://bit.ly/1505aAc

    How on earth did you find them,I have been searching ebay for the last couple of days and couldn't find a bundle together!
    So do you reckon I should be able to go over these,do the MYAAT tests and if all good,start 3(probably do this through a provider as I want to make sure I do this properly) And also purchase Sage?

    Anyone used Home learning college? They are doing a deal if you purchase 3 & 4 together?
  • SpamkebabSpamkebab Well-Known Registered Posts: 233
    I bet you can get a better deal with Premier Training or Eagle Education.

    Good luck with your studies,

    Neil.
  • jaybagjaybag Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 16
    Spamkebab wrote: »
    I bet you can get a better deal with Premier Training or Eagle Education.

    Good luck with your studies,

    Neil.
    Will start read level 2 books and then look at deals once I am confident enough to start level 3
    thanks to all for the advice
  • CeeJaySixCeeJaySix Well-Known Registered Posts: 645
    And if you're thinking of using HLC, have a good search on this forum and Google before committing...
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