Setting Up Book-keeping/accounting practice

Most of my accounting career has been in Local Government, from which I recently took early retirement. I am Cipfa and MAAT qualified and have done Business Taxation and law exams for ATT. I am considering starting my own book-keeping/accounting practice offering Tier 4 services. I would be interested in views on the following;
Would previous practice experience be essential or mainly desirable for setting up a practice ?
Would it be necessary to train in and offer more than one type of software e.g. QuickBooks, Sage...etc ?
Is there a market for providing discrete services such as preparation of annual accounts, rather than ongoing or retained services such as book-keeping ?
Do larger firms of accountants use small practices on a sub-contract basis ?

Any advice or guidance would be much appreciated.


  • MarieNoelle
    MarieNoelle Registered, Moderator Posts: 1,368
    On the latter point I would add that most firms using subcontractors would probably subcontract the bookkeeping rather than the accounts especially if you are just starting up as a sole trader.
  • Newby
    Newby Registered Posts: 3
    Hi Experienced Mentor

    Thanks for your advice. Regarding ATT law, I worked straight from the ATT manual and probably spent more time on it than I should have done, although I did get a good pass. I made notes of main points & facts from each chapter and then read these through 2/3 times as some of the material is inter-related such as in the company law chapters. To save time your training provider may have summary notes you could use. The questions for each chapter in the manual are very factual whereas the exam questions focus more on legal principles. I also answered a couple of questions from knowledge gained from business tax course.
    My next ATT paper will be one of the option ones but undecided between VAT or Corporate Taxes, however would Business Compliance be of more relevance to a small practice ?
  • reader
    reader Registered Posts: 1,037 Beyond epic contributor 🧙‍♂️
    I believe business compliance (50% VAT and 50% PAYE) would be more relevant than corporation tax (which you will cover in the business tax exam anyway). In an ideal world, both should be done because the corporation tax exam does go into profit extraction, e.g. salary/dividends, and business compliance gives breath of knowledge.

    How much time did you spend on Law?

    Also, do you recommend a training provider for law?

    Can you go into a bit more detail about your comment re: legal principles, please.

  • Newby
    Newby Registered Posts: 3
    Difficult to say how much time I spent on Law as I started working through the manual then got an interim job and didn't continue for a few months. Prior to the exam I probably spent 2 hours a day/5 days a week for 6 weeks finishing off my notes and reading them through.

    I used Kaplan distance learning for Business Tax who also provide a similar course for Law. Didn't use Law course as self funding and keeping costs to minimum.

    I found a number of questions in manual test factual knowledge, such as a particular deadline for company making a return to registrar, whereas the exam had a lot of multiple response questions around, say, whether particular statements on capital maintenance for companies were true or false. You may want to attempt the mock exam on the ATT website at an early stage to get a feel for the type of question. You could do the mock a number of times as you won't remember most of the questions !
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