With the advent of Making Tax Digital and ever-improving cloud bookkeeping software, there is an increase in regular bookkeeping requirements at small and microbusinesses. But this gives smaller accountancy firms a dilemma:
Do they meet these requirements, which means investing in the expensive overhead of creating and managing a bookkeeping team? Many accountants with bookkeeping teams find these are effectively loss-leaders for the accountancy work.
Do they instead concentrate solely on the higher value areas such as accountancy, tax and strategic financial advice? While this saves a lot of time and hassle, it also creates the likelihood of losing clients through not providing this service. This also creates the added headache of having hundreds of clients whose books have been done in hundreds of slightly different ways by hundreds of different bookkeepers.
There is now a third alternative with the rise of specialist bookkeepers like Ozlop, and that means that bookkeeping done as a cottage industry and maintained by small practitioners is over.
Firms such as Ozlop give their accountancy partners the option of working with a bookkeeper who will do all the donkey work of the regular books while improving client-care standards and ensuring the books are accountant-ready. After all, specialists such as Ozlop can invest in the systems, technology and procedures to deliver accountant-ready books in the most painless way for the client.
An example of this is Gavin Clarke, the partner who runs Gold Accountants in Polegate, East Sussex.
He says: “Providing bookkeeping to clients is certainly a good opportunity to generate significant turnover for an accountancy practice, but providing this resource internally is not always the best option.
“It has been really beneficial working with Ozlop. Like us they are a forward-looking firm with a modern approach. An example of this is how they make the maximum use of the functionality of new apps such as the Receipt Bank receipt management app. While I expect many accountants suggest this to their clients, Ozlop set everything up in the most optimal way so the process is as quick and straightforward for the client as possible.
“The key rationale behind this is maximising our capabilities and value-added services… which often means some things are best not provided by us.
“We are a general practice that is attempting, and I hope succeeding, in being forward-looking and proactive accountants, not simply old-fashioned compliance accountants. We are trying to find ways and systems to achieve this without losing the one-to-one service provision that is so important with small businesses
“Ozlop’s comprehensive and reliable service has been really advantageous allowing us to concentrate on tax, consulting and statutory compliance rather than having to create an inhouse bookkeeping team. It is difficult to replicate their efficiency and focus when operating on a smaller scale yourself.”
David Vine – small business specialist and Managing Director at Ozlop.