Accountant or Accountancy Software?

3rd February 2018

Let’s start by saying that there is no right or wrong answer to this question as it depends entirely on the business, the business owner’s individual circumstances and the financial question they are faced with. There are certainly situations where accountancy software will suffice, just as there are occasions where the skills and knowledge of an accountant are definitely required.

accountant vs accountancy software

With the onset of Making Tax Digital, accountancy software has reached the top of the agenda for many businesses. But which software do you need? And when is an accountant a better option?  We have set out to answer these questions below to help you identify the right choice for you.

Advantages of Accountancy Software

Fast access to accounts
As accountancy software becomes more sophisticated and increasingly cloud-based, it can provide an ongoing, up-to-date financial picture of your business at any time, for you or any third parties who may require access.

Cost-effective
Most of the cloud accountancy software on the market is offered via subscription payment plans, with different packages for the varying business sizes and free trials available. This makes it a cost-effective and flexible way of keeping all of your accounts in order in a relatively pain-free manner.

Simplifies bookkeeping
As the opportunity for market growth increases, the large accountancy software providers are stepping up their pace of innovation, recognising that a simple and intuitive interface is what the average user is looking for. Because of this, we’re starting to see increasingly user-friendly software, with updates and prompts automatically incorporated to help business owners stay on track with their bookkeeping.

Real-time information
The requirement to provide Real Time Information (RTI) to HMRC means that certain information needs to be sent regularly, and electronically. Rather than a time-consuming process to collate and transfer financial data to HMRC or, equally, to input the information manually, business owners will now be able to instruct their transactional accounts to automatically send the information to their accounting software. For example, you will be able to connect your bank account electronically and see all your most recent transactions. This should remove a lot of the administrative burden of inputting data and readying it for transfer to third parties.

Advantages of Accountants

Compliance and legislation
Your chartered accountant ensures that your business stays compliant by being at the cutting edge of the latest legislation. This can save money through application of allowances and tax reliefs, as well as avoid the costs of any penalties or fines. As a business owner, you may not always have the time to stay abreast of the latest updates but, did you know that Chartered accountants must do this in order to maintain their status? Some accounts software providers will incorporate updates for legislation changes, but you will still need to know how this impacts your data historically and these updates may need action from you.

Interpretation and application of financial data
The job of an accountant is not just to tot up the numbers. A valuable accountant will also take the time to interpret this data, advising you of financial trends facing your business and alerting you of any potential issues e.g. a cashflow problem. An accountant’s role is to help you save money and this process often happens by taking your accounts and forecasting where they may be headed. The great news about the growth in accountancy software is actually that it will allow your accountant to spend more time analysing your accounts than simply updating records and compiling returns. This will allow them more time to provide strategic, researched advice to help you make key decisions about the direction of your business and any financial goals you may want to achieve.

A holistic view of the business
An experienced and qualified accountant brings with them a breadth of understanding across a range of industries and business circumstances. Whether you are first starting out or growing your business empire, they will have helped businesses such as yours before, meaning they are able to offer invaluable advice for your circumstances.

Dealing with issues
Hopefully the accounts will run smoothly most of the time. However there will always be instances where things don’t go to plan. This could be a loss of data or a personnel or financial issue. Accountants are used to dealing with all of these problems, regardless of complexity and can step in to help at a moment’s notice.

Sharing the workload
Only using accountancy software puts all accountability on to you as the business owner, and you already have a great deal to cope with. Although it’s your business, you should run it time and cost effectively. Having accounting software allows you to complete the tasks that are worthwhile keeping in-house but it should be a sound business decision as to which tasks it may be more sensible to outsource, simply because of the time they may take or the additional perspective that a professional is able to give.

In conclusion, we believe that both accountancy software and the accountant have an important role to play going forward. Accountancy software, because of the speed and ease that it brings to the more administrative and bookkeeping tasks and accountants, because of the skills and expertise they are able to apply to the numbers to help businesses reduce their costs and plan effectively. 

At TTR Barnes we are partnered with a number of the large accountancy software providers, including Xero, FreeAgent, Quickbooks and Sage. See how we can work with you alongside our accountancy software packages or contact us to find out more.

Chartered Accountants in Sunderland, offering expertise on everything from Tax and Business Planning,
to Accounts and VAT.