Setting up own practice - advice needed!


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I am currently working for a Big 4 company, specialising in the insolvency sector. I am AAT qualified, however I'm not currently a member.

I am looking to setup my own accountancy practice from home on a part time basis to start with. Potentially looking to offer book-keeping services, VAT returns etc.

What legal requirements are there to be able to do this?

Can you give any other general advice? Sole trader vs Ltd?

Any help you can provide would be much apprecaited.
 
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The term 'accountant' isn't protected so anyone can set themselves up in business as an accountant.

Becoming an AAT MIP (member in practice) will add credibility to your practice but you'll then need to follow AAT's guidelines about professional indemnity insurance, CPD, professional ethics, and pay a licence fee. The AAT website has more information about this.

Money laundering regulations require that your practice is monitored by a supervisory body. AAT will do this if you become a member in practice; if you don't, you'll need to register with HM Revenue & Customs. Both will charge a fee for doing this.
 
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Robert,Thats perfect, thanks for the advice.Do you have any software recommendations? Sage is the one that pops into my head but would this be the best for a small practice? I've used Simply Books but to be honest I found it quite amateur and "buggy".Thanks again.Lee
 
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I guess it depends on what services you plan to offer and on your budget.

If you plan to do bookkeeping offsite then, depending on the client, you might use Excel spreadsheets or a simple package like Sage Instant. In some cases, it might be that you need to buy whatever software the client is using.

If you're planning on offering personal and corporate tax services, then will you try to use the HMRC online software (I've never used it but it's supposed to be okay for straightforward returns) or will you buy commercial tax software? Will you buy accounts production software for limited company clients or again rely on HMRC? If you're buying software, will you buy it straightaway or wait until you have a reasonable number of clients?

My practice uses Sage, which I've always found to be quite good. There are cheaper alternatives, such as VT or PTP software. You just need to have a look around and see what suits both your requirements and your budget at the moment.
 
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Apart from spreadsheets, there are two main alternatives:
1. Cloud apps. Often referred technically as SaaS (Software as a Service). There are new variants springing up weekly at the moment with all the hype about the cloud. The largest of these are Xero and Freshbooks, but neither are UK based. The plus side is that you can access your data anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. The downside is that you have to pay a monthly subscription forever, and if you cancel you lose everything including access (you can download the data, but you will then need to find something to load it into to make sense of it).

2. Desktop apps. Sage is of course the well known brand in the UK. But there are many others including Quickbooks and Accountz. The advantage with some of these is that you only pay once and you own it and the data forever. You also don't need an internet connection for daily use.
 
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You need to be a member of AAT to be more credible in your business. Registration with HMRC is also needed.

For bookeeping, quickbooks online is the best software you will find around. Its Incredible. If you want to get work online then use odesk com and freelancer com to get bookeeping jobs online. Hope this helps.
 

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