Basic bookkeeping dominates UK accountants’ time

By Ed Molyneux, FreeAgent

23 September 2015

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, discuss the results of a recent survey revealing how much time accountants spend on basic bookkeeping tasks, and how cloud accounting can help.

Accountants are spending too much time working with small businesses on basic admin and bookkeeping tasks, rather than offering deeper insights to their clients, according to new research.

Our recent poll, which surveyed more than 100 accountants who work with micro-businesses, found that one in five (20%) accountants said that managing or processing expenses was the task they spent most of their time doing for their small business clients.

Another fifth (19%) of respondents said they spent most of their time with small business clients reconciling bank transactions, while 18% said that they spent most of their time correcting financial and admin errors.

What do you spend most of your time doing for your small business clients?

Completing tax returns33%
Managing/processing expenses20%
Reconciling bank transactions19%
Correcting financial/admin errors18%
Chasing missing information (i.e. receipts, bank records etc)9%
Giving advice about their business finances/tax affairs2%

It's unlikely that many accountants worked hard for their qualifications just to perform manual data entry or admin - yet that's the picture that our research is painting. Around two thirds of them said that most of their time with small business clients is spent doing tasks that are essentially just basic bookkeeping, rather than in-depth accounting. 

We've found that most of this time is spent doing things like correcting errors, reconciling bank transactions and processing expenses - while hardly any say they spend most of their time actually giving their clients advice about their accounts or tax affairs. But those kind of deeper financial insights are the very thing that small business clients will value the most.

We believe our research demonstrates the need for a better method of working with small businesses; one that minimises the amount of time spent on admin and frees accountants up to provide an even better service to these clients. Rather than spending their time on basic bookkeeping admin, using a cloud system instead could allow them to work more effectively with their clients and offer more of their wider accounting expertise.

Find out more

FreeAgent, award-winning cloud accounting software for accountants working with small businesses and freelance clients, is working with ICAS to help practices support their clients. All ICAS members get a 14-day free trial and then get the first three clients they add to their FreeAgent dashboard free for three months – saving you over £150.** Thereafter each client is charged at £17.50 per month.

If you want to find out more simply visit the FreeAgent page on, the FreeAgent website or call 0800 025 3900


  • Accountancy

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