With recent changes to Supervision, Direction or Control (SDC) and IR35 legislation prompting many former umbrella clients to incorporate as limited companies, it’s more important than ever to manage your contractor clients as effectively as possible. A great cloud accounting software platform can help you do just that – but with a range of solutions on the market, it can be tricky to know where to start.
To help you with this decision, award-winning cloud accounting software provider and FCSA Business Partner FreeAgent explores some of the key features you should be looking for in your contractor accounting software platform.
When working with contractor clients, it’s no secret that volume is often the key to success. With the majority of contractors having very similar accounting needs, it’s possible to work with large numbers of clients but this often brings an administrative challenge. This is where accounting software can prove extremely helpful – simplifying processes and saving you time. It’s important, however, to choose a platform that can accommodate your growing base of contractor clients.
For your accounting software to support to you as your client base grows, and allow you to work with an unlimited number of contractor clients, it’s important to look for bulk functionality, such as bulk RTI payroll submission, as well as contractor-focused functionality, such as IR35 reporting.
Efficient transfer of client data
One of the biggest logistical issues for any contractor-focused accountancy business is obtaining accurate information from clients. This is typically a very time-consuming activity which can easily lead to confusion. Cloud-based accounting solutions allow you and your clients to work on the same set of data in real time, making version control problems a thing of the past.
Bank feeds dramatically decrease the time spent on data transfer. It’s therefore a good idea to choose a system which allows your clients to set up bank feeds, so that all their new transactions load into the system automatically. FreeAgent currently supports over 4,000 feeds from banks around the world and is still the only solution with a direct bank feed to Barclays Business bank accounts through Barclays DataServices.
Security and availability
It goes without saying that security and availability are vital features of any cloud accounting software platform. Dealing with customers’ sensitive financial data means you (and they!) will want reassurance that their information is in safe hands. At FreeAgent, security is our number one priority – all transactions between you and our servers are encrypted using the same technology that banks use to protect data.
It’s also important to look for a platform that will be available to your clients whenever they want to use it. Cloud accounting software offers 24/7/365 availability and FreeAgent’s uptime last year was an impressive 99.99%, meaning that you and your clients can rely on the software to be accessible at all times.
Features that improve client engagement
Typically, contractors neglect their accounts, preferring to focus on their core business. The service you provide to clients is key to improving their engagement with the accounting process and it’s important to choose software that will help you to do this.
Client-friendly features are an important thing to look for here, such as a dashboard which provides contractors with an at-a-glance view of their cash flow, potential tax liabilities and payment dates. Ratings such as a Net Promoter Score will also let you know what clients like yours think of the software.
To manage client expectations it’s also useful to look for software where you can set permission levels for your clients, depending on the level of access you wish them to have, to reflect your client service offerings.
Reliable and helpful support
Finally, it’s important to have complete confidence in the support that your accounting software provider can offer you. Service levels vary among suppliers, so it’s important to ensure that the platform you choose has the level of support you require. FreeAgent’s dedicated practice support accountants provide unlimited support by phone or email to you (and, if you wish, to your clients) at no extra charge. We commit to responding to all queries within two working hours on first contact.
If you’d like more information on how FreeAgent can help you to support your contractor clients, request a trial here.
Image courtesy of pannawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net