On average, we expect to be cheaper than any other accountant, particularly for small companies where we are specialists. We use a lot of new technology because dealing with small companies means a deadline almost every month which puts us under the pressure. We take less time to do the job, and can therefore live happily with a lower fee.
New technology can also be applied with the aim of providing a superior service, so we can offer more for less. We can deal happily with hire purchase, overdrawn director’s loan accounts, iXBRL submissions for corporation tax and MTD for VAT.
We use an online system to calculate fees, which you may find at http://www.davidporthouse.co.uk/quote/. You can try our quotation system if you wish, but we would point out that it requires some knowledge of accountancy. If we give you a quotation based upon accessing our online system, then we will stand by it and take the risk that the job takes a lot longer than expected. The onus will be on us to invent something which cuts the job time next year, a challenge we are happy to meet.
We charge separately for doing quarterly VAT returns, but we reduce the fee for the annual accounts to reflect the fact that we do not need to do the data-entry job twice. At the moment we give a reduction in fee of 25% on the annual accounts which we feel is a fair reduction based upon experience.
Our fee is partly based on turnover, so if it goes up, then our fee will go up. We have quite a few cases where turnover has gone down and our fee has gone down with it. We just plug the numbers in our quotation system and go by the result.
If your turnover goes up with inflation, then our fee will increase with it. If you have exactly the same turnover for years on end, then we guarantee that our fee will stay the same for years on end. Remember that doing your accounts becomes progressively easier if nothing ever changes so we can stick to our guarantee quite easily.
We feel that people who put their charges up should reinvest the superprofits in new technology so they can cut their charges in year three. That’s what we would do. Ask your local council, or the Post Office, or anybody else, what they do.
Many other accountants put their fees up by 3% per year automatically. We use optical character recognition to scan bank and credit card statements and spreadsheet print-outs. What sort of technology are our competitors using if they charge more than us ? It must be fantastic !
If you decide to switch to another accountant, then be sure that you are not payer higher fees merely to subsidise technological backwardness. At least use an accountant with a website, and ask them if they also have an extranet you can look at. Ask them how they compute their fees. If they can save you loads of tax, much more than we can, then that is a valid reason to make the change, but remember that we are small company specialists.
Finally we will just remind you of the saying “A fool and his money are soon parted”. Getting value for money isn’t easy. We all know the expression “cheap and nasty” and the saying “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys”. On the other hand, paying more is never a guarantee of better quality. Lots of people will take your money off you for nothing in particular, almost as if it were their entitlement. Big incomes rarely do anything to improve anybody’s moral character. You need the judgement of King Solomon, not King Lear. We are business advisers as well as accountants, and these themes do crop up from time to time.