Top five online accountancy software providers

Maxing Tax Digital has shaken up the accountancy industry and only now are GP practices getting to grips with the demands of the new system. Many are shifting to online accounting software, but with so many options – and so much marketing material – it’s difficult to weigh up which option will work best for you and your practice. We speak to independent financial expert Mariah Tompkins, of WKM Accountancy Services, to get a balanced overview of the best accountancy software available today

QuickBooks

Pros

QuickBooks is well-known and often the go-to software for businesses across the UK. The software itself is user-friendly and easy to get to grips with, featuring integrated tools and apps to help with efficiency. The support offering is one of the best available, with a ‘phone-in service provided as an option.

QuickBooks is Making Tax Digital-ready, has a fully functioning payroll option and uses a multi-currency accounting system (depending on which package you go for). It can also be connected to your bank to allow automatic transaction imports and is great for both VAT and creating customised invoices. QuickBooks also offers automatic CIS calculations and reporting features, making it a great option for construction businesses.

Cons

Two of the main downsides to QuickBooks are the user limit for each account and the relatively basic payroll reports. It’s worth noting that you cannot submit CIS directly to HMRC, unlike some other software available. 

Price: Starts from £12/month for small businesses, or £8/month for the self-employed

Sage

Pros

One of the main advantages of Sage is its excellent reporting function, which is fully customisable. Much like QuickBooks, you can connect Sage to your bank account to automatically import transactions. It also has great stock management features and a good audit history function.

Cons

Sage is one of the pricier options for accounting software and it is not particularly user-friendly if you don’t have prior knowledge of the software.

Price: Starts from £22/month

Xero

Pros

As expected, Xero is fully Making Tax Digital-ready and offers real-time reporting. This, combined with its user-friendly interface and mobile usability through an app, makes it a great choice for small business owners.

Xero is a good choice for businesses looking to prioritise effective payroll management; it updates every three-to-six weeks, based on customer feedback, so the user experience is always improving. With unlimited users, easy collaboration, automatic CIS calculations and automatic bank feeds, it’s easy to see why Xero is popular. There are also free training courses provided to help you manage your finances.

Cons

While Xero offers many benefits, there are also a couple of drawbacks. It is one of the pricier options available, which could be a concern for smaller businesses. There is also no dedicated support number with Xero and, unlike some of the other providers, you have to create a support ticket, which can make getting help a little cumbersome. 

Price: Starts from £22/month

Wave

Pros

One of the most obvious advantages of Wave is that is the only free software on this list, allowing you to keep track of income and expenses, with no hidden costs. This makes it an attractive solution for small/micro businesses and sole traders, particularly as you can upload pictures of receipts and expenses directly and assign them to the correct accounts later.

The software can connect to your bank for automatic transaction imports and allows you to create professional-looking invoices.

Cons

As is perhaps to be expected with free software, there are quite a few downsides to using Wave. Although the software is very basic it is, comparatively, not that easy to use, can be quite slow, and only offers limited reporting options. While there is a payroll option, this is only available in America and Canada. On a related note, all date formats are ‘americanised’ and cannot be changed, which can be very frustrating for users in other parts of the world.

Price: Free

Capium

Pros

Capium, while lesser-known, is extremely user-friendly and benefits from good customer support. Though designed for small accountancy firms, its book-keeping and payroll modules are well-suited to any small business. It also provides key modules on accounts production, practice management, corporation tax and self-assessment – making it perfect for SMEs.

Capium is very easy to understand and is Making Tax Digital-ready. Also, unlike QuickBooks, Capium does allow you to submit CIS directly to HMRC. It can even be used on mobile devices via the Capium app (at an additional cost).

Cons

Though the downsides of Capium are few, they may be quite significant, depending on how you intend to use the software. For example, it can sometimes be difficult to export data and some of the reports are not user-friendly e.g. when running a customer statement report, there are limited options available.

Price: Bookkeeping module free (not MTD ready); other modules start from £15

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the software you choose should be the one which best serves your specific business needs, at a workable cost for you and your business. Much of the functionality offered in many programs may not actually be necessary for you, so spend time investigating just what you need the software for. It’s also important to speak to your accountant and get their advice before making any changes.

WKM Accountancy Services is an East Midlands-based accountancy firm providing solutions to contractors and small businesses across the UK, including medical professionals. 

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