Business accounting: to outsource or not?

Finance and legal

28 March 2017

Deciding whether to outsource your accounts can often come down to balancing out whether you have the time and the expertise to properly do them yourself, and if that would outweigh the cost of hiring an accountant (and the time it would take you to find a good one).

However, with more accounting services and tools available than ever before, there are also more nuances to consider when making that call.

Saving time

Doing your own accounts takes time, and sometimes that could end up costing you more than an accountant's fee. To assess this effectively, you need to consider what an accountant can do for you. Some may walk you through what you need to gather for your submissions, organise your receipts and invoices into the right categories, do the sums and enter all the data. Others might provide forms and guidance and expect you to do the data entry yourself. To decide whether they’ll actually save you time, you need to know exactly what they’ll do for you.

Cost and cost-effectiveness

It's obviously an extra expense for your business to hire an accountant, but it doesn't have to be a particularly hefty one. Online services can start from as little as £50, while High Street accountants will prepare and complete the paperwork for around £250. However, that cost can rise – and the increased price can be reflected in tax savings.

If you’re mainly worried about how to maximise tax reliefs, expenses and capital expenditures, you need to be sure you've hired an accountant who will advise you on these things and not simply provide a template for you to fill in.


Online services, software and apps are all available to help manage your accounts, which can save time in the long-term – and possibly money at the end of the year – without handing control over to an accountant.

Companies like Xero, Free Agent and Wave provide full accounting software for PCs, tablets and smartphones, with features like payroll and expensing that could become indispensable as you grow. And smaller, more specific tools like Expensify can deal with individual areas like expenses.

But don’t feel like you have to make a final decision right now. Opting for an expenses app and an online accountant might work this year, but you might need to switch to a part-time accountant further down the line.

The key is simply to rationally and regularly assess your situation, understand your goals and tailor the solution to fit.