Is Accounts Outsourcing For Me?
7th July, 2023
Accounts outsourcing is becoming an increasingly popular option for many UK companies. The benefits of retaining and building an in-house accounts team are plentiful, but is it right for you and your business? This blog post considers the key aspects of the account outsourcing process.
Is accounting outsourcing for everyone?
It certainly can be, yes. The scale, timing, and method of outsourcing are down to each individual business to determine its requirements, and it’s fair to say that companies that choose to outsource do not fit a specific mould. However, experience suggests that companies that have chosen to outsource their accounts to us are typically:
- Larger companies with a turnover in excess of £1m
- In need of good financial management and data to support their growth plans
- Keen to avoid the risk of a single point of failure, i.e. a one-person accounts team
If you’re reading this, you are probably in the research phase and are likely to be weighing up the options of building an internal team or working with an external firm like ours. This would further suggest that your business currently falls into one of three categories:
- You are needing to downsize or want to reduce your cost base
- You are experiencing rapid growth and need to upscale resources and skills while avoiding increased headcount
- You’ve currently got or previously tried to build an internal team and it’s not working for you
As noted, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or a particular size or sector of business that is best suited to an outsourcing arrangement. However, if your situation links to one of those above, then it is more than likely that outsourcing will work for you and deliver rapid benefits.
Is it easy to outsource my accounts?
This is a big question, and the simple answer is yes, but with the caveat that it relies on finding the right accounting partner first. It is relatively easy to find someone to do your accounts for you, but finding a company that will work in your best interests is harder. Choosing who to work with is a significant decision that should not be taken lightly or quickly.
Firms like ours act on behalf of a growing number of businesses looking for scalable access to a broad skill set of qualified accounting specialists. We have worked with all our outsourcing clients for many years in one guise or another, or they have been referred to us by other satisfied clients where trust and capability have been established.
So, if you are thinking about outsourcing, the first step is to find a firm that offers one of the following traits:
- Has a proven track record in handling the entire accounts function for other, similar-sized companies
- It comes highly recommended via someone you trust who has direct experience with their service
- Is it local to you? Outsourcing overseas is definitely cost-effective, but where’s the data? Who is processing your figures? Are they regulated? And what recourse do you have?
It’s worth bearing in mind that good providers will build a bespoke, flexible solution for you, and it is relatively easy to layer in additional services as the relationship develops.
Reduce headcount and payroll costs
As the table below demonstrates, building an internal team can come at a cost of more than £250k per year. When you consider that we can provide the same or even an enhanced range of services for between one-third and half of the typical costs, you can see why outsourcing makes good financial sense.
In one recent example, a client was able to more than halve their costs when their Finance Director left and they chose to outsource to us. Having a sole finance director on a salary in excess of £150,000 deliver the entire accounting function was not financially viable. By outsourcing the accounts function to us, we have been able to expand the remit, provide appropriately skilled staff for each aspect of the role, and reduce their costs to just £6,000 per month. They also now have the added benefit of a scalable team at their disposal.
|Job Title||Salary||Total Cost|
*This example shows a typical in-house accounts team. Salaries taken from Glassdoor, November 2020, are the average level for the role. The total cost includes Employers’ National Insurance, current minimum Pension Contributions, Employee’s Gross Pay and expenses.
Aside from reducing headcount and overhead costs, outsourcing also offers many of the less tangible benefits such as no holidays, no sick days and crucially, no training and personal development costs.
Accounts outsourcing enables access to a broader range of skills
As shown in the table above, a typical internal accounts team of around six employees provides a one-for-one resource for each function of the process. By outsourcing, one phone call or email gives you access to everyone from a bookkeeper to a fully qualified management accountant or virtual FD, and in a good-sized firm like ours, you will have access to more than one of each of these too.
As the earlier example showed, in smaller internal teams it is not unusual to end up with one FD or FC delivering a range of tasks which makes the administrative aspects very expensive, if you are paying £70k+ for someone to be handling bookkeeping or credit control.
Unlike an in-house team, accountancy firms are also scalable, at speed. You want to add on the payroll – easy. You have peak seasonality, no problems. You merge or enjoy rapid growth, the team is on hand to pick up the extra work, without the cost or delay of further recruitment.
And of course, those working within a professional services firm will be fully qualified, subject to regular CPD and have experience gained from working with multiple businesses and alongside other professionals.
To outsource or not to outsource?
You can see that outsourcing can be hugely valuable in terms of giving you access to a broader range of skills at a considerably lower cost to your firm. But as you will also have read, it is not something to be undertaken lightly or on a whim. We would strongly recommend seeking references from any potential firm you are thinking of working with.
Here at Haggards Crowther, we have a highly skilled and experienced team with 15 years of experience providing a full range of services to clients. To speak to a partner on a no-fee, no-commitment basis, please contact our Business Development Manager, Nicky to set up a call.
You can also hear from some of our existing outsourcing clients via our case studies.