FreeAgent vs Saasu vs KashFlow vs Xero vs AccountsPortal

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by hackeron, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. hackeron

    hackeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 39 Likes: 3
    Having not found anything suitable for Mac, I decided to look at Cloud solutions.

    I did not use each package extensively so I may have missed certain things, please post corrections if any. Also I'm not an accountant and everything here should be taken with a grain of salt, this is simply my personal attempt to find an accountant package to help me run my company: xanview (dot) com

    There are also other cloud solutions that you may want to look at that for me personally are either too expensive, feel alpha grade or too complicated to use. They may however be right for you: CODA 2go, BionicBooks, Netsuite, Inttact, Arithmo, Marchant's Mirror and others.

    In short, so far FreeAgent seems significantly better than the rest, by quite a huge gap.

    In KashFlow,
    1) I can't take a transaction and tell KashFlow it's dividends for me.
    2) There is no support for car mileage and you need to enter this as purchases separate from the fuel receipts? - basically, not good for those of us without company cars.
    3) I can't attach receipts (it tells you to write a reference code on the paper receipt!)
    4) Dividends are handled by creating a new Transaction Type, and I guess if you want to track them by name, you will need to create a transaction type per person?

    Xero is a bit better and seems more of a solid package but:
    1) Still nothing about car mileage expenses
    2) I can't even seem to add transactions manually?
    3) I tried to import but it said I have locked my account period and there is no way to unlock in the settings or help manual - great...

    I didn't try AccountsPortal very long, but the documentation doesn't even mention dividends and it's strictly double entry from what I can tell and feels a bit "old school". Not much help in doing your taxes either - many times you are simply told to speak to your accountant instead of telling you how to use the software. Don't believe it does much to help with corporate tax, vat or payroll either - very basic stuff here.

    Saasu also didn't seem to have bank statements or anything like that - it had "Items" though whatever that is, inventory? - Again no mention of dividends and their help section is powered by google search - not a great sign.

    FreeAgent on the other hand, had some things I really liked that I don't think any of the others have:

    1) Expenses and Car Mileage Claims - I can not only enter miles per person per trip and let FreeAgent figure out the rest (even shows the 40p per mile in the calculation with separate VAT), I can see reports on who in the company expensed what and even see things like mileage per project.

    2) Receipt attachment - I don't want to write a reference code on each receipt and file it in folders, why doesn't anyone else let you upload the receipt and throw it away? - FreeAgent does.

    3) Managing bank transactions - I import all transactions, then I get a list of anything "unexplained" and I can then do things like - hmm, mcdonalds, right that would be dividends to me as I forgot my personal card - or that was a part purchased for project b - and FreeAgent figures out the VAT based on date and category type and figures out how much of that is can be taken out of corporation tax.

    4) Built in support for dividends - sure I can create a separate account for every share holder, but built in dividends support is great especially when I can select a transaction, then set type: Payment Made To User -> Shareholder Name -> Dividends (or Expense Payment or Benefit in Kind, etc) - the categories change depending on type and fill in people's names where applicable, brilliant!

    5) I really like the flow of FreeAgent - everything is so beautiful and easy and explained to you. I click on the Taxes tab and it shows Self Assessment, Corporation Tax, PAYE & NI, VAT all right there with due dates and values.

    Please share your experiences
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: hackeron Member since: Oct 27, 2010
    #1
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  2. gavcooper

    gavcooper UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 171 Likes: 35
    hackeron,

    Similar story to me and I went down the same road as you over a year ago. After testing most of the software you have mentioned, I ended up using FreeAgent and never looked back. They are always improving the software and the referral programme means you can end up using their service for free. Make sure you signup through another user so you get 10% off the monthly fees, then you only need 9 more referrals to get a completely free accounting service.

    FreeAgent 10% off link below in signature if you require it.

    PS. My advice is to get a accountant who knows FreeAgent. I ended up moving to Chris @ Maslins and the level of knowledge and customer service has been brilliant. Because all your company accounts are online and you can give special access to the accountant, so there is no need to use a locally based accountant anymore. If you are interested in using Maslins, tell Chris you have been recommended by Gavin @ Red Square Creative.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: gavcooper Member since: Apr 5, 2010
    #2
  3. garyk

    garyk UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 4,820 Likes: 768
    What I do for expenses is I have set myself up as a supplier and just raise a purchase invoice each month with all my expense items on it, mileage, subsistence, sundry items etc.
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: garyk Member since: Jun 14, 2006
    #3
  4. hackeron

    hackeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 39 Likes: 3
    That means managing receipts separately and managing expenses separately, then maybe putting a reference in your accountant software for every "purchace invoice" to know where to find details of the expense.

    Why put up with these messy workarounds, 3 separate systems to manage your accounts and not being able to get stats about expenses (like expenses per project or employee) when something like FreeAgent gives you all this? :|
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: hackeron Member since: Oct 27, 2010
    #4
  5. MyAccountantOnline

    MyAccountantOnline UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 9,540 Likes: 1,885
    As an accountant I think it's great that there is so much choice availiable now with many really good packages on the market.

    It means business owners can choose a package which fits their requirements rather than the posistion many found themselves in a few years ago with the market dominated by Sage.

    I actually really like Accounts Portal - I find it easy and quick to use and pricing is very competitive (but it's personal preference).

    As an accountant I do find, although attitudes are changing, that small business owners often dont wont to pay a large monthly fee for accounting software, which is where Freeagent becomes unattractive at almost £30 per month for a limited company.

    Its certainly changing the way as accountants we work:)
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: MyAccountantOnline Member since: Sep 24, 2008
    #5
  6. MyAccountantOnline

    MyAccountantOnline UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 9,540 Likes: 1,885
    Accounts Portal does actually deal with VAT very well including Flate rate VAT which not all packages do;):)
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: MyAccountantOnline Member since: Sep 24, 2008
    #6
  7. elainec100@cheapaccounting

    elainec100@cheapaccounting UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 13,271 Likes: 2,871
    Good lord - our fees start at £44.99 plus vat including the free Agent software!

    http://www.cheapaccounting.co.uk/indexservicesltdsupfreeagent.php

    and for Kashflow even cheaper at£41.99 plus vat including the software:

    http://www.cheapaccounting.co.uk/indexservicesltdsupkashflow.php

    That includes your year end accounts, CT600, self assessment etc

    So yes it is changing the way accountants work!
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: elainec100@cheapaccounting Member since: Nov 4, 2005
    #7
  8. hackeron

    hackeron UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 39 Likes: 3
    Heh, us small business owners are a pain in the arse, I know :)

    This is true, but it's £25 and 10% discount if you use a code. The referral system also allows you to pay less than that. So from day one it's £22.50 per month or £26.44 with VAT. So around £320 a year inc VAT.

    That is a bit steep and I'm a bit hesitant about signing up just yet but it seems to give a lot and they hold your hand and give you advice from start to finish. Other packages expect you to ask your accountant how to set things up and get going. I believe it should save more than it costs on accountant fees (currently paying around £1200 per year).

    At the moment I use one of those accountancy services where I drop of an assorted bag of all my invoices, receipts and statements and they do the rest. That's convenient but I have no idea what's happening in my business and would like to change that. So far this seems like the only all in one solution unless I've missed something.

    I looked at AccountsPortal and they actually just emailed me, their support appears top notch! Also their pricing is certainly attractive. However then I'd need to manage a mileage log separately, I'd need to manage my receipts separately, I'd need to use workarounds like separate category per director and employee if I want to track expenses separately. Seems FreeAgent saves a lot of time for me here.
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: hackeron Member since: Oct 27, 2010
    #8
  9. MyAccountantOnline

    MyAccountantOnline UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 9,540 Likes: 1,885
    You certainly should see a significant saving on your annual fees with your accountant doing considerably less work.

    I agree Accounts Portal support is absolutely fantastic (I'm not on any commission by the way!) but I agree it doesnt suit all. You can certainly deal with the expenses in Accounts Portal but if you prefer Freeagent that seems the one for you. Its certainly a great package - I spent quite some time testing it myself along with various others.
    Posted: Nov 11, 2010 By: MyAccountantOnline Member since: Sep 24, 2008
    #9
  10. Malarky

    Malarky UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 7 Likes: 0
    Having recently set up as a sole trader under CIS I am currently researching both FreeAgent and KashFlow.

    So far I have found FreeAgent to be perfect for my needs except for a couple of things with the main one being no CIS support. Although there is a workaround for receiving CIS payments, I feel that it is more of a band aid than a proper solution.

    I have only started researching KashFlow tonight and it was good to see that it supports CIS! However, the main issue for me is that it does not appear to have an easy method of keeping mileage and expense tracking as mentioned previously. This is a big one for me as my mileage is a daily occurrence and I do not want to run 2 systems. I also didn't 'gel' with it as easily as FreeAgent.

    Therefore I am at an impasse with neither fulfilling all my needs. I have been told that KashFlow is looking at implementing expenses and mileage soon. Unfortunately FreeAgent doesn't appear to be offering CIS support in the near future. I will be looking at KashFlow a bit more as my accountants have suggested it.
    Posted: Nov 16, 2010 By: Malarky Member since: Oct 11, 2010
    #10
  11. garyk

    garyk UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 4,820 Likes: 768
    3 systems? errr no 1, I post my expenses once a month against a single purchase invoice cleverly entitled (if it was this month) 'Expenses November', simple!
    Posted: Nov 17, 2010 By: garyk Member since: Jun 14, 2006
    #11
  12. GaryMc

    GaryMc UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 727 Likes: 198
    I think you have just cut right to the heart of the debate here. So which was she using FreeAgent or Kashflow?
    Posted: Nov 17, 2010 By: GaryMc Member since: Dec 6, 2007
    #12
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  13. David Griffiths

    David Griffiths UKBF Regular Moderator

    Posts: 10,148 Likes: 3,222
    Spamalot, actually. :D

    Going back to the main point, it seems to me that Freeagent is aimed primarily at one person contracting companies - people offering computer contracting services being an obvious example. Within that market, the offering looked very good.

    However, I felt that it didn't work so well for more complex businesses - those with more customers, suppliers, employees, stock etc. Of the solutions that I looked at, I chose Xero and now use it for my own accounts and offer it to clients.

    Most of the others would have worked as well, although in each case there were specific areas where I had issues with the offering. As is the nature of these programs, in many cases later upgrades have dealt either wholly or partly with those issues, but of course Xero has moved on as well.

    For the record, it does deal with expense claims, and its ability to set up direct bank feeds is a huge edge in facilties for businesses with more than a few transactions each day.

    There is no single solution that will suit everybody either in terms of facilities or even look and feel, which is almost certainly a good thing because it keeps all of the suppliers on their toes.
    Posted: Nov 17, 2010 By: David Griffiths Member since: Jun 21, 2008
    #13
  14. edmolyneux

    edmolyneux UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 2 Likes: 3
    Hi All, Ed from FreeAgent Central here.

    Malarky - you're right, CIS is not supported by FreeAgent but it probably should be. We're evolving very fast so you can consider your comment a vote in favour of CIS support, and we're hearing that message from elsewhere, too.

    I would say that FreeAgent (and KashFlow) are much more UK-focussed than Xero - being able to file VAT Returns online directly from each product, for example, which I don't believe Xero are intending to offer.

    But it's very much horses for courses...

    You can find out more about where FreeAgent is headed at The Depot (depot.freeagentcentral.com)
    Posted: Nov 17, 2010 By: edmolyneux Member since: Sep 24, 2010
    #14
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  15. gavcooper

    gavcooper UKBF Contributor Free Member

    Posts: 171 Likes: 35
    Thanks for the link nice to know what on the horizon for FreeAgent.
    Posted: Nov 17, 2010 By: gavcooper Member since: Apr 5, 2010
    #15
  16. Malarky

    Malarky UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 7 Likes: 0
    This is another thing I really like about FreeAgent, a question gets asked about it and a couple of hours later there is a reply from Ed, the google-fu is strong in this one.......Joking aside, I like the way Ed is so proactive and this is why I'm looking forward to see how FreeAgent grows and develops.

    Also, thanks for the link to The Depot, I'll be keeping my eye out for when the inclusion of CIS payments is added.
    Posted: Nov 17, 2010 By: Malarky Member since: Oct 11, 2010
    #16
  17. ElMarno

    ElMarno UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 4 Likes: 1
    Hello all.

    The problem with all the software solutions that people have mentioned above is that you still have to take that to an accountant who may not use it. Then you have to spend time transfering it all into an excel spreadsheet.

    Why bother??

    Look at Crunch Accounting. They's give you cloud software and do all accountnacy based on the details you submit for a fixed monthly fee of £59.50.

    Moreover, they are an expert team of PGCE accredited accountants and can unlimited advice for no extra fee.

    Done.
    Posted: Nov 19, 2010 By: ElMarno Member since: Nov 19, 2010
    #17
  18. MyAccountantOnline

    MyAccountantOnline UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 9,540 Likes: 1,885
    From one accountant who uses Accounts Portal amongst others- we dont transfer any data into Excel and certainly wouldnt ask, or need our clients to, and we charge fixed monthly paid fees which are less than £59.50;):)
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010
    Posted: Nov 19, 2010 By: MyAccountantOnline Member since: Sep 24, 2008
    #18
  19. Jenni384

    Jenni384 UKBF Regular Full Member

    Posts: 4,812 Likes: 1,528
    I'm not sure that that's accurate. As the thread shows, many of us will accept books completed in a variety of packages and use reports straight from the software to create the year end accounts. :)
    Posted: Nov 19, 2010 By: Jenni384 Member since: Oct 1, 2007
    #19
  20. GaryMc

    GaryMc UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 727 Likes: 198
    They are all qualified teachers? What has that got to do with anything.

    1 post - selling Crunch - are you not declaring an interest for any particular reason?
    Posted: Nov 19, 2010 By: GaryMc Member since: Dec 6, 2007
    #20
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