So for context… I have really basic accounting needs - I’m a project management contractor with very few transactions (and am a limited cost trader!). I currently use freeagent without an accountant.
What would make a big difference to running my business (in terms of accounting / banking)?
- Real time updates /integration
I know it’s been said, but for clarity… True real time integration (other banks do overnight feeds into Freeagent). The driver for this is mainly for bookkeeping - my biggest pain is bookkeeping and filing receipts. I want to tag a receipt to a transaction, and have it synced (with the receipt) in my freeagent account immediately ideally.
- General Bookkeeping ideas
a) somehow capturing & storing all info required for VAT record keeping purposes at point of payment, thereby not even needing a receipt. Don’t think this is remotely possible, but trying to think big!
b) auto-categorisation for VAT/HMRC categories in Freeagent, (i.e. not the Starling payment categories)
c) an ongoing pain is splitting receipts between multiple categories. If you could build some AI/machine learning that learned when a receipt should be split. For example -
I regularly visit a coffee shop and buy 2 coffees (one for me, one for a colleague). 1 coffee should be posted to ‘travel & subsistence’ (my coffee), the other coffee should be posted to ‘business entertaining’. The categorisation is important as they are treated differently for tax purposes. If system could learn when to split this way (either by ‘reading’ a receipt on upload, or learning how frequent transactions at particular retailers are handled) that would be a timesaver!
d) Central receipt repository. Store a receipt once, hyperlink to it from both apps. And going above and beyond - Metadata to be able to search receipts, OCR so you can search what’s written on the receipts etc
e) a ‘pull’ from personal bank accounts, where you can tag personal expenses to be charged to the business.
- Accounting workflow/ dashboard / alerts
What would be helpful is some sort of personal dashboard or customisable workflow, which I can tailor for how I manage my accounts. In essence, you could log in daily and get a list of all activities to be completed on that day, or heatmaps for key activities. Some examples:
I have a recurring personal expense in Freeagent that gets posted on the last day of every month. The exact amount differs month by month. It would be good to setup an alert (viewable on a dashboard) which reminds me on the day to review/update the expense.
Sweeping of personal expenses. I have a large buildup of personal expenses to be reimbursed to my personal account. Again an alert or dashboard to remind me to do this. In this case, it might have a custom red/amber/green status depending on the value to be reimbursed (e.g. I might decide an expense buildup of >£1k per employee should appear red, with a transaction drafted that can be ‘approved’ before it is released via Starling)
more broader (which is kinda what Freeagent already does) things like running payroll, paying employees, completing tax return etc. But again… all rolled into a single dashboard, which lists the actions to be completed that day.
Not sure if that’s the kinda stuff you’re after! I’ll keep thinking…