Hiring an accountant when you’re a freelancer or self-employed can be a big decision. I can't make the choice for you, but there's an interplay of three important factors here: time, money, and mindset.
First, you need to decide whether it’s even necessary–many freelancers manage their own books. However, depending on the work you’re doing and the amount of incoming and outgoing cash, doing so can gradually build into a monumental task. Hiring an accountant can save you a heck a lot of time in the long-run.
Furthermore, a good accountant will be able to save you money by navigating the complex world of finances for you. Tips, advice, and reminders about changes in law, whether broad and far-reaching or specific to your individual industry can save your business hundreds of pounds per year.
Finally, business psychology is an important but often understated part of being a freelancer. Your business is beholden to your mindset, so it's incredibly important to look after your mental wellbeing and avoid burnout. If the idea of meticulously tracking your cash flow, dealing with IR35s, and (heaven forbid) facing an audit from HMRC has you questioning why you got into this freelance malarkey in the first place, then seriously think about hiring an accountant. They deal with the stuff you don't want to do, and it could be the difference between enjoying your work and hating it.
Accounting can be the bane of self-employment. An effective accountant will save you time, money, and stress.
Time to get an accountant?
Ok, so accountants can help with time, money, and mindset, but where to start? Brighton’s full of accountants, but who can offer the best services for freelancers? Fear not, dear freelancers of Brighton and Hove, here’s my guide to the best accountants for freelancers in Brighton & Hove.
Brighton’s best accountants for freelancers
This is in no particular order, and some of these accountants offer services exclusively for specific industries, but if you're a freelancer in Brighton & Hove, here are some of the best accountants for you.
Ozkan specialise in digital companies, which means if you’re a freelancer in the digital sector then Ozkan may be the company to handle your finances. Nilden Ozkan, the founder, started her journey as a freelancer in 2010, so fully understands the freelance experience. She has transformed her freelance accountancy service into a full firm, working with digital businesses, including big name clients such as TEDxBrighton and Brighton Digital Festival. If you’re in the digital sector then you can book a free consultation with OZKAN to see how they can help you.
These guys are absolutely fantastic when it comes to understanding business start up and accounting for freelancers, and also work with some of the biggest names in Brighton’s digital scene. They’re experts in digital accounting systems, which is crucial for upcoming changes to tax law around Making Tax Digital.
Where: Suites 12-13, 2nd Floor, Vantage Point, New England Road, Brighton, BN1 4GW
How much: Approximately £1250+VAT per year depending on industry
Boasting a range of clients who are sole traders, freelance, from many different sectors, and have wildly varying incomes, Fifth Element have a wealth (excuse the pun) of experience in the freelance world. Fifth Element promise sound business advice and tax planning, no matter what stage you’re at with your business and freelance career–even if you’re currently employed but planning to take the leap. They even offer a Collect and Deliver service for paperwork!
Where: 3rd Floor, Queensbury House, 106 Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XF
Crunch is an accounting service designed for freelancers and contractors. Crunch was built from the ground up for small business and small business alone. Crunch is a little different–despite being Brighton-based, they are an entirely digital and phone-based company. They’re one of Brighton’s digital startup success stories and the reasons are obvious. For your subscription you get fully developed cloud-based accounting software and access to a team of inhouse accountants from 8:30am-8:30pm everyday just by picking up the phone. Crunch are expanding to offer a suite of other business services too. Whilst many prefer to work with a brick and mortar business, for those who are happy to have their accounts managed remotely and digitally, Crunch offer a great service at a good price.
How much: £64.50+VAT per month
Nimbus are a team of chartered accountants offering a high quality service and a hands-on approach to supporting your business to grow. Along with online accounting software access (Xero or FreeAgent), they give you a dedicated accountant with a mobile number, meaning you can get access to financial advice even in the evenings and at the weekend. A proactive approach to your freelance business means they keep up on legislation changes and make it their job to inform you.
Where: 32 Church Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2FN
How much: £150+VAT per month
Atkinsons are accustomed to working with all types of businesses, from freelancers and contractors, to startups, to SMEs with several employees. This makes them a great one-stop shop for your business if you’re planning on scaling from the freelance model. Perhaps you’re an app developer, who plans on shifting into the startup world with one of your own app ideas. Or a web designer with your sights set on becoming an agency. Atkinsons would enable that transition and support it. They don’t provide accounting software but will guide you to pick the best one for your needs. Additionally, their pricing is much more subjective. In short, this is a highly tailored experience.
Where: Palmeira Avenue Mansions, 19 Church Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2FA
How much: Variable
Proactive keep it simple–all your accounting needs, no hidden charges, wrapped up in a simple monthly fee. They handle all your tax returns (included in the fee), provide software for you to use (Xero or FreeAgent), and assist with any issues you may have as you scale such as pay roll and VAT returns. Plus, there is of course access to general support all year round.
Where: Second Floor, 3 St. George's Place, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4GA
How much: £99+VAT per month
Cardens are one of the longest-established accountancy firms in Brighton & Hove. Cardens are a medium-sized accounting firm that retain that local touch. Their breadth of experience provides them with plenty of knowledge in different sectors, and they even have specialist accountants for certain sectors such as media, marketing, and professional services. They pride themselves on dodging jargon insofar as possible too. They’re a Brighton Living Wage Employer, and donate 1% of their turnover to charity too.
Where: The Old Casino, 28 Fourth Avenue, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2PJ
Easy Accountancy is just a minute’s walk from the station, making them, well, easy to access via public transport or to reach or if you’re living outside of Brighton. They offer a simple fixed-fee service for freelancers which includes unlimited communication with your accountant, bookkeeping software, support around completing the self-assessment tax return, and more general proactive business management advice. Their prices begin at a very reasonable £60+VAT per month, with bespoke packages built for each business. It’s worth noting that they’re not locals and are part of a chain accountancy service. They also have their sister company, SJD, based in the same location, which includes similar services. They even promise to refund the entire month’s fee if they take longer than a day to get back to your queries!
Where: Frederick House, 42 Frederick Place, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4EA
How much: £60+VAT per month.
Simon Peters boasts over 20 years of experience in the accounting sector, with several years in large London-based firms. However, he decided to take a different approach after seeing how impersonal large firms can be, and setup shop in Brighton. He's proudly helped many businesses get off the ground and move onto great success, and goes the extra mile to do so by visiting clients at their office or home to talk through the business and what challenges they are facing. His fees are very reasonable, particularly if you're set up as a sole trader rather than a limited company.
Where: 26 Lowther Road, Brighton, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 6LF
How much: £65 per month. £350 per year for sole traders.
SRC work with anything from brand new startups and the self-employed through to large corporates. They work alongside the aforementioned Crunch to offer a full service to freelancers. They're experienced in supporting scale. As your business grows - maybe it becomes a limited company, hires its first staff member, and begins to export products and services - SRC act as a guiding hand along the way to support you.
Where: 2nd Floor, Stanford Gate, South Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 6SB
Hand over the numbers
So, there you have it. I can’t make the decision on whether you should hire an accountant or not for you–that’s something you need to decide as a business. But with most of the accountants above offering a free initial consultation, it’s worth meeting a few to see what they can offer you.
If you are looking for an accountant, then you can’t go wrong with any of the above. That said, I’m sure there are many more great accountants for freelancers out there in Brighton & Hove. If your accountant isn’t listed above (or perhaps you’re an accountant yourself?) then drop me a comment below.