How to become a freelance accountant?
What is an accountant?
Accounting is interpreting and evaluating financial information rather than just gathering the information, like a bookkeeper. An accountant reports on this data to help businesses and people better understand their finances and make more informed strategic decisions. This information allows business owners and investors see how a company is doing over a certain period of time.
Accountants basically manage money. They deal with areas such as financial reporting, budgeting, pay, purchasing, procurement and tax. In some companies, they may also audit financial figures.
Accounting in general covers a range of jobs within an organisation, and there are several different areas of accounting you can go in to, a few of these are:
- Management accounting involves forecasting and cost reporting based on a budget – this is a forward-looking function
- Financial accounting involves creating statements for shareholders based on historical information
- Tax accountants advise businesses and self-employed individuals how to complete their tax forms
What does a freelance accountant do?
Accountants are mainly responsible for the process of preparing and examining financial records, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what they do.
They are also tasked with interpreting financial data, rather than simply just gathering it. They will then provide the data that investors and business owners need, in order to see how a company is doing over a period of time.
Depending on your level of expertise, the day-to-day tasks of an accountant may be:
- Preparing accounts and tax returns
- Providing tax planning services based on current legislation
- Auditing financial information
- Financial forecasting and risk analysis
- Meeting and interviewing clients
- Analysing business plans
- Compiling and presenting reports, budgets, business plans, commentaries, and financial statements
- Dealing with insolvency issues
- Negotiating the terms of business deals with clients
How do I become a freelance accountant?
You don't need a degree to do accountancy and with the right qualifications and commitment, anyone can become an accountant.
There are a range of different qualifications you can take to become an accountant. To become a freelance accountant, though, you will need the Level 4 Diploma (AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting), which you can study here with us.
Once you have obtained the correct qualifications, you can start your journey to becoming a self-employed accountant.
An important thing you will need to do once you have your qualifications is register with a supervisory authority. They will monitor your business activities to ensure that you are meeting the rules and standards.
Those authorities include AAT, ACCA, The Association of International Accountants (AIA), The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), and many more.
You will then also need to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), who are an independent authority that will uphold information rights, as well as pay a data protection fee.
Another vital thing you need to do is to notify HMRC that you’re a sole trader or the owner of a limited company, which will affect the taxes you pay.
If you go down the sole trader route, you will simply need to register as self-employed with HMRC and complete a self-assessment tax return.
However, if you choose to set up a limited company, you will get limited liability for any debt your business incurs which will protect you financially.
What skills do I need to be a freelance accountant?
The business world is constantly evolving, meaning the accounting requirements that go with it do too. It’s certainly a handy tool to have if you come up with fresh ideas, ready to make an impact on the future of accounting.
Understanding aligns with innovation, as you will need to understand the field in which you’ll be working. Meeting new clients, taking in new information and project managements may just be a few of your daily tasks in accounting. This is why understanding information quickly is vital for the role.
When it comes to conveying complex information, accountants need to be able to communicate it in the most straightforward way possible. No matter where you’re working, it’s likely you’ll need to work alongside colleagues on every level.
It’s very important that an accountant can understand how and where a business fits in the market. This will range from how it is affected by the economy, to social and political movements, to how it can forge ahead and evolve. Having this level of knowledge will put you in good stead in an accounting career.
This is really a staple for any job, but it’s no different in the world of accounting. You will need to bring positive energy, and truly believe that what you are working towards is crucial.
Being able to work on your own is just as important as being able to work with others in accounting. This will prove that you can think independently, which will eventually see you given more trust and responsibility. This is a very important factor if further in your career, you decided to go into freelancing.
First things first, you want people to trust you, whether that be your co-workers or your clients. Having credibility in the bank allows you to earn more opportunities by building a credible brand, which will lay the foundations for a solid future in the field.
Just like any career, showing that you’re willing to put in the hard yards can go a long way. This is particularly important when starting out in accounting, as you will be working towards tight deadlines, and juggling multiple clients’ needs, all whilst remaining positive through tough challenges
This is important from the very first step into your journey into accounting, whether you’re a student or a fully qualified accountant, you need to be self-motivated. The challenges you go through can sometimes make you doubt yourself, but it’s important to have a goal in sight that you can push towards.
Accounting is a fast-paced industry, and you’ll never really have a slow day as an accountant. This is why being able to keep on top of a busy schedule by being organised is vital.
This goes hand-in-hand with organisation, as you’re going to have multiple tasks, all set to a strict deadline, all with different priorities. Being able to manage that workload and hit your deadlines is very important when it comes to accounting.
Just as was mentioned in the innovation section, the business and finance industry is always changing. Due to this, it’s important that you can adapt to change quickly and be able to keep up with the times. You’ll put yourself in even better stead if you can foresee what will be important in the future, which can be tough, but it will certainly pay off.
Problems, caused by you or have nothing to do with you, will always arise in accounting, and being able to overcome those problems and figure them out is a vital skill to have. Of course, not every problem can be solved, but developing your skills to make sure when they do arise will be very beneficial.
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