Thursday, January 16, 2014

Xero vs Clear Books vs FreeAgent vs others

Over at AccountingWeb UK we read:   Just looking for quick feedback folks. I use Xero and have a number of clients on the system. Few things bug me such as no easy payment on a/c option for customers/suppliers, EU VAT problem, lack of bank feeds with some NI banks.

Clear books looks pretty neat at first glance and seems to have bank feed technology too.
Anyone give me a list or pros/cons of Xero against Clear Books or against other online systems? Clear Books seems to have payroll too? -sparkey999

DMGbus's picture

Final stat accs & iXBRL

DMGbus PM | | Permalink
Whichever one is closest to having the following capabilities would be the best so far as I am concerned:
  1. Capability of producing compliant statutory accounts (Xero fails on this, as when I last looked it had references to 1993 (yes 1993) Companies Act, presumably an NZ Co's Act)
  2. iXBRL capabilities to satisfy HMRC CT filing
Advantages arising from the above: ditch rubbish accounts production software and eliminate to/froing between bookkeeping software and accounts production software.

petersaxton's picture

Clear Books looks good

petersaxton PM | | Permalink
I've asked people what they prefer but I am going to look at Clear Books and Xero and make my own decision based on that. I'll tell you what I decide.

Glennzy's picture

I started off looking at Xero

Glennzy PM | | Permalink
but I find it difficult to judge how good it is from the free trial as you need a full of set of figures to work it properly. In addition I found the whole accreditation process tedious and quite costly, and the whole gold silver and bronze stuff gets my goat. This may sound strange but I also feel the need to like the people I deal with in order to do business with. Xero only seem to want to be with platinum sellers and someone like me who may only have 10 or 15 people using there software they were not interested. So after Paul Scholes recommendation I looked at Clear Books which I really like. I am doing my own stuff on it and have a few clients using it now with a few more to sign up next month. Its better priced and very easy to use. You get a better feel of dealing with them, as the staff are great and helpful and they come across as interested in supporting you to grow and recommend their products, and I hope they do well. I think they have a trial version of accounts production coming soon and also have payroll. I am based in North East where Sage dominates still as there are a lot of there ex staff working around about but they have lost their way a long time IMO.


cloud accounting

georgeford PM | | Permalink
Hi there,
I really like Kashflow but know that its not for everyone.


Paul Scholes's picture

I'm using all three 1 thanks

Paul Scholes PM | | Permalink
Hi sparkey999 - even though I'm about up to my limit of 3 in being able to keep track of how they each work, two of my clients use the same bookkeeper who is wedded to QBs and so, taking a deep breath, I've just signed up to QBO to see how it works and also to discover the details of the partner fees, which seem to evolve as quickly as a flu virus.
And that just about sums up how I've had to approach this, ie it's picking the system that best suits the needs of the user and, in our case, that means pretty much the clients, as I would rather they do most of the work than me/us.

Comparing these or any other 3 is a really difficult task, not only because they each come at things differently and have different pricing structures and discounts, but because you can never take any function, or lack of function, for granted, because they can change month by month.

As many will know I've been working with ClearBooks for a few months now on their accountants' "Pro" products (year end accounts, tax etc) but it's also given me the opportunity to use & learn the bookkeeping/payroll side and to feedback suggestions for improvements & enhancements and what's really impressive is how quickly things can be changed and this is one of the main advantages of Cloud stuff, ie Sage desk-bound may have loads of developers working but they are planning the next release in X months/years time, whereas Cloud developers are working on corrections & enhancements to go live that day/week.

I and others have made lots of postings about the relative general merits of the three systems you mention and, even though I'm involved with CBs I still see FreeAgent as being a non-accountant user's system, Xero as an equivalent to Sage in operation and usability, more accountant based, and CBs as a bridge between the two, mainly as you can turn on & off loads of functionality. Both FA & CBs come with integrated payroll, which is another area where I'm getting clients more involved, and all three, to varying degrees, are committed to providing the year end add-ons for accounts &/or tax as well as practice management and related internal systems.

If there are key features you are interested in having (or avoiding!) PM me and I'll tell you what I've experienced with each.

As far as the non-technical stuff is concerned, ie the the approach and ethos of each company to its users and accountants, I've made my views clear on this on many occasions, but as I'm now involved with CBs and (hopefully) even those things can evolve, I'm keeping my mouth shut.

petersaxton's picture


petersaxton PM | | Permalink
The latest pricing is £4.99 for life!
I think QBO is quite good but I think Clear Books is likely to be the "clear" leader in terms of quick improvements. If you want to get to know QBO you can go on a one day course to get certified.

AccountancyMarket PM | | Permalink
I love the payroll in Freeagent - so easy to file RTI through the system, takes seconds.
No sign yet of Xero integrating UK payroll and they rely on add-ons.
For me, FreeAgent is great for one-man bands with low volume of transactions, who you can get to do a lot of the work themselves - would definitely recommend it for that type of client.

For high volume transactions business, I would recommend Xero though. I have a client who runs an online business - for every sale they make, there are 3 transactions generated. The sales income, a paypal fee, and another fee to the platform they use. For 50 sales, I can post 150 transactions in about 90 seconds using rules and cash coding - having set up the rules which allocates all of the amounts to the correct accounts, I just perform a review and then can multi-select the transactions to be posted. These features are lacking in FreeAgent.

Both are really lacking with regards to VAT at the moment.

Paul Scholes's picture

QBO Peter

Paul Scholes PM | | Permalink
Hi Peter - wish I'd asked you first! Mainly as a result of Spam filters catching anything with Qbs on it, it's taken me a few days to get registered.

Save me having to search through the website, can you give me a link to the monthly cost you quote, or give details here, is this for any client/package and does it only apply if you get to and keep certified status or whatever they call it? (bottom of this page)

Originally it was a fiver for a year but, as a result of groans on here I hope, it seems they have re-thought this.

Paul Scholes's picture

More speed & automation 1 thanks

Paul Scholes PM | | Permalink
Expanding on AccountancyMarket's points, the benefits of systems like Xero & CBs is that you can import transactions in bulk, via csv imports, making the transition from another system, mid-year easier than say FA, where transactions, such as sales & purchase invoices have to be entered one at a time.

The automation of the whole sales process can be so much easier now with the cloud. Given that it's you, the user, generating the invoice, some or all of which might be recurring, and the ability to integrate systems with banks and other financial processors, there is no reason why companies with standard invoicing should not be able to automate the whole process of invoicing out & money in, in other words, with little if any human intervention.
Xero & ClearBooks have these facilities and my own books, for example, provide a link to Gocardless with the invoice that the client can click into to authorise single or multiple payments and, when the money is taken by Gocadless a balance appears in the Gocardless bank account in my books and the invoice is paid off. Leaving me more time to try and suss out what the 5 debit card payments to Amazon were for last month!

petersaxton's picture

£4.99 per month for life

petersaxton PM | | Permalink
I got an email from my contact at Intuit who quoted it so I don't know the precise terms.
"We are now offering our best product – Quickbooks Online ‘Plus’ at the amazing price of £4.99 + VAT for life!

This is no longer a 12 months introductory offer, this price lasts in perpetuity.
You still receive the Quickbooks Online Accountant version for free, and now your clients can access our best product for a fiver a month for life!"


1 comment:

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