Key differences between online and traditional accountancy

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Traditionally, contractors were happy to visit their high street accountants to sort out their tax affairs. While this seemed convenient, these local firms could sometimes struggle with self-employment specific legislation such as IR35.

Nowadays, the rise of online accountancy firms has given contractors a more flexible approach to getting their books in order. Although there are many benefits to this new-age approach, those used to the traditional pen and paper way of working can still find it difficult to adjust.

To help, we’ve created this handy guide outlining the important differences between the two forms of accounting.

1. Value for money

Although many traditionalists appreciate the face-to-face approach offered by high-street accountants, this service rarely comes cheap. Some firms will expect you to fork out for travel expenses, while others could surprise you with hidden charges.

In addition, some traditional accountants will charge by the hour – meaning your costs could soon escalate. This could be particularly concerning to those starting their self-employment journey.

Online accountancy firms charge fixed fees, allowing you to effectively budget your outgoings. They also include a clear breakdown of what you can expect for your money, so you’re not blindsided by hidden expenses.

2. Accessibility

Contractors lead busy lives, so many do not have the time to visit their local accountants. What’s more, the traditional approach means that independent professionals will have to wait until business hours before making any changes.

Online firms offer contractors 24/7 access to their accounts. Whether it be claiming expenses at 3am or submitting invoice details after a hard day’s graft, modern accountancy systems make it all possible.

Additionally, online providers allow their clients to submit changes as they go – making it far easier to keep up to date with their accounts in real time. This is compared to the traditional approach, which sees contractors visit their accountants once every couple months – usually with a pile of expense receipts in hand.

3. Communication

Traditional accountancy companies usually rely on telephone, email and face to face communication. As explained earlier, this doesn’t come cheap, while some providers could leave clients hanging on for days before receiving a response.

Online firms offer the same communication channels, plus the option of taking part in a live chat conversation. They also provide a quick turnaround when answering queries, usually within a matter of hours.

ClearSky – the best of both worlds

At ClearSky, we are committed to making our clients’ accounts as hassle-free as possible. We offer a flexible service, combining a state of the art online portal with a dedicated team of advisors.

We believe this combination of online flexibility and personal touch offers contractors the best of both worlds. Indeed, we regularly hold “meet the accountant” events, allowing our clients face-to-face access to our specialist team.

Furthermore, we provide expert knowledge of contractor-specific legislation, such as the confusing IR35. There are also no hidden charges with us, just a flat monthly rate with a full range of packages to suit your every need.

For more information about what ClearSky can do for you, please call 0800 032 5326 or email

You can also check out more tips about what to look out for in an accountant by reading our guide here.