Maintaining proper financial processes is a crucial component to ensuring success for businesses and organisations.
Taxes, payrolls, and invoices are just some of the financial topics that should be managed to maintain compliance and keep business operations in order. Accounting software can be helpful in this case, as these solutions can provide users with many features and capabilities to manage their finances, maintain the organisation of important financial documentation and data, and process and record their transactions. These tools can also save time for users by providing automated features and capabilities for streamlining accounting processes.
Many organisations have turned to this technology for their business and financial processes, and the accounting software market has seen growth over recent years as a result. According to a report from Mordor Intelligence, the market covered was valued at $12 billion (£9 billion) in 2020 and is expected to reach $19.6 billion (£14.8 billion) by 2026.
Here we will be looking at nine of the top accounting software platforms available for individuals and organisations in the UK.
Accounting Software Solutions in the UK
Best for Automated Reporting
AccountsIQ provides a smart cloud accounting software that is an excellent option for users who wish to automate their financial processes. For example, the system can automate multi-company and multi-entity group consolidation. Team members will enjoy the product’s ease of use on their role-based dashboards. To gain insights on financial data, configurable reports can be generated for analysis within the platform. For tax-related processes, tax-record keeping and tax audit trail plus VAT100 (UK) and VAT3 (IE) summaries are performed and supplied for users. Finally, users can breathe an additional sigh of relief knowing that their system’s processes are compliant with all the changes implemented by HMRC thus far.
The system has various integration options with popular business applications and electronic banking systems, including BrightPat, Autoentry, Salesforce and others. Pricing is processed monthly and based on plans, with the Essentials (AIQ 1) plan starting at £250, the Growth (AIQ 2) plan starting at £450, and the Enterprise (AIQ 3) plan to be determined by contacting the company.
While some reviewers complained about the speed of the product, others enjoyed its visual management options.
Best for Small Businesses
ClearBooks provides small business owners with various features for managing their business finances. Users can create, send and manage their customised invoices and even utilise automatic payment reminders to always be on top of their finances. Bank transactions can be automatically processed and contained in the system, and users can also reconcile their payments. MTD VAT returns to HMRC can be submitted quickly with the tool. For oversight and the management of project finances, the software can generate both basic and advanced management reports enabling users to stay on top of financial health. Additionally, ClearBooks even has capabilities for tracking fixed assets, stock levels, timesheets, amongst others.
ClearBooks’ integration and add-on options include several popular third-party solutions, such as Stripe, Paypal, iPages, Plaid, Dext and more. After a free trial, pricing for the product begins at £10/month, making it an affordable option for small businesses and startups.
Some online users have desired faster processing, but most seem satisfied with the product’s overall functionality.
Best for Collaborating With Accountants
FreeAgent is a bookkeeping software tool that can be accessed for free – if you have a business current account with NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank NI, or a business account with Mettle. The product is convenient in that it centralises many different business processes within the system, including expenses, invoicing, tax processes and more, all visible on one dashboard. In addition, the system makes it possible for users to manage their books themselves or connect with an accountant. Those who don’t have an accountant but wish to use one can choose an accountant through the directory of trusted UK-based partners. However, those working on their own finances can use its standard accounting software features for banking, payroll, time-tracking and more. The higher-level, more expensive plans come with additional features, including tax return self-assessment and end-of-year filing.
FreeAgent software can integrate with many solutions for managing payroll, credit control, project management, compliance, e-commerce, CRM, etc. Users can also link their data with integration platforms like Cyclr and Zapier. Pricing plans begin after 30 days of free use, and new customers can enjoy 50% off their first six months. After six months, limited companies pay £29 per month + VAT, partnerships or LLPs pay £24 per month + VAT, and sole traders pay £19 + VAT per month.
Reviewers online express satisfaction with the product’s value.
Best for Free Options
Pandle provides software which has features for banking, invoicing, accounting and other helpful capabilities. Some noteworthy perks to this product would be its stock control, which allows users to keep track of their products and services bought and sold for faster invoicing and inventory management. Users can upload receipts into the platform for organising financial records. With its reporting features come cash flow forecasting to help users gain more insight into their business’s finances. MTD compliant VAT can be completed and directly submitted to HMRC. Teams are sure to benefit from the collaboration capabilities, such as user permissions, notes and project management.
Users can integrate the platform with thousands of different banks and payment tools. Pandle provides a free version of its software for users in the UK with limited but still useful features. The Pandle professional plan has more capabilities and begins at £5 per month, though those interested can try it free with a 14-day trial.
Online reviewers express satisfaction with the product’s customer support, overall functionality and ever-improving features.
Best for Automated Features
QuickBooks is a popular accounting software option for organisations and individuals in the UK. The automated features include automatic pension submissions and automatic pay runs. Employees will be able to access and manage relevant documentation regarding their pay within the self-service employee portal. For processing invoices, overdue alerts and automatic reminders reduce the need to chase down payments from clients. Connections with banks allow the system to use bank data, providing more visibility of business transactions and cash flows. And of course, compliance is taken care of with MTD for VAT and the latest HMRC requirements.
QuickBooks users can use data from various sources, as the software integrates with many business apps such as Bill.com, Expensify, FundBox, Float and Transaction Pro, to name a few. The accounting and VAT packages start at £12 a month and can increase to provide additional features.
Online customer reviewers seemed to enjoy QuickBooks for its add-on and integration support options. However, others were disappointed with its high processing fees.
Best for Security
QuickFile offers a cloud accounting system with accounting and document management features. For example, VAT returns can be tracked and filed with the software, and sales invoices, contracts, receipts and letters are organised for easy access in the system. A nice perk of QuickFile is that it works with UK Mail to provide a click-to-print service so that users can manage hard copies of their important documentation. In addition, the software’s security measures are worth mentioning, with Two-Factor Authentication, full remote backups of QuickFile systems every 15 minutes, and the option for users to set up scheduled backups of their accounts on a weekly or monthly basis. Finally, users can process payments with full multi-currency support and integrations with various popular payment solutions.
Through Zapier, QuickFile users can enjoy integrations with even more third-party solutions, such as Stripe, Google Sheets, Mailchimp, Gmail and many others. QuickFile pricing is based on the size of the user organisation, with the size determined by the number of nominal transactions created over the previous rolling one-year period. However, users with 1,000 or fewer ledger entries can use the product for free. For over 1,000 entries, there is a cost of £45 + VAT per year.
Reviews online imply that the system is simple for individuals and work teams to handle, with an easy-to-use user interface.
Best for Conducting Business Anywhere
Sage advertises its cloud accounting software as easy for small business use. Users can manage accounts within the system for clients or payroll processes. Once a user connects the software, their bank data can be securely and automatically shared, allowing for faster processing and cash flow visibility. Features and capabilities are available for financial processes, including bank reconciliation, invoicing, self-assessments, stock management, taxes, VAT and more. A nice perk to Sage’s accounting software is its AutoEntry feature. Through this, financial documents can be published, stored or categorised automatically in the system, reducing time and effort. For users who perform business internationally they can set up bank accounts for processing payments in multiple countries with Sage Accounting Plus. The mobile app is also helpful, as it enables users to manage their business finances easily, wherever they are.
Integrations can be made with thousands of popular business and payment apps through Zapier. In addition, Sage has other third-party integrations and integrations with Sage products. The accounting product has three pricing tiers, which are free to users for the first three months. After this, prices go from £12 for the Starter plan, £24 for the Standard plan, and £30 for the Plus plan, with each option providing more features than the last.
While online reviewers seem pleased with the product overall, some say that the product may not be as easy for users who aren’t tech-savvy.
Best for Data Analysis
Xero is a nice option for users looking to get the most out of their financial data. The product has many features popular among accounting software, such as tax management, invoice and payroll processing, inventory tracking and connections with banks, to name a few. The system allows users to organise and reconcile their bank account transactions. Users can store files and data securely online within the product. Collected data can be analysed to create insights into financial health, metrics, future cash flow, project costs, profitability and more. Additional bookkeeping capabilities include tracking fixed assets, claiming expenses and creating accurate accounting reports. While the product does a lot, its accounting dashboard localises user actions and insights, so it’s simple to view and access.
Xero is designed to integrate with various third-party applications for payments, payroll HR, inventory, CRM, time tracking and more. Prices are determined by three-tiered plans, with higher plans providing more special features. Plans start at £12, though new users can expect to pay 50% off for their first six months using the product.
Many online reviewers expressed satisfaction with the product’s dashboard and ease of use.
Best for Client Management
Zoho Books provides software with solutions for tax management, sales, projects, inventory and more. For businesses looking for an easy way to manage finances with individuals in and out of their organisation, this tool may be helpful. It allows vendors to self-manage transactions in their vendor portal, and users can communicate their needs to their vendors with clarity in the system. When it comes to portals, customers can also manage and view their transactions in the client portal. Reports can be scheduled based on the organisation’s needs, granting them insights into real-time data on a schedule that works for them. Other automated features can take care of recurring actions, such as sending recurring invoices, generating payment reminders, streamlining documentation processes, categorising transactions and more. And to securely process documentation, Zoho Sign integration is an excellent option for conducting business with others digitally.
Zoho has integrations with several major online payment gateways and third-party applications, such as WePay, PayPal, Stripe and more. Integrations with tax apps exist as well, with products such as Avalara Avatax. Additionally, users can opt to work with other Zoho products and applications. After a 14-day free trial, pricing is determined based on options that provide more features for more expensive plans.
Customer reviewers online seem to enjoy the product for its ease of use and functionality. However some express a preference for more quotation sending options and customer service.