Showing posts with label choosing a bank account. Show all posts
Showing posts with label choosing a bank account. Show all posts

Friday, 11 December 2015

Simple book keeping and account aggegators

Choosing a UK business bank account
Free, Fast and Pretty: shopping cart software for ecommerce
Simple Bookkeeping and Account Agregators <this page
Free Online Bookkeeping Software for Simple Accounts

These are just some notes-in-progress about account aggregaters considered for income tax but not VAT, and for the self employed. It's relevant if you're choosing a bank account as well, because you'll quite likely want an account that works with one of these if you're self employed and using it for business. There's another post about choosing a bank account

Making tax digital - why a lot of people are changing tax software this year says under "full response" that automatic quarterly tax updates will be expected by software links, and that this is part of a grand design here

Yorkshire building society's version of eWise closed with very little notice, and Quickfile's service for over 1,000 lines of data a month began to charge.

Even if services don't close, it can make sense to have some card accounts on one online accounting system and one on another. Details of cards used for one purpose - like postage - can rest on one online service, used only if there is a tax inspection. The rest can rest more simply on another used for year-to-year tax returns.

When services close, there's a problem of what to do with saved data in one format when your new software wants them in another. The .qif format is something I never want to use again, but the rest are capable, I guess, of conversion. does some of it online. I had to use the older version to cope with odd columns in files, while keeping a total, and I had to use one of the apps on to convert Santander text files to something more common.

While writing this, I discovered the world of payroll software. See the section on downloadable software below and
Since writing this blog post I've found the getapps site, which assumes all online accounting software is paid-for or "fremium" but lets a few free services join the list. It's possible to sort by areas of the world served, the kinds of businesses that review the app or that it's intended for, and that's it. It can't search for all the programs with bank integration. Some free-ish programs I hadn't heard of are and Another site lists, with its own time-tracking software built-in. is over my head because it offers so many apps, as is that's something to do with import export. There are probably others, but I started by looking at ways of downloading UK bank data easily and free, usually via Yodlee, so I will stick to that.

Account downloading software overlaps with free online book keeping and accounting software, with programs like Waveapps here at the overlap, followed by more account downloading software.

There is more about accounting software near the bottom of this page, but for neatness I've started a fresh blog post about it - . It's a shorter blog post listing the free online accounting software that cropped-up in a search for a UK freelance business.

Waveapps is one I'm trying to use now.

    It is more than an app for downloading bank statements; it can write invoices, keep track of bills, run accounts for both of those, reconcile the bank statement lines with different categories, and more. It has a nifty system for accepting bills by email too.

    Good points:
    • It can log-on to UK banks., and can eventually classify this data into its own categories, such as "computer services" for money that comes via Paypal.
    • Invoices can be sent from the program to integrate with it.  They can work with its 1.9% stripe card processing account. When I told waveapps that I had a limited company, the upselling link changed from "save money" to "business deals", and the stripe rate fell slightly.
    • It can split lines of data between categories. This takes a while to find but it's there (put another way, the interface is deceptively simple). If you have a card that you usually only use for paying bribes, which are a business expense, but one day you use it for buying drugs, which are private, then you can label that line as split between two headings.
    • It has heard of VAT and has boxes for itemising input taxes or output taxes on each record of money in and money out. I think it can calculate backwards from the total how-much of a payment is VAT.
    • Payroll in the US or Canada with US or Canadian taxes applied
    Bad points:
    • Payroll only works in the US or Canada according to the menus.
    • It can't be taught how to recognise lines of data from the bank statement and categorise, as can Yodlee and even some of the banks themselves like Starling Bank.
      Waveapps has some system, but this system can't change; paypal income will always be "computers and internet", rather than "sales". I wasn't sure but this more detailed review by Katherine Miller reaches the same conclusion after checking discussion threads and forums.
    • Slow rendering of old data. The program discourages checking of balances in order to reduce the need. Balances are only shown if you display one single account like a bank account in date order. Then if you see that that balance is wrong, and want to go back by screens of 50 or 100 lines over several screens'-worth of data to find the mistake, you have to wait five minutes at each search. Entering dates to narrow down the search in another way is just as slow. As a result, you need to check your data before sending this to an accountant; nobody at an accountants' office can charge you a low fee while waiting five minutes for each screen to load just to check a mistake.
    • No keyword or number search. You can order a period of data by date or amount or I think by name, and you can sort some of the columns, but I have not found a Control+F function or anything more subtle; it's designed to discourage strains on its database
    • Jeremy Marsan's review from the USA compares waveapps to similar products that cost so-much-a-month. It also has a comments section for the disgruntled. These features and integrations are cut-and pasted from his review.
    • Features

      Features it has                            
      Features it Does Not have
      5 Types of Accounts
      Categorization/Automation Rules
      Auto-import Bank Statements
      Time Tracking
      *Payment Processing
      Inventory Management

      *Payment Processing available via Stripe integration
      **Payroll software available as an optional add-on


      Integrations it has
      Integrations it does not have
      Payment Processing (Stripe, Paypal)
      Cloud Storage (Google Drive, DropBox)
      Project Management (Basecamp, Asana)
      Shoeboxed (receipt scanning)
      Time Tracking (Toggl, Harvest)

      CRM (Zoho, Salesforce)

      eCommerce (Shopify, Big Commerce)

      Tax Prep Software

      Digital Signature

    • Glenn Martin reviews the most used so-much-a-month products from a UK accountant's perspective, leaving out waveapps altogether but including some price breakdowns for the others.

    Wonderbill new 2017

    This has just come-out mid-2017 and isn't reviewed here. - "enjoy all of your bills in one place". It logs-on to the bill providers' web sites and not banks, apparently. "We make money by recommending better and cheaper deals." - "a One-Stop-Shop when it comes to managing your bills and saving money."


        • moneydashboard version of yodlee

          Moneydashboard is set-up to monitor your personal spending, and is worth comparing with Buxfer further down the page.
          Moneydashboard automatically logs-on to your bank accounts and backs-up a few years' data for free.
          It gives you the odd spending graph and anticipated regular payment on a screen if you want.
          It can remember budgets and tell you if you are over-budget or under-budget.
          It learns to categorise transactions if you want.
          With practice, you can download data for one bank account or all of them into a .csv file.

          Users can download the resulting categorised transaction lines as a .csv spreadsheet or read them alongside self-set budget headings or expected regular payments on the dashboard site.
          This is the list of supported banks from December 2015: AA | Adam & Company | Amazon | American Express | Asda | Bank of Ireland | Bank of Scotland | Barclaycard | Barclays | Beta | Birmingham Midshires | Cahoot | Capital One | Cater Allen | Citibank | Clydesdale | Derbyshire Building Society | FairFX | First Direct | First Trust | Halifax | House of Fraser | HSBC | ICICI | Intelligent Finance | Investec | John Lewis | Lloyds | Marbles | Marks & Spencer | MBNA | Metro Bank | Mint | Nationwide | NatWest Bank | Nedbank | Newcastle Building Society | Next | Norwich & Peterborough | NS&I | Opus | Post Office | Principality | Royal Bank of Scotland | Saffron Building Society | Saga Group | Sainsburys | Santander | Scottish Widows | Smile | St James Place | Tesco Bank | The Co-operative Bank | The One Account | TSB | Ulster Bank |  Vanquis Bank | Virgin Money | Yorkshire Bank | Yorkshire Building Society |

          Categories are better than Yodlee for a self employed person. For a start, they come under headings.

          I've put the list at the bottom of this page as Appendix 2.

          The second part - money out - included a list of fixed headings when I first wrote this page, but now allows you to choose your own tags and apply them to all similar transactions automatically. There is a list of what each new release tries to do here:

          Moneydashboard produces some graphs of how you're spending compared to last month and anticipates repeated payments. It has heard of payees like Royal Mail and Ebay, and allows you to search for a few more that it knows by typing free text, if its chunky drop-down menus don't suggest one.

          When I looked at this first, it was good for what it was designed to do - tracking where your spending goes - but not good for adapting to other purposes. There was no way to have the same category for money in and money out for example. The list of release notes shows regular improvements to it's worth signing-up just to see what happens next.
        • kublax version of yodlee has closed

        • Lovemoney version of yodlee

          You have to sign-up to Lovemoney to see the option; there isn't a direct link to the account aggregator site. It only allows about five categories of spending under "business expenses", and most of the others like "dentist" and "eating out" are similar to the Yodlee ones and tend to confuse if not used for those purposes. Someone on the Moneydashboard help page commnents says that you can set your own categories on Lovemeny.
        • Ontrees version of yodlee

          You have to sign up to Moneysupermarket. This one is slightly prettier with fewer options, for use on smartphones - for example I don't see how you can split a transaction between categories. They tell me by email that a lot of people have requested the ability to re-name categories, and they might do that, but the target audience of smartphone users can't do anything fiddly.
        • Sage version of yodlee

          There was a free version of Sage One online accounts software with a "feed" for one bank account and one user, with no extra credit card account, as priced for the US market and probably others according to this review by Katherine Miller. Nothing shows under "free" if you search their UK web site. Sage is a big UK accounts software firm, so I expect they just used Yodlee's bank feed and that the rest is more like Sage. Maybe their offers are different if you search from the USA.
        • Godaddy Online Bookkeeping Basic Version

          I only know that there is a review of a free ultra-basic version ; now seems to cost $6.99 monthly or $3 more through their old url. Maybe the offers are different if you search from the USA.
        • Yodlee version of Yodlee

          Yodlee domestic version looks american at first, but covered the UK when I tested it as a web program. It has been closed to new applicants because of technical difficulties during May 2016
          The smartphone version on another url may have taken-over from this...
          Login on categories are in Appendix 1 below.
          (distraction: has a business version, but you can't use it for UK banks. "Currently Yodlee Small Business application is not applicable for residents outside US region due to contractual obligation", they tell me.)

          It can log-on to UK banks. It doesn't give a full list but it's probably the same as Moneydashboard below. Smile bank was recognised for example.
          Categories look mainly domestic, but can be sub-categorised as much as you want. As an experiment I added subcategories 1-13 to one of them, all accepted without complaint, so you could pick a neutral category like "expenses" and add what you wanted as a subcategory.
          Categorisation can be taught, which is more useful than waveapps. There is a screen where you tell it that a payment including "to drug" is to one category drug dealer and "to bribe" is another, but it can only categorise into its own fixed list of heading - not the subcategories you add. The list is below. Other features exist on a "finapp" link, including some for business accounting. I haven't tested them yet 
        Not Sure what connection

          [I don't update this post much, but happened to get an email from Buxfer to say they cease free "synciing" of bank data this November 2017. Syncing is about three pounds a month or more if you want to pay for it, but not free. Try MoneyDashboard. So that's why Buxfer is crossed-out]

          uses something like Yodlee to do a little more than Money dashboard. According to one post online "Based on their implementation I'm guessing they are using the code Wesabe open sourced when they folded.  Pretending to be a valid OFX client and requesting the data from a FI's OFX server pretending to be Quicken or Microsoft Money.". The program also uploads .csv files but hasn't any way of downloading files to your hard disc at first glance.

          A glance at other features shows nothing for tax or accounting beyond the category tags and some pre-set graphs, but a few extras for personal accounts like emails after unusual changes, a calander, and a reminder service. There's a system for sharing information with contacts, in a kind of virtual shared project, which I don't understand and one or two extra paid-for services for predicting spending.

          The free version is good at logging-on automatically and categorising transactions.

          Tagging of bank statement lines is flexible; it doesn't tell you what category to tag a transaction, such as "Paypal: Computer Services"; it lets you tag a transaction and shows you any saved rules for you to edit.

          Editing of descriptions is possible too, and can be automated in a the same flexible way. You can teach it to change a line like "FASTER PAYMENT RECEIPT FROM PAYPAL REF HJLKJHKLJH £30" to "Paypal" if you tell it to change every line with that keyword. It keeps a note of the original so that you can un-do your change later.

          Tagging and description-editing are both better on Buxfer than on Moneydashboard, a similar service.


          • www. eWise is the one I've used before. A shortcut is . The site is run a a demonstration in the hope that other companies will pay to use the technology. The demonstration site only works, I think, in Internet Exployer - not Edge or Firefox or Chrome - but Internet Explorer is still available free.

            It has a beta test version which will categorise transactions, show them on a time line, and work on several browsers including smartphones. Unfortunately it will do the categorisation for you, assuming that you have a private bank account. Maybe if enough beta-testers tell them, they will allow tweaking of categories.

            Other companies have paid to use eWise, and tidied it up a bit.
          • citybank version of eWise has closed
          • egg bank version of eWise has closed
          • yorkshire building society version of eWise has closed
          • first direct - page lists all available accounts before registering for "internet banking plus"

            Skip this if your want book-keeping aids. eWise lets you read statements, and that's it: a password storage system and a way of showing your online statement in read-only form. The original version includes some accounts from other countries outside the UK and some non-bank accounts like ebay and oyster.

            The data is not kept anywhere; it is just displayed as your bank displays it, so you are limited to the ninety days or so that most banks let you browse-back over the statements. On the other hand you are more likely to download them monthly if you can remember how to log-on, so this is good to use for downloading data for desktop accounts programs such as Grisbi below. Formats like 1201.xls for January 2012 are good, to avoid duplicates. A catch when learning to use the software is that it opens -up a window on the dashboard part of the screen for your bank, as an unexpected little icon. The pure version only works in internet explorer, although some banks like Yorkshire Building Society managed to tidy-up this fault.

 doesn't let new customers open an account from a windows desktop; it could be an android-only application of I could have missed something. The web site hasn't been updated for a few years, so maybe they're looking for business offers. They claim to
          - download years' worth or the maximum possible amount of bank data over wifi (wobbly phone connections aren't recommended) and to be able to
          - translate the bank's labels on your transactions according to your own rules.

          - download NatWest, RBS, Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Santander (Abbey), Halifax, Smile (no credit cards yet), John Lewis Partnership (Waitrose) credit cards

 is a new program that doesn't mention any ability to download data straight from the bank, which doesn't have to be associated with online systems but would be nice. The disadvantage of a cloud-based system remains: they can turn the server off. Two advantages remain. You can use it wherever you are. So can colleagues, like an accountant.
          • Download and import your bank statements
          • BeanBalance currently supports Microsoft Money files, OFX files, Quickbooks or QBO files, Sage Line 50 files and QIF files
          • Additional file format support will be implemented soon
          The software has a good page of information about what it does, but as you can see from the table, the fancy stuff is paid-for. It and Brightbook are unusual in offering free payroll software with upload of data to HMRC for a handfull of staff  - three in this case - which is the main reason for including it on this list. Scroll down the page for downloadable free accounts software that does UK payroll.

          Brightbook: moved to the blog post about book-keeping

            Other online services - with downloadable software below

            • is no longer an automatic account aggregator and although free had a nag saying "one day left of your free subscription" for a long time, and did work to classify uploaded bank statements. Now it has been redesigned as an apple smartphone app, free to download.
            • looks like something to try to sell you a pension

            Receipts to records


            Lifehacker lists some of the smartphone apps that will email a photo of a receipt, with a few attempts at tidying-up the picture for text recognition. Some charge. Shoeboxed charges for more than 5 receipts per month per account. Others are free or have a small one-off charge.

            Wavapps have a free service that will recognise your email address and put the picture of a receipt in a form with guessesd fields filled-in for the organisation and amount

            As someone who sits at a desk with a PC, I've never felt the need to scan every invoice  or paid receipt; I just put them in a folder when they're paid. So I haven't tested any of these apps, but as more and more receipts and invoices are available online or come by email, one day it could be worth photographing the last few paper ones just to add them to the same system.

            Downloadable software: Acemoney Grisbi or Adminsoft

            Desktop software has a more stable market now.

            Quicken and Microsoft Money have admitted that they don't want to provide their paid-for downloadable personal finance software with its private formats like .qif or Quickens "sunset policy", designed to try to make you buy a new bit of software every ten years.

            Book keeping software like Acemoney,, and can't be withdrawn back-off your hard disk by the authors; it can't be closed on a whim like the online services, it can't be stopped by a broken internet connection, and for better or worse it can't be used by anyone anywhere. Unless you put it on a pen drive, but even that only lets you use it in one place at a time till you loose it.

            The only catch is that, so far, is that they can't automatically download data from your bank statement. Acemoney claim to be able to do it in the USA, but not yet in the UK. You have to remember to do it yourself every month or three and remember what the more mysterious items were after that time when you come to categorise them on your software. You can use eWise to log-in to most bank accounts quickly for downloading.

            I know of these three examples because I used Acemoney for a bit and found it easy and good-looking. It's free for two accounts that link together; paid-for for more. Grisbi is one of the open source options at the simpler end of the market. Adminsoft cropped-up in a search just now for UK payroll software.

            Book-keeping aids are a funny bunch because their users have different needs and their authors tend to be accountants, keen to add an element of double-entry which is exactly what customers like me do not want. That's a problem for the sort of software that you download onto your hard disc. Or, put another way, users want a system that compares entries against a bank statement rather than having two sets of entries in the software. Add to that a problem that open source writers tend to go for interesting subjects, like solving world poverty or doing something artistic, leaving jobs like payroll or book keeping to a few rare efforts. One is a South African accounts program from Pink Software that used to sell on giveaway CDs on the fronts of computer magazines. Another - Gnucash - is used a lot as well. The trouble is that users' expectations are so different, and my expectation was not the same as the expectation expected by writers of TurboCash or GnuCash. Grisbi looks from screen shots to be right for the job, which is sorting lines from a bank statement into income tax categories.

            Acemoney is a pretty and easy freemium program, I found, for users of one or two accounts. The version for three or more accounts isn't free, but even two can be two many as they have to agree with each other in a kind of mental puzzle that the world does not need - there have to be out payments in one account that match in payments in another - so I try to stick to one account. The current version can even download data from some US banks, but hasn't cracked-open the UK ones yet. It's a highly international program with versions in over a dozen languages.

            While giving-up, I've found a list of other online programs that no longer exist, an obscure one called Brightbooks that only accepts uploaded data in certain column formats, and a thing called which more or less works. It truncates older lines of data down to thirty-something characters, so older imported files tend to have a lot of lines which read "Faster payment to paypal reference p" or some thing not very useful like that. There are also services like Xero which count your money and tell you that there is less of it than before because they charge for counting it.

            Payroll for more than ten people

            For those who pay staff, there are more hitches that can lead back to desktop software.
            Every hundred years the UK government sets-up a compulsory pension system, nationalises it, forgets that it was ever a pension system, and starts again. We are now on mark two, called "Workplace Pension", while the remnants of mark one, called "National Insurance" are still in place alongside the income tax pay as you earn contributions that employers have to manage. is a starting point to this subject that I know very little about - it looks as though you have to employ staff in groups up to nine, or maybe use HMRC's own software alongside something else, or maybe resort to desktop software from, who say this about their free downloadable accounts software:
            .... developed specifically for the United Kingdom. It can submit information to HMRC using Real Time Information, and we believe at this time, it's the only free payroll that will allow in excess of 10 employees. The maximum is 250 employees. However, Adminsoft Accounts is primarily an accounts system, and so the payroll is basic. While very usable, and fully compliant with payroll legislation, it does not have some of the 'bells and whistles' that some of the paid for (and rather expensive...) alternative products may have. For example, things like the amount of Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, student loans, etc. have to be worked out by hand, where as a more sophisticated payroll would work out the amounts automatically. But I don't want to talk you out of using it! In reality, when running a small payroll, working out the odd Statutory Sick Pay payment or what ever is not really an issue.
            Waveapps software will only do anything to do with payroll if you pretend that you are in the USA or Canada, and I haven't discovered what difference this makes - certainly the deductions and reporting will be different.

   is a free basic uk service. This interview was in early 2016.

            This blog comes from
  , the online shoe shop for vegan shoes boots belts & T shirts mainly made in the UK

            Appendix 1: Yodlee categories

            ATM/Cash Withdrawals
            Automotive Expenses
            Business Miscellaneous
            Cable/Satellite Services
            Charitable Giving
            Child/Dependent Expenses
            Dues and Subscriptions
            General Merchandise
            Home Improvement
            Home Maintenance
            Office Maintenance
            Office Supplies
            Online Services
            Other Bills
            Other Expenses
            Personal Care
            Pets/Pet Care
            Postage and Shipping
            Service Charges/Fees
            Telephone Services
            Wages Paid


            Settings for Income Categories
            Show Category Name New Name SubCategories
            Expense Reimbursement
            Investment Income
            Other Income
            Retirement Income


            Settings for Transfer Categories
            Show Category Name New Name SubCategories
            Credit Card Payments
            Securities Trades

            Appendix 2: Moneydashboard fixed categories

            From 2017 or 18 they allow users to invent new categories and subcategories which can be more work-related such as "bar takings" or "wholesalers". I don't see a way of removing the more domestic headings, but the combination of headings you choose and an ability to recognise transactions makes this a good bit of software for income tax. It doesn't make any tax suggestions, and it won't write an invoice, but the main bit.

            There are help pages which can be read without logging-on

            Transactions: IN - scroll down for Transactions OUT for tax return headings

            Benefits Family benefits
            Incapacity Benefits
            Job Seekers Benefits
            Other benefits

            Credit funds received Credit Card Cash Advance

            Mortgage release
            Payday loan funds
            Secured loan funds
            Student Loan funds
            Unsecured loan funds

            Employment Bonus
            Employment – other
            Salary (main)
            Salary (secondary)

            Investment Bond Income
            Interest income
            Investment income – other

            Miscellaneous Bursary
            Child Support
            Divorce Settlement
            Miscellaneous income – other
            Rewards/cash back
            Tax Rebate

            Pension Lump Sum
            Pension – other
            State Pension
            Work Pension

            Property Property – other
            Rental income (room)
            Rental income (whole property)

            Refund Refunded purchase

            Electrical Equipment
            Sale – other

            Transfer from other account Credit card payment
            Current account
            Gambling account
            Investment – other
            Paypal account
            Share dealing account

            Transfer from savings Car savings
            Electrical item savings
            Holiday savings
            Other goal savings
            Property savings
            Rainy day savings
            Savings (general)
            Wedding savings

            Transactions: OUT
            Administration Administration – other
            Business Accommodation
            Office supplies
            Staff costs
            Web hosting

            Children Childcare Fees
            Children – other
            Childrens’ Club fees
            Clothes – children
            Nursery fees

            Clothing Accessories
            Clothes – other
            Clothing hire
            Designer clothes
            Dry cleaning and laundry
            Work wear

            Credit Repayment Credit card repayment
            Hire purchase repayment
            Mortgage payment
            Payday loan repayment
            Secured loan repayment
            Store card repayment
            Student loan repayment
            Unsecured loan repayment

            Education Books & Course materials
            Course & Tuition fees
            Education – other
            School fees
            Stationery & consumables

            Financial Bank charges
            Child support
            Divorce settlement
            Financial – other
            Interest charges
            Penalty charges
            Tax payment

            Gifts, Charity & Religion Birthday present
            Charity – other
            Christmas present
            Donation to organisation
            Gifts – other
            Religious celebration
            Religious donation

            Going Out Caravan/Camping


            Concert & Theatre

            Dining & Drinking

            Going out – other




            Social club

            Sports event

            Zoo/theme park

            Hobbies & Sports Art supplies

            Club membership


            Gym Equipment

            Gym Membership

            Hobbies – other

            Hobby Club Membership

            Hobby supplies

            Musical Equipment

            Personal Training


            Sports Club Membership

            Sports Equipment

            Home and Garden Antiques


            Communal charges




            Home and garden – other

            Home electronics

            Kitchen / Household Appliances


            Soft furnishings

            Tradesmen fees

            Household Broadband


            Council tax

            Device rental

            Domestic supplies



            Gas and electricity


            Household – other

            Media bundle


            Phone (land line)



            TV/Movies Package

            TV Licence


            Insurance Dental insurance

            Health insurance

            Home appliance insurance

            Home insurance

            Income insurance

            Insurance – other

            Life insurance

            Mobile phone insurance

            Motorbike insurance

            Payment protection insurance

            Pet insurance

            Vehicle insurance

            Lifestyle Alcohol

            Books/ Magazines /Newspapers



            Games and gaming

            Lifestyle – other

            Mobile app


            Personal Electronics
            Snacks and Refreshments



            Personal care Beauty products

            Beauty treatments

            Dental treatment

            Eye care


            Medical treatment


            Personal care – other




            Pets Pet food

            Pet housing/care

            Pet toys

            Pet training

            Pets – other


            Transfer to other account Current account

            Gambling account

            Investment – other


            Other account

            Paypal account


            Share dealing account

            Transfer to savings Saving (general)

            Saving for a rainy day

            Saving for a car

            Saving for electrical item

            Saving for holiday

            Saving for other goal

            Saving for property

            Saving for wedding

            Transport Breakdown cover

            Driving lessons





            Public Transport

            Road charges

            Road/traffic fines

            Service / Parts / Repairs


            Transport – other

            Vehicle hire

            Vehicle purchase

            Vehicle Tax

            Sunday, 19 July 2015

            choosing a UK business bank account

            Choosing a UK business bank account <this page
            Free, Fast and Pretty: shopping cart software for ecommerce <links back
            Simple Bookkeeping and Account Agregators <links back
            Free Online Bookkeeping Software for Simple Accounts <links back
            Boring Economics is Interesting - long rambling post about being a UK economics student during the 1980s recession - no link back

            Choosing a UK business bank account - introduction

            "How do I choose a bank account for a tech startup in East London? I have no money." This question came-up somewhere and I had a go at answering:  A couple of other answers were "I have been refused". Maybe that refusal helps both sides. 
            Do you need a business overdraft? No. Do you need funding for assets? - Do you need a business name on a bank account? maybe not - Do you want to book-keeping aids to tag categories like costs and sales to pay tax? Yes. -  Merchant accounts and currency conversion - What government can do

            Do you need a business overdraft? No.

            You've read the news. You know the name Fred Goodwin. If you didn't work for him directly, selling dodgy banking products to avoid being sacked, you worked for him indirectly because your taxes bail-out his creations. Maybe you have dealt with firms that are crippled by dodgy banking products sold by the likes of Goodwin. Nobody needs the trouble of doing business with a UK bank.

            has some better ideas for business borrowing. The one they like to promote is for established businesses on - not that it is a good one for lenders.

            I've read that and banks are un-typical if you really must get an overdraft, but working from home and spending nothing is a cheaper option. Handelsbanken are staff-owned, and use HSBC for their back-end software so the usual software could make sense of their statements for your accounts. The new Oaknorth Bank hope to lend to smaller businesses too.

            Business funding without funding

            Better still, keep a part-time day job until some money comes-in.

            If the business is a good one, money will come-in to re-invest and if not, not; a business plan may disagree but there is no need to agonise or pay money for more business plans.

            Porridge oats are under a pound a kilo as is pasta and some well-known root vegetables. If your new-found business partners are not amused at an offer to spli bulk packs of vegetables from Iceland, maybe they are not good at business. Unless they have some knowledge of value brands - that's another test.

            If you need to cover your own living costs while the business is small, you could try moving somewhere cheaper than Shoreditch like Ayreshire, County Durham, Bolton or Gwent where you will also find more available staff, but not probably not a day-job unless it is something you can do remotely.
            hair clippers

            You could look-out for hair clippers like the picture on the right, and save the cost of haircuts. They come with a few clip-on things to cut at lengths an eighth of an inch apart, and you can get extra ones to cut up to an inch, which is called a number eight.

            You could look at builders and copy their style of clothes as well - some of them wear quick-dry clothes that dry on a hanger after washing in the sink.

            If your startup has anything to do with manufacturing, it would be good to be near the factories in your trade and save having to own loads of stock while it's on the boat from China. If it needs graduates in accountancy or computer science, you could experiment with Unistats to find clues about the areas with the cheapest graduate accountants or computer scientists. For accountants the areas are Colerane and Hull. If your business plans to sell stretch-fabric clothes, there is a factory in Gwent that makes them, in a postcode where Zoopla quotes 20% of the range housing sales under £50,000 and £500 a month an average rental price.   There is a list of factories like that on the new web site. And in some postcodes it's worth trying to understand obscure government grants which don't apply in most areas and tend to be very specific. There is a map of postcodes in assisted areas.

            If your business plan says "spend a million pounds mainly on advertising a brand so we can sell our £30 T shirts before the competition", ask yourself: wouldn't people prefer to buy cheaper for lack of a million pound debt at the supplier? And when tech-hub startups move to Shoreditch they just put-up property prices and discourage the shoe wholesalers and bag factories that still survive there. If you have to move there, maybe you should sell shoes and bags from the wholesalers and factories in Shoreditch alongside your tech startup. The wholesalers sell blingey Italian shoes along Shoreditch high street.This guide to buying looks a bit complicated but everyone has their own style; you have to do a lot of work finding a supplier, and find out what they want to make in terms of what designs they are used to churning-out on their machines, what their minimums are for free set-up or free delivery, and what's a typical lead time. There was a childrens-wear sewing factory in Bentley Road off Balls Pond Road for example. They had no web site and were had to track-down, but if you wanted the quantities and products the wanted to make, they'd probably work-out a price and save you importing a container-load from China with a 3-month lead time. I think they were called Figgins and have moved to Essex; I don't know if they still want orders. Jumping back to tech startups, it might be cheaper to move to the welsh valleys or the north east for cheap housing when you go full-time, so you have lower costs and you don't crowd-out the firms already operating in Shoreditch.

            If you want a business loan for a small amount like £3,000, now that you have sourced your products from the UK and kept your day job part-time, you might try the loans available to lure the unwary into debt. There are lots of them. Cash transfer credit card offers are a good search, because balance transfer cards only allow you to transfer debt from another credit card, and it usually costs something like 2.4% via Paypal to take that credit limit out of the credit card account. Exceptions have cropped-up in the past, called "mule cards" apparently, but not very often as the Smiths lyric says.

            Credit cards for personal use try to make themselves hard to use for business. The statement data might be down-load-able to an accounts programme, but it will build-up a debt between the statement date and the date of the direct debt, and the columns will be presented in a bamboozling way. Some kind of accounts software is probably necessary to fight back. Or maybe a system of using two credit cards - one for the first two weeks of the month, paid-off in week four, and another for the second two weeks of the month, paid-off in week two. This is so much easier to write than to do in practice that I suggest software to keep track with the other idea as a sideline.

            Oh, an afterthought about cheap eating. It has to be fairly quick as well, if you are earning and possibly doing two jobs, so things like wholesale markets and grow-your-own don't really help, but there is a list of some cheap food shops at the end of another post about selling surplus food.
            Do you need a business overdraft? No. Do you need funding for assets? - Do you need a business name on a bank account? maybe not - Do you want to book-keeping aids to tag categories like costs and sales to pay tax? Yes. -  Merchant accounts and currency conversion - What government can do

            Do you need funding for assets?

            victorian machine sketched in black and whiteThis is an asset. You can see that it has scrap value and a possibly higher value as a second-hand machine, minus high transport costs and depending on the right market for sale at short notice. Like cars, but much more awkward with a narrower market and harder to move.

            If value can be demonstrated with photos and links to sites where such machines are traded, there is a good case to persuade people on a P2P funding site to finance your asset. Thinking of which, you should also buy your machines at the same places where your receiver would sell them, so you don't have to borrow so much money. This is a big deal and everyone has their own style.

            • Recession-people agonise for days and months about how to get things for next to nothing. They quite enjoy it, but it takes away time from other bits of the work. The process helps them understand the market for things relevant to their business, like the cost of repairs.
            • Boom people save days and months by buying things new on credit and earn the money back in time saved, or not, and they somehow expect creditors to go-along with this one-way bet in which everybody wins if things go well and the creditor looses if things go badly. Boom people tend to think that they have some niche market  like gastro-pub or super-soft matrass which allows an implausible mark-up.
            Sometimes conditions make recession people or boom people feel that they made the right decision, but I think the decision is bred-in from life experience and upbringing; reality doesn't change it and I don't know if boom people or recession people do better at business. You tend to find boom people on Crowdcube or Seedrs asking for another funding round; you tend not to find recession people; they are hidden at home or in cheap workspace. There's an article about some matress manufacturers who are just about in the middle - half way between recession people and boom people - and they seem to do OK. On the gross side, a company called Eve charges £500 per matrass, mainly for advertising on borrowed money. Another mattress manufacturer can sell a retail double for £50 £60 or £70 including VAT, and an ebay search for new double "matress made in" comes-up with similar prices.

            One piece of evidence is the number of stories of refugees doing well in business, often in Hackney or Leicester or inner-city areas and often by knowing how to do something in a smaller workshop, for smaller batch-sizes, and on a lower pay-scale than is normal in more established companies. Hugenots and Jews set the tradition. If you can find a Syrian refugee with factory experience making cotton or whatever else they do on Syria, you might be on to something. In any case, the workshop that can make things on a smaller scale than Ford or NASSA is quite likely in an inner city. Somewhere that council would like to demolish for car-parking and tech hubs, and move to an industrial estate a bus-ride away outside the ring road.


            Making-it-up-as-you-go-along is a phrase we learn as children, and learn again in business to avoid the cost of stock finance.

            When making objects, it's good to be able to make top-ups and trials on the kitchen table while having a more efficient factory make batches of what sells. That keeps the factory happier and your stock cheaper to maintain, because you don't have a load of extreme sizes of a piece of clothing, hanging around, costing you credit. Buying from a wholesaler could be another option. Restaurant kitchens have intricate breakdowns of what is freezable or food, what is prepared before people order, and what is mixed-together and cooked on the day after the orders come-in, or maybe put on a buffet where people can see what's left as the food runs-out.


            If you can't find a workshop to sell  anything at all like what you want, and still need an asset, then rent could be a problem as well. Ideally, you live somewhere with spare space like a farm or a place with a garage you can clear for your asset. This is unlikely in Shoreditch so there comes a point when your mum / flatmate / landlord / hostel / tent becomes full of the assets needed for heavy industry.

            You could google terms like "hackerspace" and "makerlab" looking for people who will let you store your asset or let you use theirs. Hackney is a hotbed for this. I have not joined any of these but can add a few early search results - - - -

            You could, a last resort, you could try renting the cheapest space on Estates Gazette near Shoreditch, but that raises the problem of commuting to the darn place or leaving it empty when not needed, and of dealing with landlords. From a very little bit of experience,  I think London landlords will not get out of bed to pay-in a cheque for under £1,000 a month and some of them put every concievable unfair clause into the lease so you need to find a cheap virtual lawyer to check and try to get those clauses taken-out of the contract before you sign.


            If you have time, you should find out as much as you can about servicing the machines you have bought on ebay or apex auctions or for-sale co uk or whatever site. Otherwise you are asking lenders to fund a dealers' markup, which can't be sold if things go wrong. It's like something lost down the drain.

            IT and coms costs

            The lobbeys of concert halls and libraries are full, stuffed with people using free wifi. Whoever they are and whatever they are doing, some of them might be saving startup costs. On which point, Pete Foreman's PAYG tariffs guide is the best link on an otherwise rather vague page on this same blog about cheap used phones and pay as you go chips, which are another communications cost. The pay-as-you-go site sometimes lists options for a little free data roaming as well as low-tariff sim cards.
            It lists deals that change every year or two as well as more stable ones which I guess are the ones directly from Three or O2 classic.

            While thinking, you should sign-up with a free cashback site in case it happens to have cashback on something you would have bought anyway.

            A brand for increasing the price of T shirts

            If your asset is something like "a brand for increasing the price of T shirts", then it costs nothing to dream-up and might earn nothing if sold fast. This is why people tend to work in trades and professions and intellectual property; they hope to become self-employed without massive amounts of capital, rent, or staff, by living on their wits; they should not need funding. They should be able to do other things like doing a part-time day job and maybe sharing customers with others in the same position (I am going from T shirts to things like law and accountancy here but there is probably an equivalent for T shirts).

            There was a time when a brand like Clarks Shoes was worth more than expected and could be even more valuable if separated from expensive factories in the UK. That was a nieve time, and I hope that consumers are more savvy to the fact that the brand feels nice to wear because staff are paid a UK wage; another brand on a UK-made shoe should sell almost as well, while the famous brand on a Chinese shoe should sell much worse. I hope that's where the market is heading.
            Do you need a business overdraft? No. Do you need funding for assets? - Do you need a business name on a bank account? maybe not - Do you want to book-keeping aids to tag categories like costs and sales to pay tax? Yes. -  Merchant accounts and currency conversion - What government can do

            Do you need a business name on a bank account? - maybe not.

            I run an online shop selling nonleather footwear with a separate but personal-name account. A lot of bitcoin brokers do the same. I asked Bittylicious, the web site that works with bitcoin brokers, what personal accounts they recommended and was told that Santander is a favourite. My personal account is at another bank again, so there's no need to trouble one bank with a request for two similar but separate accounts. Separate bank accounts are required by common sense and minimum legal standards of tax reporting. I've never found banking a problem. If you set-up a face-to-face stall, then cash payments might be a problem and cheap cash sorting machines make it easier to bag and pay-in. Metrobank offers use of their machines free. If you want an account for vanishingly rare cheques made-out to your business name, then maybe someone with a business bank account can ask their bank to call it "trading as... x y and z" on the software. Once a customer has made the decision to pay them so-much-a-month, banks are less fussy about what's written on the name of the account. They might even write "trading as... x y and z" on the software title of your personal account, but their desire to get money for nothing might prevent them doing that and even prompt them to close your personal account.

            If your existing account allows you do download a spreadsheet of a years' transactions in midata format, that can be used to make account comparison web sites more accurate. TSB and Halifax came at the top of my lists, but Halifax prove a bit awkward for the overseas spending card I have with them so that leaves TSB.
   has the background and does the comparison.

            If you limit your liability with a registered company, it's more usual to have a company account. You want people to know what they are dealing-with and that liablity is limited, just as they do. There is a work-around. Say your name is J Blogs (if that is your name - I don't know - but you don't have to say it aloud) you could have a company called J Blogs Ltd. That might help make things look cool to everyone, if you are using an account called "J Blogs". Maybe the bank will pay in cheques to "J Blogs" without the "Ltd", or more likely nobody will ever send you a cheque.

            The VAT system requires a bank account that any rebates can be paid-in to. "This must be an account held in the UK and the account name must match the business name you are registering with VAT", according to the guidance notes to the VAT1 registration form, on un-known authority and without detail about the closeness of "match". I emailed to ask, and got a helpful phone call a week later: "I can't say any more than what's in the handbook ... if we have to pay a company, then the bank account has to match the company name, and it's a company account then it would have 'ltd' as part of the name of the account". I guess that means it's worth a try calling a company J Blogs with a bank account called J Blogs. If there is an insurmountable problem worth more than the cost of a business bank account, then you can open one. Maybe in the future there will be a free business bank account available somewhere.

            You might expect a law that the account must be in a company name because there's law about letters emails and faxes, but not the name of the bank account. People here seem to have researched the subject and think the same. They and the staff of Companies House are sure that any law would be in the Companies Act, which you'd want to look at if you set-up a company. I think there are more general laws about not decieving people, and advisers like this accountant in brighton list some things to be guard against, somehow, if you look like the same thing as the limited company.
            1) Limited liability, maybe if a supplier doesn't update invoice information and calls you by the non-limited name. Then they can try to argue that they didn't know you were limited.
            2) Requests for extra information during a tax inspection of an inspector thinks it worth checking your personal accounts as well.
            3) Decisions about the rate of tax, if for some reason the company pays a lower tax than you do and HMRC think there's a false distinction.

            I don't know enough about tax to know what that situation would be, and the accountant's advice is to keep things simple-looking rather than have an account with "ltd" in the name in all cases.

            There's also a point made about grabbing money out of the account which gets interpreted later as something unexpected - a director's loan for example - which I don't understand, and applies whatever bank account you have.

            Update mid 2018 - Starling Bank now offer free accounts in a business name to smaller limited companies - I think the limit is something like ten staff and one director. The account looks as though it works on IoS and Android but probably not Windows. There is a free opening offer to other limited companies. Starling Bank works on MoneyDashboard for automatic categorising of expenses, although that program is aimed at private customers and doesn't do anything quite the way you want for business; there are probably accounts programs that work with Starling too.   Update mid 2017:, Transferwise Borderless Bank Account, Bunq for Eurozone residents, and the more expensive that has a £100 setup fee. Coconut hope to have accounts for limited companies in the future, after starting on freelancers.

   costs 20p for most transactions in or out and includes a mastercard that can be used without charge. BACS inbound payments are a free exception, apparently, but as you have no control over whether banks use BACS or Faster Payments, that's not much help to know. Bank transfers to other currencies aren't yet available this July 2017, although rival does offer them.

            There is a discussion on their comments page about when they might be able to accept HMRC refund payments such as VAT or whether there is any way of paying them in. The answer is yes.

            Just to be different, you share part of their Barclays bank account rather than having your own, but I imagine that you can pay-in cheques in your company name, and their logon page has a little bit of book-keeping software to categorise transactions built-in, so that's a good thing.
            Allows payments into its borderless bank account, but there is backlog of applicants and id-checking is slow. If you have a personal account and want to register again as a director of a business in the business name, the process stops on screen; the "save" button doesn't work. If another director does it, then the application goes OK if done from another browser.

            If you just need a business-name bank account for VAT refunds, maybe you could g

            When I first tried to sign-up it said
            Your GBP details
            Account Number
            UK Sort Code
            Account Holder
            TW/J ROBERTSON
            Transferwise also has some odd terms in its agreement for European Economic Area applicans. None of these may use the bank account too obviously,


            • (a) charities (unless they are established in Canada, European Economic Area (“EEA”), Switzerland, US or New Zealand);
            • (b) unregistered UK charities; or
            • (c) trusts (unless they are established in Canada, EEA or Switzerland).
            1.4  banary options, bitcoin and alternative currencies ... seeds and plants.
            1.5 You may only use your TransferWise Account Number (as we provided to you) to receive funds into your TransferWise Account for the following purposes:
            • (a) Receiving your own salary and/or wages;
            • (b) Receiving payouts from e-commerce and freelancer platforms;
            • (c) Receiving payments from family, friends or other people you know for personal purposes; or
            • (d) Receiving payments from your clients and other third parties for the purpose of business payments.
            1.6 You shall not use your TransferWise Account for the following purposes:
            • (a) receiving payouts or withdrawals from electronic money platforms/services/providers;
            • (b) receiving payouts from short term lenders; or
            • (c) setting up direct debits on your TransferWise Account.
            The "Can I pay by card?" page says yes for 1.7%  on a "business card", 0.3% on other sterling visa and mastercard, and 0% for debit cards. Similar slightly higher rates for euro.

            The pricing page mentions a 50p charge for transferring money to a UK bank account, or .6€ or US$1.30.  Inbound payments are the same unless made by debit card by the look of it. The page urls this summer 2017 are
            ...but I hope you will use
            Transferwise to sign-up for the usual reasons.
   is a list. You'd think that someone could do it on the cheap or take-over part of a bank that's pulling out of the market, like, but no. (Airdre tried to offer a bundle of face to face services to a shrinking, aging customer base near Airdrie in Scotland. They required new customers to come to Airdrie for a face to face interview. They were last heard-of promising a merger with TSB after a marathon history as an independent bank after they lost the will to live a year or so ago).
            A glance at fees this August 2017 suggests £1.50 per withdrawal but generally pretty cheap and geared to currency transfer, and accepting payments from overseas bank accounts. I didn't get to the bit about debit cards but there seems to be one.

   offer free eurozone personal bank accounts by the look of it, to residents of the European Union, and €12 a year company accounts in Austria Germany and the Netherlands this July 2017..
            Business customers have to meet some conditions on here:
   : "...

            - You are an authorised representative of the company.
            - You have a personal bunq account
            - You have an active registration number from the Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands, a Handelregisternummer in Germany or a Firmenbucheintragung in Austria.
            - Less than 50% of the entity gross income consists of passive income. "
            " We also assess companies based on the risk profile, and can thus decide whether or not a company can open a business account based on certain characteristics (activities, shareholders, etc.). "

   business instant access deposit account
            £5 a cheque but free online banking. So if you needed a cheque, which is unlikely, you could transfer money some other private account that offers a cheque book.   The spec. is a long piece of stuff that reads like the script of a childrens' TV program and doesn't get to the nitty-gritty. Or maybe something from a housing association. Does online banking include online payments to suppliers, or just something that "deposit account" implies, like transfer to another metrobank account? Could they change it at a whim with a bit of annoying language? You'd have to ask them, but the account could be good. It also pays just enough interest to cause extra book-keeping without being enough to buy a cup of tea to drink while you are doing the books.

   includes cashplus, which sells itself as an alternative to a business bank account, able to work in a company name for invoices and mastercard payments or tax rebates, so long as you don't need to pay-in a paper cheque. It comes-up on the same searches as and Transferwise Borderless Bank account. The fee turns out to be "
            Card issue fee £69.00" in very small print on the back of the online statement, with a footnote "payable annually therafter".
            Business Account Finder - British Bankers Association is the link for comparing accounts in a business name. There used to be some "free forever" ones at RBS, Santander and HBOS, but after reading the first 21 pages of a moneysavingexpert thread I see that each bank withdrew their offer and they now charge £5.50-£7.50ish a month, sometimes with free extra automated transactions if you don't use any manual ones. Business Account Finder does not sort accounts for the cheapest standing charge, so you have to look at every single entry to find a free one and then check the bank's web site to see if the thing is still free.

            I have some hopes of an online-only Metrobank account but haven't checked yet.

            One user on moneysavingexpert suggested Cumberland Building Society's Business Bank Account - at the time they had a free offer to locals. There is still a free offer for schools on their web site, otherwise a calculator to work out monthly charges charging options for cash or electronic businesses with slightly different charges plus five or three pounds a month. "
            If you are looking to discuss a current account outside of the Society’s operating area, please call our Customer Service Team on 01228 403141".

            Another money saving expert suggested Carter Allen who "traditionally have offered free banking to IT contractors, however you would now need to be recommeneded by an intermediary". A third mentioned ICCI who have a business account that seems to have no monthly fees but is geared to import / export companies and doesn't have much clarity attached about whether someone like a plumber in the UK can use it. There is a long PDF application form that asks for a solicitor or accountant to witness one or two things, and asks your existing turnover in thousands. It also asks you to repeat various names as directors, people of significant financial control, and so-on. All on a form that converts numbers into currency by mistake. I decided after a while that this free bank account wasn't available to me, but you may have better luck.

            Company Formation

            If your business registers as a limited company, there is a list of company formation agents that are sometimes cheaper than Companies House's own £13 charge and sometimes have cashback offers at banks. has one or two, that turn-out not to exist any more on search engines, but if you search every now and then for a day or two then good offers come-up on the bing and google ads. If you search Companies House web pages for "company formation agents and secretarial agents", they have a full list of people hooked-up to their software. The most expensive was over £500; no cheaper ones emerged. If you have time to shop around, a better use of it is to use bing and google for a few minutes a day over a day or two. After a while, offers appear in the paid-for ads - my cheapest turned up on Bing, quoting £5 at The Formations Company.

            Bundled legal insurance and business banking with Co-Op and FSB

            If your business is large enough to employ staff, it might benefit from the bundle of services including a Co-Op business bank account (usually £5 a month after the first 18 months) from Federation of Small Businesses, who have a minimum charge that rises with turnover. You have to ring them to find out the charge. This bunch called Business Banking Insight phoned to do a business banking user survey, which didn't quite fit reality because if you have an own-name account and don't use business banking services, it's hard to rate your business banking services out of ten. People who actively chose their business bank and use it tend to give high scores. Whores bank is top of the list.
            Do you need a business overdraft? No. Do you need funding for assets? - Do you need a business name on a bank account? maybe not - Do you want to book-keeping aids to tag categories like costs and sales to pay tax? Yes. -  Merchant accounts and currency conversion - What government can do

            Do you want book-keeping aids tagging categories like costs & sales to pay tax? Yes.

            Online accounts software probably appeals to a low-budget tech startup more. It's easier to share with an accountant if you need to pay for help, or with colleagues if you aren't renting an office or working near each other. This link is to a separate post, just about free online accounts software. Isn't that good?

            Thanks for paying tax. You help pay for my government services.
            The bank statement is the most accurate and automated book-keeping aid for tax payers.

   suits small business

            If your turnover crosses the you have to do

            You need to download the bank statement each month (1507.xls as a file name for month seven in 2015 for example) and tag each line to a category before you forget what that mystery paypal payment was.

            Bank software often downloads bank statements in particular flavours of an un-documented format called .qif - Quicken Interchange Format - which is best avoided. Download a file in every other available format in case one such as .pdf or .csv has detail which another lacks.

            You also need one credit card per type of transaction paid with a credit card, such as one credit card for delivery costs and one for travel. Otherwise you need to account for each line of the credit card statements as well, and how they interact with the bank statement, which is fiddly work for no benefit. Look on moneysavingexpert for cashback visa and mastercards in personal names that might give you .5% cashback and up to one months' credit. These need have nothing to do with the business bank account except being set to withdraw the full balance from it each month by direct debit. If you try to include their statements in your accounting systems you'll discover gotchas to discourage business use, like the direct debit day being different from the statement day, but if you keep one card per type of transaction such as one for travel and one for postage, you don't need to worry so much about their statements.

            Barclays private accounts do allow some categorization on their online bank statements. Co-op / Smile used to be hard to download; you needed to cut and paste or trust waveaps to do it for you (see below) but most accounts now let you download a .csv file each month.

            Talking of accounting, a free spreadsheet for keeping track of each line of account is useful.
            Different software and different accounts programs go together better or worse.
            Specialised ones will recognise regular transactions. Extra-good ones will track enough for you to do a VAT return, which I've never done. There are free ones for your hard disc here and there. I once tried Acemoney which is free for a single bank account and nicely designed for PC or Mac; programs like Quicken that I used for a few years were a pain with their closed-source file formats designed to keep you loyal and their "sunset policy" to try to force you to buy more of their software every-time the sun sets. Grisbi Gnucash & Turbocash were a bit compicated for what I needed, but entirely open source and free.

            Waveaps is one of the few free online accounting programs on the tech radar list to have kept going for a few years, and it can scrape data from a large number of bank accounts. It states that it's working on systems to double-check data for errors caused by changes of format on online bank statements. Update - Pandle has a long-term free version too, without an automatic bank feed but with more carefully--expert-checked systems for UK VAT records. It's online like Waveapps and the bank feed costgs £5 a month with a few other bonus extras

   is another free online accounting app that has kept going for a few years. It accepts bank statement files as .ofx or .qif with a special converter for Co-op files. 

  , the online service, is the free accounts software that I use. Quickfile now charges £50 if you have more than 1000 transactions a year. The average is calculated each month, like VAT. That compares to zero for free software on your hard disc, zero for Waveapps, and zero for Brightbooks.

            When I used to use Quickfile I discovered this. It likes to set-up accounts for money invoiced and not yet paid or received; you have to try to stop it doing that or things get complicated. It also helps if you have pretend customers like "paypal", and "merchant account", to save electronic accounting of those accounts, and to have pretend suppliers like "office stuff", rather than build-up a list of every stationary shop you've ever used your debit card at. VAT accounting might complicate things a bit.

            Lastly, Quickfile will automatically download statements from one or two of the major UK banks: Barclays, Lloyds TSB Business Banking, HSBC Business Banking, Natwest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander Business Banking. These are done through their own Chrome browser plug-in.

            That list of banks is worth checking-out, because it saves you downloading and up-loading the data from your bank to quickfile each month. If you do, most banks and probably all business banks let you download the data manually, while more of them let you keep a copy via Waveapps. These are formats for uploading to quickfile: Excel (csv), Microsoft Money (ofx), Quickbooks (qbo), Quicken (qif), Text file (txt) - Santander only - Santander personal accounts provide this
            Do you need a business overdraft? No. Do you need funding for assets? - Do you need a business name on a bank account? maybe not - Do you want to book-keeping aids to tag categories like costs and sales to pay tax? Yes. -  Merchant accounts and currency conversion - What government can do

            Do you need an accountant? I don't have one.

            I don't know why people have accountants. Likely reasons include statutory account-signing for limited liability on a larger turnover, tax advice, spotting mistakes before the tax office, and out-sourcing of office work that is so routine that accountants know how to automate it.

            On the other hand, Waveapps is free and does a lot of the book-keeping work except payroll. [update: Waveapps stopped automated European bank data upload in September 2019, because of the hassle of transferring to the new open bank data system, and say they will not work with UK government's Making Tax Digital requirements, both because their income comes from america and they don't want to spend time on customers in Europe. Open Banking sounds cheap to go-along-with but anyway it's up to them]

            I've just come back with a meeting at Tax Assist who charge from £1295 per year for business accounts. This Guardian article suggests that a lot of people get deals around £10+VAT a month if paid annually, for one-person income tax returns under the VAT threshold, which could be good value for someone who's earning a lot and doesn't have a lot of time. Search "cheapest accountants" on Google or Bing to find H & Co at the same price - £8.34 a month + VAT minimum price for income tax.. This is H&C's price list, that's published with a hefty referral fee after each item.

            Limited Company Accounts

            Sole Trader Accounts

            Contractors and Taxi Drivers (Under 12k PA)

            Contractors and Taxi Drivers (Up to 50k PA)

            Similar searches come-up with the same kind of price, but presumably the name of the accounts package ought to be part of the search if you want someone who can log-on and get the gist quickly. Not much comes-up under "cheap accountant waveapps". Wave's own advert pages ought to be a place to look - specially in areas of high accountancy graduate unemployment like Hull and Coleraine, but the results are more restrained and often out of date.

            I have another blog post called "star courses" that says something about finding cheap accountancy graduates from Unistats data about their earnings, and don't know why the two findings don't match. I would expect to see people from Coleraine and Hull advertising on the pages of Waveapps and on Gumtree to offer themselves as book keepers and accountants, but that doesn't much happen. There is one cheap accountancy firm in Hull advertising on Waveapps. It could be that I am searching for the wrong things; one review site says that Waveapps is no good for VAT, so maybe the cheap accountants are busy on another piece of software.

            Merchant accounts and currency conversion. 

            Outfits like Paypal are a good start until you have some turnover. There is a new one for direct debits called which has one or two others working alongside for small commission between them. Whichever route you choose the charge to you is 1% 
            Stripe are a good bet for card conversion. Before them I used Elavon Merchant Services who, towards the end, offered a web service with no need to hire a terminal. Apparently this is called the mobile pay-as-you-go version and they tell me that I now pay as much for it as I do for Paypal on some cards - the fees are broken down by card with debit cards cheapest. Worldpay has just emailed to say that they offer pay-as-you-go prices as well. I don't know if they have a deal that lets you use a web logon to their mobile version and save the price of terminal, or not, but that's what I do with Elavon. A thid provider cropped-up when I told Wave Apps that I had a limited company. Their online offer to Stripe suddenly got cheaper, with the headline rate at 1.4% but higher rates for overseas cards and no cheap rate for debit cards, so it is more expensive than the 1.4% figure first looks.

            I don't know a site to publish prices given for card processing, but under 2% for credit cards is respectable, plus an amount for each transaction, and usually plus £15 a month for a terminal. There's a growing market in smartphone payment systems from the likes of SumUp, but they all assume you want to pay more than 2%, often plus a monthly payment, which personally I do not want to do. I want to sell UK-made goods on a lowish margin, and pay a little tax. I do not want to sell Chinese goods on a huge margin and not care how much paypal take, if there's a choice.

            If you can get customers to pay by bank transfer, that's free to most accounts but don't advertise bank details if it's easy for people to set-up fraudulent direct debits. They appear on your account with plausible names like "£30 National Trust" or "£29.45 Virgin Media", and you have to contact your bank to cancel them straight away. Usually you get your money back.

            Currency conversion. The P2P outfits Transferwise or Currencyfair will do a better job than any bank. Thomas Running's blog post about banking for nomads lists one or two "bank accounts for international travellers and nomads", excluding the UK's Ivobank which survived a year before it closed, but others may last longer. LHV Bank of Lithuania looked likely to offer a free euro account but needed an proof of identity, which costs just over €100. Then I discovered I was wrong, after buying the id but that was my fault.

            For import and export companies, a new outfit called something like B2B Euro Account offer a minimal euro account with next to no fees except 1% currency conversion - I don't know if it's useful to anyone but found it by accident.
            Good luck
            Do you need a business overdraft? No. Do you need funding for assets? - Do you need a business name on a bank account? maybe not - Do you want to book-keeping aids to tag categories like costs and sales to pay tax? Yes. -  Merchant accounts and currency conversion - What government can do

            What government can do

            This is mainly for businesses that make things or buy from businesses that make things.

            The Planning Act requires us not to do anything commercial in
            residential zones unless we have been doing it since 1964, This
            under-estimates the advantages to residential areas of seeing
            people at work and having a variety of people about. The act is
            less enforced than it might be; work at home is tolerated. But
            landlords can still put clauses in their tenancies to say that
            you should not run an alkaline works in your bedsit, or something
            like that, which makes things harder for tenants, ant it's hard
            for people with neighbours who complain about smelting or tyre
            recycling or perfectly useful things on their doorstep.

            A second problem is that businesses cannot find each other. Government
            has information about who pays taxes for what, whether companies
            or sole traders registered for VAT. Government doesn't find any
            way to get this information for free into trade directories so
            that someone who wants twelve pairs of shoes made in the UK, or
            a special widget, can't get it done in the UK. At the moment the
            Revenue and Customs Act forbids this kind of tax information being
            used for any other purpose - even tp answer freedom of infomation
            requests or go in something like Kompass Directory. The answer
            is to release it next to each company on the Companies House web

            A third problem is that something can be made in China, without
            the costs of a welfare state, and shipped to the UK practically
            free under an International Postal Union treaty that's meant to
            help developing countries, apparently. When the goods come-in,
            there is no way that anyone can check each envelope for VAT liability.
            These goods compete with goods sold in shops that have to pay
            VAT, rent, rates, insurance, and employ staff. There is no way
            that shops with these costs can compete with online imports that
            don't. You can't even compete on ebay if you try to sell the same
            thing second hand: your postage costs are too high. The answer
            is to have postage from China set at the commercial rate, plus
            a tax to reflect the lower costs of Chinese production that come
            from unfair competition; from the lack of democracy or a welfare
            state that are expensive.

            A fourth problem sounds a bit like the first one. Government often
            subsidises imports, sometimes, to reduce prices and inflation,
            and shouldn't do it in future.

            It's called Monetary Policy, it's managed by the Bank of England,
            and it works by government paying a higher rate of interest than
            it needs to do on government debt. So we all pay a bit more, overseas
            investors buy pounds to lend, and the value of pounds goes up.
            That makes it unfairly difficult for people to make things in
            the UK and compete with imports or when selling abroad. So: economists
            need to come-up with a better system for reducing inflation and
            admit that the previous one was not ideal if you live in the north
            of England or Wales or Scotland or you want to work in manufacturing.
            Nobody has ever apologised for this policy that closed a fifth
            of manufacturing in the five years after 1979 leaving a quarter
            of the workforce unemployed, sick, or on government schemes. According
            to economists and newspapers it was a success.

            Magenta 14's guide to security, from a post on Rebuildingsociety, posted here so that I have somewhere to read it more carefully - I haven't really got the hang. Rebuildingsociety now publish a guide to borrowers and lenders about security, linked straight from their front page.

            Magenta14: A wee guide to Security for reference.

            • magenta14
              Hi all,
              When I 1st joined ReBS in late February 2014 I found myself bewildered by the types of Guarantees, or combinations thereof, offered to secure my family’s funds. Like many perhaps it’s a rapid learning curve resulting in my largest single Default £400 + sustained in 2014. 18 months on those funds with Mowbray & Son’s are still outstanding. [Please take a wee look at that loan site for information on the work recoveries have done on behalf of myself and other Lenders...

              Though oft times a very tricky task to decide who to lend to so to help you make up your minds if you wish to lend then here's a guide to the Guarantee's to help you reduce your risk and give you a better chance of getting a little, some, some more. Or all of your funds back in the event of a default.
              Lending can be a seriously risky business so [when NOT if a 'marital breakdown' occurs make sure you are using the best protection to secure your assets.
              Happy reading and take care,

              A] Personal Guarantee.

              Note: Very Commonly offered to ‘protect’ a loan here at ReBS…You may wish to consider how financially secure the person[s] are when this level of protection is offered to protect your funds, would they be able to meet their obligations in the event of a Default.

              Is the Business Owner capable, really know their market, is their Business model built on a strong foundation.

              Definition – What does Personal Guarantee mean?

              A personal guarantee is an arrangement that is signed and verified by a borrower, or a third party, in order to accept the liability for one’s own or a third party’s obligations or funds payable. The lender, or the first party, that takes this guarantee from the borrower, or a third party acting on the borrower’s behalf, can attach the guarantor’s personal assets in case the borrower fails to repay the debt or fails to meet any of the obligations covered by the guarantee. The personal guarantee is significant because it acts as a signed blank check. If the borrower defaults on a payment, the lender is directly eligible for the named property or asset without being required to attempt to recover the payment from the borrower. This guarantee is the basis of lending to startups in the absence of collaterals.

              Divestopedia explains Personal Guarantee:
              When a firm wishes to borrow funds, a personal guarantee signed by the owners or promoters as well as a third person, in some cases, may be insisted upon by the lender. This is especially true for a startup. This guarantee is demanded in order to reduce the risk of a loan default. Many firms have a limited liability status, in which case the partners and shareholders have a very nominal liability. In such cases, the assets of the firm are pledged for a loan, and a personal guarantee, signed by the owners or directors, is the backup for a larger quantum of borrowing. If there is a personal guarantee given by a third party or the partners or directors of the firm, the personal assets of the guarantors can be attached immediately, which ensures the quick recovery of debts and other obligations, without even seeking recovery from the original borrowing firm. Normally, liquidating assets and recovering cash is a lengthy and complicated process, and a personal guarantee provides additional convenience to lenders. From the borrower’s point of view, personal guarantee is not the preferred option. Instead of signing a personal guarantee, a pledging of some specific assets as collateral can be considered by the borrower, in which case the borrower may save some of his or her assets and spousal assets, in case the loan is not repaid in time.

              A.1] What is Personal Guarantee Insurance?

              Here’s a link to follow to provide a wee guide on this product, hope it helps?

              B] Corporate Guarantee

              Note: Certain Lenders at ReBS actively seek to secure this type of guarantee because of the enhanced protection it affords to their own and other peoples Lent Funds.

              Definition of “Corporate Guarantee”:
              A Corporate Guarantee is a guarantee in which a corporation agrees to be held responsible for completing the duties and obligations of a debtor to a lender, in the event that the debtor fails to fulfill the terms of the debtor-lender contract. Also known as a corporate guaranty.

              C] Cross Guarantee:

              Note: Certain Lenders at ReBS actively seek to secure this type of guarantee because of the enhanced protection it affords to their own and other peoples Lent Funds.

              Definition – What does Cross Guarantee mean?:

              A cross guarantee is an arrangement between two or more related firms to provide reciprocal guarantees for each other’s liabilities, fulfillment of promises, or obligations. This guarantee is agreed upon among related companies, such as groups of companies or a parent company and subsidiaries and affiliates. A creditor of any one firm of the group becomes the creditor of every other firm of the group.

              It is significant because the contractual promise reduces the risk of the lenders, thus enabling borrowers to negotiate for a better deal. Cross guarantee may be beneficial to borrower with respect to better interest rates, tenure of repayment, and/ or quantum of loan.

              Divestopedia explains Cross Guarantee:
              The place where cross guarantees become cross border guarantees might invite scrutiny of regulators of different countries. Cross guarantees must be disclosed under contingent liability, along with lawsuits and warranties with the balance sheets. Sometimes implicit cross guarantee may be implied merely by the passive association of a firm with a firm of global or regional reputation, and a higher credit rating may result from this situation.
              While drafting the guarantee agreement, it is customary to include a clause of indemnity to give additional advantage to the lender. In such cases, the courts may favor the lender by interpreting the agreement as an indemnity bond, which makes it unfavorable from the guarantor’s point of view. The capacity to give cross guarantee should be based on the article of association of the firms. If the directors are the beneficiaries of the guarantee, then the shareholders approval may be required. The lender can enforce a guarantee even if the security of principal borrowers’ assets is held by him.

              D] First Charge [Exceptionally rare here at ReBS].

              Note: Affords Lenders a high degree of protection in return for receiving a very favourable loan rate.
              A legal right under which the owner of the first charge has the right to decide on what to do with a property if the borrower fails to maintain the repayments i.e. the mortgage lender will in most cases hold the first charge on a property until the mortgage is fully repaid.

              E] What is a ‘Second Charge’? [Commonly offered at ReBS].

              Note: You wish to look for a high equity value in the Property or Properties being offered as 2nd charge security because in a default situation the 1st charge holder may choose to sell the Property below market value Just to recover their own funds. Please consider that the 1st charge holder is under no obligation to protect the interests of the 2nd charge holder.
              A Second Charge is a legal charge put on a property in favour of a lender, or creditor. A Second Charge comes second in line to a ‘First Charge’, which would normally be your mortgage.
              When the property gets sold, the First Charge – i.e. the mortgage, will be cleared in full before the Second Charge receives any money. The Second Charge would then be in line to receive funds from the sale, up to the full outstanding balance of the Second Charge.
              Any funds remaining from the sale at this point would be passed to the seller.
              In closing:
              For those of you like me who may struggle with all the various security types offered to you by prospective Borrowers at ReBS I have spent some time today seeking out the definitions that have been presented in the clearest English rather than something more complicated.
              [Life's too short, keep it simple, keep safe].
              Hope you find the information helpful, please feel free to retain for future reference.
              With Best regards, James.
              Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+4 rating, 4 votes)

              F] Debentures:

              Note: A strong form of lender Security provided the assets covered by the Debenture are Really worth something under an auction or ‘Fire Sale’ situation following on from a Company Insolvency.
              Some fellow Members will check to see what’s covered [Captured] by the Debenture [to work out it's value] Before lending their funds.

              When lending money to a company (or indeed a limited liability partnership), lenders want to ensure that their interests are protected as securely as possible. Debentures are a common method of obtaining security, under which a lender is typically granted both fixed and floating charges over all of a company’s assets and undertakings.

              With their combination of fixed and floating charges, debentures are intended to meet the need of companies for increased working capital by allowing additional borrowing secured on the circulating assets of a trading business. A debenture is widely accepted as a necessity for many corporate lending arrangements, in particular where there is not enough security over property alone for the lender to feel comfortable.

              The key distinction between a fixed and floating charge is that a lender has control of the assets subject to a fixed charge, whereas the borrower retains control over those assets subject to a floating charge.

              Fixed charges are typically granted by a borrower over assets such as freehold and leasehold properties, and fixtures such as plant and machinery if these are owned by the borrower. Fixed charges can also be granted over book debts, uncalled capital, goodwill and shares.A debenture will also typically include floating charges over present and future move able assets such as stock and unsecured fixtures. Floating charges are less attractive to a lender than fixed charges as they rank behind preferential creditors and certain other creditors in the event of a default by a borrower. The borrower is also able to deal with the assets subject to the charge in the ordinary course of business, by selling stock for example, without obtaining the lender’s consent, subject to any restrictions to the contrary in the debenture itself. Bank debentures are normally expressed to be “all monies” debentures: that is to say, they secure not only existing loans but all present and future loan advances. The all-encompassing nature of debentures makes them an attractive form of security for lenders, but equally unattractive to borrowers.
              Unfortunately for the borrower, in the event of a default, the lender has the right to appoint an administrator or administrative receiver to realise any assets subject to a fixed charge, and will be paid out of the proceeds in preference to other creditors. In such circumstances the lender would normally gain control over the assets which were subject to floating charges, which would crystallise to become fixed charges, leaving the borrower unable to deal with the assets in the ordinary course of business.

              In order to be enforceable, security under a debenture needs to be perfected. This involves registering the debenture document at Companies House, and may also involve obtaining prior consent by giving notice of the security interests to third parties and the registration of the security interest in other public registers such as the Land Registry.
              [Life's too short, keep it simple, keep your assets safe].
              Best regards, James.

              Bad economics degrees

              International Student Course Satisfaction
              Table of feedback scores for the economics degrees for the universities that take most international students. Most of the courses are at the bottom of the league table for student feedback, but presumably make most money because non-EU fees tend to be double EU fees.

              Blog on a single page
              the author sells vegan shoes online at
              , a UK online vegan shoe shop. Many of them are UK-made or European-made.

              h I've just done a post about Keele Uni Economics teaching in the early 80s which was so bad it becomes interesting to know how bad an economics course can be. One reason seems to the that the McGraw Hill Company publishes stuff like lesson plans and lecture notes to anyone to use while teaching from the textbook, so if as a teacher you make some excuse to cancel the more interesting bits of the course

              By the way I have just done a blog post about Lord Sewell, who seems to have done nothing wrong except stating that his colleagues earn £300 a day for turning-up and dong F-all, which everybody knows but his colleagues don't want published in The Sun