With at least half of all IT contracting roles based in Greater London / The City, how important is it for those working in the capital to have an accountant who works nearby?
Are many contractor accountants based in London?
From our experience, most of the leading contractor accountancy firms are not based in the capital at all – with many headquartered in the Home Counties, the North West, and South West. However, many have satellite offices in Central London and/or The City – or are happy to travel to meet contractors, particularly if they have just signed up as clients.
How many contract roles are based in London?
Approximately 8.7 million people live in London – with around 4.7m economically active. This represents around 15% of the UK’s workforce.
However, the proportion of IT jobs in London has always been vastly higher. According to ITJobsWatch, at the beginning of April 2018 there were 20,543 London-based IT jobs advertised, compared to 33,296 for the rest of the UK. This represents around 38% of all IT vacancies.
When you look at contract roles in isolation, the proportion based in London is even higher still.
For example, for developer roles, there were 13,433 matching IT contract job ads advertised in the UK (excluding London) in April 2018, compared with 13,165 in London – which represents almost half of all contracting positions in the country!
How often will you meet your accountant face-to-face?
In the ‘frontier’ days of contracting – the 80s and 90s, in particular, almost all accounting-related paperwork was submitted via the postal system. There was no internet or email – so almost all communication was done via the post, telephone, or in person.
In those days, you would typically meet your contractor accountant when you signed up, and periodically over time. This wasn’t always the case, but there was often more face-to-face contact in the days before web technology revolutionised communications.
Nowadays, the need to communicate directly with your accountant is probably less than ever. All paperwork can be transmitted electronically – via online accounting software. Occasionally, you may need hard copies sent to your home – for example if you need a copy of your signed accounts for a mortgage lender.
Also, most contractor’s company accounts are very simple – typically with one or two directors, a small number of clients, and minimal expense claims.
So, if you’re working in the capital or in the South-East, does it matter if your contractor accountant is London-based, or working hundreds of miles away?
Here are some typical instances of when a face-to-face meeting might be preferable for some contrators:
- When you first sign up to a contractor accountancy firm, you may want to meet your account manager.
- You may want to discuss your initial company set-up, including share structure, and salary/dividend levels.
- Occasionally your accountant may offer a tax review.
Many contractors never meet their accountants, or feel the need to. But others prefer the personal touch – especially as your accountant is likely to be your most trusted professional adviser during your contracting career. It really is a personal choice.
Choosing a contractor accountant in London / The City
Go to our accountants’ comparison table for a list of some of the leading specialist accountants in the UK. Although we don’t know of any accountants who provide services solely to London-based contractors (that would seem a little restrictive!), most of the leading firms have a presence in the capital – particularly in Central London / The City.
Simply browse some of the suppliers’ websites to see if they provide a personal service for London and City-based contractors.
And finally, don’t forget – location is just one of many factors you should consider when choosing an accountant.