Q&A: Quentin Pain, Accountz

Accountz is a UK-based company that makes easy-to-use bookkeeping software for small businesses that need to track their finances without any hassle. We spoke to Quentin Pain, founder and chairman of Accountz, to find out a little more about the company and the importance of accounting software.

Give us a brief history of your company?

Accountz is an accounting software specialist company. It has been in the home and business market for over 25 years. Accountz prides itself on providing efficient and easy-to-use accounting products.

Accountz was really born in 1985, when Apricote Studies was formed, a company that created and sold music and business software for the Acorn BBC B platform. In 1988 Apricote had produced two major accounting solutions, The Account Book and The Invoice Program, this paved the way for Accountz.

Personal Accountz was the first piece of software to be made under the new name, and become the UK’s top selling home finance package.

After Acorn broke and was sold off, we spotted huge potential in the market, as there were no accounting software packages that could run on multi platforms. As result of this, the Accountz we know today flourished.

Who is your software aimed at?

Anyone who feels budgeting is important! Our various software packages aim to help consumers, SMBs, and large companies manage and control their finances.

Home Accountz (formally Personal Accountz) is aimed at the individual consumer, helping them with everyday expenditures, such as outgoing bills and taxes. It is a method people can use to ensure they are financially stable and meaning they avoid potentially crippling debt. One might say Home Accountz will particularly help younger, new families who might struggle more with budgeting, as many of the financial responsibilities that come with running a family are alien and daunting.

The software package aimed at SMBs, sole-traders, partnerships, limited companies, VATS or non-VAT registered is more of a bookkeeping package in its real essence. SMBs will find this particularly useful as it takes all levels of taxation into account, and through software updates keeps up to date with the latest fiscal policies, taking the stress and strain out of company book-keeping.

It sounds obvious, but why do firms need to use accounting software?

Simply firms need to use accounting software to ensure they stay on top of their finances. Due to quite drastic fiscal changes, and economic uncertainty it’s a must that organisations get their house in order. VAT rises for example are here to stay and procedures must be put in place. If you don’t the consequences could be disastrous, with companies drowning under a sea of red tape, which could end up with you paying the wrong amount of tax, resulting in crippling fines.

By having an effective accounting structure in place will allow businesses to make a seamless transition to changed VAT rates, while at the same time allowing them to focus on their core business activities, free with the knowledge that their finances are secure.

What are the current attitudes within the SMB community when it comes to managing company accounts?

Given the economic down turn, the attitude towards accounting has most definitely changed. As many businesses have dropped like flies the lucky ones whom remain afloat do not want to follow suit, and must have every necessary line of defence up! There has been a movement from a quite complacent attitude toward a more vigilant one, as SMBs want to continue functioning.

Tax rises and cuts with damaging HMRC’s fines, of up to nine times what they used to be, have also lead to a change in attitude from SMBS, when it comes to managing company accounts. During an economic downturn, with a misfiring government, small companies can easily get overwhelmed when it comes to financial management. It’s imperative that in these instances companies are not put off by daunting tasks and meet them head on.

What are the traps that SMBs fall into when it comes to managing finances?

The main trap SMBs fall into is they become complacent and careless. If a financial year goes very well, it does not give them the right to stop working hard, if anything it is a right of passage, the company should work even harder to exceed their results. Keeping on top of tax rates, and being in the knowledge of when payments to the tax man are due is important, as to avoid crippling fines, and being placed on a dreaded list!

A lack of business acumen can have an impact on small companies, especially newly formed ones. The harsh reality of what comes with owning and running a business is foreign to a lot of new businesses, and a lot struggle to cope with these demands. In instances like these, the use of money management software, is highly advisable as it will take a complicated, and if done incorrectly potentially damaging practice, and make it trouble free, allowing the company to concentrate on matters such as profit generation.

How can these be avoided?

This sounds very obvious but careful planning and organisation is the key to avoiding the dangerous pit falls SMBs can find themselves in. Being in the knowledge and on top of changing government policy, and knowing the market will help avoid crippling problems SMBs suffer from.

By having an effective accounting structure in place will allow businesses to make a seamless transition to changed rates and market forces, while at the same time allowing them to focus on their core business activities, free with the knowledge that their finances are secure.

What piece of technology can you not live without?

For me, it has to be the iPhone, boring answer I know. I have found so many uses for the smartphone, I would struggle to live without it. It is my time keeping device, alarm as well as calendar. I also find it useful to verbally record ideas and brain waves that occasionally drop into my head!

I have also gotten used to using the Kindle App for reading books, as well using the inbuilt iPod to listen to music from Korn to Debussy. This proves invaluable whilst on long journeys. Email on the move is invaluable, especially when you have to run a business, and I could not envisage my life without it.

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.