Is Your VA Doing Bookkeeping?

Is your VA doing your bookkeeping?

If they are...then please KEEP might be leaving yourself exposed...

The UK Money Laundering Regulations 2007 state that anyone proving accounting services (which also includes bookkeeping), has to be registered with HMRC if they are not already a member of an accounting or bookkeeping professional body.

VA’s need to be registered when they:

  • Advertise bookkeeping services
  • Receive referrals for bookkeeping services 
  • Aim to make a profit providing bookkeeping services 
  • Provide these services with reasonable continuity 

Many VA’s have bookkeeping and/or financial administration on their website - and when we look at the rules, this falls within “accounting services” even though they are not marketing themselves as accountants.  

So why should you care whether your VA is registered or not? 

Is it not just their problem?  

Well...yes...and no...

The biggest issue falls if there is an error in what they are doing, if they make a mistake, and you are then fined by HMRC, it is likely that their insurance (if they have it - BTW you should make sure your VA had professional indemnity insurance too!) will not pay out and you’ll be stung for their mistakes.

The second issue, for me, is that, if they are not complying with the law, then are they being lax in other areas, either with their own business (eg insurance) or yours..

So what, if anything, can a non-registered VA do in relation to your numbers?  

Let’s look at the definition of “accounting services” as defined by HMRC.

“Accountancy services cover recording, reviewing, calculating and reporting on financial information for other people”

They also say that “typing an invoice” is not covered by the definition, and neither is credit control as long as the record of the payment is not being entered by the VA (if it is, then that IS accounting services)  

How do you know if your VA is registered?  

The only way is to ask them! 

HMRC maintain a register, but it is not public record. 

But if they are registered they will have been given a registration number (remember if they are a member of a bookkeeping or accounting professional body then they don’t need to register - a few are members)  

Is your VA compliant? 

Do they know about this law (which is nothing new - it’s over 10 years old!)?

Are YOU covered?  

In my opinion, the best thing, is to make sure that ANYONE, working on the numbers in your business is professionally qualified (after all, I don’t let an unqualified electrician near my fuse box!) 

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About the Author

Annette Ferguson 

Owner of Annette & Co. - Chartered Accountants & Certified Profit First Professionals. Helping online service-based entrepreneurs find clarity in their numbers, increase wealth and have more money in their pockets.