"As a firm of accountants with a rapidly growing solicitor client base, in particular start up firms. We realised that learning a new system each time wasn't feasible. So we decided to do our own research and select a system which we were prepared to invest our time in and therefore be able to assist clients in setting up their accounts and rectify any breaches during the year as opposed to only discovering them during the audit.( A service that our clients appreciate and not many firms provide)
It is important to understand that smaller firms are less likely to employ a qualified legal cashier. The bookkeeper may be competent but not familiar with the SARs. Or the user may be one of the fee earners or the legal secretary who have little knowledge and practical experience of bookkeeping. Therefore, smaller firms need far more help and support with their compliance, bookkeeping and assistance with the software.
I was pleased to discover that Perfect Books actually specialised in the smaller practice. It was also reassuring to learn that as well as providing the usual technical support. They also provided bookkeeping and compliance advice.
I was also surprised to discover that there were a few more compliance features to be found in this system as compared to the other systems that our clients were using.
In fact, some of the breaches that we had come across in the past and in some cases reported on, could actually have been avoided with this system.
My favourite reports :
1. The daily exceptions report
I like the way this report is generated automatically when you exit the system. It warns you when credit balances exist on office side and debit balances on client side. Useful if the user is not familiar with the rules. As it will remind you each day until you resolve it, we should expect to see fewer breaches of this nature and expect that they have been rectified promptly.
(On the systems our clients were using it was either only available as a month end report which you still needed to generate yourself. Or this report did not exist and the list of client ledgers had to be checked manually at month end).
2. The SAR report
Client bank reconciliations are always a problem area. A competent bookkeeper will be able to reconcile the client account. But will they present it in accordance with the SARs? Will they remember to extract the client ledger balances?
I like the way the SAR report generates both reports automatically for you with a well designed cover sheet which confirms that your client bank reconciliations have been compared to the list of client ledgers and that designated client accounts are also included. Plus any differences are noted with boxes for you to record your explanations. There is even a final checklist to ensure you have attached the list of uncleared cheques and list of client ledger balances and space for the solicitor to sign and date the report. Cheques over 6 months old are also highlighted with an asterix.
(On some other systems you have to prepare your own cover sheet and remember to extract the list of client ledgers balances yourself).
3. Costs/Disbursement Transfers Report
This is another useful report, providing the bookkeeping is up to date. This report can help with ensuring that transfers for costs are made within 14 days.
4. Special Journals for Inter-Client Transfers and Land Charges
It was reassuring to discover that you can only post client to client transfers through a specific journal which also acts as a central register and provides a clear audit trail. Eliminating the need to create a notional account and then have to remember to first post the transfer in and then out of this nominal before posting to the other client ledger.
Dealing with land charges or other disbursements on credit can be complicated. Again no need to use a notional account.
Since having recommended the system to several clients. Perfect Books have further added an online version and also provide bookkeeping services. Making it our preferred choice as it can be customised to suit different requirements."
Zia & Co - Chartered Certified Accountants & Registered Auditors - Manchester