Certainly, the software used for these services has improved. On the accountant's side, there are better tools for data capture and record retention, combined with better reports. On the client side, needed information is now captured in better bookkeeping software, payroll software, electronic banking and communication via portals.
And write-up is slowly being absorbed into the larger category of accounting software, presented as a module attached to that category rather than as a stand-alone application. None of these changes, however, has reduced the importance of write-up and ATF Payroll to an effective snapshot of the client's business and the status of payroll compliance.
This year's round-up presents eight top-of-the-line write-up systems from leading vendors, and an interesting glimpse of the evolution of this core accounting service.
Price: Starts at $2,900.
Accounting CS makes effective use of the write-up, trial balance, financial reporting, live and after-the-fact-payroll and compliance capabilities found within the company's CS Professional Suite. Designed for accounting firms with multiple clients with diversified needs,
Accounting CS is designed to enable customized data entry to match clients' source documents, add accounts and vendors on-the-fly, store up to 10 years history for general ledger balances and transaction, and edit transactions that have already been entered.
Accounting CS uses a single-database architecture that allows for integration and real-time online collaboration, while offering a task-based structure that gives multiple users simultaneous access to client files. This structure gives the firm greater flexibility in assigning workloads, and allows users to create and process reports across multiple clients at the same time. For even greater integration, the Accounting CS Client Access product provides firm clients with a full-featured small business accounting application that's completely integrated with the accounting firm, creating a seamless, secure, automated workflow. It shares deposits, checks, payrolls and other client transactions with the firm instantaneously, eliminating imports, exports and cumbersome integration with third-party software.
New to Accounting CS is a new accounts payable module; additional ways to make reports available to clients via Accounting CS Client Access; new address-level tax verification; and new integration with FileCabinet CS.
Price: $995 per year or $99 per month, unlimited clients for write-up and trial balance work.
Write-Up is integrated into the web-based Accounting Relief, part of the Power Practice System from AccountantsWorld. Write-up services include reconciliation, reporting, check writing and general ledger, along with trial balance capabilities and options for after-the-fact payroll, live payroll, and a collaborative bookkeeping system for the firm's client.
Among the major features of this system is streamlined data entry and its use of electronic communication. Banks and credit card statements can be downloaded for direct import into the system, simplifying bank reconciliation. Comprehensive trial balance system makes it easy to create a tax trial balance which then can be exported to any tax system. Thirty essential financial ratios break down a company's financial activity into simple mathematical computations, allowing for tracking of unusual activities that may require intervention.
The product provides a full set of financials that include balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flow; along with title page, table of contents, accountant's letter, and notes. A professional set of financials can easily be generated using system defaults, with the additional ability to customize each statement to group accounts, create supplemental schedules and design multiple formats for various recipients. Accountants can also control which financials their clients can print.
The Write-Up module in Accounting Relief features custom transaction templates; adjusting entries, including reclassifying and federal the ability to upload transactions electronically from client bank statements; and drill-down functionality for audit and review.
Client Accounting Suite
CCH Small Firm Services
Price: Client Accounting Suite, $520. Client Accounting Suite with Payroll, $795. Price for unlimited users on a network.
CCH Small Firm Services now offers two levels of client write-up solutions within its Client Accounting Suite -- the Client Accounting Suite for its ATX and TaxWise customers, and a Client Accounting Suite Premier that contains all the same tool sets and features as Client Accounting Suite, but includes a specific integration with ProSystem fx Tax and Practice Management.
Key features of the Client Account Suite are its unique Spanish-language capabilities; integration with Small Firm Services' line of accounting and workflow products; and the flexibility of its financial statements. Users may create statements using templates or customized layouts. The user can control the statement appearance, including orientation, number of columns, placement of underlines and dollar signs, and custom headers and footers. The program offers professional client letters and GAAP-required statements.
The suite includes general ledger, accounts receivable and accounts payable modules. It also has live and after-the-fact payroll, trial balance and financial reporting. The Premier version contains the same capabilities as the former ProSystem fx Write-Up and Client Accounting System, but has additional features such as credit card entry and credit card reconciliation, a set-up wizard called client set-up assistance, and a backup-and-restore feature. Users can also move to different modules from within the system. For example, someone working in the General Ledger will now be able to access payroll and accounts receivable.
Enhancements to the Client Accounting Suite for the 2012 version include new reports for tax line assignments, ability to use pie charts and graphs for financial information and download bank transactions for use in bank reconciliations.CaseWare Working Papers
CaseWare International Inc.
(800) 267-1317 (press 3 for sales on the main menu)
Price; $515 (single user)e; $1,550 (up five users); $300 (each additional user).
CaseWare Working Papers
Caseware Working Papers provides an essential set of write-up tools for reporting and compliance, including the preparation of year-end financial packages and presentation of statements and reports to clients.
Data can be directly imported directly from most accounting software packages. The review process is automated with history tracking, milestone creation, issue/review notes, diagnostics, a full annotation system and online sign-offs, with no need for paper. Reports are created via "smart technologies" that automate formatting, rounding, diagnostics, account amounts, text, account balances and even financial notes based on set preferences.
Working Papers offers features for document management, real-time collaboration, direct scanning, online review, efficient clean-up, sophisticated lockdown and advanced roll-forward. Financial statements can be easily turned into client-ready reports that automatically link to the client data using either the built-in report writer, CaseView, or by linking information to Microsoft Word and Excel. Documents can be converted to PDF format for communication with clients.
New for the current version is a redesigned Issues system which includes the ability for users to customize issues dialogs for their review notes and client issues; improved security over document sign-offs giving reviewers more information on when work papers have been modified; and a CaseView cell validation tool, giving users more confidence that the information in their reports meets required standards.
Add-ons for Working Papers include CaseWare Connector that allows users to quickly and easily link data between the engagement file and Microsoft Word and Excel documents; CaseWare Financials that allows you to prepare GAAP, GASB or IFRS financial statements; SmartSync that improves team collaboration greatly by allowing users to sync engagement files in real time, from local or remote locations; and CaseWare Collaborate, a web based tool, that allows you to manage all your Working Papers engagements through a simple to use web interface as well as provide Client Portal, Document Management and social networking abilities.
Price: starts at $995 (single user).
Cyma After-the-Fact is an integrated option to the General ledger module within the Cyma Financial Management System, and contains capabilities for After-the-fact payroll processing and compliance as well as features designed for other write-up processes, including bank reconciliation, full GL, AR and AP, inventory control, check writing, sales order management and other areas.
Through After-The-Fact, vendor details like demographics can be stored and used in detailed reports, or custom screens can easily be created to track nearly any vendor information. Full integration with other Cyma modules eases integration with other modules of the Financial Management System. A new Quick Entry Transactions offers a grid interface for faster entry of disbursements, receipts, journal entries and electronic payments.
After-The-Fact supports an unlimited number of companies, each with an unlimited number of accounts and the ability to use a 24-digit alphanumeric account mask with 10 segments. Vendor information such as demographics can be stored and custom information like beginning 1099 amounts, notes or any other data. Selection lists for clients can display various sets of client information and offer the ability to search or filter by additional fields. Selection lists for employees and vendors offer the same customization and filtering.
Cyma's After-The-Fact payroll supports unlimited companies, employees and vendors. with 1099, 940, 941 and W2 Processing also available through After-the-Fact Payroll. In addition to write-up services, this option allows accountants to offer payroll services to clients through Cyma's Payroll and Human Resources modules.
Client Write-Up 2012
Franklin, NC 28734
Price: Free with Drake Unlimited version, or $295 with the Pay Per Return version. $445 for non-Drake customers ($295 annual renewal).
Client Write-Up 2012
Drake Client Write-Up is an extensive payroll, bookkeeping, accounts payable, and accounts receivable package, integrating these with financial reporting and after-the-fact payroll for filing of federal and state forms
Bookkeeping customers can set up a custom chart of accounts, import from an existing client or use a template. Account numbers are flexible and can be changed on-the-fly. Financial reports can be formatted using account levels and the transaction entry is extremely fast and easy to use. The accounts receivable module enables creation and printing of invoices, and to print reports for account aging, sales tax and invoices. The Accounts payable capabilities include an unlimited number of vendors, with an unlimited number of invoices per vendor.
The payroll portion supports live and After-the-Fact payroll for employees (W2) and contractors (1099-MISC), MICR Check Printing, Direct Deposit, E-Filing of quarterly and yearly employment tax forms, and E-Filing of Forms W2 and 1099-MISC. Employee payroll supports direct and indirect tips, advanced earned income credit, and up to 10 additional payroll benefits and 12 additional payroll deductions per check. Clients can enter year-to-date data on the following forms for print or e-filing: 940, 941, 941SS, 941X, 943, 943X, 944, 944SS, 944X, W-2, W-2G, 1098-Mort, and the following 1099 forms: A, B, C, DIV, INT, MISC, PATR, R and S.
Financial statements offer multi-column profit and lost statements, comparative and monthly balance sheets, payroll reporting, GL reports by account and/or date, and division reports. All financial reports are automatically stored in TXT and RTF formats for viewing and further customizing in most word processors. An end of year trial balance export to Drake Tax eliminates unnecessary data entry. Customers who also purchase Drake Tax Software can print all reports to PDF and store them in the Drake Document Manager.
Intacct Accountant Edition
San Jose, Calif.
(877) 968-0600 (toll free)
Price: starts at $20 per mo or $60 per year, per client.
Intacct Accountant Edition is a unified, cloud-computing based accounting system that provides CPA firms with a wide variety of accounting services that includes client write-up. It offers accountants a multi-book system that supports multiple entities and multiple currencies; and helps to simplify firm and client collaboration.
Intacct's write-up capabilities are designed to offer more than just financial statements, with services that include personalized metrics, benchmarks, CPA and Client-focused dashboards and interactive reports. It also enables the firm to standardize on a single platform across their accounting services practice, which delivers higher productivity and decreased costs for the firm, while simultaneously providing better financial visibility and improved financial advice for clients.
Intacct Accounting Edition supports write-up capabilities that include financial statement generation, attestation and compilation as part of a broad range of services. It includes automated tools to extract financial data from Intuit QuickBooks, flexible utilities to upload data from other accounting systems, or use Intacct as the financial system. Automated tax mapping and built-in integration is offered for Intuit, CCH and Thomson-Reuters tax systems. The CPA can automatically generate compilations of financial statements, charts, graphs, key performance indicators, benchmarks and compilation letters for their clients. These documents can be printed or emailed to the client, or the client can access them securely online. Firm staff can access and manage all of their clients from centralized, web-based consoles.
New in the most recent version are a streamlined user interface for journal entries, the addition of calculated columns on custom-built reports, and the inclusion of compilation letters with pre-built reporting packages.
QuickBooks Accountant 2012
Mountain View, Calif.
(800) 765-7777 (phone)
Price: $499.95 (single user); $1,399.85 (three users).
Key enhancements in the 2012 version include a new Accountant Center, with customizable access to frequently used tools and a new Reconcile Widget for a quick view of account balanced, reconciled balance and last reconciled date. It also includes a new QuickBooks Statement Writer; an improved file manager, a file compression utility; and the ability to create date-bound copies of QuickBooks files.
The Client Data Review, used to rapidly correct data entry and other errors, now has a Multiuser Mode. Invoices can be written off and transactions reclassified in batch (versus individually) while multiple users access the same file. The accountant may fix incorrectly recorded sales tax payments: identify multiple transactions that appear to be sales tax payments, but were not recorded with the Pay Sales Tax function, then turn them into sales tax payments with just a few clicks; and reclassify hundreds of transactions from a single window.