Designed with small businesses in mind, Bench Accounting is a digital subscription that touts itself as a full-service online bookkeeping service. Subscribers gain access to a bookkeeper who works with them remotely to process bank statements, prepare other financial statements, and fulfill transactions on a monthly basis. If you’re considering Bench Accounting, it’s worth reviewing the service’s features, pricing, and comparable alternatives.
Is Bench Accounting Right for You?
Bench Accounting is a popular alternative to the do-it-yourself Quickbooks strategy that most small businesses take. Every user gets to start out with a one-month free trial, after which they are automatically enrolled into a pricing tier that’s based on their average monthly expenses.
However, the setup process and on-going monthly reporting can still leave you with a good deal of work. That’s what has prompted many SMBs to share their experiences about Bench Accounting online. Here’s a look at what you can expect when you signup to Bench Accounting and some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind before you reach out to Bench Accounting’s sales team.
How It Works
The user-friendly setup of Bench Accounting is certainly one of the biggest factors working in its favor. Like most online bookkeeping services of today, it’s a hands-off approach for the business owner. When you signup for Bench Accounting, you are assigned a bookkeeper who will be your single point of contact for the remainder of your time with Bench. This person will be responsible for collecting all the information they need about your business.
Every month thereafter, your bookkeeper will take your most recent transactions and assemble any reports you may need. Bench claims they can provide you with both monthly and real-time reports for your business. Your bookkeeper is also responsible for assembling a year-end report for tax purposes.
Bear in mind that Bench needs access to your financials on a monthly basis. This means one of two things. If you have accounts that can be accessed online, you will need to download and send those statements to Bench every month. Alternatively, they can login to apps like PayPal and Gusto themselves if you give them login information. If you have accounts that do not offer online statements, you will need to scan and upload the statements for your Bench bookkeeper manually.
One key consideration is that Bench Accounting operates on a “modified cash basis”. In other words, it produces cash basis financials and you can optionally use accruals. So, your bookkeeper will record transactions when money is deposited into or debited from your accounts. This means that Bench does not handle invoicing, bill tracking, or other similar services. You’ll need a third-party system for those things.
The features of Bench Accounting are pretty standard compared to other online bookkeeping services. As a user, you can expect:
A response to any of your questions within 1 business day
Real-time reporting through the Bench Pulse dashboard
Monthly reports that categorize your transactions
Peer-reviewed business financials
A year-end financial report for tax purposes (tax filing not included)
If your business operates on a cash basis, Bench Accounting’s features may be enough to manage your bookkeeping needs. If you are behind on your books currently, you can pay extra to get caught up. Bench Accounting’s team is also familiar with Gusto, which you can use for payroll management since Bench does not offer such a service.
Pricing and Plans
Starting at $119/month for the smallest, simplest businesses, Bench Accounting surely isn’t working to compete on the pricing front. The pricing of Bench all depends on your monthly expenses, with their website giving the following numbers:
Under $1,000 in expenses each month: $119/month if billed annually or $139/month if billed monthly
Under $7,500 in expenses each month: $139/month if billed annually or $159/month if billed monthly
Under $20,000 in expenses each month: $169/month if billed annually or $199/month if billed monthly
Under $60,000 in expenses each month: $209/month if billed annually or $249/month if billed monthly
Under $1,000,000 in expenses each month: $299/month if billed annually or $349/month if billed monthly
The pricing tiers become more and more fair as the expense allowance rapidly increases with each plan. However, for a service that markets itself to small businesses that will likely fall within one of the first two or three tiers, the cost can be quite steep.
Key Considerations Before Trying Bench
When most small businesses opt for bookkeeping services, they want to stop worrying about the financial aspects of their business and hand it over to the experts. Bench Accounting is able to offer services that assist with the day-to-day bookkeeping, but one of the major areas where they fall short is tax preparation.
As always, active users are the best place to go for sound advice on a platform or service. Bench Accounting is no exception. Even with the platform receiving an overall positive rating, there are some cons that users consistently point out and they could get in the way of your business’ financials.
Setup Can Be A Hassle
One struggle that comes up repeatedly in the reviews has to do with the setup process. Reviewers point out that the initiation process on the platform could certainly use some improvement. Business owner Steve L. states: “Guided setup was more time consuming than it needed to be. [T]he sales team was great but my implementation team seemed like they were in the dark.” Steve went on to explain that it took some time to work through the setup process and his business ended up switching their bookkeeper within Bench.
Changing bookkeepers appears to be another trend with the Bench platform. Another verified reviewer from Capterra states that their business has seen “5 different bookkeepers over the course of 6 years.” This reviewer blamed the periodic switching on “turnover or what seems to be internal promotions.” He ended his review with, “I do wi
sh it was less frequent since at times I’d have to remind the new person [of] some of the subtleties of our account.”
A Different Way of Doing Things
“They will provide your books as spreadsheets for your CPA to work with,” one user states. That is very different from the Quickbooks-based setup that most small businesses are accustomed to. Whether or not this will be acceptable for your business or your CPA really comes down to personal preference. It’s also important to note that Bench Accounting will funnel all of your data into their own dashboard. You should keep an offline copy of your data and reports in case you ever end your subscription with Bench.
Tax Filing Not Included
Aside from the year-end report, you will not receive much assistance from Bench Accounting when it comes time to file your taxes. They do offer to send this report and other financial info directly to your CPA, but you will still have to hire an out-of-house CPA yourself, which is an additional cost. With that said, Bench Accounting can charge you to work with a tax professional in their own network.
Brian Awad shared his experience with Bench Accounting’s tax services on TrustPilot, stating: “I was told that the books would be done end of January. It is now March 30, 2019 and my books are still not done … They have refunded me the money I have paid them and promised to have the books done as of March 1st. [H]owever, as you can see, this is still being dragged out and has forced me to file an extension on my taxes. I can’t file my personal returns until this matter is done.”
Base Pricing May Not Include Everything
With the steep pricing plans, it’s no surprise that many reviewers bring up the cost. George Bardissi took issue with it when he was looking into Bench Accounting for his business, stating: “The sales process was extremely painful and I would go as far to say they are unethical, in my opinion. Even after we gave up, they continued to contact us and try and convince us to move forward even when the pricing was outrageous and not affordable for a small to medium-sized business.”
A final consideration is that each plan, regardless of your total expenses, only allows you to manage up to 15 accounts. This includes company bank accounts, credit cards, loans, merchant processors, and so on. If your business has more than 15 accounts, you may receive custom pricing to accomodate for them.
Alternatives to Bench Accounting
Bench Accounting’s high pricing and limited accounting features are two aspects that often lead businesses elsewhere. Even if your business is small and simple enough to not need the missing features, pricing often drives business owners away to something more budget friendly.
On the other hand, medium-sized businesses and smaller companies with the need for more complex financial tracking (like subscription revenues or inventory management) tend to head elsewhere to avoid the hiked up “custom pricing” or the need for third-party software to manage what Bench doesn’t.
In any case, there are many alternatives to Bench Accounting that you should consider before choosing a solution for your business’ financials.
Pay Less, Get More
Honest Buck Accounting is able to compete with Bench, both in regards to features and monthly costs. Honest Buck Accounting pairs you with a dedicated bookkeeper who will help you all year long, even through tax season.
Pairing on-going reporting with financial consulting, Honest Buck Accounting is able to offer users an all-in-one platform that delivers everything you need to keep your business running smoothly and operating at its peak efficiency.
Service packages welcome messy books and cover a complete overhaul of last year’s reports, ensuring that everything is accurate.
You will receive a 1065, 1120S, or Schedule C for your business along with your personal income tax return. If you have questions, your bookkeeper is only a phone call or email away.
Once your tax prep is out of the way, your Honest Buck bookkeeper will get you setup with a sustainable bookkeeping system to make future filings simple.
You can breathe easy knowing you’ll be in complete compliance with local, state, and federal requirements.
Honest Buck also makes it easy to pay your vendors and employees. Plus, inventory management is included.
With all of these features, Honest Buck Accounting is truly a small business solution that saves you the time and frustration of a “DIY” approach. If you choose Honest Buck, you won’t have to fuss with multiple software integrations or manual reporting. Everything will truly be done for you by your fast, friendly, and knowledgeable financial professional.
If you’re interested in learning more about what Honest Buck Accounting can do for your business, book an appointment today.