Why outsource accounting services to our Virtual Finance Office?.

Article | Andrew Turpin | 3rd April 2024

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to speak to your PEM contacts directly

Speak to someone

As the era of 9-5, 7-days a week working in the office looks to be a thing of the past for most companies, the argument for outsourcing services has never been stronger. Especially when it comes to highly skilled areas, like IT and accounting, where outsource companies can offer a range of packages to suit your specific needs. At PEM, our team of accountants, tax and business advisers have been offering support to companies big and small from our base in Cambridge for almost 150 years. Our Virtual Finance Office (VFO) offering is a truly modern approach to outsourced accounting that can save you both time and money. So, what is a VFO, what are the benefits, and how can our accountancy outsourcing solutions help small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and charities revolutionise how they run their accounts?

What is a VFO?

Getting a finance department functioning efficiently and effectively can be tricky for the management of any company, particularly if finance isn’t your area of expertise. There’s a lot of trust involved in bringing together the right people, in the right roles, especially as every business presents a different set of needs requiring different skills. From processing, through to reporting and forecasting, it can be hard to achieve without having to hire multiple people. Which is where a VFO comes in – expert outsource accounting services built to suit your company’s unique needs.

Can you completely outsource your finance function?

Our services stretch from full accountancy outsourcing to role-specific assistance like outsourced payroll or outsourced bookkeeping services. The full outsourcing package sees your entire company accounting needs taken care of, lets you stay HMRC compliant and ensures invoices are processed accurately and paid on time. With access to the latest technology and up-to-date business information, you’ll be able to make informed business decisions about the running of your company with confidence. So, whether yours is a small start-up, or an established organisation looking to reduce overheads or perhaps going through a period of growth, our VFO services could be just the flexible finance and accountancy outsourcing solution for you.

Why outsource accounting services with a VFO?

From time and cost-saving to business growth, there are lots of reasons to consider accountancy outsourcing with a VFO. Let’s take a look at the benefits.


The very nature of accounts is a financial record of every company’s history. Yet, there is often undocumented, and individually held pieces of knowledge among members of finance departments that means handing over from one employee to the next proves complicated. Vital knowledge can easily be missed or lost in the process, slowing down, and hindering the smooth running of your business. Whereas, external accountancy outsourcing firms are able to support companies in a very different way to in-house staff. Without the same reliance on a handful of individuals, finance and accounting outsourcing offers greater transparency, continuity and controls. As well as improved data security and confidentiality, and the latest digital resources. An external VFO team will ensure your company is protected and able to function at its best whatever the situation.


In times of economic uncertainty having operational resilience built into your business could be vital. Is your company set up to respond to and overcome adverse circumstances? If you aren’t able to do so, quickly and efficiently, then the answer is ‘no’. And this is where outsourcing accounting services by managing your financials through a VFO gives companies a clear advantage. Because with accountancy outsourcing a business’ resilience isn’t solely reliant on you or employees. Instead, by using VFO a lot of continuity risk is averted. Less planning is needed, IT resilience comes from using the right tech, and as a result your company avoids common risk factors. The VFO is set up to be able to drive and support your company to flex to its circumstances. Operating with an adaptive governance culture will be core to how your company is run.


Unlike when you build your own finance team, accountancy outsourcing through a VFO team gives you access to quality-assured experience and expertise without breaking the bank – that’s 150 years of expertise when it comes to the team at PEM. The quality of work is guaranteed by the outsourcing company, and instead of expensive salaries, and all the necessary HR overheads, you simply pay for the accounting services required, as agreed in your VFO package.

Technology expertise

Key to VFO is the use of the latest accounting technology. HMRC’s drive towards ‘Making Tax Digital’ in recent years has made cloud accounting something that every finance department should be aware of. However, there are many reasons to move from traditional spreadsheets or legacy desktop systems over to cloud-based accounting technology. From data security, remote access and automatic bank feeds to increasing the automation of processes, accountancy outsourcing with the help of cloud accounting gives you greater accuracy, risk controls and increased productivity. Our team will be on-hand to implement the right accounting system for your company needs, migrate data and help train staff. Also, as PEM is accredited as a Xero Platinum Partner, when outsourcing accounting services with us you’ll have full access to one of the most reliable accounting resources on the market.

Access to PEM specialisms

When you use our outsourcing accounting services via the VFO, you open the door to our team of experts. We have specialists in tax, audit and assurance, financial planning, business advisory, recovery and insolvency. As well as corporate finance services like business valuation and succession planning. As a result, we’re not just able to offer expert support on your accounts. Whatever you need, as your business grows and faces new challenges, we will adapt our services to provide any help we can.

Time saving

As we’ve touched on, outsourcing accounting services that use cloud technology can increase productivity and the efficiency of your essential finance functions. As a business owner or manager, you will also find that accountancy outsourcing frees up hours of planning and people management time that might usually be used to hire and maintain a functioning finance department. On top of this, with PEM, as all information is delivered in an agreed format, in a timely fashion and reviewed by a qualified accountant, you will have the business insights you need at your fingertips, as and when you need them, allowing you to make well informed decisions with confidence, quickly.

Scalable at speed

When you’re a company going through a period of rapid growth, it can be difficult to stay on top of workflow, and finance is one of the first departments to show the strain of the changing scale of any business. Whether it’s a quick short-term fix, or a long-term solution, our VFO support offers the chance to outsource accounting services as and when you need them. Accountancy outsourcing can be particularly valuable to new business ventures, growing at pace, and organisations or charities looking to expand and maximise profitability.

Financially beneficial

For SMEs, hiring and maintaining staff can be a huge commitment. The hiring process alone is expensive, costing an average of £3000 per employee, according to the British Business Bank. Plus, there’s always the potential to make the costly mistake of hiring the wrong person. But it isn’t just salaries. From office space and on-boarding to NI contributions and employee entitlement costs (annual leave, parental leave, statutory sick pay) the price of employees quickly adds up, and that’s all before you provide the essential support and training opportunities. In fact, a Growth Business report suggests that a new employee costs companies almost double their salary in the first year. Outsourcing accounting services via our VFO, not only avoids the costs of making unnecessary finance department hires, but we can also offer companies streamlined processes and greater productivity – which in-house staff can’t always be relied upon to provide. Crucially, we will only ever supply the accountancy outsourcing support that your individual company needs, at an agreed cost to suit you, benefiting your company bottom line.

Compliance confidence

Forget sleepless nights lost to deadline pressures and the time-consuming effort of overseeing junior teams. As we build our services and timings around your needs, accountancy outsourcing via our VFO offers you the confidence that your accounts will be completed accurately and on time. Outsourcing accounting services with us means penalties for late VAT filing will be a thing of the past. Plus, for any other compliance support, there is always our other PEM services available to you and your business.

Support for Finance Directors and Chief Finance Officers

It isn’t necessary to replace your whole department with finance and accounting outsourcing. In fact, for the effective operation of your business it might be more suitable to have an in-house or part time FD, or a fractional CFO to provide accurate and timely finance strategy, and work closely with your management team to lead the financial direction of the business. However, stand-alone FDs can find themselves bogged down in the day-to-day accounting, leaving little time for growing the business. Our VFO services can take care of all your support-level accounting needs including outsourced bookkeeping, supplier invoice processing and reconciliation, as well as staying compliant with HMRC. Additionally, our forecasting and advisory services help making management-level decisions easier, by combining historical and predictive company data. We also offer cash flow forecasting, P&L forecasting, budgeting and scenario planning advisory services. So, our VFO can provide all the pertinent management information needed, enabling FDs and CFOs to focus on the high-level decision making with all the accounts insight they could possibly need to hand.

Remote working

With most businesses still operating a remote working policy for staff at least a third of the week, it’s easy to see why business outsourcing of key functions is becoming more and more attractive. Accurate accounting is essential to the running of any business, and while certain roles are stand-alone, like payroll and bookkeeping, it’s important that finance departments work closely and collaboratively. Financial Controllers are having to manage the productivity, quality control, and morale of remote teams, often resistant to the idea of returning to the office. Yet, an in-house finance department probably isn’t core to your company culture. Instead, accountancy outsourcing, be that in-part, or of your whole finance team, could be the answer to operating in a remote-working world. In fact, with continuity and accuracy, and an approachable and friendly support team who are always available to answer questions and offer assistance, it’s hard not to see our VFO team as a natural extension of your company.

VFO doesn’t go on holiday or get sick

According to an article by the British Safety Council minor illnesses, like coughs and colds, account for an average of 33 million lost work days in the UK each year, with a further 18 million days lost to mental health conditions. In addition to this, every employee is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks of paid holiday annually. Accountancy requires specialist knowledge and skill, meaning that finding cover to keep the day-to-day running efficiently during staff absence can have an impact across the whole business. Of course, when it comes to things like payroll, any delay could have far-reaching effects on the lives of employees reliant on regular income to pay bills. Outsourced payroll services alone are a sure-fire way to avoid any such delays. And similarly, outsourcing accounting services across your finance team to our VFO solutions would mean an end to countless days of lost productivity each year. Our cloud accounting and expert support will never get sick or go on holiday, meaning continuously accurate accounting and invaluable peace of mind for business owners.

How to outsource accounting services

As you can see, we’re passionate about the many benefits of accountancy outsourcing with our VFO. We understand that every business is unique and at a different stage on their journey. Our VFO services are deliberately flexible, affordable, and built around your individual company’s needs. Why not speak to our team today and see how we can help support you.


This article was correct at time of publication.

About the author

Andrew Turpin

Andy joined PEM as Director of our Virtual Finance Office (VFO) in 2016, having qualified in practice and spent 9 years working Read more …