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Best Accounting Software for Consultants of 2024

Find accounting software best suited to the size of your consulting business and with strong time tracking, billing and client management features.
By Karrin Sehmbi
Last updated on June 12, 2024
Edited bySally Lauckner
Fact checked and reviewed

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Choosing the right accounting software for your consulting business will help you stay on top of your billing and bookkeeping, which, in turn, will help your profitability and your ability to continue helping your clients grow their businesses. The software you choose should include features for tracking time, managing client communications and relationships and billing your clients. Ultimately, the best accounting software for your consulting business is the software that fits your needs and you’re comfortable using.
Here is our list of the best accounting software for consultants.

🤓 Nerdy Tip

Before making a final decision about the accounting software for your consultancy, take advantage of a free trial period if one is offered (most of the products on our list offer a free trial). Rather than using the free trial period to set up your books perfectly, test the features you will use most often, and make sure the software you choose best supports the needs of your business.

Best Accounting Software for Consultants From Our Partners

Product
Promotion
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Xero

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Overall accounting software for consultants

$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $42, $78.

30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

QuickBooks Online

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

5.0/5

Best for Boutique consulting businesses

$30/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $60, $90, $200.

50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

FreshBooks

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

4.5/5

Best for Self-employed consultants

$19/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $33, $60, custom.

30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

Striven

Learn more

on Striven's secure website

3.5/5

Best for Client management features

$35/month

Per user. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $70.

7-day free trial

Learn more

on Striven's secure website

Sage Intacct

Learn more

on Sage Intacct's secure website

Best for Midsize consulting firms

N/A

Quote-based.

N/A

Learn more

on Sage Intacct's secure website

Our pick for

Overall accounting software for consultants

Learn more

on Xero's secure website

Starting at
$15/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $42, $78.

Promotion
30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Our pick for

Boutique consulting businesses

QuickBooks Online

Learn more

on QuickBooks Online's secure website

Starting at
$30/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $60, $90, $200.

Promotion
50% off

for first three months or free 30-day trial.

Our pick for

Self-employed consultants

FreshBooks

Learn more

on FreshBooks' secure website

Starting at
$19/month

Additional pricing tiers (per month): $33, $60, custom.

Promotion
30-day free trial

or monthly discount (terms vary).

Our pick for

Client management features

Striven

3.5
NerdWallet rating 
Learn more

on Striven's secure website

Starting at
$35/month

Per user. Additional pricing tiers per user (per month): $70.

Promotion
7-day free trial

Our pick for

Midsize consulting firms

Sage Intacct

Learn more

on Sage Intacct's secure website

Starting at
N/A

Quote-based.

Promotion
N/A

NerdWallet's picks for the best accounting software for consultants

Xero

Best overall accounting software for consultants
Why we picked it: Xero nabs our No. 1 spot because it matches QuickBooks Online on nearly every key feature for accounting software to have and yet its monthly plans come in at a lower price point, the software’s layout is simple and easy to navigate, and it doesn’t exist within a corporate software ecosystem that lends itself to frequent price increases and upsells.
Xero’s project tracking tool will be especially useful to consulting businesses of any size. The software includes a clean and simple dashboard that’s easy to navigate and provides an all-up view of project status as well as financial insights. There’s no limit to the number of projects you can track, and built into this feature is a timer for easy and accurate time tracking. All of these functions are also available within Xero’s mobile app for iOS and Android. Additionally, you’ll be able to easily send and track invoices to bill your clients, collect online payments through the software and also manage client communications and documents. Read more in our full Xero review.

QuickBooks Online

Best for boutique consulting businesses
Why we picked it: As a leading accounting software product and probably the most recognizable name in the space, QuickBooks Online is supported by a large and ever-growing number of accountants and bookkeepers. This means if you need help, you’ll be able to easily find it. Because it’s such a well-established product and because it exists as part of a full suite of software products that extend beyond accounting, QuickBooks Online is a great solution for small and boutique consulting firms, perhaps even with more than one location.
With its time tracking, payroll and payment processing software (all requiring additional subscriptions and costs alongside the accounting product), QuickBooks Online forms a well-rounded software solution that can support a small consulting business with a number of employees spread across multiple departments. And, like Xero, QuickBooks has a highly rated mobile app for iOS and Android. Read our complete QuickBooks Online review.

FreshBooks

Best for self-employed consultants
Why we picked it: Some consultants may find Xero and QuickBooks Online to be a little “too much” for what they need in their accounting software, especially if they run a solo business. If you own a very small consulting business and are looking for accounting software that is still fully functional but less overwhelming, check out FreshBooks.
FreshBooks started out as a time tracking and invoicing software solution for freelancers and other self-employed individuals. It has since evolved into a powerhouse accounting software for small businesses that can work within its user and client limits. FreshBooks lets you track your expenses and mark them as billable, invoice and collect payments from your clients and easily track your mileage expenses. Since FreshBooks connects directly to your bank and credit card accounts, you won’t have to waste time with data entry. Its client management features, such as a client portal, project collaboration tools and client-specific reporting, will help you keep on top of your client relations. For more details, read our FreshBooks review.

Striven

Best for client management features
Why we picked it: Striven is complete business management software that includes features for CRM, project management, inventory management, HR and more alongside its accounting tools. Because of this and its monthly plan pricing, which can add up quickly if you require access for multiple users, Striven is a stronger fit for well-established consulting businesses with a large client base.
Striven stands apart from some of the other software on this list with its variety of industry-specific features for fields from nonprofits and property management to construction and law firms, in addition to consulting businesses. Features it offers that will particularly appeal to consultants include client appointment and payment tracking, communication and collaboration tools and client billing. Striven’s project tracking capabilities will also come in handy for consulting businesses as they help you manage workflows and budgets, store and collaborate on relevant documents, track schedules and project milestones and more. Striven is cloud accounting software, which means you can access it at any time from any device, but it doesn’t have a purpose-built mobile app at this time.

Sage Intacct

Best for midsize consulting firms
Why we picked it: Similar to Striven, Sage Intacct is powerful cloud software that offers more than accounting functions; it also includes payroll and HR tools. The software is designed to serve small to medium-size businesses with 20 to 500 employees. Sage Intacct’s detailed yet easy to digest dashboard lets you track your business financials through multiple filter and visualization options. The software makes use of AI and automation technology for many of its accounting functions, including accounts payable and accounts receivable.
Unlike the rest of the providers on our list, Sage is not transparent with its pricing for this product, which makes it difficult to compare cost while shopping for accounting software. You’ll need to contact Sage directly for a quote. Read our Sage Intacct review.

What consultants need in an accounting solution

Consultants have specific needs when considering the best accounting software for their businesses. Some of these needs include:
  • Time tracking and customer billing: Time is a consultant’s most precious commodity. If you use a value pricing or package pricing model in your consultancy, you need to know where you are spending your time. If you bill by the hour, time tracking becomes critical to your business’s revenue. Your accounting software needs to be able to quickly pull your billable time into an invoice, which you can then easily send to your client.
  • Billable expenses: Whether expenses are a regular part of the consulting business or incidental expenditures, most consultants must pass billable expenses on to their clients. Your accounting software must allow you to not only track your billable expenses and easily pull them into an invoice but also apply a markup charge if applicable. Your accounting software will serve you especially well if you can easily attach receipt images to expenses, since many clients will require backup documentation prior to paying your invoice.
  • Mileage tracking: All small businesses can benefit from keeping a mileage log if the owner uses a personal vehicle for business. Although technology has made it easy for consultants to work with clients all across the country and even around the world, many consultants still travel to their clients’ businesses and need to be able to track their mileage for billing. Your accounting software should have a built-in mileage tracker or directly integrate with one.
Billie Anne Grigg contributed to an earlier version of this article, which was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
Last updated on June 12, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet independently reviews accounting software products before determining our top picks. We collect the data for our software ratings from products’ public-facing websites and from company representatives. Information is gathered on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy.
NerdWallet’s accounting software ratings favor products that are easy to use, reasonably priced, have a robust feature set and can grow with your business. The best accounting software received top marks when evaluated across 10 categories and more than 30 subcategories. Learn more about how we rate small-business accounting software.
These ratings are meant to provide clarity in the decision-making process, but what’s best for your business will depend on its size, growth trajectory and which features you need most. We encourage you to research and compare multiple accounting software products before choosing one.
NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
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