Pilot Bookkeeping Review: Features, Pricing & Alternatives 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
Pilot Bookkeeping, launched in 2017, is a financial services firm that focuses on providing bookkeeping, chief financial officer (CFO), and tax services for startups and small businesses. It’s geared toward rapidly growing businesses, acting as a one-stop financial shop for small companies looking for chief financial officer (CFO) consultants, even assisting with research and development (R&D) loan applications for an additional fee.
It also specializes in working with high-growth technology startups, ecommerce and professional service providers, and nonprofits. Pricing starts at $599 per month for businesses with less than $30,000 in monthly expenses.
What We Like
- Dedicated bookkeeper
- Unlimited connected bank and credit card accounts
- Catch-up and clean-up bookkeeping
- Advanced services offered, such as tax filing and CFO consulting
- No cash-basis accounting
- More expensive than its competitors
- Lacks payroll services
- Businesses must use QuickBooks Online
- Rapidly growing businesses, such as high-growth tech startups: As your business grows and potentially takes on funding, it can take advantage of the accrual-basis and advanced bookkeeping features that Pilot offers.
- Businesses looking for CFO and/or tax services: With Pilot CFO and Pilot Tax, you can access its CFO consulting services and file business corporate taxes and 1099-MISC forms.
- Businesses that need catch-up and/or clean-up bookkeeping: If you’ve fallen behind in your bookkeeping or need to ensure that your books are accurate, Pilot can help for an additional fee.
- Multiple entities: Pilot offers support for multiple entities with its Plus plan, which has custom pricing.
- Businesses using Xero accounting software: Pilot requires you to use QuickBooks Online, so if you’re using another bookkeeping solution, you’ll need to convert your information to QuickBooks. Bookkeeper360 offers assisted bookkeeping using Xero accounting software.
- Businesses that want basic bookkeeping services for a fixed, low price: Pilot Bookkeeping computes your monthly average expenses based on what you spend each month, including payroll and cost of goods sold. Its bookkeeping fee increases proportionally as you incur more expenses. We recommend Merritt Bookkeeping, which offers a fixed fee regardless of the monthly expenses.
- Businesses that need payroll services: Although Pilot offers both CFO and tax services, payroll isn’t an option. QuickBooks Live uses QuickBooks Online accounting software and offers add-on packages, including payroll.
If you’re unsure whether assisted bookkeeping is right for you, read our guide to the best small business accounting software for great do-it-yourself (DIY) accounting software options.
Pilot Bookkeeping Deciding Factors
Supported Bookkeeping Software
Starting at $599 per month
Additional Cost for QuickBooks Software
Assigned a Personal Bookkeeper?
QuickBooks portal or email
Monthly Account Reconciliations & Financial Statements
Back-office Services (Customer invoicing, bill pay, etc.)
Full Service Payroll Available
Tax & Consulting Services Available
Pilot Bookkeeping Alternatives
Best for small businesses using Xero software
Best for budget-minded users with basic bookkeeping needs
Best for businesses using QuickBooks Online and needing cash-basis accounting
Starting at $399 per month for up to $20,000 in monthly expenses
$190 per month flat fee
Starting at $200 per month
Pilot Bookkeeping is very expensive compared to other online bookkeeping services. However, it is probably still less expensive than hiring a local certified public accountant (CPA) for bookkeeping, tax handling, and consultancy services.
Its bookkeeping services are based on an annual subscription model, with pricing that scales with your monthly expenses and your business needs. It also charges an onboarding fee that’s equal to one month of bookkeeping. The services are billed on an annual basis.
Who It’s Best For
Growing businesses needing more support
Larger businesses or those with complex needs
Cost (Less Than $30,000 in Monthly Expenses)
$599 per month
$849 per month
Cost ($30,000 to $60,000 in Monthly Expenses)
$649 per month
$899 per month
Cost ($60,000 to $100,000 in Monthly Expenses)
$719 per month
$969 per month
Cost ($100,000 to $150,000 in Monthly Expenses)
$809 per month
$1,059 per month
Cost ($150,000 to $200,000 in Monthly Expenses)
$899 per month
$1,149 per month
Cost (More Than $200,000 in Monthly Expenses)
Only available with Plus plan
Only available with Plus plan
Accrual Basis Bookkeeping
Profit and Loss (P&L), Balance Sheet & Cash Flow Statements
Customer Support & Advice
Industry Standard Financial Ratios
Expedited Books Delivery
Monthly Phone Reviews
Support for Multiple Entities, Classes & Location
Accounts Receivable (A/R), Accounts Payable (A/P) & Inventory Tracking
Fully Customizable Chart of Accounts
Pilot offers other financial services for an additional fee.
- Pilot CFO: Starting at $1,350 per month, billed annually for monthly engagement and $1,500 per year for annual budgeting and forecasting
- Pilot Tax: Starting at $1,950 per year for tax services, including federal corporate income tax and 1099-MISC filing
- A/P and A/R: Starting at $125 per hour for support with paying bills and creating and sending invoices
- Controller services: Starting at $200 per hour for assistance with building the right finance operations
- Research and development (R&D) tax credit: Price is computed at 2% of total qualifying expenses.
When you sign up for Pilot, you’ll be assigned a dedicated bookkeeping expert who’ll serve as your point of contact. They’ll walk you through how to integrate your existing processes and software with QuickBooks. If you have any questions, you can speak with your account manager through the QuickBooks portal or by email at no additional cost.
Before the formal bookkeeping process begins, Pilot will onboard clients to introduce the bookkeeping software and show how the process works. The onboarding process will also help Pilot experts know what to expect and what needs to be done. Clients will also be introduced to their dedicated bookkeeping expert upon onboarding.
Upon onboarding, the dedicated bookkeeping expert will log important notes about the client to help Pilot fully understand the client’s business and operations. This log can be found in the Customer Context tab. These notes are regularly maintained to make it easy for anyone in Pilot to help the client in case their dedicated bookkeeper is out.
In our evaluation of the best online bookkeeping services, we rated Pilot Bookkeeping as the best for startups. Its many valuable services include a detailed monthly reporting package and add-on CFO and tax services. However, while it has useful features, such as Reviewbot, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that flags missing or inaccurate transactions, it doesn’t provide payroll services and cash-basis accounting.
Pilot provides a unique account checklist that helps Pilot bookkeepers stay organized when doing your bookkeeping. The items in this checklist include:
- Customer context
- Getting set up
- Reconciling bank and credit card accounts
- Categorizing transactions
- Expense reports
- Bills and invoices
- Credit card processing
- Journal entries
Customer context is performed during onboarding, but the dedicated bookkeeper will update this information so that other Pilot bookkeepers can access it easily. The rest of the steps in the checklist will be routine bookkeeping procedures.
All of the processes in the checklist can be done manually. However, Pilot’s system has a way of learning transactions so that it can fully automate the process and give the dedicated bookkeeper more time to attend to other transactions. In the image above, there’s a credit card purchase from Cool Gadgets. At the very top, you’ll see a “bolt” icon—this icon means that Pilot has encountered this transaction from past records and it can auto-categorize it.
Pilot has a tool called Reviewbot that will initially review transactions and check for missing or erroneously categorized transactions. Reviewbot can filter out transactions that the dedicated bookkeeper need not review manually and only flag transactions that need manual adjustment or correction.
When Reviewbot flags certain transactions, it’ll alert your dedicated bookkeeper to check them. It can only spot anomalies in the records and lets the dedicated bookkeeper resolve these issues manually. In the image below, you’ll see an example of flagged transactions spotted after the initial review.
The dedicated bookkeeper will review, analyze, and manually resolve these transactions. But to ensure that your dedicated bookkeeper made the right corrections, your books will undergo a third and final review. A peer reviewer from Pilot will take a look at the flagged transactions to ensure that all corrections are appropriate or detect if your dedicated bookkeeper missed something.
Once your dedicated bookkeeper finishes the checklist and review process, they’ll email you to tell you that the bookkeeping process has been completed. You can immediately see all the changes they made in your QuickBooks Online account.
Each month, you’ll receive a detailed report package that contains your P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow statements for the prior month. Your monthly reports also include metrics specific to your industry. For startup businesses, Pilot will calculate your burn rate, while for ecommerce stores, it’ll provide inventory updates.
In addition, Pilot’s Plus plan offers these custom schedules and reports on an as-needed basis:
- Reports by class, location, and department
- Supporting schedules, like prepaid expenses, amortization, and depreciation
- Detailed A/P and A/R reporting
- Multiple currency reports
- Reports by entity
Aside from basic financial reports, Pilot will also include a Flux Insights report that will show significant changes in your accounts and a short commentary that briefly explains what caused the change. This report helps keep you on top of expenses and makes you aware of when your business is incurring significant expenses.
Pilot Tax, a full-service tax preparation service, will take care of your state and federal income tax filing, as well as any 1099s that you need to issue to contractors. You’ll be assigned your own dedicated tax preparer who will answer all of your questions and provide you with access to live status updates of all of your filings.
Businesses that are just getting started would benefit from the Essential plan, which provides support for unprofitable C-corps and is priced at $1,950 per month. Pilot’s Standard plan is ideal for growing businesses with net income or foreign subsidiaries, and custom pricing is available starting at $4,950 per year. Both plans include federal and state corporate income tax filing, Delaware franchise tax filing, 1099-NEC filing, and email support.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What software does Pilot Bookkeeping use?
Pilot exclusively uses QuickBooks Online for its bookkeeping.
What are the requirements to start with Pilot Bookkeeping?
To get started, Pilot has three requirements to deliver the most accurate books for your business: electronic transaction access, expense reporting software, and no commingling of personal expenses.
Is support included in Pilot?
Yes, support is included in your plan. Your dedicated bookkeeper can answer any of your questions either through the QuickBooks portal or email.
Is it possible to migrate my books from Xero to QuickBooks?
Yes, Pilot can transition your books to QuickBooks Online. As part of your onboarding process, Pilot will migrate summarized monthly information from Xero to QuickBooks, going back to the beginning of the year.
Pilot Bookkeeping is a financial service provider tailored to startups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Aside from its bookkeeping solutions, it also offers advice to growing businesses from CFO consultants and tax advisors. It also connects your business with a dedicated account manager who’ll learn the ins and outs of your business quickly. Using a blend of custom software and expert bookkeepers, it can deliver accurate bookkeeping at a price that can be customized based on the needs of your business.