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Free access to accounts filed at Companies House

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60% of the 3.5 million companies in the UK now file accounts electronically and you can access those accounts free of charge via http://companies.corefiling.com/search

 

Paul Driscoll is a Chartered Management Accountant, a director of Central Accounting Limited, Cura Business Consulting Limited, Hudman Limited, and AJ Tensile Fabrications Limited, and is a board level adviser to a variety of other businesses.

Importing transactions into your accounts system

I find many businesses I start to work with still manually input their sales and purchase ledger or detailed general journal transactions. With most accounts packages (even the smaller ones) having the ability to import transactions from spreadsheets or directly from another system, there is very little need to spend hours on manual inputting directly into your system.

Some of the reasons/excuses businesses don’t import their transactions:

  • No one knows how to do the imports. Once a template has been established, most imports are very simple to do and require minimal training.
  • They believe it’s quicker to input directly as they don’t need to look up the accounts seperately. Very simple formulae in a spreadsheet could help with this. It’s easier to see from a spreadsheet whether the totals are correct and reduces the time taken to drill down into multiple screens on each transaction.
  • By the time they’ve set up the template, they could’ve input it already. This is usually true of the first time but when staff members get used to processing this way, they are able to get a handle on it’s further potential uses and like anything, the time taken to do this reduces.

There are many reasons why I believe businesses should consider importing their transactions, here are some:

  • Most transactions within accounts are repetative on a daily, monthly or quarterly basis. By having import templates ready to edit not only acts as a checklist of which entries are needed but will (after the initial set up) save time and improve accuracy of the data.
  • Having information on a spreadsheet allows quicker reviews and clarity on what’s being input without the need to ‘drill down’ into the transactions.
  • Importing saves manual processing time allowing staff to do more value added activities. By having more detailed information in your accounts system it vastly improves the information you’re able to then get out of it for management reporting and budgeting.
  • The quality of data will improve as you’re likely to have more fields completed if you import due to the copy/paste function within spreadsheets and having all fields on one line rather than different screens.
  • The accuracy of the data improves due to the ability to set up checks within the template file that let you know if something is incorrect. Transposition errors are less likely.
  • If you link your accounts system to another database e.g. CRM system or Project Management software, then it can remove duplication of the data entry.   A lot of accounts systems now allow you to import or link directly to your banking software which is a huge benefit as often bank reconciliations can be done daily which helps monitor cashflow.

Some examples of what can be set up to import (system dependent) and be of value to your business:

  • Detailed payroll journals (by department) – Payroll is often the largest cost to a business yet often the one most overlooked in terms of reporting.   You can improve a potentially complicated journal by setting up a template to import to a higher level of detail.
  • Bank Statement Imports – By importing your bank statements from the data downloaded from your online banking, you eradicate the all too common transposition errors or possible duplication if you have multiple transactions of the same value. Some accounts software now has the facility of ‘bank feeds’ which imports transactions directly for you on a daily basis e.g. Xero.
  • Sales invoicing especially when periodic – For example one of my clients was a group of private schools which had complicated discount structure based on age of each child and sibling discounts. This processing went from several weeks of manual inputting each term (with a high chance of errors and lots of disputes/complaints) down to 3 hours and a far greater level of accuracy. Checks were put in place on the import preparation spreadsheet to ensure that family invoices were grouped together and that all children had been accounted for and the correct discounts applied.
  • Prepayments & other month end general ledger journals – Full descriptions on each line with each value seperated and not grouped together. This provides clearer transactional analysis and helps greatly when it comes to budgetting and cashflow forecasting.
  • Customer/Supplier Records – updating or adding. If you have a lot of fields to complete often they’re omited with manual entry, by using a spreadsheet to complete the data it is likely to contain more consistent information as you can copy/paste or fill down on certain fields.
  • Budgets – Depending on your reporting software, this could streamline your management pack by utilising functionality already available in the system without the needfor further processing in spreadsheets.

 

If you’re still not convinced of the value to your business by utilising data imports, consider this:

Saving just 1 day of processing time per month for a £25k employee is a saving of approximately £1,580pa* to your business. Use the ‘saved’ time on producing more timely, informative management information and KPIs (which you can now get as the transactional level data is of better quality).

Better business information leads to better business decisions and ultimately to better business profits.

If you’d like to discuss your accounts system and how to better utilise it’s functionality including imports, please contact Kat Hipsey, kat@hipseyconsulting.com

*Taking into account ER NI/Pension.

 

Have You Heard Of The Parent-Subsidiary Directive? It Is About Tax, Who Pays It And Where.

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The EU puts out its Directives and not much notice is taken until an issue drives it out for debate and scrutiny. This Directive was intended to prevent same-group enitities based in different states from being taxed twice or even thrice, yet it has been turned on its head and ignited furious debates and streams of hysterical wailing and gnashing of teeth by politicians who signed us up to the Directive, nodded all its gold-plated UK provisons through and now find it is not doing what they thought it would do.

Trade Union chieftains routinely accuse global companies of dodging taxes by trading across legal jurisdictions in exact accordance with the provisions and various national statutes based on the Parent-Subsidiary Directive. These same blockheads didn’t utter a single word of caution or advice when their political comrades devised, gold-plated, kept secret and craftily nodded through the mother of all Parliaments in the good old days when Antony Blair of that ilk ruled in conjunction with the Marxist Scotsman economist-of-note Gordon Brown, also of that ilk.

Just why the Unions should hold the present Government responsible for cross jurisdictional tax avoidance, when it is in accordance with statutes which they helped put in place, is not clear. Perhaps big Bob Crow or wee Len MaCluskie could explain their turncoat tactics in time for the Euro elections in May. If there are people in politics, the Church and high places who resent the big corporations and how they pay tax, they should have the guts and honesty to own up to their own stupidity and complicity in accepting the Directives that underpin it to this day!

Directives are issued in various formats. It is usually instructive to consult the versions issued in French and which are adopted for French domestic use. These are more likely to indicate the original true and fair intention and actual content of the Directives. It is well established that the British versions of Directives often end up almost totally different to those that are adopted by the French in their simplified format as proper working statutes and discussion documents designed to help and facilitate compliance and effect rather than to baffle, confuse and destablilise the issues they are intended to clarify and improve.

Lawyers do well out of the British Directives, Regulations and Interpretations that dog so many of our industries, commercial undertakings and ordinary people who get caught up in their toils and misrepresentations. It is time to take stock.

by Greville Warwick

Financial Reporting – Strategic Report – Part II

In the first part of this article we wrote about the statutory underpinnings of the new Strategic Report, as part of the enhanced disclosure regime promoted by international and national financial reporting standard setters.

Today we focus on the content and structure of the Strategic Report.

We start by emphasising that the standard setters and regulator do not want a formulaic report, but being realists we believe that is exactly what the outcome is going to be. The basic idea behind the report is to better inform investors of the business model and strategic intent of the business, together with how this is measured.  In other words, where would accountability and responsibility for failure or a the very least, the key risks and uncertainties in the business or wider environment lie.

responsibility

What is the purpose of the strategic report?

 

The basic intent is to bring together, in a cohesive and clear manner the most relevant information investors in a business would require – a ‘joined up story’ with the rest of the Financial Statements.  As per the Deloitte practical guide it “provides context to the financial statements, an analysis of past performance and insight into the main objectives, strategies, risks – and how these might impact future performance“.

With that as the background, below follows a basic outline if what needs to be covered in the Strategic Report:
[Source: Deloitte:

    • Objectives & implemented strategy
    • Measured against KPIs
    • Annual review and future (options)
    • Principle Risks and uncertainties faced
  • Further considerations
    • Employees
    • Environmental & CO2
    • Human Rights
    • Social & community issues

     

With the basic framework in place, the CEO or CFO should be able to ‘hang a concise, clear and current story around the business, direction, performance and risks that constantly buffet organisations in the turbulent landscape of competitive market forces.
Business Model Canvas Poster download (http://...

Business Model Canvas Poster download (http://www.businessmodelalchemist.com/tools) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that confidence is returning and the market and investors have a better, clearer and concise understanding of the direction and calculated risks and unavoidable uncertainties any organisation faces, then better outcomes, good, indifferent or bad can be expected.

Only time will tell and we will return to this topic area once the first statistically significant sets of financial statements containing the Strategic Report has been published, in order to evaluate whether the overall objective has been achieved.

©2014 – 3resource

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Micro Entity Accounts – who can file them?

Micro Entity

Micro-entity accounts are a new type of accounts that can be submitted to Companies House. They will provide the smallest companies with the opportunity to prepare and publish simplified financial statements (profit & loss account; and balance sheet) if they wish.

A micro-entity is defined as meeting two of the following criteria:

  • Balance sheet total: £316,000
  • Net turnover: £632,000
  • Average number of employees during the financial year: 10 (or fewer)

Micro Entities are exempt from filing their profit and loss with Companies House.

Business Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Thriving micro-businesses are a vital ingredient for a stronger economy. However, because of their size they don’t always have dedicated finance teams behind them. We therefore need to make sure that they can focus on growing their business – rather than completing unnecessarily detailed paperwork.”

There are approximately 1.56 million micro-entities in the UK, as compared with a total number of companies on the UK register of approximately 2.8 million.

I don’t think this is going to help much? Micro Businesses still need to file corporation tax returns, deal with PAYE, RTI, VAT, minimum wage, Auto Enrolment Pensions, and a wide range of other requirements

steve@bicknells.net

Financial Reporting – Strategic Report – Part I

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In the excitement of an economic outlook rising like the incoming tide during the last quarter of 2013, together with the ‘silly season’ most of us would probably have missed Statutory Instrument No. 1970 – The Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013, and off course you would be forgiven for it.  This particular statutory instrument made the duty to provide a Strategic Report a part of UK financial reporting legislation.

To most us the update to the Companies Act 2006, Part 15 – Accounts and Reports, will not have any impact, if our our daily task is that of preparing annual statutory financial accounts for approval by the board of directors of a UK incorporated company.  This is because under section 414B of the Act, an exemption applies as follows:

414B Strategic report: small companies exemption
A company is entitled to small companies exemption
in relation to the strategic report for a financial year if—
(a) it is entitled to prepare accounts for the year
in accordance with the small companies regime, or
(b) it would be so entitled but for being or having
been a member of an ineligible group.
Financial Reporting (AICPA)
Therefore, if you prepare annual accounts based on the small companies exemption in section 477, namely:
477 Small companies: conditions for exemption from audit
(1) A company that meets the following conditions in respect of
a financial year is exempt from the requirements of this Act relating to the audit of accounts for that year.
(2) The conditions are—
(a) that the company qualifies as a small company in relation to that year,
(b) that its turnover in that year is not more than £5.6 million, and
(c) that its balance sheet total for that year is not more than £2.8 million;
then you do not have to be too concerned about the requirement to include a Strategic Report as part of the Annual Accounts ending on or after 30 September 2013.
If the answer is that you actually qualify, under the Act to include a Strategic Report, then in part II of this series of articles, we will set out the more detailed minimum requirements you will have to include, in order to stay compliant with the Financial Reporting requirements, as set out in the Companies Act 2006.
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©2014 – 3resource
* Quotes and references (sections) to the Companies Act 2006 available from Companies House
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