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More than just accountants – Clients expectations are changing

Fotolia_91134201_XS Advice

There are 2 key reason why small businesses expect more from their accountant.

  1. In recent years we have seen a huge growth in Cloud Accounting Systems such as Sage One and Debitoor and automation of payments and bank feeds, its no longer enough for accountants just to provide book keeping or year end accounts and tax.
  2. Business owners want personalised, tailored partnerships with their accountant who need to be true business experts

So what are accountants doing differently?

The Virtual FD

According to Accounting Web….

Half the firms entering the Practice Excellence Awards this year (PEA15) offer management information as part of their service for business clients – up from 33% in 2014. One reason for this jump is that the approach has been shown to have a very beneficial effect on client satisfaction and practice profitability. Probably because it serves a fundamental client need.

Many smaller businesses and SME’s can’t afford a Full Time (or even in some cases a Part Time FD) but they need help with:

  • Business Plans
  • Budgeting and Forecasting
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Buy or Rent decisions
  • Capital Investment Appraisal
  • Accounting Procedures and Systems
  • Business Strategy
  • Business Funding and Investment
  • KPI’s

Virtual FD’s fill this gap because:

  1. You only pay for what you need
  2. There is no employment contract
  3. It provides access to higher level of expertise (in theory)

But here is the key question you should ask your accountant – Have you actually ever worked in business or been an FD?

It seems bizarre to me that so many accountants offer this service and yet have no experience as an actual FD

Weekly Management Reports

Accounting Web reports…

While many practices are becoming the finance team that puts together monthly reporting packs for company managers, Receipt Bank founder and CEO Alexis Prenn argues that monthly management accounts are not the future of accountancy. Cloud technology has changed the dynamic of accounting so much that advisers should be thinking more creatively about what they could do with this information.

What if accountants and businesses could get their hands on transactional data even more quickly and efficiently? Why not produce weekly management accounts?

In a scenario that is familiar to accountants on the Australian accounting conference circuit, specialist bookkeepers are now doing this for Antipodean coffee houses and eateries. “Cafés can run up costs very quickly – if you have three unprofitable weeks, you’re sunk. With online tools and transaction capture, the café can close its books on Sunday and get the weekly management accounts by Tuesday,” Prenn said.

I can see this being of great value in some businesses and cost effective with cloud accounting.

Business Planning and Forecasting

Sage suggest

Sage Planning

steve@bicknells.net

#isitok – to just be a really good management accountant?

I never really knew what I wanted to do for a living, just that I was good at maths, economics & geography which pointed towards some form of business occupation. I did a degree in Accounting & Financial Analysis at Warwick Business School, without truly knowing what accounting was. After graduating I just did some temp work in an accounts office (they hired me full time within a few days) before a recruiter sat me down one day and said I needed to get my act together and get qualified if I wanted a proper career. It didn’t need much research to work out CIMA was the route to go. Following this route enabled me to become a Chief Accountant, Financial Controller then Financial Director within a fairly short space of time. All of this was in the small company environment and I was involved in every key decision, which was fascinating and rewarding! But the politics were rife and the hours were long!

The question – How can I do all the fun stuff, the analysis/reporting/decision support/director mentoring without selling my soul to the business? My answer was to go freelance and try and emulate what I had done before but across a number of businesses in different sectors. This just reinforced what I’d previously thought – I had found my vocation in life – working with owner managers or MD’s of smaller companies, understanding their aspirations, delving into the businesses, providing the right information, making a difference, adding value, finding solutions to problems, evaluating everything for them – but not taking it home every day.

During all of this I entered into the CIMA Members in Practice world, a place full of very successful people, a mix of high flying entrepreneurs, some more traditional accounting practices offering compliance as a lead service, some specialist consultants, but as far as I could see not so many freelancers like myself. At the annual conferences in the midst of all these success stories I’ve quite often sat back and thought ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ My worry was that I had no desire to build an ever expanding business, I had no appetite for compliance work, I didn’t possess a specialism where I would stand out from the crowd and I didn’t feel I needed the best looking website or my own app (or certainly couldn’t afford it). On reflection, the last 15 years has confirmed to me I’m not doing anything wrong, it’s actually ok to focus on what you feel you’re really good at.

#isitok – to just be a really good management accountant? – I think it is.

Cheers
Mark
www.avalon-ma.com

Mark Tomsett, Avalon Management Accounting Limited
Celebrating 15 years as a Freelance Management Accountant

Weekly Work Life Balance Formula

It just occurred to me the other day that I think I’ve found a good work-life balance. Being a freelance management accountant gives you freedom to work from home and plan your own day but you also need to engage with people at your customer sites to stay in tune with how businesses thrive and survive. You also need to have some flex for the urgent customer requests, keep your education on track, fit in your business admin and plan some midday slots down the gym (it’s less busy and there are less biceps and six packs to be compared to).

Nearly everyone has key elements to their job that if balanced well could make for a better work life.

So I’ve created a formula for my ideal work life balance as a planning tool for my own work;

My Weekly Work Life Balance Formula is:
WWLB = 2.5C + 1.5H + 0.25A + 0.25E + 0.5F
© 2015 Avalon Management Accounting Limited

C = Day working at Customer Site
H = Day working at Home
A = Day of Business Admin
E = Day of Education
F = Day of Flex (for anything unplanned – if not required
 for work use for Marketing)

This formula can be applied in any order during the week and the days at home, on admin and education can be partly early morning or in the evening to allow extra social time during the usual “9-5” working day.

Have a think about your ideal formula.

Cheers
Mark
http://www.avalon-ma.com

Mark Tomsett, Avalon Management Accounting Limited
Celebrating 15 years as a Freelance Management Accountant

A Career as a Freelance Management Accountant

During my employed career working for a range of smaller privately owned businesses I always had a vision that I could perform the FC/FD role across a much wider range of businesses. In each work role I made an impact by just doing what came naturally to me; getting stuck into the numbers, working out the key drivers, assessing the different personalities, getting the right information at the right time to the right people, planning the future with all the potential scenarios. So I took a leap of faith!

15 years on…

I realised that I’ve now spent as much time in my current career than all of my other roles put together, so it was a successful career move. It wasn’t plain sailing in the beginning, I had to fill some gaps with contract work, but I backed myself and my passion for getting the numbers right and giving true commercial insight to smaller business owners and managers. The strongest business relationships I have today go back to those first few years of trading.

In celebration of this achievement, over the next few months I plan to share some of my thoughts and experiences gained over the last 15 years. I am hoping this will provide encouragement and insight to those who are following, or planning to follow, a similar career path.

Cheers
Mark
http://www.avalon-ma.com

Mark Tomsett, Avalon Management Accounting Limited
Celebrating 15 years as a Freelance Management Accountant

FILING CIC (COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY) ANNUAL ACCOUNTS

If you have not yet filed Annual Accounts for a CIC (Community Interest Company), then please be aware that the process and procedures for filing the Annual Accounts at Companies House is different from normal electronic filings.

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Firstly you cannot file electronic Annual Accounts.

Guidance is published here at the Companies House web site (or click the Companies House logo below).

CompaniesHouseNewLogo

 

In order to file the Annual Accounts you will need to prepare a form CIC 34 which can be downloaded from the link.

The completed and signed (by a director or company secretary) CIC 34 form, together with a printed copy of the Annual Accounts and a £15 filing fee must be sent to Companies House well in advance of the filing deadline.  This is to avoid any late filing penalties, should Companies House reject the initial filing and you need to make any amendments that might be necessary in order to re-file the Annual Accounts.

Companies House officials were not yet able (during April 2015) to provide us with information as to when the electronic filing of CIC Annual Accounts will be possible.


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Hence, just like filing Limited Liability Partnership Annual Accounts, the traditional hard copy and postage paid (preferably recorded delivery) or handing in the documents at a Companies House official Contact Centre office location, is still the only way to get the Annual Accounts filing compliance check done, for the time being.

©3resource – 2015

Rohan Badenhorst

business.partner@3resource.com

 

Who cares what you think?

Are testimonials worth anything?

Many websites include “testimonials” from “customers”, but do they have any worth?  If you want to attract new business it is good to be able to publish positive feedback, which helps demonstrate the value that other customers find in your service.  The problem is that if reviews are obviously edited and self-selected they are not obviously representative of the views of your customers.  Single line reviews taken out of context can be particularly misleading!
Top Rated certificate for accountant Tim Alter of Alterledger Ltd, Glasgow

Use external review sites

One of the best-known review sites is tripadvisor.  The greatest strength of these reviews is that hotels and restaurants etc have no control over the reviews.  They have the opportunity to respond to criticism, but can’t cherry-pick the best reviews to give a false impression.  The Pensions Regulator website is keen to point out that “private sector organisations we link to are not endorsed by Government and are provided for information only”; however it is worth noting that they include a link to VouchedFor on their advice page for individuals and in their guide to finding an advisor for Pension Auto Enrolment.

VouchedFor

If you are looking for a hotel you would probably prefer to check tripadvisor rather than lot of different websites for reviews.  VouchedFor works along similar lines to tripadvisor, but for Accountants, Financial Advisors and Solicitors.  Professionals who have a listing on the site must confirm that they recognise the name / email address of any reviewer before the review is posted online.  Just like tripadvisor the professionals can’t read the review until is online so they can’t edit out any negative feedback and poor scores.

Tim Alter appeared in the guide in The Sunday Telegraph on March 29th. You can also read all his great client reviews on his VouchedFor profile!

Auto Enrolment

Many small businesses will need professional advice to help them set up a pension scheme to comply with Auto Enrolment regulations.  If you are an employer and still need to prepare for your staging date, you can use an Accountant or Financial Adviser to guide you through the process.  For help with setting up your payroll and preparing for your staging date, please contact Alterledger.

Debitoor find out more about the Assoc of UK Accountants…

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Debitoor is pleased to announce the partnership with the Association of UK Accountants. This organisation works with 300 independent accounting practices accross the UK and all the accountants are Chartered Management Accountants. If you’re on a lookout for someone to handle your numbers, just head over to the dedicated Debitoor page and pick your local from the Accountant list.

Following this, we had a chat with Steve Bicknell – the Business Development Director for the Association of UK Accountants to find out what the business he represents is all about and to shine the light on the most common accounting mishaps.

What makes ‘the Association’ different from other accounting organisations?

Unlike others, our accountants all worked in business before going into practice and we are focused on helping clients to maximise profit using management information rather than just helping with tax compliance. All of our accountants work together as a team sharing knowledge and experience, supporting each other.

Who is your typical client?

In our December 2014 survey 39% of clients had a turnover below £100k

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Our survey also showed that the top 4 business sectors we work with were construction, manufacturing, professional service and retail.

Start up businesses try to do everything themselves at the very start, that also includes accounting. When, in your opinion, is the right time to get accounting services, rather than keep up on your own?

Often business owners wait too long before they realise that they need help from an accountant.

Key reasons are:

– not understanding the difference between a book keeper and an accountant
– thinking that an accountant will just be an extra cost – the reality is that most accountants will save the business many times their cost
– thinking that accountants are just bean counters.

But if you choose a qualified and experienced accountant they can bring huge benefits: management tools to improve profitability, cost controls, tax savings, growth strategies, business planning, business strauctures and much more. So don’t wait too long – getting an accountant should be a priority for all businesses!

In your experience, what are the most common mistakes that entrepreneurs make when they start doing their own accounting?

First off – not having a separate bank accounts. Many start ups try mixing business and personal transactions in their personal bank accounts, its a total nightmare, don’t do it, get a business bank account. Mixing things up will almost certainly have tax implications.

Not registering for tax or filing returns is another one. Getting things right at the beginning is extremely important and a CIMA Accountant can make sure that you choose the right business structure and will help you register for VAT, PAYE, CIS and other taxes. Choosing the right VAT scheme will save you tax. Not registering and filing returns will have severe consequences and lead to fines and penalties.

Also – contract mistakes.Ask your Accountant to review you contracts, they will be able to give you lots of useful tips.

Running out of cash: draw up a Budget and Cashflow and forecast how much cash you will need to run the business, looking at your cash cycle and managing it will be vital. If you need funding ask your Accountant for help, they will be able to look at all the options and help you choose the option that’s best for your business.

Accounting – many start ups fail to keep control of their accounting, by working with an accountant and using Debitoor you can avoid this problem.

Why would you recommend Debitoor to the new businesses?

I use Debitoor myself, I do business consultancy work and wanted an easy way to raise invoices and keep track of payments, Debitoor was perfect for me.

Cash is king for new businesses and raising invoices quickly and tracking payments is vital, Debitoor lets you do this for free. You can then move to paid versions of Debitoor and use Debitoor for all your accounting needs. It’s really easy to use, its low cost and fantastic value.

What are the most common business problems you have to deal with during the day?

So here are my top 5 common accounting problems we deal with:
1. Not doing any accounts – the shoe box approach to business
This is the most common mistake, book keeping is best done as you go along, putting all the paperwork in a shoe box or carrier bag is a really bad idea as you have no idea how your business is performing.
2. Not keeping receipts. Often small business miss out on claiming all their expenses because they fail to keep receipts and lose track of their spending
3. Not reconciling. Reconciling your bank statements to your cash book is vital to make sure that all of your income and expenses have been recorded in your accounts.
4. Using the wrong accounting system. For some businesses a manual cash book and records are fine but for many accounting software such as Debitoor will be needed to keep track of debtors, creditors and VAT. Make sure you understand your accounting system and operate it correctly.
5. Mixing business and personal expenses. Some sole traders even mix up business and personal bank accounts and in extreme cases don’t even have a business bank account. This can cause errors and often means that a sole trader will either claim to many expenses or to few.
Improve your chances of business success, avoid the common problems listed above.

Stereotypically, accounting doesn’t come across as the most exciting field. What makes your job interesting to you and why do you think accounting is important?

One of the great joys of working as a ‘CIMA MiP’ (“Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, Member in Pratice”) is that we are generally dealing with ‘small’ and ‘micro’ client businesses (micro defined by EU regulations as firms with less than 10 employees/ £2m turnover; small defined as firms with less than 50 employees/ £10m turnover) and that we become involved in an enormous breadth and depth of subjects.

If you don’t have accounts, you will lose control of your business and fail to keep track of who owes you money.

What motivates you daily?

Helping businesses to succeed. We want to use our skills to help our clients to achieve their goals.

If there’s one most important thing you would suggest to a new business to consider in the New Year, what would that be?

The best advice for all new businesses is to not put off doing your accounts, don’t take the shoe box approach, use Debitoor!

Reblogged from https://debitoor.com/blog/conversation-steve-bicknell-association-uk-accountants

 

Is your accountant qualified?

junge frau lernt für eine prüfung

The ACCA issued a warning in May after research from cloud accounting software provider ClearBooks showed just 8 per cent of small businesses considered an accountant’s qualifications when choosing one. There is no law preventing anyone from calling themselves an accountant, and that as a result small businesses could be unknowingly paying someone without the necessary skills to handle their finances and help their business grow, who isn’t regulated or insured against risk.

CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) Members in Practice are monitored by CIMA for:

  1. Continuous Professional Development
  2. Anti Money Laundering Compliance
  3. Professional Indemnity Insurance
  4. Continuity Agreements
  5. Letters of engagement
  6. Ethical conduct

CIMA operates a Masters degree standard scheme of qualifying examinations for prospective members. It is active in promoting local education, training and management development operations, the promotion of new techniques through its research foundation and the dissemination of management accounting practices through publications and other media related activities. WIKIPEDIA

You can find out more at www.business-accountant.com and www.cimaglobal.com

 

steve@bicknells.net

Setting up business finances – Do’s and Don’ts

Entrepreneur startup business model

For any business owner getting the right financial advice when you start the business is critical, here are some Do’s and Don’ts

Separate your bank accounts

Many start ups try mixing business and personal transactions in their personal bank accounts, its a total nightmare, don’t do it, get a business bank account.

Mixing things up will almost certainly have tax implications.

Get help and register for Tax

Getting things right at the beginning is extremely important and a CIMA Accountant can makesure you choose the right business structure and help you register for VAT, PAYE, CIS and other taxes. Choosing the right VAT scheme will save you tax – take a look at this blog

Not registering and filing returns will have severe consequences and lead to fines and penalties.

Contracts

Ask your Accountant to review you contracts, they will be able to give you lots of useful tips.

Funding

Draw up a Budget and Cashflow and forecast how much cash you will need to run the business, looking at your cash cycle and managing it will be vital.

If you need funding ask your Accountant for help, they will be able to look at all the options and help you choose the option thats best for your business.

Accounting

Many start ups fail to keep control of their accounting, by working with an accountant you can avoid this problem and they can help you choose the best accounting solutions for your business.

steve@bicknells.net

I need an accountant for my business!

Entrepreneur startup business model

Often business owners wait too long before they realise that they need help from an accountant.

Key reasons are:

  • They don’t understand the difference between a book keeper and an accountant
  • They think an accountant will just be an extra cost – the reality is that most accountants will save the business many times their cost
  • They think they accountants are just bean counters

But if you choose a qualified and experienced accountant they can bring huge benefits….

  1. Management tools to improve profitability
  2. Cost Controls
  3. Tax Savings
  4. Identifying Cash Flow needs and funding solutions
  5. Growth Strategies
  6. Business Planning
  7. Budgeting
  8. Business Structures
  9. Business Accounting and Reporting Systems
  10. Maximise Credit Scores to win more business

So don’t wait too long, getting an accountant should be a priority for all businesses!

steve@bicknells.net

 

 

 

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