Technical and Insight
FRS 102 – the reality of the new UK GAAP
Charles Gubbins recaps the popular session on FRS 102 which he delivered in the ACCA theatre at Accountex this month.

Charles Gubbins recaps the popular session on FRS 102 which he delivered in the ACCA theatre at Accountex recently. 

It was a pleasure to share the floor with Jonathan Shaw (member of ACCA's Global Forum for Corporate Reporting), Russell Geary (chair of ACCA's Practitioners' Network Panel) and Glenn Collins (ACCA's head of technical advisory) in ACCA’s lecture theatre at Accountex in London earlier this month. Addressing our subject in 45 minutes was a challenge! What we did was highlight just some of the many changes that have arisen. 

How has FRS 102 affected financial reporting?
We are still very much in the early stages of adoption – we have been talking about it for some time but 31 December 2015 marked the point when change for non-small entities became a reality. Early adoption was available but does not appear to have been widespread, not least due to the challenges of identifying reliable software to assist in the production of FRS 102 compliant accounts and dealing with regulators (HMRC and Companies House). 

First cautionary tale – read the Standard! It is not long but it is different to both old UK GAAP and IFRS and so you should assume nothing. Also there are two versions: 

  • the 2014 issue which is the mandatory one for non-small entities for periods commencing 1 January 2015
  • the 2015 issue which is mandatory for periods commencing 1 January 2016 and includes the section 1A for small companies moving from the FRSSE at that date. This version has been available for early adoption (to further confuse the matter!).


So – the effects of change … we decided to treat the session as a kind of ‘checklist’.  

The point is that, for some companies, there have been no material impacts of adoption.  So the question raised was, ‘do you have any of these?’ (not by any measure an exhaustive list). 

  1. Financial instruments - particularly worth looking at directors’ loans and inter-company loans where the interest rate is ‘off-market’ and where the term is fixed
  2. Derivatives must now be separately accounted for (never really considered in old UK GAAP)
  3. Revenue from the provision of services – UITF 40 and FRS 5 have gone and you may need to reassess the timing and amount of revenue, especially where it is contingent
  4. Acquisitions – a whole new way to calculate goodwill, including the potential recognition of new intangibles and deferred tax …
  5. Investment properties are now measured at fair value through reported profit and you now provide deferred tax on the increase in value (you may even hold more as the exemption for group company lettings has now gone)
  6. Others include: holiday pay (or any other ‘compensated absence’ which may be carried forward in the following year), defined benefit pensions schemes and there is also guidance for public benefit entities.


Good outcomes and impacts of change
The process of transition has forced companies to review their accounting policies for completeness and appropriateness (a few have even spotted the fact that they have made errors in the past which transition has allowed them to address – some even have called correction of these errors transition adjustments … wrong!). 

Also, from 1 January 2016 (some regard this as good and some do not …), there will be one system of UK GAAP applicable to all entities, irrespective of size. The only exception is for micro-entities, who will be allowed to opt into FRS 105. Although the disclosures will be less for small companies, all the accounting challenges mentioned above will apply to them as well. 

Bad outcomes and impacts of change
We all know that it is easy to be negative but I just want to mention some issues that have arisen which some might regard as bad: 

  1. Reliability of financial information – not a direct impact of FRS 102 but, with the increases to audit limits from 1 January 2016, many sets of FRS 102 accounts going forward will not be subject to mandatory audit. Given the level of technical knowledge required and subjectivity in some valuations, the role of accounting advisors becomes ever more important – some entities might regard this to be an expensive option but I believe it to be essential to have informed individuals involved in the process
  2. What are the distributable profits of a company – still some confusion on this but help is on its way!
  3. Credit reference agencies will potentially have difficulty to providing advice to their clients, especially going forward for smaller companies – this should, in my view, result in companies providing extra information to such organisations to help them in their work.


Conclusion
Overall, change was inevitable and, in my view, is a step in the right direction. 

Charles Gubbins – head of technical practice & professional development, Kaplan Leadership & Professional

Find out more about the services Kaplan provides 

charles.gubbins@kaplan.co.uk 

07793 564 014

Awards: why it’s worth entering
Accountants and businesses generally stand a better chance of winning awards than you might think. Mark Lee explains why the benefits may be greater than you imagine.

Accountants and businesses generally stand a better chance of winning awards than you might think.  

The advice below comes from Mark Lee, who co-presented a session on this topic in the ACCA theatre at Accountex 2016. 

One of the winners at the British Accountancy Awards 2015 was a small accountancy practice known as The Tax Guys. It is run by Jonathan Amponsah FCCA.   

I was delighted to be present the night Jonathan’s firm won this award as I knew how hard he had worked for it – after being shortlisted the previous year. His office in Putney has a display stand for the various awards the firm has won and certificates adorn the walls. This clearly impresses visitors and the firm’s ‘award winning’ status evidences a degree of credibility such that the firm stands out from their competitors. 

This is but one reason for entering awards. There are others. And it’s not as hard to secure business benefits from entering awards as you might think. Let’s dispel a common misconception before we go any further. 

How many firms do you need to beat to win an award? All the firms in the country? All those in your city? All those in your local area? Or simply those who have entered the competition? 

Rarely do more than 10-20 firms submit entries for a specific award. Not all of these will be valid entries as not everyone reads the entry criteria properly. Of the valid ones some will contain poor English, and some will fail to provide sufficient evidence of all of their assertions. Quite often each well worded and complete entry is only really competing with a few other similarly appropriate entries. Most of these will then be shortlisted and that, in itself, is worth celebrating. Winning, if it happens, is just the icing on the cake. 

Only worthy entries can win but the fact is most people don’t bother trying. In which case they can never win, of course. 

My five headline tips for submitting a worthy entry are largely common sense but experience shows they are all points worth stressing:
 

  1. Check that you satisfy the basic criteria for the awards you enter, re location, size of business and being sufficiently new or mature.
  2. Submit an entry that complies with all of the specified guidelines and limitations.
  3. Give the judges what they are looking for and make it easy for them to see your entry as appropriate to shortlist or even to win the award. Treat the exercise in the same way as you would an exam question.
  4. Collate all key data and material to support your entry – whether you need to summarise this or simply attach it to your entry.
  5. Before you submit your entry, allow time for someone else to read, review and proof it. Too many entries fail due to poor English, grammar or typos. 


As a frequent judge for accountancy related awards I am keen to raise the quality and quantity of entries. I hope that this brief summary inspires you to give it a go. Take a look at the various accountancy award competitions and also local and national business award competitions. Maybe you can enter those too. 

Please don’t be disappointed if you miss out first time. Take a step back and give your entry an objective review. Your next one will be even better. And then when you are shortlisted there are many different ways in which you could benefit from this. I have a list of 20 so far. And many are equally applicable even if you don’t get any further than the shortlist. 

Good luck! 

At the end of Mark’s presentations in the ACCA theatre at Accountex 2016 he referenced two free checklists. 

  • How to enter win awards for your practice
  • How to benefit from being shortlisted and winning


These can be obtained via this link>>>>


Mark Lee FCA works with sole practitioners who want to be remembered, referred and recommended. He can be reached via his website: www.bookmarklee.co.uk which contains various free resources for accountants.

Mark co-presented alongside Kevin Reed, editor of AccountancyAge. Read Kevin's thoughts now and find out how to enter the British Accountancy Awards 2016.




Mark speaking in ACCA's theatre at Accountex

How to thrive in the challenging world of change
We all manage change differently. Margaret Zuppinger shares her top tips for surviving on a diet of change.

We all manage change differently. Margaret Zuppinger shares her top tips for surviving on a diet of change. 

Change is all around us and forms part of our everyday life, at home and at work. However, while some of us relish the challenges that change offers, others do not: we are all unique in our makeup and we all manage change differently – not rightly or wrongly – just differently. 

How do some people seem to manage change more easily than others? For example, when we fall in love, that is change, our lives are turned upside down; however – culturally and individually – we don't see it as a bad thing. We might not even think of it as change! It is often only the things that we perceive as negative that we are unsettled by. 

We like certainty and, because change often introduces uncertainty, our brains go into threat avoidance mode. As human beings, we are programmed for survival, so, as we are working hard trying to figure out the impact of what the ‘new’ will bring, this can trigger our fight or flight response, which results in a physiological reaction: blood leaving the ‘thinking brain’ and going to the ‘juvenile’, more emotional brain – which all goes to help explain why some adults become less easy to reason with, see threats from leaders and colleagues where none really exists, struggle to listen and may even become indecisive in a change situation. 

Does any of this seem familiar? If so, good, it means that you are recognising that not everyone is taking change in their stride and understanding this can be very helpful when managing others who are coming to terms with change. 

What are the changes that you may be managing? Who may you be supporting as they manage change? For a moment let's consider some of the likely change scenarios for small to medium accountancy practices which were headlined at Accountex 2016:
 

  • cloud computing and accounting systems
  • the government’s digital strategy
  • pensions auto-enrolment
  • merging with or acquisition of another practice or even supporting your clients, who are themselves meeting many new and complex challenges within their businesses and are looking to their accountant to support them.


What do all these changes and challenges have in common? A combination of both situational and psychological elements: new offices, new procedures, new software, a new manager - these are all situational elements of change and, while they may not always be easy to embrace, they are at least visible. 

However, there is also the psychological process we go through in order to come to terms with the new situation or circumstance in which we find ourselves. In other words, transitions need to happen from the past to the present and into the future – manage these transitions and you will manage the change more effectively. 

In order thrive on a diet of change, we need to:
 

  • understand that change is a process, with different stages, that each of us will experience in different ways
  • ask questions to ensure that we understand the change ourselves, before trying to influence others
  • meet colleagues, clients, and external agencies where they are, not where we would like them to be
  • manage the transitions from the old to the new empathetically
  • clarify and communicate effectively and frequently with everyone and to every level in the organisation: accurate and timely information helps to reduce uncertainty
  • ensure that you generate feedback during every stage of the change process to keep the change on track and ensure that the message is reaching every part of the organisation
  • explain the reasons for the change in a language that people will understand
  • have realistic expectations of yourself and others during the process
  • don’t declare victory too early – you need evidence that changes are embedded and will be sustained in the long term.


What is the benefit to yourself and your clients of embracing the change process in the terms outlined above? In two simple phrases: significant cost saving and increased likelihood of future business success. Change is expensive and change that is not well planned and communicated is even more expensive. It is hard to see how future business success will be achieved without taking on board the changes that are on the horizon for the accountancy profession. 

Margaret Zuppinger – director, Margaret Zuppinger Partnership Ltd

 
email: margaret@zuppinger.co.uk

Tel: 01625 872 920
Mob: 07769 681 576

Celebrating excellence across the profession
Your practice deserves recognition. Start planning your entry to the British Accountancy Awards now.

British Accountancy Awards celebrate excellence across the profession. Start planning your entry now. 

A full room, twice over, of expectant ACCA members searching for clues on how to win awards – and me holding some of the clues – made for a couple of fun sessions in the ACCA Theatre at Accountex this month. 

The ‘How to win an award – and make the most of it’ sessions sought to debunk many of the myths that surround the awards-entering process, provide practical tips and hints to increase your chances of winning – and also think about why you should enter them in the first place. It was entirely appropriate that the British Accountancy Awards were launched on Accountex’s opening day. 

I was lucky enough to be joined by longstanding practice consultant and networker Mark Lee to share our thoughts.  

So, why enter awards? 

Confirmation of your greatness … and a morale booster for staff, current and to-be: winning an award creates a feeling of well-being among your staff, and makes your firm more attractive to prospective talent and clients.

Marketing opportunity – Speaking of clients, you get to present your firm – in the region in which you work, your sectors, as the best in the field.

The discovery process - You’d be surprised at how few firms review their progress or really have a grasp of what they do best. Entering awards forces you to take stock of your situation.


OK, here are some practical dos and don’ts of the awards process: 

Do tell a story – Where were you, what journey have you started, and how have you achieved in that process?

Do include financials and KPIs - Where applicable to support your story

Do make it easy for the judges! - The British Accountancy Awards judges will look at between 20 and 30 entries each. They can take 10-15 minutes to do so. Do the maths. Make your language and points clear

Do think about people, clients and staff – If your practice is doing well, then your staff must be happy. Do you know? Do you measure? Let them tell the judges. The same goes for client testmonials

Do understand the category criteria, and entry criteria - If you been given word counts, stick to them. If certain info has been requested, supply it

Do watch our video with more award-winning advice – Available online at Accountancyage.com. My interview with award-winning former Price Bailey head Peter Gillman is worth ten minutes of your time

Do go to the awards, with hope rather than expectation! - There are no guarantees you will win – but making the shortlist is worth celebrating itself, and something you should leverage in your marketing

Don’t leave your marketing head, or PA, to write the entry in isolation – The main protagonists in your firm’s success – at least as far as your entry is concerned – should be involved in putting the entry together. Of course have help, but avoid being dislocated from the process.

Don’t go over any word counts proscribed in the awards - You risk the wrath of the judges. Alongside word counts for the main entry, you are often allowed to include some supplementary information, but again don’t overburden them – the more you include, the less chance you’ll have of the important stuff being absorbed. 


Visit the British Accountancy Awards website for details of all our categories, including Most Innovative Practice and Most Socially Responsible Practice – new for 2016. 

Our awards encompass the best practices in the UK – small and large. There are also individual awards up for grabs, including Practitioner of the Year and New Practitioner. It would be great to have you on board. 

Kevin Reed – head of editorial for Accountancy Age and Financial Director

Shining a light on cybersecurity
Barclays and ACCA teamed up to alert accountants to cybersecurity threats at Accountex.

Barclays and ACCA teamed up to alert accountants to cybersecurity threats at Accountex. 

In today’s digital age, people are increasingly carrying out their daily tasks and choosing to transact online. Therefore, it is critical that businesses recognise the threat cybercrime poses and take the necessary measures to ensure the continuity of service while maintaining security and building trust with their customers. 

This requires on-going investment to ensure internal systems and processes remain robust and secure as well as a focus on supporting and educating customers to help them protect themselves from potential cyber-attacks. 

We also recognise the shared benefits of coming together as an industry to strengthen our cyber resilience - which is why we were delighted to support ACCA by running a session in its lecture theatre at the Accountex exhibition which shone a light on this important issue. 

Graeme Brand, Barclays Business Digital Eagle, joined ACCA’s Jason Piper to run an interactive and practical session which was extremely well received by delegates.  The session educated and made people aware of the threats they face in their business on a daily basis, using practical demonstrations to really bring it to life and highlight the techniques that fraudsters are using including social engineering.  

Graeme provided an example of how easy it is using social media channels to form a spear-phishing email attack and reiterated the importance of everyone having a good knowledge of what information is in the public domain that fraudsters could use to help build a profile on you which makes targeting without suspicion more likely. Other useful tips included: 
 

  • being vigilant when clicking on links and downloading attachments from emails
  • the importance of good password hygiene and never disclosing your passwords to anyone, no matter who they are
  • check a website is secure before you enter any account or card details. Look for the ‘https’ at the start of the web address and the padlock or unbroken key icon next to the address bar.


Barclays provides a range of further tips on how to be cyber-smart. 

Barclays’ partnership with ACCA is part of the bank’s commitment to protect its customers by raising awareness of the importance of cybersecurity and the impact of cybercrime. 

Since 2014, Barclays has provided free training to anyone who needs help with using technology through their Digital Eagles, in-branch staff who provide free digital support to customers and non-customers. This training includes how to stay safe online. 

Earlier this year, Barclays ran a new TV ad to help people understand how they could protect themselves from falling victim to fraud. It has also partnered with the government by being part of the UK’s new joint fraud taskforce. We are also hosting a series of events specifically for businesses providing guidance on how they can protect themselves from cybercrime. 

Adam Rowse, head of business banking at Barclays, says: ‘Businesses must recognise the threat that cybercrime can pose to them, their reputation and subsequently their bottom line. With the number of customers going online rapidly rising the issue of cyber security has never been more important. Companies need to consider cyber security as critical to their business operation as cost or cash flow. 

‘Some of the actions that businesses can take to get cyber-smart include creating a cybersecurity strategy, raising awareness amongst staff of the common cons used to commit cybercrime, installing software that keeps them and their customers’ details safe and keeping all software up to date. 

‘We were delighted to join forces with ACCA at Accountex to help educate accountants on this important issue as they have a key role to play in making their clients aware of the risks and impacts of cybercrime.’ 



Graeme Brand, Barclays Business Digital Eagle, speaking in ACCA's theatre at Accountex

De-risking your business
Current claims against accountants and risk mitigation strategies were in the spotlight at Accountex.

Current claims against accountants and risk mitigation strategies were in the spotlight at Accountex. 

Professional services businesses of all kinds are facing many of the same pressures:  competitive pressure from existing and new markets, greater price sensitivity of clients, and an increasing regulatory burden. The general trend is also towards higher numbers of more costly professional indemnity claims. 

Accountants are no different, as I explained to visitors to ACCA’s lecture theatre at Accountex earlier this month. 

Claims, and the risk of claims, play an important part in the risk profile of your firm, and can have a significant impact on your bottom line. This is a risk that therefore needs to be actively considered and managed. 

While risk management is often seen as an onerous ‘bolt-on’, we need to move away from this approach. It must be proportionate, effective, and enhance your business, rather than obstruct it. 

Risk awareness
As the insurance partner for ACCA, Lockton has a wealth of risk data for the profession.  This provides a unique insight into which areas of practice are creating most claims, and the most expensive claims. The two are often different.




Both sets of figures provide meaningful analytics for firms – in terms of benchmarking your own performance – and also in identifying the priority risk areas to focus most time and resource. Delays or errors in tax returns account for by far the largest number of claims annually, but account for a significantly lower percentage of claims by value. In contrast advising on/introducer arrangements for tax avoidance schemes account for a mere 6% of claims by number, but 23% by value.  

Likewise, capital gains tax-related work, due to the high value nature of the work, costs proportionately more per claim than any other area of work, accounting for 6% by number and 36% by value of claims. How you identify risk in your practice should be a combination of factors:
 

  • reviewing and risk-grading your work types
  • examining the quantum of risk in individual transactions/ on average per area of practice
  • reviewing your claims and complaints record for trends and patterns
  • undertaking a gap analysis of your risk controls.


Lockton can assist with all of these stages. 




Case study
An accountancy firm acted for a client on an ongoing retainer basis. In addition to managing the client’s business accounts, the firm advised on a range of personal and corporate tax matters.

When the client consulted the firm regarding the sale of a small business, the firm suggested that investing in a Film Finance Partnership as a potential option for offsetting the CGT liability.  They acted as an introducer for the promoter, and received 7% commission.

The scheme failed a number of years later and the firm received a claim from the client for the losses he had incurred.

This case study is typical of the types of claims we receive regarding tax mitigation schemes.  Firms often believe that they, as introducers, have no liability to the client.  Even had no commission been paid to the firm, as accountants/financial advisers, the presumption will be that a firm should advise – unless very clearly rebutted.  Even where you exclude advice on a matter, there can be circumstances where the nature of the risk is such that you would still be expected to identify to the client that there is a risk that they should obtain advice on.

An additional wider concern is the number of firms conducting a wide range of different work for a client under a general running retainer.  All too often this means that the work has not been risk assessed adequately, or the scope formalised.  This in turn can lead to concerns over inappropriate limits of liability being applied, potential billing disputes, and leaves the way open for confusion regarding what is being advised on.  Please revisit the ACCA guidance on retainers.


When designing Risk Controls, it is equally important to consider what type of errors (and allegations) arise.  It is worth emphasising that even defensible claims can cost firms time and money, and clients.  Avoiding claims in the first place often comes down to one or more of three things:

  1. Effective scoping and engagement processes
  2. Good administration and time management
  3. Robust client communications

Where claims do arise, the good news is that, in the majority of cases, if handled promptly and well, clients who have a complaint resolved to their satisfaction are often more loyal than those who never complain at all.  Ensuring that your complaints process is easily accessed, non-defensive, and effective (and contains a feedback loop into improving identified issues) is your next best option.

Emerging risks
Wherever legislation has recently changed (such as the capital allowance rules relating to commercial property) there are likely to be emerging claims as a result of accountants failing to identify the relevant risk issues and advise accordingly.

Perhaps the more concerning emerging risk is the continued rise of frauds and scams, and the related topic of information security.  Accountants often hold large sums of money and are privy to a lot of sensitive client data.  Both of these assets are of great value to criminals.  

Cybercrime is the hot topic of the moment – and with good reason: the latest government research indicates that two thirds of large UK businesses have been hit by a cyber-attack in the last year[i], but smaller businesses cannot afford to be complacent. KPMG’s latest fraud barometer suggests that the cost of fraud in the UK has risen by 22% over the last year[ii], while the Financial Cost of Fraud report 2015[iii] puts the cost of fraud for UK businesses at around 3% of their total expenditure.  

As far as targeted attacks are concerned, phishing attacks remain a particularly high risk.  The incidence of phishing attacks in the UK has increased by over 20% in the last year, according to Action Fraud[iv] – and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated (increasingly they will be a convincing formatted email from an expected sender). We have set out some tips to assist you identify phishing emails

Nontheless,careless errors still are by far the most significant problem. Lockton have produced a short webinar outlining current risks and mitigations in this area.   You can also request our Information Security Awareness posters – which provide a valuable aide memoire in and around the office. 


Calum MacLean – risk manager for professions at Lockton

Help to buy – an overview
How ‘help to buy’ works in England, with links to information on variations in other parts of the UK.

How ‘help to buy’ works in England, with links to information on variations in other parts of the UK. 

The scheme in England operates as follows: 

Who is eligible?
It is open to first time buyers and individuals who have previously owned property. Eligibility is determined by the cost of the property. The home must be newly built and cost no more than £600,000. The home cannot be sublet and the purchaser cannot enter into a part exchange deal involving their old home. The purchaser cannot own any other property at the time the property is purchased with a help to buy equity loan. 

How the scheme works
The government lends to the new homeowner(s) up to 20% of the cost of the new home. The government will not charge loan fees on the 20% loan for the first five years. 

The purchaser(s) must take out a first mortgage (with a qualifying lending institution eg a bank or building society) for at least 25% of the value of the property. The mortgage, together with any cash contribution (deposit) from the purchaser(s), must be a minimum of 80% of the full purchase price. The cash deposit must be a minimum of 5% of the full purchase price. 

The government will provide an equity loan between a minimum of 10% up to a maximum of 20% of the full purchase price. The equity loan must be repaid after 25 years or earlier if the home is sold. When sold the same percentage of the proceeds of the sale must be repaid as the initial equity loan – eg if the property is purchased for £400,000 and the equity loan is £80,000 (20% of £400,000) then after say 15 years the property is sold for £1,100,000, then £220,000 (20% of £1,100,000) would need to be repaid to the equity loan provider. 

If the property has fallen in value then a similar system applies – eg if the property is purchased for £400,000 and the equity loan is £80,000 (20% of £400,000) then after say 15 years the property is sold for £300,000, then £60,000 (20% of £300,000) would need to be repaid to the equity loan provider. 

If the purchaser(s) has not complied with the terms of the Help to Buy mortgage deed then the government-appointed agency which is managing the scheme will seek to recover all the money they are owed. 

The equity loan is interest free for the first five years. After that, a fee of 1.75% per annum applies, rising each year by the increase (if any) in the Retail Price Index plus 1%. 

Example
The purchaser takes out an equity loan of say £80,000 (20% of property cost £400,000). No fees are due on the help to buy equity loan for the first five years. In year six a fee of 1.75% of the help to buy equity loan will be payable: £1,400 (£80,000 x 1.75%). This fee is payable to the agency managing the scheme. The fee rises annually from the fifth anniversary of the purchase by the increase (if any) in the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1%. If the RPI  is say 5% then for the seventh year the annual fee percentage will be  1.855% (1.75% x (1 plus 6%) giving an annual fee for that year of £1,484 (£80,000 x 1.855%). This fee can normally be paid monthly which in this case would amount to approximately £123.67 per month. 

The purchaser(s) can make voluntary repayments of the equity loan at any time. The minimum voluntary repayment is 10% of the market value at the time of repayment (whether that value is more or less than when originally purchased). 

The property can be sold by the owner(s) at any time and an independent valuer must decide what the property is worth. If the property is sold for more than this valuation then the amount due to the agency under the equity loan will be their percentage value of the actual sale price. If there are any fees outstanding at the time of selling, these must be paid before the sale is completed. 

The scheme is available from house builders registered to offer the scheme. The scheme is planned to be available until 2020 although it may close earlier if all the funding is taken up before that date. 

Further information and resources
The above information relates to the scheme in England (excluding London). 

For new properties in London the above scheme has been extended from 1 February 2016 so equity loans up to 40% of the purchase price of the property may be available. 

There are also variations in other parts of the UK as follows:
 

 

 

General duties of trustees
A checklist of the typical duties of a trustee.

A checklist of the typical duties of a trustee. 

Trustee is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, refers to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another. 

The role of the trustee is an onerous one in terms of administration; they must carry out the powers and duties as required by the trust instrument, and by law. 

Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries and they should act with honesty, integrity, good faith and transparency. A trustee may not benefit from their position, cannot make a secret profit and if a trustee purchases trust property, the transaction is voidable at the option of the beneficiaries. A trustee cannot receive payment for carrying out their duties as trustee (except where authorised to do so by the trust document). However, a professional trustee can charge for their time while lay trustees can normally claim only for out of pocket expenses. 


General duties of trustees:

  1. Duty to comply with the terms of the trust. A duty exists for trustees to understand and to be fully aware of the terms of the trust. This is essential in order to carry out the purpose of the trust.
  2. Duty to take control of and safeguard the trust property.
  3. Duty to take reasonable care. A trustee should use the same diligence as a man of ordinary prudence would take in the management of his own affairs or the affairs of someone for whom he felt morally bound to. A higher duty of care is expected from a professional trustee than a lay trustee.
  4. Duty to act impartially between the beneficiaries. A trustee should not allow one beneficiary to suffer at the expense of a benefit to another beneficiary.
  5. Duty to keep proper records and accounts and to submit the necessary tax returns on behalf of the trust. There is no general duty to have the accounts audited. Trustees may, in their absolute discretion, choose to have the accounts audited, but not more than once in every three years.
  6. Duty to act unanimously in any decision they make. However, the trustees of a charitable trust may act by majority rule.
  7. Duty to act personally. The position of trustee is a personal one and cannot normally be delegated. However, the trustees may delegate most of the administrative function, but not any dispositive powers.
  8. Requirement to seek advice before exercising the power of investment on setting up the trust fund or review.
  9. Duty to transfer the trust property and the income to the correct beneficiaries. In the event of doubt as to who are the correct beneficiaries, the trustees should apply to the court for directions.
  10. Duty to provide information. A trustee must produce, on request, information and documents relating to the trust when required by any beneficiaries who have the right to have the trust administered properly. Trust documents will include the trust deed, accounts, letter of wishes and any legal advice and opinions. The beneficiaries cannot require documents outlining the trustee’s reasons for decision making.


Further guidance regarding the essential duties of charity trustees can be found on the Charity Commission website CC3


Specific guidance for pension scheme trustees can be found on The Pension Regulator website

 

 

FRS 102 intangible assets – what’s changed?
The main differences between the old and the new UK GAAP regime, concerning intangible assets.

This article focuses on the main differences between the old and the new UK GAAP regime, concerning intangible assets. 

Detailed taxation adjustments relevant on transition and arising out of the reporting differences are outside of the scope of this article. 

Definition of intangible asset
FRS 102 definition of an intangible asset is now more in line with IFRS and expands on what is defined as an intangible asset in comparison to the old UK GAAP. 

In the old UK GAAP (FRS 10) intangible assets are defined as ‘Non-financial fixed assets that do not have physical substance but are identifiable and are controlled by the entity through custody or legal rights’.’ For the purposes of the old GAAP, ‘identifiable’ meant ‘being able to be disposed of or transferred separately, without also disposing the business they were part of’. In practice this meant that some intangible assets may not have been recognised, as disposing of them would have meant that the business would have ceased to exist unless it was sold too. In many of these circumstances the value of an intangible asset was subsumed in the value of goodwill. 

Under FRS 102 ‘identifiable’ has a much broader sense, and means ‘separable’ or ‘arising from legal or contractual rights’. Consequently, either on transition (where the exemption to retain previous GAAP figures is not used) or on subsequent business combinations, more different categories of intangible assets are likely to be recognised under FRS 102 than would have been recognised under old UK GAAP. 

Recognition of intangible assets on transition
FRS 102 offers several options to establish the value at which intangible assets already recognised at the point of transition to FRS 102 can be brought into the new reporting regime. An intangible asset can be shown at the original cost, at fair value as deemed cost or at the most recent revaluation amount before transition, if such a revaluation is possible. 

In practice, most intangible assets are most likely to be shown at the original cost, unless a reference to an active market is possible to establish a revalued amount. While it is generally accepted that the existence of an active market in relation to intangibles is rare, some examples of intangibles which could meet the revaluation recognition criteria are licences, for example taxi licences, or quotas. 

Goodwill at the point of transition is not to be restated, unless an impairment is required: FRS 102.35.10 (a) Business combinations, including group reconstructions, says that ‘intangible assets subsumed within goodwill shall not be separately recognised’; and ‘no adjustment shall be made to the carrying value of goodwill’. 

Useful life of goodwill and other intangible assets
FRS 10 stated that goodwill and intangibles should be amortised over their UEL, not exceeding 20 years, although this is rebuttable. Indefinite life was permitted. 

FRS 102 does not allow indefinite life. Intangibles and goodwill are presumed to have a finite life, which can either be reliably estimated based on evidence, or restricted to 10 years. 

Software costs
Under FRS 10, software costs which met the definition criteria of an asset were capitalised exclusively as a tangible rather than intangible fixed asset. 

FRS 102 does not specify whether capitalised software costs should be presented as tangible or intangible assets. The decision is likely to be based on commercial reality – if software is primarily used to enable an item of IT hardware be used for its intended purpose, it is likely to be considered as a tangible asset. On the other hand, if the software constitutes an asset in its own right, it is likely to be treated as an intangible asset. 

Although the classification does not make a significant difference except from a presentation perspective, it is likely to have significant tax impacts: 

If software classifies as a tangible fixed asset, it would normally obtain tax relief through the capital allowances regime (unless there is an argument to treat the expenditure as revenue for tax purposes). This treatment allows to relieve the cost of the software upfront as part of the AIA. If AIA is not available, the reducing balance 18% written down allowance would apply. 

If software is treated as an intangible fixed asset, the tax relief will be spread at the amortisation rate over the life of the asset in line with the accounting policy. 

Development costs
There are no significant differences between the research and development distinction and relevant accounting treatment prescribed by the old and the new UK GAAP.  Whilst strict criteria to write off research costs applies in the initial stages of development projects, in case of established development projects of definitive feasibility, FRS 102 offers a choice to either write costs off as they are incurred, or capitalise and amortise them over the useful life of the asset. 

This treatment is markedly different from that of IFRS - IAS 38 states that, when the relevant strict asset recognition criteria are met, development costs must be capitalised.

Pension Protection Fund: explained
Having attracted much media coverage recently, what is the purpose of this fund and how does it work?

Having attracted much media coverage recently, what is the purpose of this fund and how does it work? 

The main purpose of the Pension Protection Fund is to provide compensation to members of eligible defined benefit pension schemes, when there is a qualifying insolvency event in relation to the employer, and where there are insufficient assets in the pension scheme to cover the Pension Protection Fund level of compensation. 

Pension protection levy
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) covers certain defined benefit occupational pension schemes and defined benefit elements of hybrid schemes. Schemes eligible for protection by the Pension Protection Fund are liable to pay annual levies to the Fund. The levy is payable by all UK defined benefit (final salary) pension schemes whose members would be eligible for compensation from the PPF if the scheme employer becomes insolvent and there are not enough assets remaining in the scheme to pay benefits at PPF levels of compensation. 

The pension protection levy is divided into two parts:

  1. The scheme-based levy, which is based on the scheme’s liabilities to members on a section 179 basis. Although this cannot make up more than 20% of the total they aim to collect.
  2. The risk based levy takes account of the risk of a scheme’s sponsoring employer becoming insolvent (insolvency risk) and the amount of compensation that might then be payable by the PPF (underfunding risk).

The pension protection levy is charged annually for each year to 31 March. 

Which schemes have to pay the Pension Protection Levy?
All eligible defined benefit schemes – as defined in section 126 of the Pensions Act 2004 and the Pension Protection Fund (Entry Rules) Regulations 2005 – have to pay the pension protection levy (with only a few exceptions). However, for schemes in a PPF assessment period the levy is nil, provided that a scheme failure notice was issued by 31 March immediately preceding the relevant levy year, and has become binding before the calculation of the scheme’s levy. 

How the levies are calculated

  1. The scheme-based levy (SBL) is based on a scheme’s liabilities to members on a section 179 basis. For the 2016/17 year it is calculated: SBL = 0.000021 x UL  
    UL is the scheme’s liabilities on a section 179 basis rolled forward to 31 March 2016 and ‘smoothed but not stressed’.
    All schemes pay the scheme-based levy.
  1. The risk-based levy (RBL) is based on the likelihood of a scheme making a claim on the PPF and the potential size of that claim.
    RBL = Underlying risk (U) x insolvency risk (IR) x levy scaling factor (LSF)

    Underlying risk represents the size of a scheme’s potential claim on the PPF. It is the underfunding amount of the scheme determined using the scheme’s rolled-forward assets and liabilities taking into account other factors such as any contingent asset arrangements.
    Insolvency risk reflects the risk of insolvency of the sponsoring employer(s). These probabilities of insolvency have been provided to the PPF by Experian.
    The levy scaling factor is used to ensure that the total levy collected matches the levy estimate. The Board of the Pension Protection Fund, before the levy year begins, publishes an estimate of how much will be collected for the year. For 2016/17 the estimate was £615m.
    The risk-based levy is capped to protect the most vulnerable schemes. If using the above formula the RBL exceeds 0.75% of unstressed liabilities the RBL is recalculated as follows:

    RBL (capped) = Unstressed liabilities (UL) x K
    K is 0.75% or 0.0075 for 2016/17.


Administration levy and fraud compensation levy
The administration levy is set by the Department for Work and Pensions. Pension schemes pay an amount per scheme member which varies according to the total size of the scheme. The Pensions Regulator collects the administration levy on behalf of the DWP and is invoiced separately to the pension protection levy. The fraud compensation levy can be used by the Pension Protection Fund to provide monies to the Fraud Compensation Fund. 

Pension schemes transferred to the Pension Protection Fund
Before entering the Pension Protection Fund all schemes go through an assessment period. This process can take up to two years and involves many stages. 

Pensions paid to members from the Pension Protection Fund
When a pension scheme is taken on by the PPF the assets previously held by the pension scheme are transferred to the PPF, which becomes liable for paying benefits to members of the pension scheme. The benefits payable to the members will vary depending on the following criteria:
 

  1. The member is receiving a pension from the scheme and that member is beyond the scheme’s normal retirement age when the employer became insolvent.
  2. The member is receiving a pension from the scheme and that member is younger than the scheme’s normal retirement age when the employer became insolvent.
    The member will generally receive 90% of the pension they were receiving when the scheme was transferred to the PPF although it is capped. The cap at age 65 from 1 April 2016 is £37,420.42 (which equates to £33,678.38 when the 90% level is applied) per year. If the member retired when younger than 65 lower annual caps are set. After pension payments have started to be paid to a member, then payments relating to pensionable service from 5 April 1997 will rise with inflation each year, subject to a maximum increase of 2.5%. Payments relating to service before that date will not increase.
  3. The member is not receiving a pension from the scheme when the employer became insolvent.
    When the member reaches normal retirement age, based on the particular scheme’s rules, the PPF will pay the member’s pension based on the 90% level subject to a cap as described above.
    The member may be able to defer starting to receive the pension until after their normal retirement age. If deferred the pension will be increased by an actuarial adjustment to reflect the period it is postponed.
    After pension payments have started to be paid to a member, then payments relating to pensionable service from 5 April 1997 will rise with inflation each year, subject to a maximum increase of 2.5%. Payments relating to service before that date will not increase.
  4. The member dies either after or before starting to withdraw a pension from the scheme.
    The PPF will pay compensation to any children of the member who are under 18 years old or under 23 if they are in full-time education or have a disability.
    The PPF will also pay compensation to any legal spouse, civil partner or other relevant partner, although the rules of the former pension scheme will be relevant.
  5. The member is divorced.
    A member’s compensation can be shared with their ex-spouse or former civil partner if the court makes a pension compensation sharing order.


How the Pension Protection Fund is funded
The PPF has four main sources of income: 

  1. An annual pension protection levy paid by eligible pension schemes.
  2. When pension schemes are taken on by the PPF following a qualifying insolvency event in relation to the employer, the PPF can sometimes recover money and other assets from that insolvent employer.
  3. When pension schemes are taken on by the PPF following a qualifying insolvency event in relation to the employer, the assets held by that pension scheme are transferred to the PPF.
  4. Investment income from the investments held by the PPF.
ATOL’s new annual accountants’ report
The ATOL Reporting Accountants (ARA) Scheme came into effect for all specific ATOL reports on or after 1 April 2016.

The ATOL Reporting Accountants (ARA) Scheme came into effect for all specific ATOL reports on or after 1 April 2016. 

ACCA members who act for ATOL holders need to ensure they are aware of the new regulations. 

We have provided a recap of the scheme and details of the requirements to register as an ARA. There is also a summary at the end of this article of other recent changes in ATOL reporting that may affect ACCA members with ATOL holder clients.
 

Recap of the scheme

  • The ATOL Reporting Accountants' scheme was developed by the CAA in order to help improve the standard of ATOL reporting and to provide assurance that financial information which is submitted on behalf of ATOL holders is accurate. The scheme is designed to ensure that designated accountants of participating bodies are sufficiently knowledgeable about both the industry and specific requirements of ATOL to provide the required assurance needed by the CAA.
  • A number of professional accountancy bodies (ICAEW, ICAS, AAT, ACCA, IFA) are able to designate their members as ARAs subject to meeting certain requirements.
  • Note that this is for specific ATOL reports. So for instance where the accounts also require an audit, the ARA does not also need to be the auditor so current audit arrangements do not necessarily need to be altered. Similarly an accountant who helps the company with non-ATOL reporting could also be different to the ARA.


Two steps to becoming an ARA with ACCA

  1. In order to become an ARA, ACCA members must register and complete the training required by CAA/ATOL. The training is completed via an online ATOL training module. Once the module has been completed the accountant can print the certificate online to provide to their professional accountancy body. The CAA will also provide all results of the training to the relevant professional accountancy bodies direct.
    To register, email CAA with your full name, the name of your professional accountancy body and your registration number with it.
    You will then receive login details to do the training for an 'ATOL Reporting Accountant'.
  2. Members must then register and be licensed by ACCA. This is free and is open to members who: 
  • hold an ACCA Practising Certificate
  • have taken and passed a professional examination covering assurance work as approved by the CAA. For ACCA members this is F8 Audit and Assurance or P7 Advanced Audit and Assurance or previous equivalents.


The accountant’s details will then be entered on to the ATOL Reporting Accountants list which is regularly updated. 

Deadlines
ACCA members need to ensure that they are registered and licensed in good time to make the relevant ATOL reports. The first deadline may well be the new Annual Accountants’ Report (AAR) that must be signed-off by an ATOL Reporting Accountant (ARA). The new report came into effect on 1 April 2016

ATOL holders will be required to provide the new AAR prior to their next ATOL renewal in either September 2016 or March 2017. Note that ATOL is emphasising that it will no longer accept the old style of AAR or any reports that are not signed-off by an ARA

Other recent reporting changes
New financial tests
In 2014, the CAA consulted on proposals to extend a risk-based approach to the assessment of all ATOL holders. Based on analysis produced for the CAA by a credit rating agency, a new financial assessment for Standard ATOLs with licensable revenue under £20m and Small Business ATOLs (SBAs) was developed. An announcement was made on this in March. ATOL holders with £20m or more will continue to be subject to a more in-depth risk-based assessment and franchise member ATOL holders with 1,000 licensable passengers or fewer will not usually be financially assessed by the CAA.


The new assessment comes into effect on 1 June 2016. It reflects industry best practice in risk assessment by looking at a range of financial ratios to measure the strength of a business's financial resilience. The extent of the financial assessment depends on the size and type of licence held.

The financial criteria are set out in a new document with further information and FAQs available on the CAA website.

ATOL holders will be expected to meet the new criteria for the first time at their ATOL renewal in either September 2016 or March 2017

  • Small business ATOL holders will have an ATOL limit of £1m licensable revenue as well as 500 passengers
  • The minimum ordinary share capital for incorporated businesses applying for a first ATOL (ie a new applicant), whether a Standard or an SBA, will be £30,000
  • The minimum bond for new applicants will increase to £50,000, reducing over the first 4 years of a licence. A revised ATOL bonding policy will be published on 1 June 2016.
Directors’ disqualifications
Two directors have recently been disqualified. Find out why.

Two recent cases have highlighted directors who were disqualified and banned from being company directors and from being involved in the management of a limited company in any way.

The first was for 12 years for selling rare earth elements as an investment and failing to maintain proper records, the second was for six years after allowing the company to employ three illegal workers

In the first case the investigation found the price of the rare earth elements (REEs) had been inflated by several hundred percent so that the only entities to make money from the venture were the company and its supplier of REEs. It was uncovered that the company telephoned individuals and sold them REEs on the basis that they were suitable as an investment. There was no viable exit strategy for the company's customers at the time and, even if there had been, the price charged for the REEs meant that the REEs could not be sold without financial loss. As a result customers are owed at least £33,414.61.

In the second case the company failed to comply with immigration law resulting in the employment of three illegal workers. Following a visit from Home Office immigration officers on 11 June 2014, during which this breach was discovered, the company was fined a penalty of £30,000 by Home Office Immigration and Enforcement (HOIE). The company raised objections but these were rejected by HOIE and the fine remained in place. The company ceased trading.

VAT flat rate scheme: revised HMRC guidance
HMRC has revised the VAT flat rate scheme to make the notice more suitable for publication on GOV.UK.

An update to VAT Notice 733 ‘Flat rate scheme for small businesses’ was issued on 4 May 2016. According to HMRC the purpose of this was to ‘make the notice more suitable for publication on GOV.UK’. 

The update includes some minor amendments to various paragraphs. However, there are also three specific changes which will be of interest to small businesses in determining which trade sector they have to choose for the scheme and hence how much VAT they pay. 

Revised guidance on trade sectors
In the 2013 version paragraph 4.4 gave guidance on the trade sector to be chosen in various circumstances particularly where the business activity was that of ‘consultant’.  The original version gave the following advice: 

4.4 Business activities that are the source of common enquiry
The table below gives the trade sector for particular business activities, which have been the subject of common enquiries to our VAT Helpline. 

Business activity

Trade sector

Engineering consultants and designers

Architects, civil and structural engineers

Agents

Business services that are not listed elsewhere

Barristers

Lawyers or legal services

Florists

Retailing that is not listed elsewhere

Agronomists

Management consultancy

Television cameramen

Film, radio, television or video production


Note
: if you act as a consultant and you do not fit into another specific sector, you should choose management consultancy. This sector is not restricted to businesses that fit the traditional idea of management consultant. 

This paragraph 4.4 has now been removed (and not replaced) in the May 2016 update. 

This has the immediate affect that businesses which do not describe themselves as management consultants are free to choose the category ‘business services not listed elsewhere’ which has a lower flat rate of 12% (as opposed to 14% for management consultants). 

In addition, the removal of this paragraph means that the previous guidance that all engineering consultants and designers should choose the category for ‘architect, civil and structural engineer or surveyor’ (flat rate 14.5%) has now gone. This fits in with the first tier tribunal case decisions: SLL Subsea Engineering Ltd (TC4256) and Idess Ltd (TC3638) where it was found that mechanical engineers were not civil engineers, so mechanical engineers could choose the category ‘business services not listed elsewhere’ (flat rate 12%). 

This updated VAT notice now reflects comments made by judges in tax tribunal cases that businesses should ‘use ordinary English’ in choosing the flat rate trade category. Where businesses are making their trade sector choice they can gain comfort from the advice contained in the notice: 

What if I get the sector wrong?
If you have made a mistake choosing an incorrect sector you may pay too much tax or too little. Paying too little could mean that you are faced with an unexpected VAT bill at a later date. HMRC will not change your choice of sector retrospectively as long as your choice was reasonable. It will be sensible to keep a record of why you chose your sector in case you need to show HMRC that your choice was reasonable. 

Note: Some business activities can reasonably fit into more than one sector. So changing your sector does not automatically make your original choice unreasonable.

HMRC revised guidance on ‘connected’ and ‘associated’ businesses
There is a general rule which stops ‘associated’ businesses joining the Flat Rate Scheme. The original guidance gave some examples on this: 

3.9 I have a close connection with another business - does this mean we are ‘associated’?
Not necessarily. Businesses are not generally ‘associated’ in this special sense where a normal commercial relationship exists. 

Example 1
A business is not associated with its customer’s company just because it supplies them with the goods they request in the form they request them. 

Example 2
A husband and wife are each separately VAT registered in different types of business. Even if they share premises, provided this is charged at a market rate, they will not be ‘associated’. 

The paragraph has been removed from the May 2016 update. The reason for this is not clear but it is obviously very important that the business looks at the remaining guidance in section 3 before registering.

Revised threshold for leaving the scheme
Paragrah 3.5 has been altered slightly which may be useful to businesses which have an increase in turnover once registered for the flat rate scheme. The 2013 version had the following guidance: 

3.5 What if my turnover rises once I have joined the scheme?
You may stay in the scheme provided your total income (including VAT) for the year just gone has not risen above £230,000. Make this check on each anniversary of your business joining the flat rate scheme. You must leave the scheme if your turnover increases so that there are grounds for believing that the total value of your income will rise above £230,000 in the next 30 days alone. 

Important note: you become eligible for the scheme based on the level of your taxable turnover, but the test of continuing eligibility for the scheme is based on all income (including exempt income). This could mean that, if you have a very high level of exempt income, in extreme cases you could be eligible to join but have to leave immediately. This is unlikely to happen in practice because the scheme is not suitable for businesses with high levels of exempt turnover. See paragraph 6.2 for further details. 

This has now been revised to state:

3.5 What if my turnover rises once I have joined the scheme?
You will cease to be eligible to use the scheme if the total value of your income for the year ending is more than £230,000. However, if HMRC are satisfied that the total value of your income in the next 12 months will not exceed £191,500, you may be eligible to remain in the scheme. 

The figures above include VAT inclusive income of all taxable and exempt supplies. 

See section 12 for further details about leaving the scheme.  

The above change is more ‘user friendly’ and gives more flexibility.

CMA pushing for increased competition in banking services
Increased competition in banking services for SMEs and personal current accounts could be on the way.

Increased competition in banking services for SMEs and personal current accounts could be on the way. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has proposed a wide-ranging package of proposals to tackle the issues hindering competition in personal current accounts (PCA) and in banking services for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including new protections for overdraft users. 

Many customers think it is difficult and risky to change banks and that as a result, nearly 60% of personal customers have stayed with the same bank for over 10 years and over 90% of SMEs get their business loans from the bank where they have their current account. 

CMA proposals include:

  • Banks would be required to set a monthly maximum charge for unarranged overdrafts on personal current accounts and also required to alert people when they are going into unarranged overdraft, and give them time to avoid the charges. 
  • Banks should introduce an Open API (application programming interface) banking standard. This standard will enable personal and SME customers to safely and securely share their unique transaction history with other banks and trusted third parties. This will enable bank customers to click on an app, for instance, and get comparisons tailored to their individual circumstances, directing them to the bank account which offers them the best deal. You can see more on Open API in this report, on which ACCA provided assistance. 
  • Banks should be made to regularly prompt their customers to check that they are getting good value from their banking provider. When these prompts direct customers to digital comparison services which give tailored price-comparison and service quality advice, the foundation has been laid for a major change in the retail banking sector.


The CMA stated that it will publish its final report on the retail banking market investigation by 12 August 2016.

 

PAYE late filing penalties
HMRC has issued a statement about its three day easement and risk-assessed approach to late filing.

HMRC has issued a statement about its three day easement and risk-assessed approach to late filing. 

HMRC has said that following a review of the three day easement and risk-assessed approach adopted last tax year – which has seen a significant reduction in returns filed late – it has decided to continue this approach for a further tax year. 

As a result employers will not incur penalties for delays of up to three days in filing PAYE information during the 2016-17 tax year. 

It goes on to state that the three day easement is not an extension to the statutory filing date which remains unchanged. Employers are required to file on or before each payment date unless the circumstances set out in the ‘sending an FPS after payday guidance’ are met. 

HMRC won't charge a late filing penalty for delays of up to three days after the statutory filing date; however, employers who persistently file after the statutory filing date, but within three days, will be monitored and may be contacted or considered for a penalty. 

HMRC will continue to review its approach to PAYE late filing penalties beyond 5 April 2017 in line with the wider review of penalties and will continue to focus on penalising those who deliberately and persistently fail to meet statutory deadlines, rather than those who make occasional and genuine errors for which other responses might be more appropriate. It is also made clear that late filing penalties will continue to be reviewed on a risk-assessed basis rather than be issued automatically.

Employers are hearing Workie’s message – now what should they do?
Workie has been calling on employers not to ignore the workplace pension. Here's what to do next.

Many employers will have seen the large character Workie - calling on them not to ignore the workplace pension. They may now be wondering what to do next and what automatic enrolment will cost them. 

The good news is that recent research by The Pensions Regulator shows most small and micro employers who have already met their workplace pension duties recognise the importance of workplace pensions and think that it is good for staff. 

Our findings show automatic enrolment doesn’t have to be costly and that it pays not to put your head in the sand. Starting plans early leaves employers with time to research and shop around and also helps them avoid the risk of a £400 fine. 

Employers should first head to our website and follow the step by step Duties Checker which tells them what to do and by when.

The Duties Checker is designed for small employers without pensions experience and makes automatic enrolment as easy as possible. I’d also recommend that employers look at our information detailing the set up costs employers might incur which will help people avoid any unnecessary expense.

Employers who have already reached their staging date – the date the law applied to them – should ensure they complete their declaration of compliance and submit it to us. This must be done within five months of their staging date. Employers are at risk of being fined if, despite putting staff into a pension, they fail to submit their Declaration of Compliance.  

Already more than 100,000 employers have completed their workplace pensions’ duties and more than 6m workers have been automatically enrolled since 2012. The Pensions Regulator is ready to help hundreds of thousands more small and micro employers join the pension revolution.

Key considerations to bear in mind

  • Make sure you know what you need to do and by when – you will have duties even if you only employ one member of staff. TPR has an online duties checker which will help you with this – it takes 5 minutes to complete.
  • Work out the costs which may be involved in terms of time and money – it may be less than you think. TPR has information to help employers understand the one-off costs to set up automatic enrolment, as well as the ongoing cost of paying money into the scheme and managing the process.
  • Decide who will complete the tasks you need to undertake. While you can carry out the automatic enrolment tasks yourself, you may choose to ask your business advisor for extra support. Make sure you understand and agree which tasks you and they are doing so that nothing is missed.

 

 

Frequently asked questions from small employers 

Can I use my existing scheme to automatically enrol my staff?
Maybe – but you first need to find out whether it meets certain conditions that will make it a ‘qualifying scheme for automatic enrolment’. Contact your pension scheme provider to find out. 

I need to find a pension scheme. Where should I start?
Not all schemes offer the same level of services and some will charge more than others, so you should look at different schemes before you decide which is suitable for you and your staff. TPR has information on its website which can help you to choose a pension scheme, with a list of providers who can offer pensions to small employers. 

I only have one staff member and their earnings fall under the threshold – do I still have to do anything?
Yes, you still have legal duties to meet. For example, you will need to tell your staff about automatic enrolment and complete and submit a declaration of compliance to TPR to let them know what you have done to meet your duties. Completing TPR’s online duties checker will confirm what your duties are and when they need to be met. 

The business only has directors and doesn’t employ any other staff – do I still have duties?
You may be exempt from the automatic enrolment duties, but it’s important to check. If you are exempt and receiving letters from The Pensions Regulator, then you will need to tell them you are exempt. Take 5 minutes to complete TPRs online duties checker, which will confirm what you need to do. 

What will happen if I don’t complete the Declaration of Compliance on time?
Don’t leave your preparations to the last minute – if you don’t submit your Declaration of Compliance on time, then you risk a fine. The date this needs to be submitted will be on all letters and emails sent to you by TPR; you can also find this out by completing TPR’s online duties checker. 

What to expect from The Pensions Regulator

  • TPR will send you letters 12 months, 6 months, and 1 month before your staging date – the date your duties start.
  • It is important you nominate a contact.  This is the person TPR will send communications to about what to do and when. 
  • Using the Duties Checker means employers will be sent specific information tailored for their circumstances.
  • Information is available on TPR's online step by step guide to help you to complete every task.
  • TPR produces a free, monthly ‘News by Email’ which will help you to keep up to date with news, information, tools and resources on automatic enrolment.

 

Charles Counsell – executive director of automatic enrolment at The Pensions Regulator 


Useful links

Duties checker 

Step by step guide  

Nominate a contact   

Choosing a pension scheme 

Your questions answered 

Your view: tax coding notice
HMRC is seeking your comments on an early draft of Tax Coding Notice (P2).

HMRC is seeking your comments on an early draft of Tax Coding Notice (P2). 

After digesting the information below and also elsewhere online, do you feel it provides sufficient detail for you or your clients to be useful? 

HMRC says ‘The HMRC Personal Tax Account provides a customer with their tax coding notice information. Customer insight tells us that high value P2 contact comes predominantly from customers with multiple income sources/complex affairs and that low value P2 contact comes from customers who do not understand the concept of coding. We continue to improve our online product to give customers access to:
 

  • a more meaningful view of their tax affairs ie related to their multiple employments
  • the ability to manage their tax affairs in a secure, simple and convenient way
  • the ability to access their information form any compatible device or portal
  • a link to other HMRC online services eg Check Your State Pension Service.


'The Personal Tax Account is committed to digital inclusion. We will provide assistance for those who need it. In many cases, this may be achieved by allowing friends or family to access digital services.’  

P2 Prototype Questionnaire
After viewing this early draft prototype HMRC invites you to comment on the following: 

  • what are your first impressions of the P2 Tax Coding Notice Prototype?
  • what would you do if you received this communication in the post?
  • after reading this communication would you have a:
    - positive perception of HMRC
    - neutral perception of HMRC
    - negative perception of HMRC?


Send your feedback with the subject line ‘P2 Feedback’ via email to HMRC by 7 June. 

Please be assured that your responses are completely confidential and you will not be asked to provide any of your own personal details.

The 'Panama Papers' breach
Could insurance ease the financial pain?

In April, we saw another large scale network security breach involving the uncovering of 11.5m documents, referred to as the ‘Panama Papers’. The documents contained sensitive information on the creation of offshore entities on behalf of individuals, including high profile public figures. They were obtained by a hacker who exploited vulnerabilities in the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca's computer systems. 

There has been an international focus in recent years on tax havens with companies like Google and Starbucks coming under scrutiny for their tax arrangements. The breach therefore has ignited politically fuelled debates around public interest vs privacy and legality vs morality. The costs incurred by Mossack Fonseca, not only of dealing with the aftermath of the breach but also in potential liabilities and reputational damage, have the potential to be huge. This creates an excellent opportunity for contemplating how recoveries may have been possible under various insurance policies, most notably (given the nature of the event) under a cyber-policy. 

Many of the individuals whose files were disclosed are high profile public figures and celebrities. They presumably have the means to bring large professional negligence and privacy liability actions against the firm, which could make such actions more likely. A firm’s clients may allege that the firm was in breach of its duties and was negligent in allowing their information to be compromised. Both a professional liability policy and the privacy liability module within a cyber-policy could be triggered by those suits. 

Similarly, regulatory investigations may trigger coverage under both professional liability and cyber policies. 

The ‘Panama Papers’ have created an interesting angle, given the potential for involvement of the legislature in various territories, for example public inquiry in the UK or a congressional investigation in the US. Under a professional liability or cyber-policy it’s worth thinking about whether the legislature would be deemed a regulator within the context of the insurance. Also, to what extent resultant fines and penalties may be recoverable. Professional liability policies will generally exclude coverage for those but most cyber-policies will address this exposure, where insurable by law. 

Questions have also been raised as to whether Mossack Fonseca were used to facilitate illicit activities. Although there is not yet any evidence of any of the uncovered activities being illegal, the firm and its staff may be exposed to allegations of misconduct. 

The Panama police reportedly searched the headquarters of Mossack Fonseca during a raid that lasted for over eight hours and the US Department of Justice has confirmed that a criminal investigation has been opened into the legality of the various schemes.  Under a professional liability or cyber policy criminal proceedings against the firm itself will be excluded but under a directors’ & officers’policy recoveries could potentially be made for costs of defending criminal proceedings against individual directors. 

In addition to the possible liability and regulatory issues, the direct costs incurred by Mossack Fonseca after the leak was discovered will be considerable and could be recoverable under a cyber-policy. In summary, a standard policy would provide for:
 

  • obtaining legal advice from a specialist data breach lawyer
  • engaging an IT forensic expert to investigate the cause and scope of the breach
  • the costs associated with notifying the individual clients whose files had been exposed. A good quality cyber policy should extend to voluntary notification rather than just notification that is mandatory by law or regulation
  • offering credit monitoring services or ID theft protection to affected customers
  • setting up and operating a temporary call centre to deal with the inflow of client queries after notification and engaging a crisis management or public relations firm to help deal with the press and mitigate reputational damage.


Cyber insurers not only provide a means of recovery for these costs but also provide access to a panel of service providers who are expert and experienced in the various breach response fields and who may be engaged at competitive, pre-agreed rates. This includes 24/7 access to a breach reporting hotline for immediate guidance from a specialist legal advisor. 

Perhaps the most financially damaging effect of the ‘Panama Papers’ breach on Mossack Fonseca is the reputational harm that the firm may suffer as a direct consequence of the adverse media coverage. 

The breach has led to very public discussions on the morality of the work that Mossack Fonseca were carrying out. It has been suggested that high net worth individuals were using them to benefit from secrecy and discreet arrangements. It’s therefore easy to see how the data leak could have a dramatic effect on client trust and ultimately impact the firm’s client retention, revenues, and profits. 

Reputational damage can be mitigated by the post-breach services provided by cyber insurers. Experience shows that those services can significantly reduce consequential losses to a business that has been affected by a breach, whether those losses arise from civil suits, regulatory actions or customer desertion. 

There are also dedicated reputation harm insurances available which can be tailored to the individual needs of a firm like Mossack Fonseca. Those policies address the loss of net income triggered by adverse media activity following a defined reputational harm event, not necessarily limited to a privacy or security breach.  The reputational harm event scenarios can be based on what the specific client deems relevant in their own commercial context. This may include perils such as data breach, disgrace of a celebrity endorsing products, senior executive/partner disgrace, environmental damage, product safety failure and food contamination. 

To truly meet a firm’s needs, a dedicated reputation harm policy must be a bespoke product that is tailored to the firm’s business and risks. This requires a collaborative and consultative process with the insurance underwriters. Firms and companies interested in such a product should ensure that they are represented by a broker who has experience in this area. 

Lucy Scott – global cyber & technology, Lockton Companies LLP 

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. A Lloyd’s broker. www.lockton.com 

Lockton Companies LLP is ACCA’s recommended broker for Professional Indemnity insurance. For information, please contact Lockton on 0117 906 5057.

 

 

NEWS
Are you an audit engagement partner?
IES 8 becomes live on 1 July.

On 1 July 2016, International Education Standard (IES) 8, Professional Competence for Engagement Partners Responsible for Audits of Financial Statements (Revised), becomes effective. 

IES 8 outlines the professional competence requirements for audit engagement partners, demonstrated by the achievement of learning outcomes. Engagement partners should therefore undertake CPD that develops and maintains the professional competence required for the role. 

When is this happening?
IES 8 (Revised) becomes effective on 1 July 2016. 

Who does this apply to?
IES 8 applies to the engagement partner responsible for audits of financial statements. During the development of IES 8, it was identified that this is a role that is common to every audit engagement. And from a public interest perspective, the engagement partner has ultimate responsibility for the performance of the audit. 

What are the changes?
From 1 July 2016, engagement partners should undertake relevant CPD activities, which include practical experience, to develop and maintain professional competence by the achievement of learning outcomes. 

By focusing on the professional competence outlined in IES 8, engagement partners will be able to deal with complex situations, which help to:

  • contribute to audit quality
  • promote the credibility of the audit profession
  • protect the public interest.


What do I need to do?
Engagement partners should do relevant CPD to ensure they develop and maintain the professional competence required for the role. Your CPD should develop: 

a) technical competence
b) professional skills
c) professional values, ethics and attitudes. 

What is the relationship between practical experience and CPD?
CPD includes practical experience. As your career progresses, practical experience becomes increasingly important in developing and maintaining professional competence. 

For example, through practical experience, an engagement partner may develop an understanding of an industry a client is operating in. This knowledge, obtained through practical experience, could be used to assess the business risks faced by the client’s organisation and to help inform audit risk assessments. 

Further information about these requirements will be provided to members in due course. You can also find further information on IFAC’s website 

Factsheet: company purchase of shares
New technical factsheet explains how a company can buy back shares from shareholders.

This factsheet explains how a company can buy back shares from shareholders.

Private companies often decide to purchase their own shares from shareholders.

A common situation is when an existing shareholder wants to sell some or all of his/her shares and the other shareholders are unwilling or unable to purchase them.

This factsheet also provides an overview of a reduction of capital which involves no payments being made by the company to shareholders.

Download the factsheet now

Reflections on Accountex
Were you one of over 6000 people who visited Accountex?

Accountex is the UK’s largest trade fair for the accountancy profession, with over 6000 visitors to London’s ExCel on 11-12 May. 

ACCA’s stand proved very popular, with many members stopping by to say hello, ask us questions and find out about the latest benefits of membership we have to offer. If this includes you we would really welcome your feedback on your experience. 

Our lecture theatre was also very busy across both days, with it being standing room only for the sessions on ‘making tax digital’ and ‘FRS 102’. You will find a number of articles from those who spoke in our theatre elsewhere in this issue of In Practice


Further CPD opportunities
The FRS 102 session was delivered by leading speaker Charles Gubbins, who will also be presenting at the following ACCA Professional Courses events during 2016: 

FRS 102 - The Reality of the New GAPP
10 November, Manchester

23 November, London

 

Interpreting Accounts and Reporting Relevant Information

12 July, London

2 November, London

 

Drilling Down into Financial Statements - Advanced Analysis

13 July, London

3 November, London

 

Accentuating the Positives in your Financial Statements

8 December, London

 

Accounting Standards - Changes, Choices and Challenges

6 October, Leeds

12 October, Birmingham

8 November, Newcastle

9 November, Norwich

1 December, Bristol


Cybersecurity webinars
Cybersecurity also proved to be a ‘hot topic’ at Accountex. Designed primarily for members in internal audit, the following webinars focus on a variety of cybersecurity issues.

  • Cybersecurity & process network control for internal auditors - why financial systems are not the only area you should worry about – Wednesday 22 June (10:00)
  • Cybersecurity for internal auditors - how you should react when you are under attack – Wednesday 20 July (10:00)
  • Cybersecurity & outsourcing for internal auditors – Wednesday 24 August  (10:00)
  • Cybersecurity for internal auditors - latest techniques and attacks – Wednesday 21 September (10:00)


Register here to watch any of these on demand, or to book your place for live webinars taking place in the future.







CPD
Free webinars for practitioners
Register now for free technical webinars on 7 and 17 June.

Technical webinar – How does overseas income affect UK tax returns?

7 June | 10.00-11.00
CPD units: 1

BOOK NOW 

This webinar sets out to answer some intriguing questions concerning Supplementary pages SA106 and the related form SA109.  However, it will also consider why Q5 on page of the basic return SA100 is possibly the most dangerous question on the whole return.  As global business becomes more common and British household names like Alliance and Leicester become Spanish Bank Santander more clients will find themselves investing overseas even though they never intended to in the first place.  When do you need to use Form SA106?  How does overseas income get translated for UK tax purposes?  What difference may residence and domicile make to taxpayers, especially if their overseas income is small, less than £2,000? 

Speaker: Paul Soper FCCA - tax lecturer, consultant, author and broadcaster. Paul also presents a series of tax podcasts


Technical webinar – buying and selling a practice

17 June | 10.00-11.00
CPD units: 1

BOOK NOW

In this webinar, Valerie Steward will discuss the considerations when buying or selling a practice. Many firms find themselves considering buying a practice or fees to expand their client base or consider selling their practice as part of their exit strategy.  As with any major decision there are a number of pitfalls that can only be avoided through ensuring that you plan and control the process. This webinar will look at the steps that you need to take to ensure that if you are planning to buy or sell a practice you can avoid the main pitfalls. 

Speaker: Valerie Steward, VS Consultancy. 

Valerie has worked with accountancy practices for over 20 years, helping them to develop their businesses and remain compliant. She is the author and co-author of a number of technical guides and work programmes including the CCH Industry Audit and Accounting Guide on Clubs and Associations, the Practice Society Anti-Money Laundering Procedures and Training Manual and ACCA Engagement Letters.

 

 

 

 

CPD: High quality events for practitioners
Our Professional Courses events provide high quality training for practitioners.

Our Professional Courses events provide high quality training for practitioners. Find the right event for your CPD requirements now.

EAST KENT FRIDAY CONFERENCES

General tax update for accountants 10 June, Ashford 
Commercial, employment and company law update 16 September, Ashford 


PRACTICE WORKSHOPS Guide to practical audit compliance for partners and managers 

20-21 September, London

12-13 October, London 

13-14 December, Manchester 


Practical guide to ISQC 1 for partners and managers

22 September, London

8 December, London


RESIDENTIAL CONFERENCE FOR PRACTITIONERS
1-2 July, Derby 
 

SATURDAY CPD CONFERENCES FOR PRACTITIONERS

Saturday CPD conference two for practitioners 

04 June, Swansea 

18 June, Birmingham 

25 June, Sheffield 

09 July, London   



Saturday CPD conference three for practitioners

08 October, Glasgow

15 October, Birmingham

22 October, Bristol

29 October, Manchester

05 November, London

12 November, Swansea

26 November, Sheffield

03 December, London 


SUMMER AND AUTUMN UPDATE CONFERENCES FOR PRACTIONERS 

Accounting conference: Accounting standards update 
18 June, London

1 October, London  


Business advice conference: HMRC and the practitioner
12 November, London   

Taxation conference:
Topical tax update
9 July, London

3 December, London


ISLE OF MAN SEMINARS FOR PRACTITIONERS
 


Business law update
22 June 2016, Douglas  

Inheritance tax and trusts
20 September 2016, Douglas 

Financial crime: anti-bribery and corruption/anti-money laundering
20 October 2016, Douglas 

Accounting and auditing refresher
27 October 2016, Douglas 

VAT refresher
22 November 2016, Douglas


Aberdeen Saturday CPD Conference Two
25 June, Aberdeen 

Aberdeen Saturday CPD Conference Three
19 November, Aberdeen


CPD webinars for practitioners - in partnership with 2020 Innovation
Our partnership with 2020 Group allows practitioners to benefit from a suite of CPD webinars at a 50% discount. 

Upcoming webinars include: 

  • Practice Management & Development – 6 June
  • Practical advice on tax enquiries and investigations – 8 June
  • Introduction to FCA clients – 10 June
  • Monthly tax update – 20 June
  • FCA update – 24 June
  • Latest VAT News & Developments – 5 July


Visit the dedicated 2020 Group webpages to find the right webinar for your needs. Further information is also available from the 2020Group via email or telephone 0121 314 1234. 

CPD skills webinar programme
ACCA’s new flexible and bite-sized approach to CPD.

ACCA’s new flexible and bite-sized approach to CPD. 
Through our research and insights, we have identified core business skills recognised throughout the profession as the fundamental skillset for the future accountant. 

Each free 60 minute webinar will explore each topic in more detail, giving you an understanding of the skill and some key learning takeaways for you to apply to your day-to-day role.

This fantastic new initiative provides you with a flexible and bite-sized approach to develop your expertise, enhance your employability for the future and gain some free verifiable CPD.


Find out more and register to attend CPD skills webinars

CAREERS
Updated engagement letters tool now available
Purchase your copy of our updated product now.

Purchase your copy of our updated product now. 

There are times when problems can arise in practitioner-client relationships. By setting out terms of engagement, which clearly state the exact terms of agreement, you can avoid legal disputes later. 

ACCA in partnership with VS Consultancy has produced engagement letter templates which can form the basis of a contract between practitioner and client for a variety of different scenarios. These are available for ACCA members to purchase for £30 + VAT. 

This time-saving tool consists of self-loading Microsoft Word engagement letter files, which you can then tailor to your needs. The product consists of standard letters of engagement for a series of different business types and services. 

It also offers guidance on the following: 

  • What an engagement letter should cover to clarify the scope of your services
  • How to confirm the agreement with the client.
  • Writing a framework for how the work will be performed
  • Establishing an appropriate working relationship
  • How the engagement letter should address fee arrangements.


This product will run on systems using Windows XP and subsequent versions. 

The product can be purchased online

 

 

 

HMRC consults on ‘tackling tax evasion’
Contribute to HMRC's consultation on tax evasion.

Your opportunity to contribute to consultation on tax evasion. 

Tackling tax evasion: a new corporate offence of failure to prevent the criminal facilitation of tax evasion is a consultation document from HMRC which is open for comment until 10 July. It contains useful guidance about the policies and procedures that businesses will need to consider. 

It follows on from an earlier consultation and aimsto overcome the difficulties in attributing criminal liability to corporations for the criminal acts of those who act on their behalf’. It applies to all businesses of all sizes. The offence as outlined in the consultation response document will have three stages: 

  1. criminal tax evasion by a taxpayer
  2. criminal facilitation of this offence by a person acting on behalf of the corporation
  3. the corporation’s failure to take reasonable steps to prevent those who acted on its behalf from committing the criminal act outlined at stage two.


The draft guidance in the document sets out a number of principles: 

  • proportionality of reasonable procedures
  • top level commitment
  • risk assessment
  • due diligence
  • communication (including training)
  • monitoring and review.

 
The proposed guidance applies to all businesses from small to large ‘corporations’.  Under proportionality of reasonable procedures it is highlighted that ‘what constitutes reasonable procedures for a corporation to adopt to prevent persons associated with it from criminally facilitating tax evasion will be proportionate to the risk of criminal facilitation faced by the corporation’. 

It is stated that this will depend on the nature, scale and complexity of the corporation’s activities. It is expected that procedures will be adopted and that these be ‘formal policies adopted by a corporation to prevent criminal facilitation of tax evasion by those acting on its behalf, and practical steps taken to implement these policies, the enforcing of compliance with the policies, and the monitoring of the policies’ effectiveness’.  

To emphasise the proportionality principle it’s highlighted that the simplest communication may be ‘oral briefings to communicate policies’. 

Please do consider taking the time to respond to this consultation, either directly to HMRC, or via email to ACCA (we will collate all responses and share with HMRC).

Positioning ACCA in the media
We're working hard to promote ACCA and our members.

Your feedback tells us we need to work harder to boost the reputation of ACCA, our members and the profession in the media. How did we do in 2015/16? 

Quality and quantity
The primary focus for 2015/16 media relations in the UK was to improve the quality of coverage received. A key part of this strategy was to increase coverage levels in the major UK national newspapers such as the Financial Times, The Times and The Telegraph and the major broadcast outlets such as the BBC (TV and radio) and Sky. 

In 2015/16 media mentions in these target publications totalled 46% of ACCA’s overall UK coverage, up from 27% in 2014/15 and 25% in 2013/14.

In order to reinforce ACCA’s brand with our key stakeholders, regular and repeated coverage is key. Particular successes in this regard were: 

  • ACCA research became a feature in Alistair Osborne’s City Briefing in The Times. As chief business commentator, his influential column sets the agenda for the business world, and through the year ACCA led on topics as diverse as the slowdown in the oil industry, the VW scandal, tips on being a better CEO and improving the reputation of apprenticeships among young people.
  • ACCA’s excellent relationship with the Financial Times saw coverage on at least a weekly basis over 2015/16. In addition to regular commentary on tax, pensions and savings ACCA saw mentions on a wider range of issues, notably employment, with the FT’s new employment correspondent, Sarah O’Connor, quoting ACCA 15 times in articles across the year.
  • To ensure ACCA was seen to be speaking the language of business, there was an increased focus on securing coverage on SME issues. Key coverage on this came from regular expert comment supplied to:
    • Rebecca Burn-Callander, enterprise editor at The Telegraph
    • James Hurley, enterprise editor at The Times
    • Vicki Owen, SME editor at the Daily Mail
    • The Guardian Small Business Network
  • ACCA also saw a significant uplift in coverage across the broadcast media. A high point came at the Autumn Statement in November. ACCA spokespeople were featured on BBC radio and television, along with Sky News, Bloomberg, Reuters and Al-Jazeera in the three days prior, during and after the event. This has led to key relationships being established with business producers at these outlets and a regular stream of appearances for ACCA spokespeople has been forthcoming since.


To maintain and improve ACCA’s dominant share of voice over our competitors, it was important this focus on quality did not come at a cost in terms of quantity. In the UK, media mentions in 2015/16 were up by more than 10% from 2014/15, with 1,558 across the year, compared to 1,410. 

Supporting members regionally
Our push to increase coverage in the major national media outlets was supplemented by a focus on placing stories regarding member and student success in targeted regional news media. 

Target publications included The Herald in Scotland, the Manchester Evening News, City AM in London and the BBC regional radio stations and TV channels. In 2015/16, these targeted stories in regional news outlets across England, Wales and Scotland created 34% of ACCA’s UK media coverage. 

Influence in the Industry
The remaining 20% of ACCA’s UK media coverage in 2015/16 came from the ‘top read’ sites in the accountancy trade press – Accountancy Age, Financial Director, Taxation and The Accountant. This reinforces ACCA’s position in leading the industry forward into the future. 

Coverage in 2016
Since 1 April 2016, ACCA has been featured in the UK national media 50 times – an average of just over once per day. This is broken down across the following publications: 

  • The Financial Times – 15 articles on topics such as taxation, global economic conditions, careers, corruption, corporate governance, sustainability, diversity and the EU Referendum.
  • The Times – eleven articles on topics such as corruption, sustainability, corporate governance, apprenticeships, global economic conditions, taxation, personal debt and the EU Referendum.
  • The Telegraph – eight articles on topics such as SME business issues, corruption, taxation, careers, taxation and the EU Referendum.
  • CityAM – five articles on topics such as corruption, apprenticeships, global economic conditions, personal debt and the EU Referendum.
  • Daily Mail – four articles on topics such as taxation, personal debt, apprenticeships and SME business issues.
  • The Independent – four articles on topics such as apprenticeships, personal debt, taxation and SME business issues.
  • Guardian/Observer – two articles on social mobility and careers.
  • Daily Mirror – one article on personal debt.


In addition, ACCA has been featured in the UK regional media 68 times – an average of 10 times per week. This coverage came as a result of a strategic plan to place stories regarding member and student success in targeted regional news media. Publications that have seen ACCA featured include The Herald in Scotland, the Manchester Evening News, the London Evening Standard and a range of BBC regional radio stations and TV channels.