Technical and Insight
How should I price cloud services?

A brilliant overview of the key issues when considering your approach.


A brilliant overview of the key issues when considering your approach.

 

Pricing is an area where accountants often freeze as they are unsure what way they should approach charging for their work. There is not a standard formula to use or a standard process to always follow for pricing either so this makes it inherently difficult.

 

You are providing your clients with your services and this, in turn, brings them benefits. What benefits these are will depend on the specific situation but the overriding common feature is that there is value in what you are providing and therefore this will come at a price.

 

Before we get into the detail of pricing strategies, there are three questions accountants need to ask themselves:

  • should we work for free?
  • should we offer discounts?
  • should we charge for cloud subscriptions?

 

Should we do work for free?

The answer to this is yes and no – it depends on the situation and the work itself. For example, in the current Covid-19 crisis, some accountants did offer clients some free services to help them through this difficult time. The pandemic, hopefully, is something that we will not see again in the future and it has hit the economy hard and many businesses are suffering. At the time, many firms had clients who were scared and worried and these firms believed that was the right move for them not to charge for their work. They believed that this free work would create a loyalty and a stronger bond with their clients which would be beneficial in the longer term. There was also a morale element where some firms felt uncomfortable in charging for their work as clients experienced such difficult times.

 

It is also common practice for accountants to offer free initial meetings with prospects. At this meeting it is usual to focus on the services and benefits you would offer if they were to choose you as their accountant rather than to give them specific advice. It is only once the engagement letter and onboarding tasks have been completed that advice is given and they then charge for this work.

 

Free services are also sometimes offered to allow a client to try out a service before committing to it for the longer term. This could be, for example, the provision of management reports and KPI summaries at a month end or to trial a new project management app before deciding to use it in the business.

 

Should we offer discounts?

Again, this is up to you. However, you should consider, if you offer a discount, what this will mean in the longer term. When you decided on the price of the work for your client, you based this on the value of the work that you will provide to them – therefore, will offering a discount mean that this devalues your work?

 

If you do agree to offer the client a discount, will they then ask for further discounts on the services you offer in the future? You also need to consider, if you offer this client a discount, why would you not offer this to your other clients who have similar requirements? How would it be fair to reduce the fees only for those who ask for it?

 

One potential approach if a client requests a discount is to explain to them that, in order to meet their budget, it will be necessary to reduce the services provided. This then maintains the value and standard of the work that you do provide. This could be agreed for a specific number of months and then the situation is reviewed or this could be on an ongoing basis.

 

Should we charge for cloud subscriptions?

The cost of the subscriptions such as Xero, Receipt Bank and Futrli are all costs to the accountancy firm and therefore should be passed on to the client. There are a number of ways that this can be undertaken:

  • invoice monthly as a separate line on the invoice
  • invoice for a year in advance
  • include the costs of the software within the costs of the service provided or
  • transfer the licence to the client and they manage the payments directly with the software provider.

 

If the accountancy firm receives the licence discounted, they may want to pass on this discount on to the client. It is worth remembering that, should the licence cost increase in the future, it can then be harder to pass this on to the client if the reduced subscription has always been invoiced.

 

Also, take care before purchasing licences in bulk in order to get them at a reduced cost. While this can look like a fantastic deal, if the licences remain unused then these costs - which could be substantial - will need to be borne by the accountancy firm.

 

View ACCA’s guidance on access to information by clients regarding software ownership.

 

Pricing methodology

When it comes to pricing for our services, consider the value that your work is giving to the client. What value does your work provide?

 

Examples of the value provided to the client includes:

  • they are able to make better decisions as they have access to more insightful data
  • they can improve their supply chain and make efficiencies which, in turn, save them money
  • they can save time as tasks are more streamlined and efficient
  • they can improve their cash flow through improved credit terms with their customers.

 

Through looking at the value you are providing, it is often then easier to price the work you are doing as you can see the benefits for the client. 

 

It is necessary to have a process when it comes to pricing and this process will depend on the firm itself. Some approach this based upon the number of hours the work will take and others have a menu of prices they select from depending on factors such as the number of transactions, quality of data and frequency of the work. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do it but aim to be consistent.

 

In all cases, it is best to keep the process as simple as possible and ensure that you review the fees regularly and include this review in your engagement letter. State that you will undertake a quarterly, half yearly or annual fee review and also consider including terms so, if the volume of transactions increases, your fee can increase accordingly. If not, you will spend longer on the work and so reduce your recovery overall.

 

Pricing for bookkeeping and compliance

As well as considering the value of the work undertaken, for bookkeeping and compliance jobs it is also necessary to consider a number of other factors including:

  • the volume of transactions
  • if an initial ‘tidy up’ is required
  • the quality of the data
  • the level of support needed.

 

When you are pricing the services, consider the client’s specific situation and adjust accordingly. For example, if the client needed a high level of support, you would increase your fee to reflect this work as you are adding additional value.

 

Premium services

There are some services which provide additional value to the client and these can usually be charged at a premium compared to the less specialist work. Examples frequently include research and development tax claims, corporate finance services and specialist tax advice.

 

Again here we need to consider the value of the work we are providing for the client. With tax, this is simpler where you have generated a tax saving or a tax reclaim. In these cases, many firms opt to bill the client a percentage of the savings which they agree up front before they do the work. This is not a totally risk free approach though. What if the claim turns out to be very low and you spent a lot of time on the work? In this case, it would be better to ensure that you agree a minimum fee before you commence work.

 

It is also necessary to consider other factors such as when the client is invoiced for the work. For example, if you have prepared forecasts for fundraising or prepared an research and development tax claim, do you invoice before you know the outcome or do you invoice when you have completed the work? One option is that you agree to charge a certain amount when the work is completed and then the balance later once the outcome has been finalised.

 

Also, for research and development tax claims, HMRC does randomly select claims for a more detailed review so you need to agree if this work would be extra to the work you undertook on the claim.

 

Pricing for cloud projects

Cloud projects can range from moving a client from Sage to Xero using the app Movemybooks through to larger scale migration, app implementation and training. So how you price this work will vary depending on what it entails.

 

If you look at a simple migration, first you should charge for this work as you are providing a valuable service to the client. Also, regardless of whether you use an app for the migration or do it via conversion balances, you will need some time to check the data post conversion so this should be factored into the price.

 

It can be tricky to price for larger cloud projects but if you break it down into components then it is more manageable and also, generally, easier for the client to see exactly what you are undertaking for them. Also agree milestones throughout the project where you bill for the work completed. The projects can last weeks, if not months, so regular billing points help to ensure that the payment is not all in one go at the end.

 

Also, projects can often deviate from the original scope. This could be because requirements change or because of complications. Therefore ensure you build some contingency into your pricing or consider quoting a range rather than a fixed fee to give you some flexibility.

 

Should we use a cloud app for pricing?

There are some apps available to assist you with proposals and this includes an element for pricing. These allow users to prepare high quality proposals quickly and also ensures the firm really considers their invoicing methodology and process. In addition, it standardises the pricing across the firm.

 

Another advantage of using an app is speed. Proposals can be issued quickly along with your engagement letter all ready for e-signing. This then creates a good impression with the prospective client and maintains the momentum. Compare this to a more traditional approach where you work out the costing from the bottom up and then type the proposal – it can take a number of days before it is issued to the prospective client.

 

Frequency of invoicing

Traditionally, accountants invoiced on completion of the work – for example when the year-end accounts are filed with Companies House. This results in irregular cash flow and also a large invoice for the client which can both be undesirable.

 

Therefore, it is becoming more common to agree a fixed fee on a monthly basis with clients to spread the cost of your services over a year. This ensures you have regular income each month and also helps with the client’s cash flow as it spreads the cost. In addition, if you set up a direct debit with your clients, the payment is made automatically.

 

There are many aspects of pricing and many factors to consider. Aim to consider the value of the work you are providing, develop a consistent approach across the firm and review your prices regularly. Overall, keep it simple!

 

Caroline Harridence – Director, Counting Clouds Cambridgeshire Limited

FRS 105 and Covid-19

What impact will Covid-19 have on disclosure considerations under FRS 105?


What impact will Covid-19 have on disclosure considerations under FRS 105?

 

Coronavirus has created a high level of uncertainty, not only in daily life but also in the financial position of businesses. During these difficult times, accountants have a dual responsibility of not only compiling the historical data for compliance purposes but also to remind directors of their responsibilities for the key assumptions they make for the preparation of their financial statements.

 

FRS 105 is applicable to the preparation of the financial statements of a micro-entity which are presumed in law to give a true and fair view in accordance with the micro-entity’s regime. The micro-entity’s regime specifies certain minimum presentation and disclosure requirements. Financial statements that include the prescribed minimum accounting items are presumed in law to give a true and fair view and no further disclosures need to be made.

 

FRS 105 reflects the legal minimum presentation and disclosure requirements. Section 6 of the standard sets out the mandatory disclosure requirements as below:

 

6.2 The notes to the financial statements of a micro-entity in the UK shall be presented at the foot of the statement of financial position and shall include information about:

  1. off-balance sheet arrangements as required by section 410A of the Act (see paragraph 6A.1 of Appendix A to this section);
  2. employee numbers as required by section 411 of the Act (see paragraph 6A.2 of Appendix A to this section);
  3. advances, credit and guarantees granted to directors as required by section 413 of the Act (see paragraph 6A.3 of Appendix A to this section); and
  4. financial commitments, guarantees and contingencies required by regulation 5A of, and paragraph 57 of Part 3 of Schedule 1 to, the Small Companies Regulations (see paragraphs 6A.4 and 6A.5 of Appendix A to this section).

 

An indication of the nature and form of any valuable security given by the micro-entity in respect of commitments, guarantees and contingencies within paragraph 6A.2 must be given (paragraph 57(2) of Schedule 1 to the Small Companies Regulations or paragraph 55(2) of Schedule 1 to the Small LLP Regulations).

 

The directors need to make a careful assessment of these mandatory disclosure notes before they give their approval for financial statements to be issued. Covid-19 impact may have triggered one or the other disclosure to be included which may otherwise not be required in normal circumstances.

 

Additionally as we highlight in our Technical factsheet: accounting for Covid-19 grants and reliefs directors may wish to consider appropriate disclosure. The factsheet also considers the common grants and reliefs available from the government.

 

Key issues to watch out for when making assumptions

 

Going concern

A micro-entity shall not prepare its financial statements on a going concern basis if management determines after the end of the reporting period that it either intends to liquidate the micro-entity or to cease trading, or that it has no realistic alternative but to do so.

 

The management of a micro-entity shall make an assessment of whether the going concern basis of accounting is appropriate, for which management takes into account all available information about the future, which is at least, but is not limited to, 12 months from the date when the financial statements are authorised for issue.

 

When assessing the appropriateness of the use of the going concern assumption, entities are required to consider events both before and after, irrespective of whether those events are adjusting or non-adjusting events. In their assessment, management will need to consider actual and projected foreseeable impact from various factors, such as the following:

  1. Potential liquidity and working capital shortfalls
  2. Significant decline in demand for products or services
  3. Significant erosion of profits
  4. Travel bans and restrictions
  5. Financial health of suppliers and customers
  6. Breach of debt covenants
  7. Contractual obligations.

 

If the micro-entity’s accounts have not been prepared on a going concern basis, there is no specific requirement to disclose, whereas if the directors wish to include this in the notes then they should follow paragraph 1AC.10 of FRS 102 as below:

 

‘If it appears to the small entity that there are special reasons for departing from any of the principles set out in company law in preparing the small entity’s financial statements in respect of any reporting period, it may do so, in which case particulars of the departure, the reasons for it, and its effects must be given in the notes to the financial statements (Schedule 1, paragraph 10(2))’.

 

Reporting accountants may also wish to consider the FRC guidance: aimed at auditors it provides useful insight for all.

 

Post balance sheet events

A fundamental principle in the preparation of accounts is that they should reflect the conditions that existed at the balance sheet date (FRS 105.4.1).

 

Section 26 clarifies the accounting and disclosures of any events which happen post balance sheet reporting date but prior to them being authorised for issue. These can be:

  • adjusting events: those that provide evidence of conditions that existed at the end of the reporting period
  • non-adjusting events: those that are indicative of conditions that arose after the end of the reporting period.

 

Covid-19 impact for the above events 

  • Reporting periods ending on or before 31 December 2019
    There is general consensus that the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak are the result of events that arose after the reporting date ie 31 December 2019. FRC has stated that Covid-19 in 2020 was a non-adjusting event for the vast majority of UK companies preparing financial statements for periods ended 31 December 2019.


FRS 105 does not mandate any disclosures for non-adjusting events (unlike FRS 102). However, there is no prohibition for doing so, if the directors intend to include them in the accounting notes, provided they follow relevant requirements of section 1A of FRS 102 for such disclosures to be sufficient.

 

  • Reporting for periods ending in 2020

For later reporting dates (eg February or March 2020 year ends), it is likely to be a current-period event which will require ongoing evaluation to determine the extent to which developments after the reporting date should be recognised in the reporting period.

 

For more analysis and guidance, see ACCA’s Covid-19 guidance

Pricing – the route to growth

Getting your pricing model correct is instrumental in delivering growth, writes Will Farnell.


Getting your pricing model correct is instrumental in delivering growth, writes Will Farnell.

 

Getting pricing so very wrong proved to be the biggest single risk to my firm Farnell Clarke a few years back. How we fixed it and the steps we took also re-enabled our ability to continue to grow the firm in a profitable and sustainable way. I have been quoted on number of occasions saying, ‘it is easy to grow a firm it; is much harder to scale a firm’. Get pricing wrong (as most firms do), it is simply not possible to scale.

 

In the first article in this new series of eight I am writing, we talked about the need to change and the various catalysts to drive change. I highlighted why is it important for us to recognise the shift in client expectations particularly if we want to operate outside of the battle for cost leadership.

 

I finished the last article with a couple of tasks: one was to think about where you want to be in 12 months', three years' and five years’ time. The second was to segment your client base. If you have not got around to it, now is the time. Review your client list and identify:

  1. Who they are
  2. What they do (what sector/industry?)
  3. What services do you provide to them?
  4. How much do they pay for what you deliver?
  5. What software are they using?
  6. Rate them A to D, A being ideal and D being the ones you would rather not have.

 

Why bother doing this? First, because most firms don’t have this data readily available. I often ask firms how many clients do you have, response… ‘about’ XX hundred. Further inquisition reveals we often don’t know the answer. If we don’t know the answer to this we don’t have a handle on metrics like our average fee per client. These basic numbers help when we come to plan our growth strategy. It is often easier to grow ARPC (average revenue per client) than it is to grow client numbers. An understanding of the metrics will help you build strategies around this.

 

One final challenge for you before we move on: take a look at your data and compare a handful of similar clients. How do the fees compare, are they consistent? If not my argument would be that they should be. If you are delivering similar services is there a strong reason why clients should not be seeing relative parity in what they pay?

 

The reason why fees vary so much is historically we do not have a scientific or calculated approach to pricing, it tends to be a bit ‘finger in the air’. The elephant in the room is often the fact that much of the variation will not be down to poor initial pricing but more around our inability to effectively control scope.

 

Scope creep

Accountants by our very nature are generally really nice people, often too nice! We care about our clients and will go out of our way to help them; many times we do this without charging for the value we are adding. Clients will ask us if we can do something and the response is usually of course we can. We do it as it is quick and easy and it makes a positive difference to the client. We are adding tremendous value and then devaluing that value as we don’t charge for it.

 

It would be very easy to fall into the debate around time-based billing versus value billing or the many approaches in between. There are far better people than me to discuss the merits of all of this. All I will do here is stress the importance of a mindset shift away from time-based billing towards what I refer to as output-based billing. I will revisit this shortly. For now back to scope creep.

 

I have fallen foul of this so many times. When we decided we had to take action on our serious undercharging in 2016, we realised how bad it had got. We were doing regular bookkeeping work that we were not charging for, running payrolls at significant losses and so much more. We also identified areas where we could very easily increase revenue and therefore profitability by charging for things we foolishly rolled into our ‘fixed fee’.

 

A prime example was the annual confirmation statement. We only recharged the filing fee. The best bit about this was that often clients paid the £13 fee on credit card so we then picked up the card fee! We were losing money on every confirmation statement we filed!

 

Our poor management of scope is often as a result of our fairly primitive on-boarding processes. The quote is usually in the form of an email (at best) that sets out what we are going to deliver for the client. We file it and that’s kind of the end of it. We don’t always share the details with the team doing the work so they are often blind to scope and fee structure.

 

As with most things, I talk about combining technology and the right process will solve many of the problems we encounter. This is no different. Tools like Practice Ignition and GoProposal will transform our ability to effectively manage scope. Both in terms of understanding within our own teams but more importantly the expectations our clients have of what we are doing for them within any agreed fixed fee and those things that are likely to be out of scope and subject to extra fees.

 

We will revisit the process and importance of onboarding when we discuss client experience in the next article.

 

Input versus output billing

I set up Farnell Clarke in 2007 and one of the defining principles for me then was that we were not going to bill based on time. I set up my firm from a client centric viewpoint, putting myself in the shoes of a client. I believe everything we decide to do in our firms should start this way.

 

How will the client feel about decision X or decision Y, what  impact it will have on them? If I were a client of an accounting firm one of the first things I would want to know is what would I be paying and what do I get for that amount? Transparency is critical. We also took the decision to bill our services as a subscription service.

 

Professional services as a subscription-based, pay as you go service in 2007 was pretty unheard of. My rationale at the time was simple. Everything we did was monthly subscription, our utilities, our mobile phone, our TV services. Why could professional services not be the same?

 

This is even more relevant today than it was in 2007. The new generation of business owners live their lives by subscription, it’s not an alien concept. For me it also drives us to deliver first class services when we give clients an easy in and easy out.

 

This is all about the approach of ‘how we bill’ for the services which is different from ‘how we price’. I mentioned earlier that I firmly believe time-based billing has no place in the modern firm. It removes transparency and certainty for the client and that does not support great client experiences. This is not a ‘should we record time’ question - this is a ‘we should not bill based on time’ statement!

 

Stop and think for a moment. If a firm bills on time, where is the incentive to work smarter when the firm’s income is directly driven by how long they take to do a job? Put yourself in the client’s shoes on the receiving end of this. We know clients think preparing a set of accounts is a five minute job. When they get a bill for five hours, even if they don’t say it, they will be questioning it internally. This is not the footing for a long-term deep client relationship.  If we don’t get the first step right, we will never move the relationship to a point where the client will turn to us for every question they have in their business. This is the objective for my firm and the relationship with our clients. This is what advisory is to me.

 

It is critical in my view that we have to focus on the outputs. This is simpler than getting into a position of trying to price value directly. Outputs are clear and easier to define. Our clients only care about the output, yet most accounting firms are built around measuring the inputs. There is a clear mismatch here. When we focus on pricing outputs it makes it significantly easier for us to price consistently across our firms and utilising technology enables team members beyond the principals to be involved in the pricing process.

 

Fee reviews

Once we get to a point where we have consistent fees pitched at the right level it is imperative that we regularly review fees. This was a big problem for us. We managed to run eight years without putting up fees. This means we not only failed to make inflationary increases, but we also failed to take account of clients growing and the increasing complexity of the work we were delivering.

 

Our failure to do this left us in a position that our growth was significantly stifled. Our client experience was suffering as workloads were increasing and we did not have the fee levels to enable us to recruit the extra resources we needed. In 2016 we made the decision that fixing pricing was our single biggest priority.

 

The approach we took involved the initial client segmentation exercise you should have already carried out. Identifying who your clients are, what you deliver and what they pay. At the time we had a menu pricing approach so we added the target fee to the client spreadsheet based on the closest match from our menu pricing. This identified the ‘fee gap’. That’s the easy bit!

 

The next stage is to make a plan. At the time we carried out this exercise we were reviewing around 600 business clients. The magnitude of the project meant it was unrealistic to have one-on-one discussions with everyone so much of the process was managed by email. Still a big undertaking of course!

 

We reviewed each client and some were fairly close to the target fee so it was an easy process to position the new fee. We explained the fact that it had been some eight years since we reviewed fees and we wanted to ensure fees were at the right level to deliver the kind of services we wanted to.

 

Others of course were more difficult. As an example we had clients paying £150 a month that should have been paying £300 a month. Clearly doubling a fee overnight was not feasible. The approach we adopted was to explain the fees to the client and move to a position where we billed the correct fee and applied a 12 month loyalty discount. In this example it may have been we billed the £300 and gave a £75 a month discount.

 

Naturally some of the clients had seen significant increases in workloads and this data was used as part of the individual emails to those clients. The example I use, as it highlights how bad our situation was, involves a client we took on in 2008 as a new Ltd Co. We priced the job at £125 a month. Eight years later they were turning over £1.6m, had 34 staff on the payroll and we were still charging the same fee! This client was very happy with the new fee.

 

As more firms move away from time-based billing and towards a fixed fee subscription model it is very easy to ‘miss’ the regular review of fees when clients are paying by DD on a regular basis. We have to build a process to ensure that we review the fee position at least annually. The one advantage of a time-based billing approach was that in most cases all work was billed!

 

We now review each client’s fee in the month before their year-end to enable us to apply any inflationary increases as well as reviewing the specific outputs and adjust fees up or in some cases down where outputs have decreased.

 

Overcoming the fear!

As we wrap up this article it is important I highlight the concerns many firms’ owners have with regards to fee increases. I certainly had them. They include:

  • what if our clients leave?
  • our service isn’t as good as I would like so now isn’t the time to increase fees
  • we will be too expensive and won’t win new clients

 

It is exactly what I said when mentors told me I should increase fees. They told me my clients wouldn’t leave, they told me the services would never improve if we didn’t increase fees. I still ignored them as I knew best!

 

So why did we do it in the end? Simply because we had no choice. Our backs were against the wall.

 

Guess what, we didn’t lose clients. Well, we did lose 12 over two years directly related to price, but it was the 12 that were the ones we would have chosen to lose anyway!

 

We added around 13% to our bottom line. We had cash to invest in resources which meant we could start to deliver the services we wanted to deliver. Our clients started to refer us again like they did in the good old days and we returned to 25-30% revenue growth in a more profitable and hugely more sustainable way.

 

What next…

You have your client segmentation. If you want to prepare your firm for profitable and sustainable growth here are some steps to take:

  1. standardise your approach to pricing
  2. review tools like Practice Ignition and GoProposal to provide consistency to pricing and improve onboarding
  3. add the ideal fee to your client segmentation spreadsheet
  4. identify the ‘fee gap’
  5. make a plan for bridging the fee gap
  6. talk to your clients and make it happen
  7. ignore your own internal self-talk. We worked out we could have lost one third of our client base if the other two thirds paid the right fee!
  8. take a moment to think what you will do with the extra 5, 10, 15 or even 20% on your bottom line.

 

In the next article we will focus on client experience. What it is, how it is different from client service. We will discuss why it is so important and the things we can do to measure and improve the experience we deliver to our clients.

 

Ahead of the article, have a think about what client experience means to you. When did you last encounter great customer experience and what made it so great? How can this translate to the way you engage with your own clients?

 

I hope you will stay tuned as we work through the remaining articles to help you bring sustainable growth to your firm.

 

Will Farnell FCCA – Founder and Director, Farnell Clarke

 

Campaigning on support for company directors and owners affected by Covid-19

Discover how ACCA is championing company directors facing business disruption.


Following on from ACCA’ s positioning with government around the issue of company directors and Covid-19 business support, we are working with Forgotten Ltd campaign to promote the need for comparable support for company directors facing business disruption as a result of Covid-19.

 

With Forgotten Ltd and leading industry figures we will schedule engagement throughout July with senior MPs to develop understanding and recommendations for an inclusive business recovery policy package. More details on the Forgotten Ltd Campaign, with links to a parliamentary petition and template MP engagement letters can be found here.

 

ACCA will continue to advocate for support for businesses on the basis of their function as economic actors, rather than their legal form or method of remuneration. Government should consider how support packages going forward will be replicated for directors of SME incorporated entities on a comparable level to those for employees and the self-employed. 

 

Member feedback on this issue has been valuable and ACCA welcomes continued member feedback and case studies at UKPolicy@accaglobal.com

Benefits in kind – tax treatment for the employer

A handy summary of how to treat benefits in kind.


 

A handy summary of how to treat benefits in kind.

 

Income tax and corporation tax

While the treatment of benefits provided by an employer follows much the same rules for both corporation tax and income tax on trading profits, there are key differences in how the tax deduction is available to the employer in computing trading profits for income or corporation tax purposes and the cash equivalent of the benefit upon which the employee is taxed.

 

The rules on how to calculate the profits of an unincorporated business for tax purposes are found in ITTOIA 2005, while the equivalent rules for companies are in CTA 2009. The deductions available to the employer have generally accepted accountancy principles as their starting point and the two basic questions that have to be asked in connection with any item of expenditure to test whether it qualifies for a deduction in the hands of an employer are:

  • is it revenue rather than capital expenditure?
  • is it incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade?

 

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then the amount paid by the employer can be deducted in computing the employer’s profits. As most employee benefits are provided with a view to rewarding the employee the test is usually satisfied.

 

If the expenditure incurred is of a capital nature, the employer cannot deduct it in computing profits, but may be entitled to claim capital allowances in respect of the expenditure. The most common example of the type of benefit where the employer gets capital allowances rather than a deduction in respect of an employee’s benefit is the provision of a company car.

 

It may be that the employer provides a benefit to an employee but gets no deduction or allowance against profits for tax purposes to reflect the benefit charged. An example is where the employer owns living accommodation that he makes available for use by an employee.

 

There may also be a timing difference between when the employer can take account of the cost of an employee benefit in computing his profits and when a tax charge arises on the employee in respect of that benefit. The timing of the deduction for the employer depends on generally accepted accounting principles (usually when the expense is incurred) and the tax charge on the employee depends on when the benefit is received or enjoyed.

 

VAT treatment

For VAT registered businesses, the VAT incurred on the cost of any benefits provided to employees can be reclaimed, as long as they are able to obtain a VAT receipt for the expenditure. Usual exempt or partial exemption rules apply for any input VAT claims.

 

The benefits assessed on the employees are always the VAT-inclusive amounts.

 

Download ACCA’s guide to benefits

Company filing – summary of amendments

Be aware of immediate new measures and those which will be effective in secondary legislation.


Be aware of immediate new measures and those which will be effective in secondary legislation.

 

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill received royal assent and is now an Act. You can see comments on the Bill from John Cullen and David Fleming in last month’s issue of In Practice.

 

Some of the measures in the Act will come into effect immediately and other measures will come into effect once the secondary legislation comes into force. 

 

The Act as you will have seen from the commentary last month:  

  • introduces temporary easements on Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and filing requirements for public limited companies (PLCs) 
  • introduces new corporate restructuring tools to the insolvency regime to give companies the time they need to maximise their chance of survival 
  • temporarily suspends parts of insolvency law to support directors during this difficult time. 

 

Under the secondary legislation which came into force on Saturday 27 June 2020 – The Companies etc. (Filing Requirements) (Temporary Modifications) Regulations 2020 2020 No. 645 – companies will receive an automatic extension for:  

  • confirmation statements  
  • registrations of charges (mortgage) 
  • event-driven filings, such as a change to your company’s directors or people with significant control 
  • for most companies and LLPs time to file accounts. 

 

Examples of the deadlines for filing extensions are:

  • the accounts filing deadline will be extended by three months, to 12 months for private companies and LLPs and nine months for public companies 
  • the 14 day deadline for the annual confirmation statement after the end of the company’s year-long confirmation period will be extended to 42 days 
  • the 14 day deadlines for submitting notices of relevant events after they occur are extended to 42 days. This includes a change of director or person of significant control 
  • the 21 day deadline for registering a charge against a company’s assets is extended by ten days to 31 days.

 

All deadlines will be updated automatically and will not need to be applied for. 

 

However, this is a temporary measure and the deadline will not be extended next year if it falls on or after 6 April 2021.   

 

View a summary of measures in the Act

 

Charity reporting – implications for breaking fundamental laws

Accountants play a key role in identifying deficiencies in charity accounts.


Accountants play a key role in identifying deficiencies in charity accounts.

 

Earlier this month, one of the most high-profile charities was in the news for not following fundamental charity laws. Upon investigation, the Charity Commission found that trustees of The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust had breached charity law over payments to a trustee, which could have resulted in the loss of public funding of over £355,000.

 

The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust supported the Duke of York’s charitable work in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, science, technology and engineering. It had an income of around £1.3m a year.

 

What went wrong?

The Commission identified concerns about a former trustee being paid by the charity’s three trading subsidiary companies as a director of those companies. The former trustee was an employee of the Duke of York’s Household and from April 2015 to January 2020 undertook work for the trading subsidiaries. The Duke of York’s Household was then reimbursed for a proportion of this employee’s time by the subsidiaries after the year end. These payments totalled £355,297.

 

Trustees cannot be paid to act as directors of a subsidiary company, unless there is authority from the charity’s governing document or the payments are authorised by the Commission or the court, none of which were in place at the charity.

 

Additionally, trustees failed to comply to act with reasonable care and skill, taking account of any special knowledge, skill or professional status.

 

The Commission highlighted the other issues of concerns, including:

  • the charity could not show that conflicts of interest relating to the payments received by a trustee were managed adequately at trustee meetings
  • there was no standalone conflicts of interest policy at the charity for trustees to refer to
  • open and fair competition was not conducted before the trustee was appointed to the roles at the charity’s subsidiaries
  • no evidence was obtained to demonstrate that these payments to the trustee provided value for money for the charity.

 

As the issue was highlighted by the charity itself following a potential reputational risk arising from significant media coverage of an interview with the Duke of York, The Commission found that resulting action taken by the charity and its subsidiaries was appropriate.

 

How can accountants play their role in identifying these issues in time?

The Charity Commission has produced CC32 checklist, which provides detailed guidance to support independent examiners. It contains 13 directions which must be followed while carrying out any independent examination. Under Direction 4: Plan the independent examination, it states ‘…in order to plan the specific examination procedures appropriate to the circumstances of the charity, the examiner must review:

  • the charity’s constitution
  • the way the organisation is controlled and managed
  • whether action has been taken on any previous recommendations for improvement
  • the accounting records and systems
  • the charity’s structure, its funds and how fund balances changed in the year
  • the charity’s activities in the year and spending and the financial risks the charity faces.

 

The general mantra of the Charity Commission is:

 

‘When in doubt, report it.’

 

Matters of material significance and reporting obligations

Sections 156 and 159 of the Charities Act 2011 place a duty upon independent examiners of both non-company and company charities to make a report to the Commission where, in the course of their examination, they identify a matter which relates to the activities or affairs of the charity or of any connected institution or body and which the examiner has reasonable cause to believe is likely to be of material significance for the purposes of the exercise by the Commission of its functions listed in section 156(3) of the Charities Act 2011.

 

There is a total of nine matters of material significance which must always be reported by an independent examiner, which include the following three breaches:

  • internal controls and governance: Failure(s) of internal controls, including failure(s) in charity governance that resulted in, or could give rise to, a material loss or misappropriation of charitable funds, or which leads to significant charitable funds being put at major risk.
  • breach of law or the charity’s trusts: Includes single or recurring breach(es) of either a legislative requirement or of the charity’s trusts leading to material charitable funds being misapplied.
  • conflicts of interest and related party transactions: Evidence that significant conflicts of interest have not been managed appropriately by the trustees and/or related party transactions have not been fully disclosed in all the respects required by the applicable SORP, or applicable Regulations.

 

Useful guidance

ACCA technical factsheet: Matters of material significance reportable to charity regulators

 

ACCA guide for Trustees: How to prepare for an independent examination

 

Charity commission decision: Prince Andrew Charitable Trust

Updates to the Coronavirus Self-employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

Deadlines and actions to share with your clients.


Deadlines and actions to share with your clients.

 

Individuals who are eligible to claim the SEISS grant will continue to claim this themselves as agents cannot claim this on their behalf. Agents should not try to use their clients’ login details to claim on their behalf as this will trigger a fraud alert and significantly delay any claims for their clients.

 

Agents can, however, assist their clients by furnishing them with the necessary information and preparing them with guidance on how to claim. Refer to our Agents’ Guidance for details of how you can help your clients.

 

For those individuals who are eligible to claim the grant, the application window will be closing on 13 July 2020 so now would be a good time to re-check that all your self-employed clients who are eligible for the grant have made their claims.

 

From 14 July 2020, individuals who are newly affected or continue to be adversely affected by coronavirus, the government has extended the SEISS grant scheme for a second grant. This will be for a lower amount than the first grant – 70% of the average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering a further three months’ worth of profits, and capped at £6,570 in total. Applications for the second grant will open from August and HMRC has stated that applicants should not yet contact them as further guidance will be updated soon.

 

Further details of the scheme extension and how your clients can sign up for an email alert can be found in ACCA’s Guide to the SEISS

Updates to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

HMRC has updated its guidance on CJRS with various updates for employers as well as employees.


HMRC has updated its guidance on CJRS with various updates for employers as well as employees.

 

One of the key changes to the Scheme is that employees who have previously been furloughed can be brought in to work flexibly from 1 July, enabling employers to use more of their workforce in line with their business needs.

 

Employers will still be able to claim grants for the hours that are not being worked by part-time returning workers. However, from that date grants can only be claimed for those employees (with a few minor exceptions) who had previously been furloughed for at least a three-week period completed by 30 June, effectively meaning the last date an employee could commence furlough for the first time was 10 June 2020.

 

Other key changes to the scheme are:

  • reduced level of grant funding from the government from 1 August, phased in gradually with employers contributing more of the employment costs themselves
  • a revised template for claiming grants for more than 100 employees to take account of flexible work hours
  • closure of the scheme by 1 November 2020.

 

Download ACCA’s revised CJRS guidance, which summarises the key aspects of HMRC guidance.

 

 

Treatment of coronavirus support payments

Calculating income and corporation tax after payments made under Covid-19 support schemes.


Calculating income and corporation tax after payments made under Covid-19 support schemes.

 

New legislation will be included in Finance Bill 2020 that will apply to individuals, businesses, individual members of a partnership and employers who received or applied for a payment from:

  • Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF), the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF), the Discretionary Grant Fund (DGF), or their parallel schemes in the devolved administrations
  • other payments made by public authorities to businesses in response to COVID-19
  • any other COVID-19 support scheme specified or described in regulations made by the Treasury.

 

The measure will have effect from Royal Assent of the Finance Bill 2020 and will apply to all payments made under Covid-19 support schemes defined in the measure regardless of when paid.

 

The legislation:

  • defines a coronavirus support payment
  • confirms that a COVID-19 support scheme payment received by a business, or an individual member of a partnership, is within the scope of tax. It is of a revenue nature for the purposes of calculating either income tax or corporation tax. Business includes a trade, UK or overseas property business or investment business
  • ensures HMRC can use its information and inspection powers to check a SEISS or CJRS claim has not been overpaid and that a CJRS payment has been used to pay furloughed employee costs
  • gives HMRC powers to raise an income tax assessment on anyone who has received a SEISS or CJRS payment to which they are not entitled, or anyone who has not used a CJRS payment to pay furloughed employee costs. The assessment is equal to the amount to which they are not entitled, or they have not used to pay furloughed employee costs
  • ensures the Taxes Management Act (TMA) 1970 provisions apply to the assessment
  • gives HMRC powers to charge a penalty where a person deliberately makes an incorrect claim for a SEISS or CJRS payment. It also gives HMRC powers to charge a penalty where a person who has claimed a CJRS payment deliberately does not use it for the costs it was intended to reimburse. The penalty will only apply if the person fails to notify HMRC about the situation within 30 days, or 30 days after the Finance Bill receives Royal Assent if it arose before that
  • gives HMRC powers to make a company officer jointly and severally liable for the income tax charge raised in relation to any CJRS payment to which the company was not entitled or any CJRS payment which was never intended to be used to pay furloughed employee costs in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are where the officer is culpable for making a deliberate CJRS claim to which the company was not entitled. These powers apply where HMRC can meet certain tests showing there is a serious risk that the company will be unable pay the income tax assessment.

 

 

In addition to the above taxation implications, there are also accounting implications of the various grants. View ACCA’s technical factsheet on the accounting aspects

 

 

Targeted lobbying of government

Our Policy Team works behind the scenes to influence government on areas which matter to our members.


ACCA’s Policy Team is working to develop recommendations and lobby for government policy to support members and the businesses they advise. The team maintains close relationships with a number of government departments and ministers to ensure that members have clear and relevant guidance.


Members have been sharing a range of helpful insights and experiences which we have reported back in response to government requests for business intelligence and our targeted lobbying and we continue to welcome a broad range of views and insight from members to shape lobbying at UKPolicy@accaglobal.com

 

See what we've been focusing on this month in our June update

 

The latest anti-money laundering guidance

We’ve updated our guidance and pro forma documents to help firms manage AML risks and comply with Money Laundering Regulations 2017.


We’ve updated our guidance and pro forma documents to help firms manage AML risks and comply with Money Laundering Regulations 2017.

 

The following guidance and supporting documents draw together best practice and guidance and will help save you time:

 

  1. ACCA Anti-Money Laundering (AML) monitoring review process

This factsheet helps ACCA-supervised firms understand ACCA’s AML monitoring review process. It includes an introduction to the AML legislation and statutory obligations, sets up the requirements of an ACCA AML supervised firm, and describes AML monitoring review methods. It also explains the reporting and remedial actions following a review and defines the frequency of monitoring.

 

  1. Client due diligence (CDD)

This factsheet should be read in conjunction with the Technical factsheet: identifying client risk (see below). This technical factsheet introduces the different levels of client due diligence and advises when these need to be carried out. It also addresses the issue of what steps you need to take if you decide to rely on third-party software for your CDD.

 

  1. Identifying client risk

This factsheet should be read in conjunction with Technical factsheet: client due diligence (see above). This technical factsheet provides practical guidance on identifying client risk and it is designed to raise awareness of accountancy firms’ obligations when it comes to risk assessment. It describes the requirements of the firm to have a consistent process in place in order to identify risks before establishing a client relationship or accepting an engagement. It sets out the obligations on firms to review risk on an ongoing basis and to state the firm’s procedures relating to client risk in their policies and procedures document.

 

In the ACCA client risk-assessment tool and KYC form, we have provided a basic know your customer (KYC) form and client risk-assessment template which can be used as a starting point. The questions posed are indicative only and not all will be applicable to all clients. They are also non-exhaustive and should be used as a guide only; there may be additional risk factors that will need to be considered and documented.   

 

View ACCA’s complete anti-money laundering guidance on our website.

 

Professional indemnity insurance – market update

Why the PII market is changing – and steps you should take now.


Why the PII market is changing – and steps you should take now.

 

Up to 18 months ago premium rates had remained stable for accountancy firms for a number of years. Indeed, this stability had seen policyholders benefit from plenty of competition among PI insurers, thus making arranging competitive cover relatively straightforward.

 

Over the past year or so, this stability has begun to break down, with insurers’ appetites increasingly diverging and their rates rising accordingly or generally becoming more selective. 

 

As a result, practitioners are likely to have experienced increased premiums, restricted coverage or even a decline to offer terms from their holding insurer.

 

Having said this, there is a small percentage of accountants who are seeing their premiums reduce, but these are likely to be those who are claims free and carry out a very low risk work. We always recommend that you review the cover provided to ensure it is adequate and compliant.

 

How did the change in market come about?

After a review by Lloyd’s of London towards the end of 2018 found non-US PI insurance to be one of the poorest performing classes of insurance in the market, insurers were driven to review their profitability in this space. Many, citing an increase in high severity claims, took the decision to withdraw from the market completely while others decided to reduce their capacity.

 

The knock on effect of this, whereby insurers looked to address their loss ratios, was bad news for some, in particular those firms with a poor claims experience or undertaking work considered to be higher risk such as tax mitigation, audit, corporate finance or overseas work.

 

Unfortunately this stance has not changed and indeed looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. The devastating effects of coronavirus have also seen insurers evaluating their books, considering the financial impact this will have on their future and how they trade going forward. 

 

How best can I prepare for my renewal?

An early approach to your PI renewal has never been more important than in the current climate, so when you receive your renewal invite, don’t put off completing the forms until the last minute. Firms must be prepared to spend more time preparing for their renewal submission and perhaps even answering additional questions from insurers where they would not have requested this information in previous years.

 

If you undertake activities that insurers consider higher risk, or if you have had a claim made against you or your firm, try to provide insurers with as much information regarding this as you can.

 

If there are supplementary forms to complete, such as a tax questionnaire or coronavirus questionnaire which asks you to detail any new risk management procedures that your firm has put in place, be as thorough as possible – there will always be a reason insurers have asked this. Likewise if you are asked to provide details of what you have done to prevent a recurrence of a claim, look to give insurers comfort that you have analysed the situation and, where possible, made improvements to the way you run your practice.

 

Aim to present the information as neatly as possible as a clean, legible submission always makes a good first impression. Remember also, that in accordance with your duty of fair presentation, you have a legal obligation to provide insurers with all material information that could affect your insurance, whether positive or negative - so, if in doubt, include it!

 

You may also wish to include supporting documentation such as an example Letter of Engagement, details of your risk management procedures or even your business continuity plan. If you do carry out work in higher risk areas it may also be beneficial to include details of the qualifications or experience held by your staff in these areas.

 

Evidence of a well-run, efficient practice will only work to your advantage.

   

Finally, if you have any questions please contact your Lockton Account Manager for further advice or email ACCAaccountants@uk.lockton.com 

 

Lockton is ACCA’s recommended broker for professional indemnity insurance

 

 

Bad debt relief and VAT claims

Your 60 second guide to VAT return adjustments on bad debt.


Your 60 second guide to VAT return adjustments on bad debt.

 

Debts outstanding for more than six months after the later of the date when the payment was due and payable or the date of supply require adjustment in VAT returns of both the supplier and the customer.

 

Customer considerations

The customer (debtor) who failed to pay for goods or services on which input VAT had been reclaimed has six months from the later of the date the goods or services are supplied and the payment due date to repay VAT to HMRC. Below we illustrate the application of bad debt relief repayment in certain commercial scenarios from the point of view of the debtor.

 

  • If payment date has been revised
    If the payment due date has been extended by the supplier (more time was allowed to settle the debt) the newly agreed payment date should be taken into account. 
  • If no invoice was issued by the supplier
    If supplier invoice was not issued within 14 days of goods or services delivered, the supply is deemed to have taken place before the date of invoice and the VAT tax point is the date on which the goods or services were supplied. Input VAT repayment date is 6 months from the date the goods or services were supplied. 
  • Part payment was made
    Only VAT on the amount due not settled by the customer is repayable.
  • Business was sold as transfer of going concern
    If the ownership of the business changes and the new owner takes over the existing VAT registration number, the new owner will be liable to repay any VAT previously recovered in accordance with the above rules. Due diligence should identify any outstanding VAT liabilities which may be taken into account when agreeing consideration for the business. 
  • Customer was not able to recover all input VAT
    Where only partial input VAT was claimed, only the amount actually recovered will need to be repaid. 
  • Customer repays VAT on outstanding debt, but subsequently pays the supplier
    Input VAT is recoverable and should be included on the VAT return in the normal way. In case of businesses purchased as going concern, VAT may be only recovered if the original VAT registration number was kept by the new owner. 
  • Business becomes insolvent
    If the business in insolvency received the supply prior to the date of the insolvency and the end of the six month period within which to repay the falls after the date of the insolvency, the requirement to repay the VAT does not apply, if HMRC have been property notified of the insolvency and the arrangement does not give rise to tax avoidance. 
  • How to show in the VAT return
    Amount of repayable VAT should be included as negative entry in Box 4.

 

Supplier considerations

The supplier who previously accounted for and paid VAT to HMRC can reclaim that VAT back. A business can recover VAT paid to HMRC on supplies of goods and services if the customer has not paid and the following conditions are satisfied:

  • standard or reduced rate VAT was charged
  • VAT was accounted for to HMRC - the deduction of input tax from output tax due should be seen as, in effect, payment of that output tax
  • VAT amount was written off in accounts and transferred to a separate VAT bad debt account
  • value of the supply did not exceed ‘open market value’
  • debt was not transferred, sold, or factored under any legal assignment
  • debt remained unpaid for at least six months from the later of date of payment or date of supply of goods or services sold:
    • debt is unpaid if no payments have been received – for this purpose amounts received from guarantors and third parties, including non-monetary amounts, debt write offs, enforceable security are considered payments.
    • shares transferred by debtor in a voluntary arrangement to discharge debt in full are considered a payment
    • in case of insured debts, the receipt of the net amount from the insurer does not impact entitlement to BDR (bad debt relief).

 

Repossessing goods to recover debt

If the supplier repossessed goods not paid for, the value recovered should be offset by the BDR claim unless the sale of repossessed goods is subject to VAT.

 

Multiple supplies and payments

In order to identify which invoices remain unpaid in case of multiple supplies made to a customer, payments received from the debtor must be allocated to the earliest supply unless the customer specified which supply they are paying for.

 

Reservation of title

It is possible to make a BDR claim for supplies of goods where title was reserved until goods are paid for. Reservation of title does not impact eligibility for BDR.

 

Hire purchase goods

There are separate rules relating to recovery of VAT on goods sold under hire purchase agreements.

 

Netting off where supplier owes money to customer

If the supplier also owes money to the debtor, and the parties agree that the amounts can be offset against each other (mutual debts), BDR should be claimed once the amounts have been offset. 

 

How to claim

A BDR claim should be made by including the amounts of VAT to recovered in Box 4 of the VAT return covering the period in which the six-month rule was met. The supplier will be able to recover the amount of VAT relating to bad debt, limited to the excess of input VAT over the output VAT on debts recovered.

 

If a business has made a BDR claim and subsequently recovers all or part of the outstanding amount, it must repay all or part of the VAT back to HMRC and account for the amount in box 1 on the VAT return.

 

VAT records based on which BDR claim was made must be retained for four years from the date of the claim (unless agreed otherwise with HMRC) and be available for inspection.

 

If the business is no longer VAT registered, it will still be required to pay any unpaid output VAT to HMRC. However, a claim for bad debt relief can be made by using form VAT427. More details of this can be found on VAT Notice 700/18.

Communicating human-to-human is vital, crisis or otherwise

Research by PracticeWeb during the Covid-19 crisis reveals the importance of human connections.


Research by PracticeWeb during the Covid-19 crisis reveals the importance of human connections.

 

It’s not all about numbers. What does your accountancy practice do to connect with clients as people? How do you make them feel heard and cared about?

 

PracticeWeb has been talking for years about the importance of building connections and engaging on an emotional level. It’s how brands grab attention in crowded markets, win loyalty and inspire action.

 

Accountancy, however, has historically been a business where the head rules the heart – in which competence and professionalism are more important than values and attitudes.

 

That was backed up by research PracticeWeb conducted with SMEs last year. They told us that specific sector knowledge was the most important quality in an accountant, ahead of professionalism and price.

 

But 2020? Well, it’s been emotional.

 

Some lost their livelihoods overnight, along with their sense of purpose. Others had staff to worry about. All against a backdrop of constant anxiety about the health and wellbeing of family and friends.

 

Lockdown brought a sense of powerlessness, with plenty of time but few options for practical steps to take. As a result, people have been hungry for actionable advice, opportunities to vent and, crucially, reassurance that there is a path through the chaos.

 

Our most recent round of research, conducted in partnership with brand consultancy Insight 101, found that 87% of respondents put ‘good communication skills’ in the top three most desirable characteristics for an accountant. And a full 49% said it was the most important attribute, outranking any other option.

 

The first step in achieving ‘good communication’ is any kind of communication. Only 35% of our survey respondents got a phone call from their accountant and not many more – 40% – got an email.

 

Is your practice good at communicating? In the relative calm that has descended with the easing of lockdown restrictions, it’s worth taking time to reflect on this.

 

Ask yourself, your team and ideally your clients, ‘what did we get right? And what could we have done better?’

 

Of course we can’t all stay in crisis mode forever and nor will clients expect the same level of attention as panic gives way to a strange new status quo.

 

If you stepped up your clients’ communications during the height of the crisis, as did many of PracticeWeb’s clients, you’ll need to think about how to scale that back.

 

But whatever you do, don’t stop cold. Now you’ve got into the habit of blogging, emailing and calling, keep it up. The difference is that now, it can be controlled, planned activity built around a long-term strategy rather than a process of constant, heart-racing reaction to events.

 

Define a content plan, including contingencies for further rounds of lockdown and what might come out of the July ‘summer statement’ and what is expected to be a whopper of a Budget in the autumn. You don’t need to keep posting at crisis levels, but don’t let your practice blog or LinkedIn page revert to tumbleweeds.

 

And don’t stop talking to clients. If you don’t have a customer relationship management (CRM) package, or don’t make full use of one you’ve already got, now’s the time. Accountants often describe themselves as proactive and friendly, but nothing makes those feel as real as a check-in call or personalised email.

 

Read the full insight report from PracticeWeb and Insight 101.

 

Ray Newman – Head of insight and content, PracticeWeb

Have your clients been told to go elsewhere by a bank?


It seems as if one of the UK banks has been issuing letters to customers stating that they have 60 days to find alternative banking arrangements.

 

The following are extracts from a letter received by a profitable business, with no bank borrowing,which has also been during the last few months supporting the homeless and offering new services:

 

 

 

 

If any of your clients have received a similar communication from their bank, we'd love to hear about it. Please email supportingpractitioners@accaglobal.com in confidence.

NEWS
Enter the Digital Accountancy Awards 2020!

The Digital Accountancy Awards will celebrate accountants in practice who are using digital technology to help improve their clients’ businesses as well as their own.


The Digital Accountancy Awards will celebrate accountants in practice who are using digital technology to help improve their clients’ businesses as well as their own.

 

Through the UK accounting profession, there are many innovative uses of digital technology and the Digital Accountancy Awards will reward and recognise that.

 

The awards are now open for entries until 31 July. Sponsored by ACCA and Practice Ignition, there are two award categories – Best Digital Accountant and Best Digital Rising Star.

  

You can apply for yourself or you can nominate others. The application process is designed to be easy to use and once all of the applications have been received, they will be reviewed and judged by the Digital Accountancy Advisory Board, who will choose the shortlist and winners for each category.

 

The shortlist will be announced in the Digital Accountancy Magazine in September and the winners will be presented with their awards at the Digital Accountancy Show in September.

 

If you’re stimulated to enter, but not sure where to start, take a look at ACCA’s guidance on entering awards to help kick-start the process.

 

Digitalising your practice’s client onboarding process

ACCA and Practice Ignition canhelp you streamline and automate your client onboarding experience.


ACCA is collaborating with Practice Ignition to provide a solution that helps you to streamline and automate your client onboarding experience, from engagement letter creation to debt recovery.

Practice Ignition has launched a version of its product with ACCA templates. For next steps, and to start a free 14 day trial of Practice Ignition, you’ll find all the information here.

Their return on investment calculator allows you to determine how much your ROI would be if you used Practice Ignition in your firm.

 

They have bespoke pricing for smaller firms (a client base of fewer than 15), so if you are interested, please get in touch with trent@practiceignition.com (put 'ACCA templates' into the subject line) and a member of the Practice Ignition team will be in contact.  

 

Rest assured that ACCA will always have free engagement letters for members to use. You can download our free factsheets from our website:

 

Each factsheet contains a main client covering letter with a privacy notice, a terms and conditions document and the most commonly used schedules of services.

WATCH: Carl Reader's insights on returning to the office

Carl Reader - chair of ACCA's Practitioners' Network Panel - shares some insights on how his practice is preparing to welcome staff back to the office.


Carl Reader - In Practice June 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carl Reader - chair of ACCA's Practitioners' Network Panel - shares some insights on how his practice is preparing to welcome staff back to the office.

 

Find out what firms have been considering on our Coronavirus Hub and share your plans with us via email to supportingpractitioners@accaglobal.com

Fantastic insights from accountants who specialise

Throughout this pandemic we've been capturing great insights from your fellow members who specialise in different sectors.


We are grateful to all our members who have shared their thoughts and insights during the pandemic to support our ACCA family. We’ve been sharing some of those thoughts and sector insights from accountants via LinkedIn and have also captured them on our website.

 

Browse insights from over 20 of your fellow practitioners now  

 

If you would be willing to share some sector insights then please email Pat at pat.delbridge@accaglobal.com

ACCA UK, AccountingWEB and PracticeWeb cement their partnership

ACCA and SIFT have signed a formal partnership agreement (MoU) which signals a new level of cooperation between the professional body and leading SIFT brands, AccountingWEB and PracticeWeb.


ACCA and SIFT have signed a formal partnership agreement (MoU) which signals a new level of cooperation between the professional body and leading SIFT brands, AccountingWEB and PracticeWeb.

 

ACCA and SIFT share a common purpose to advance the reputation and drive growth within the accounting profession. AccountingWEB community members, PracticeWeb clients and ACCA clients will now all be able to benefit from shared insight into the changing needs and challenges of the accounting profession.

 

The partnership also seeks to increase the awareness and reach of both organisations, encouraging wider engagement and creating connections between ACCA members, the AccountingWEB community and PracticeWeb clients.

 

The partnership will drive activity tackling the most important day-to-day challenges for firms such as effective digital marketing, talent retention, digitalisation and best practice.

 

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, says: ‘We’re delighted to have signed this MoU to amplify the joint impacts of ACCA and SIFT. Through this new partnership, we’re aiming to challenge the status quo and promote the rise of a modern, diverse accountancy profession.

 

‘ACCA aims to support small to medium firms by providing best practice approaches, guidance and routes to attract the right type of talent. This partnership allows both parties to expand the reach and efficacy of our guidance while celebrating those driving the profession forward.’

 

Tom Dunkerley, CEO of SIFT, says: ‘This partnership strengthens the existing connections between AccountingWEB, PracticeWeb and ACCA. By working together and sharing insights on the behaviour of our audiences and clients, we can deliver even more value to our clients and members.

 

‘Accountants have been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks, as they have sought to help UK business through the coronavirus crisis. We aim to keep them in that spotlight and show the accounting profession to be indispensable to the long-term success of the UK economy.’

 

For an immediate benefit, register for AccountingWEB Live now.

 

 

 

Survey: we need your help

Help us understand clients' main concerns and business pressures.


During this crucial time as the government develops a strategy to support business recovery, ACCA UK and the Corporate Finance Network are running a survey to help us understand what your clients' main concerns and business pressures are. The survey tracks the main concerns for post-lockdown operations, cashflow concerns, future liabilities and client wellbeing.

 

We know many practices are under increased pressure during this period and we greatly appreciate any time you are able to take to provide your views. After completing the survey, you are welcome to share any additional commentary, evidence and proposals on government policy with us via email to UKPolicy@accaglobal.com

 

June's survey found that around 15% of clients felt unable to open their business with social distancing requirements in place and a further 32% are looking to alter credit terms with new customers. Just 27% of clients had written financial forecasts or business plans that had been reviewed in light of the outbreak.

 

Feedback from the survey supports ACCA policy positions on recovery policy and helps us brief opposition MPs on business concerns and financial outlook.

 

Thank you for your support.