Posts tagged ‘Accountant’

Clients often ask us “what is the best way to buy a vehicle?”  If they plan to use it in their business, should they own it personally? Should they buy it through the business? Should they lease it? The list of questions is endless and many of the answers will depend upon your particular situation and requirements but beware getting it wrong could prove costly in terms of time and money.

Your options

Martin Bessell from Midland Autolease Contracts says “The type and terms of your finance will be dictated by your circumstances, if you require a mid range car for business use this often lends itself to Lease purchase or Hire purchase.  An executive car which is mainly used for private use will often be better bought outside the business, so a personal contract purchase should be considered. If you simply need a reliable car for a short period leasing may be the answer, but talk to your accountant about each type they may have a better solution”

Taxation

1959 Porsche 356A Carrera GS CabrioletThe tax position regarding the purchase of your vehicle can be quite complex.

Firstly you will need to consider the VAT position. Generally you can not claim VAT on the purchase price but may be able to claim a proportion of the VAT on lease costs, this is providing it is a car you are purchasing. If the vehicle is a van different rules apply, and the debate as to what is a car and what is a van is not something I wish to discuss here!

You will also need to consider the costs that you can deduct in arriving at your taxable business profit. The rules on both Capital Allowances and Lease rental deductions changed significantly in the last budget and many clients are now taking a more serious look at leasing.

Finally don’t forget if a vehicle is provided as a company car there will be PAYE and National Insurance arising from the benefit.

Get advice

The important aspect is to seek advice when buying a vehicle don’t just be blinded by that shiny new car.  Make the right commercial decision for you and your business, search the market and then present the facts to your accountant who will crunch the numbers and tell you what the tax consequence will be.  HAPPY SHOPPING :-D

 

Disclaimer: This article is for general guidance only.  All taxation planning should only be undertaken after appropriate professional advice.  George Hay Chartered Accountants are registered to carry on audit work and regulated for a range of investment business activities by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

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Do you want more from your business in 2011 than you had in 2010?  If you do, then I have a quick test for you, which will set you on the right track!

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, score the following people, who supply your business with key services:

  1. Your accountant.
  2. Your marketing advisor.
  3. Your lawyer.
  4. Your IT consultant (hardware/software or Internet.).
  5. Your bank manager.

The cost of average advice

If your scores were 7 or below in any of those areas, you need to ask yourself why you are wasting your time, taking advice that is average or little better than average.  Just as you can tell a lot about a person, by looking at the kind of people they hang out with, you can also predict how successful a business will be, based on the quality of the people it calls upon for advice.  Unless you want an “average” business (and you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog), you must avoid taking average advice.

Surrounding your business with average providers is never a good idea, but as we progress through the worst economy in living memory, it’s a recipe for trouble!

The value of great advice

Interestingly, you do not always have to pay more, to find a better quality advisor or provider.  Some low quality providers charge too much for their services and others seem to undervalue just how great they are.  So, why not spend some time reviewing the people you rely on for advice, support and guidance.

Look particularly for new people in the areas where your business is weakest, as those advising you currently in that area, are clearly failing you!

This relatively straight forward process can help you massively improve your business results very quickly!


Guest author:   Jim Connolly is another of my valuable Twitterbuddies and a most accomplished business blogger. His contributions are a regular source of education and inspiration.  To read more posts like this one please click here

I am regularly contacted by people who are new to business, or at least considering starting their own business.

Excited

Naturally, they are all really excited about the prospect of working for themselves, being their own boss, making the decisions and being able to directly enjoy the results of their efforts.

Apprehensive

However, I find that when I start to talk them through the statutory accounting and taxation requirements, it becomes obvious that they are worried and some even start to question if they are doing the right thing.  Despite assuring them that my team will handle 

  • Companies House administration anc correspondence,
  • Preparation and submission of statutory accounts,
  • Corporation Tax computations and returns,
  • PAYE administration and National Insurance,
  • VAT reporting,
  • Returns of benefits and expenses and other HMRC returns,
  • Construction industry scheme online monthly filing
  • Potential HMRC visits

and provide ongoing bookkeeping support, it is understandable that the overwhelming sense of responsibility causes concern for those who have been in the relative ‘safety’ of employment or education.

Discouraged?

I think it is a shame that budding entrepreneurs can be stopped in their tracks by all the bureaucracy that surrounds a business, and I would urge any aspiring business owners not to be discouraged, it sounds a lot worse than it really is.

Get support

If you are thinking about starting up your own business, you should really go and talk to an accountant who can explain what is required, help you understand your duties and responsibilities and then take away as much of the fear and worry from you so that you can get on with the exciting bit!

It is also a good idea to join a networking group.  They not only provide you with valuable contacts, they are full of potential friends and peers who can guide and support you with first hand experience.

Find someone you can trust

For some people starting up their own business isn’t a big deal, but remember that the best entrepreneurs are surrounded by the best people for each and every part of their business, so do your new business a favour and find someone who can be the best for you.

Outsource

Delegate the ‘red tape’ of administering your business, and non-essential or non-profit making tasks to a team of carefully selected professionals so that you can make the most of your time and  simply…

…..enjoy running your own business!


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

The designatory letters DChA are used by holders of a Diploma in Charity Accounting, a qualification awarded by The Institute of Chartered Accountants  (ICAEW) who hope that it will inspire confidence that the holder of the Diploma has the knowledge to make a real difference to the prosperity of an organisation through understanding of charity accounting and financial management.

Prior to 2007 the diploma could be achieved through study and examination or by submitting evidence of experience in advising the 3rd sector.  The ‘experience’ route is no longer available.

At the time of writing this post, around 700 accountants in the UK hold this diploma (listed here) and just over half of these are working in practice as auditors / independant examiners and advisers.   The remaining mainly being financial managers working with in the sector itself.


As a trustee, what does using an accountant with the Diploma mean to you?

  • Confidence to trust them to provide specialist financial care with knowledge of your sector and its inherent challenges
  • Reassurance that they understand the complexities of Charity Accounting
  • Non-financial matters such as governance are addressed with practical solutions
  • Information is presented in a straightforward and understandable manner
  • Value for Money services with fixed fees and experienced resources to keep fees to a minimum
  • You can get on with running your charity knowing that you are in safe hands!

In my opinion providing services to not-for-profit organisations takes additional expertise as the sector has specific accounting requirements as well as a different type environment in terms of targets, principles, reporting and management needs.  Often the people working within this sector do so for low or no monetary reward and do not necessarily have the same skills of someone who has been involved in a corporate environment.  Therefore the level of support and the approach taken to professional advice should be different.

To get the most value from your professional advisers, it is essential that they have carried out adequate and relevant professional development (CPD) and have experience in your industry.


Update:  In August 2010, ICAEW announced that in response to demand the DChA experience route is being re-opened for senior professionals in charity accounting to gain recognition for their expertise.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.


The new ‘VAT online service’ (VOS) was launched by H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in November in prepartion for the compulsory online filing of VAT returns and electronic payment of liabiliies for VAT periods commencing 1st April 2010.

These new regulations will be enforced and effect all

  • existing VAT registered businesses with a turnover (excluding VAT) of £100,000 or more (taken from the previous four returns submitted)
  • businesses that register for VAT on or after 1st April 2010, regardless of turnover.

 

Once your business has been required to file online once, it must continue to do so.  The only exemptions are businesses involved in an insolvency procedure or those who have satisfied HMRC that the religious beliefs are incompatible with the requirement to use electronic communications!

If your business is VAT registered, you can expect to receive a letter from HMRC during February 2010 notifying you of your obligations.

There are proposals for this to be just the first step of the process and that all VAT registered businesses should manage their VAT returns and payments electronically from 1st April 2011.

The new VOS will enable users to

  • Register for VAT
  • Enrol for electronic filing
  • View previously submitted electronic returns
  • Set up email alerts to remind business owners of when returns should be submitted

Of course, if you do not want to be burdened with this, your accountant will be able to act as your agent in the same way as they can file payroll and self-assessment returns.  They will ask you to an authority to act (HMRC form 64-8 is not adequate for VOS) and may re-issue their letter of engagement to clarify the terms of this service.

More information can be sought from your accountant or HMRC’s online services website


The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post

One of the key roles of the Charity Commission is to encourage charities to adopt good practice.  They have set out six clear principles to communicate their definition of an effective charity in their guidance booklet CC10.

For a full copy of this guidance click here.  In brief, these ‘hallmarks’ suggest that a charity that is effective and well governed

  • Is clear about its purposes, mission and values
  • Has a strong, clearly identifiable board or trustee body that has the right balance of skills and experience
  • Is fit for purpose i.e. is structured appropriately to deliver efficient services
  • Is continuously learning and developing to maximise the impact of its work
  • Is financially sound and prudent.  It controls the use of valuable resources to maximise its potential
  • Is accountable to the public and its operations are transparent and understandable to all stakeholders.

It is the Trustees’ responsibility to ensure these hallmarks are in place.

In May 2010 the Scottish Charities Regulator reported that Charities with fewer trustees are more likely to fail.  Obviously quality of Trustees is a more important issue than quantity, but effective recruitment and retention of skilled and dedicated Trustees is imperative.

If your organisation needs assistance in developing these key principles or would like an audit of its effectiveness, please get in touch.  I use my own experiences as an accountant and auditor working in the 3rd sector in conjunction with sourcing highly skilled professionals from my business network to create a bespoke solution.

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

Actioncoach logoOn Friday I attended a planning workshop run by Andrew Kureishy an award winning business coach. 

Andrew is a valued client of mine and his invitation to join his GrowthCLUB for the day was welcomed but to warrant time away from the office I had some expectations for ROI (typical accountant mentality I’m afraid, but I do understand the value of my time)

My primary objective was to see Andrew in action.  As an avid networker and an accountant that believes in adding value beyond the financial numbers, matching a coach’s style with my client’s personality and needs is just as important as understanding the services he offers and the knowledge he can share.

Obviously, I hoped to gain some personal benefit also.  When getting involved in structured learning, I do not expect to be able to absorb all of the information on offer or claim to be an expert by the end of the day, but to take away just a few new ideas or key pieces of knowledge makes spending the time attending worthwhile.

During this day, I achieved my primary objective and will certainly be recommending Andrew’s work to others. I was able to network with a dozen of his clients who were all very complimentary and felt that the money they had invested had been recovered several times over.

I also learned three or four things that I can apply to my business in the next few weeks. I’d like to share two of these with you.

Prioritising

The first is simple.  The things that make the most impact and therefore demand priority are not necessarily the things you want to do

The Action planning workshop used techniques to drill down to just three primary goals for the next 90 days as it would be difficult to focus on more than that in such a short time frame.  These three goals were ‘SMART‘ tested by Andrew and it quickly became apparent which of the three I had to make my priority even though it was the goal I favoured the least as the task at hand is boring in comparison, amongst other reasons.  This process was easy but far from comfortable and I’m less that pleased with the result but I know clearly now that if I reach my target it will have a big positive impact on my work, my position in the firm and ultimately the bottom line of my office P&L and once I have got this task under my belt I will be able to move on to more self-fulfilling goals.

I’ll let you know on 31st March 2010 whether I attained my target !

Time Management

Andrew was quick to point out that whilst diaries, priority task lists etcetera were helpful they are simply tools to make our work more effective.  To really master time management replace the word ‘time’ with ‘self’ and remind yourself of your goals.

Its about Time Series IIThe group decided that poor time self  management was a result of:

  • a lack of discipline, focus and/or delegation
  • firefighting rather than prioritising rationally
  • poor organisation skills
  • avoidance of important tasks / procrastination
  • being influenced by other people’s priorities
  • unrealistic customer demands
  • a needy / untrained team

Andrew challenged this and questioned our motivation.

How defined are your goals?    Does your dream have clarity? 

His advice was to create an avoidance list and ask yourself questions that will help your brain move from negative emotions that promote procrastination to logical thoughts that put the issues/tasks in to perspective.

If you would like to know his seven top questions to promote logical thinking to support your positive attitude, contact him at andrewkureishy@actioncoach.com

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

This is a guest post from Heather Townsend, an amazing twitterbuddy (It is unlikely I would have met her otherwise) of mine, who has helped me both on and offline with her friendly but focused approach.   She has several business hats, including The Efficiency Coach and Executive Village and is a mum to two gorgeous ‘little guys’ as they are affectionately known.  Follow her tweets for useful business tips and benefit from her sociable nature.

9 top tips for business efficiency

keep an eye on your goals..

keep an eye on your goals..

Whilst small is seen to be beautiful (and believe me, at 5 ft 2” high, I fully subscribe to this view!), SMEs are also assumed to be more flexible and nimble than the large corporations. An accusation often levelled at SMEs is that they don’t have the resource to implement large scale changes quickly, and will therefore, struggle to significantly improve their productivity levels, and therefore, efficiency. I wonder whether you find this to be the case?

Regardless of where you stand on this debate, here are my nine top tips for any size of company to improve its efficiency:

1. Think simple

Simple ideas and methods generally save time and help a business become more efficient.

2. Outsource non-critical processes

If someone can run a process better than you, for the same or cheaper cost for the appropriate level of quality, outsource it. For example, on the 1st October I will be handing over all my books to my accountant’s book keeper. This is a non-critical process which someone else can do better than me, and for less cost.

3. Help your customers and clients become more efficient

Let’s illustrate this point with a real live example, my IT man, David of Contact Consultants, supports my IT machine for free – unless I really manage to tie it up in knots. Every time I speak to David, he educates me in some way so that I am more self-sufficient and less reliant on him for support. How can you educate your clients or customers so that your ability to service their needs is more efficient or effective?

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4. Set yourself goals

If you set goals around improving your company’s efficiency then you are more likely to work towards creating a more efficient business.

 

5. Invest in automation

Whether you are a people hungry business like retail or a niche consultancy your largest monthly outgoing will be your wage bill. The greater the level of automation which reduces the amount of input by people, the more efficient your business. Compare and contrast the car factory of Henry Ford’s day to the modern production line in a mainstream car manufacturer.

6. Have a safety-conscious workforce

Accidents create down-time and extra costs. If you have ever had a claim brought against you for an accident at work, you will testify to this!

7. Look after, appreciate, and train your workforce

Happy, engaged, appreciated employees generally work harder and are more productive than unmotivated un-engaged employees. Think how much harder you work when you want to work somewhere rather than feeling as if you have to work somewhere. A skilled, motivated workforce is a must for good business efficiency.

8. Look at your product/service mix

If you can sell a higher-value product to your target market, you will normally improve your business efficiency. For example, if you currently sell homemade iced cupcakes, how much more could you sell a range of dairy or gluten free iced cupcakes?

9. Attract the right kind of employee

As efficient as your business may be, you are still reliant on having good quality employees to run your business processes. By attracting the right employee into the right role, you will build good business efficiency, one new hire at a time.

In your view, which of these nine tips for business efficiency should every company, regardless of it’s size, invest time and resource in implementing?

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.

Only those close to me know that I am one of the 10% of women of child-bearing age that suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) but since it was one of the main reasons I got involved in distributing aloe vera and I now have a beautiful son, I feel ready to share my experiences in the hope of helping others that may be experiencing some or all of the many symptoms.

The biggest problem, in my view, is the lack of education which means that most women do not know they have PCOS until they struggle to conceive, believing that the symptoms are just a side effect of being a hormonal woman!  Once the symptoms are understood it is a relatively easy to problem to diagnose, but as far as I am aware, it can not be cured, only managed.


female symbolSo what is PCOS?

Literally Poly = Many, Cystic = cysts, small fluid-filled sacs.  These cysts produce androgens (hormones) which prevents the proper development of the follicles that hold and finally release an egg. 

In severe cases this means that the follicle is devoid of an egg, but in most cases the egg is underdeveloped or degenerated resulting in a failed pregnancy.



In short, the common signals of PCOS are:

  • acne (like a teenager) and generally poor skin condition
  • weight gain (often associated with menopausal women)
  • excessive or unusual hair growth (again like a teenage lad)
  • irregular menstrual cycles, perhaps occuring once every few months
  • cramping and/or heavy bleeding when menstruation does take place
  • irritability associated with hormone imbalance
  • difficulty in conceiving

Not everyone suffers from all of these and the symptoms vary in severity, but I have noticed that those who have a poor lifestyle or lack in emotional strength do suffer more.  For me, the most distressing element of this hormone related disorder was the high incidence of infertility and then just to be cruel, miscarriage. 

Famous sufferers include Julia Oliver (wife of Jamie) and Victoria Beckham, both of whom have managed to have healthy babies.

After the trauma of PCOS being confirmed by a blood test and an ultrasound  exam, I read as much as I could about PCOS (isn’t the internet fabulous?) and called my friend (now mentor) and set about a programme of management that could only be construed by an accountant! Haha! Now I look back, I can laugh at myself but I assure you I was very seriously affected by the realisation that my fertility could be hindered.

Over a period of about five months, I managed to reduce my cycle from 35-40 days to a more appropriate 28-30 days and to manage my acne and eczema in a more natural way, by learning to understand my body, improving my nutrition and committing to more exercise.  I have not had a weight issue, but I am now more conscious of this as I said at the beginning of this post, awareness and understanding is the most important factor.  You can not manage something you don’t understand.   

I am fortunate that I do not have a severe case, but it is a problem that stirs up many emotions none-the-less. If you would like to know how I have dealt with PCOS, I would be pleased to share this with you in confidence, please contact me.

Since writing this post I have discovered http://www.pcoschallenge.com/ a lovely online forum for fellow sufferers.  Take a peek….

The information contained in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences,it does not constitute medical advice and I do not accept responsibility for actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this blog.

 

If you found this post interesting/useful please share it with your social network and/or bookmark it.  Also, your comments are always valued and will help me to write new posts that are relevant to readers of this blog.

For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle through adequate nutrition, weight management and skin care visit our facebook pages.

Self-assessment deadlines have changed – don’t be late!

H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are working hard to encourage businesses and individual taxpayers to file online to help them become more efficient and effective.  As part of this strategy they have changed the deadline if you wish to continue submitting a paper Return.

j0434804Generally, if you are sent a notice to complete a Tax Return you must return it completed before the later of 31 October following the end of the tax year and three months following the date of issue of the notice. Failure to do so will result in a £100 penalty regardless of the tax due. This is a significant change, so beware. (£100 per partner if the Return relates to a partnership)

For paper returns submitted by this date, HMRC will:

  • calculate your tax for you (though you or your accountant can calculate it for yourself if you want)
  • tell you what to pay by the following 31 January
  • collect tax through your tax code (if possible) where you owe less than £2,000.

Returns sent via HMRC’s website or an electronic service provided by your accountant may be submitted up to 31 January.  There are many advantages of electronic submission which all our clients benefit from, the main ones being:

  • Tax Returns are processed almost immediately and an acknowledgement of successful submission is provided.
  • Your liability is calculated automatically and any refund due is issued by the system direct to your bank account.  Typically this occurs within 10 working days and saves banking and postage costs/time.  Manual processing can take weeks, sometimes months.
  • PAYE coding notices are updated and re-issued without delay (if appropriate)
  • The lack of ‘human’ intervention prevents processing errors and re-enforces the process now, check later strategy intended for Self-Assessment

There are a few situations where online tax returns can’t be made. In these cases the submission deadline is 31 January.Its about Time Series II

Companies House deadlines and penalties have changed too…..

If you operate your business through a Limited Company please be aware that the accounts filing deadline has been reduced by one month for accounting periods beginning on or after 6th April 2008.

A private company now only has 21 months from incorporation or in subsequent years nine months from its’ accounting period end to submit financial statements to Companies House.

From 1st February 2009 the late filing penalties imposed by Companies House have also become a lot more onerous.

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If your accounts or Tax Returns are not up to date,

call us for a free no obligation consultation. 01480 426500

The information provided in this blog illustrates my opinions and experiences, it does not constitute advice and I do not accept responsibility for any actions taken or refrained from as a result of reading this post.