If you have a growing business, you may well have taken on a bookkeeper to help you do the accounts. But grow the business a bit further and you will need to supplement the bookkeeping role with the services of an accountant.
The problem is that there is an in-between time when you need a management accountant, but cannot afford to employ someone on a full-time basis. This is when you need the services of a virtual financial director – a qualified accountant who will spend as much time and energy on your business as you need, but who will work only for the amount of time you need them.
In its 2017 annual Audit Quality Thematic Review, the Financial Reporting Council found nearly a third of audits carried out “required more than just limited improvements”. In reporting about the review, the Financial Times pointed out that recent high-profile accounting scandals “raise questions about whether auditors are being appropriately sceptical when they scrutinise company accounts”, quoting a £4m fine the FRC had charged Deloitte for its audits of Aero, and a £3m fine against PwC for its audits of Yorkshire-based sub-prime lender Cattles.
Relationship-building with clients
We understand that as the majority of companies start out small – many as sole traders – directors prefer to use the services of a sole practitioner accountant or a small accountancy practice. It’s understandable that the accountant and the client will build a very good relationship with each other, with a lot of trust and loyalty on both sides.
As a business expands, it is inevitable that the director will want that relationship with the accountant to continue – and so it should. The problem for the accountant is that if the company is ever in a position to need auditing, it could become problematic if they don’t have the training and experience to undertake the task.
Many accountants in this situation are hugely reluctant to introduce their client to another accountancy firm as there is a risk that their client could be poached by a larger company. Quite often they muddle through with their own audit – but without the specialist training, experience and accountability, it could leave them vulnerable.
If you run a charity, you’ll know that when it comes to doing the accounts, there are more complications than a ‘for profit’ business. Charity Accountants do understand these complications and the most effective ways to address these without any interruption to your operation.
The accounting requirements for charities are onerous and apply to even the smallest charity. Visit the Charity Commission for England and Wales’ website for the rules around reporting, accounting and audits depending on the size and type of charity.
When it comes to finances, there is a basic requirement to submit accounts and returns to the Charity Commission, as well as a trustees’ annual report, a set of accounts and an annual tax return. The accounting process needed also depends on the type of charity, whether it’s a Trust, a Charity Incorporated Organisation (CIO) or a charitable company limited by guarantee.
Under company law, all businesses must prepare annual accounts, as well as annual tax returns, to file with HMRC and Companies House. Many start-ups and small businesses hire an accountant to write these reports and leave it there, but when a company begins to expand, they tend to hire a management accountant to not only generate quarterly or monthly management accounts, but also to make the accounts more meaningful for the future success of the organisation. Below is a management accounting guide for small business owners:
With management accounting, the more frequent production of reports enables managers and directors to use the up-to-date financial information to help them make better-informed business decisions and maintain effective control over corporate resources.
After the production of each report, the accountant will help clients to analyse the figures in order to work out how well, or otherwise, the company is doing. The frequency of analysis can help flag up the products and services that bring in the greatest amount of money, and those that aren’t living up to expectations, as well as help, identify and control wastage, improve cash flow and reduce expenses.
The regularity with which management accounts are generated depends on the individual company. Most will only want quarterly figures, but larger companies tend to do theirs on a monthly basis.
Because of the forthcoming General Election, the Government have been forced to cut down the size of the Finance Act (to a mere 156 pages!) in order to get essential tax provisions into law before Parliament is dissolved.
One of the omissions is MTD, although it is widely expected that this will be reintroduced after the election.
However, there has been more criticism of the proposals. The Office of Budget Responsibility has said that HMRC’s estimates of the improved tax take from MTC were highly uncertain and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has also cast doubt on the estimates.
The Federation of Small Businesses has estimated that the introduction of MTD could cost businesses around £3,000 per year in time, salaries and fees.
Some member of the Treasury Committee have suggested that the Government should delay any implementation until a full pilot scheme has been run and assessed.
As ever with MTD, we will have to wait and see!
As you drive across the border into the county of Hertfordshire, you’re greeted by a road sign which says “Hertfordshire. County of Opportunity”.
When Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) published its Corporate Plan for 2013-17, they explained why they came up with this slogan: “We want Hertfordshire to remain a county where people have the opportunity to live healthy, fulfilling lives in thriving, prosperous communities”.
In terms of prosperity, HCC stated it was working towards a “business-friendly environment where initiative is encouraged and celebrated” in order to create a strong, resilient and successful economy.
But the Corporate Plan went further than just making Hertfordshire a great place to do business, it also encompassed the community as a whole. The plan focused on giving residents the opportunity to maximise their potential by supporting those in difficulties, giving them a clean and green environment to live in, and tackling the overall health and wellbeing of everyone living in the county.
Knowing what your gross profit and net profit are is a fundamental part of running a business. In the simplest terms:
Gross profit – you calculate what your gross profit is by taking your total turnover, minus the costs of the goods sold.
Net profit – this is what’s also known as your bottom line. It’s what’s left after you’ve deducted all your costs from your total turnover, i.e. the costs to you of the goods as well as all your business overheads, staff costs, interest on any business loans etc.
At Budget 2016, the Government announced two new £1,000 allowances for property and trading income to take effect for income arising from 6 April 2017.
The Government also announced at Autumn Statement 2016 that the trading allowance may also apply to certain miscellaneous income to the extent that the £1,000 trading allowance is not otherwise used.
Further detail has now been released:
- Where the allowances cover all of an individual’s relevant income (before expenses) then they will no longer have to declare or pay tax on this income. Those with higher amounts of income will have the choice, when calculating their taxable profits, of deducting the allowance from their receipts, instead of deducting the actual allowable expenses. The trading allowance will also apply for Class 4 NIC;
- The new allowances will not apply to income on which rent a room relief is given; and
- The new allowances will not apply to partnership income from carrying on a trade, profession or property business in partnership.
From 6 April 2018 Class 2 NIC will be abolished and Class 4 NIC reformed to include a new threshold (to be called the Small Profits Limit).
Access to contributory benefits for the self-employed is currently gained through Class 2 NIC. After abolition, those with profits between the Small Profits Limit and Lower Profits Limit will not be liable to pay Class 4 NIC but will be treated as if they had for the purposes of gaining access to contributory benefits. All those with profits at or above the Class 4 Small Profits Limit will gain access to the new State Pension, contributory Employment and Support Allowance and Bereavement Benefit.
Those with profits above the Lower Profit limit will continue to pay Class 4 NIC.
From 6 April 2018 Class 3 NIC, which can be paid voluntarily to protect entitlement to the State Pension and Bereavement Benefit, will be expanded to give access to the standard rate of Maternity Allowance and contributory Employment and Support Allowance for the self-employed.
Changes from 6 April 2018 will align the rules for tax and employer NIC by making an employer liable to pay NIC on any part of a termination payment that exceeds the £30,000 threshold. It is anticipated that this will be collected in ‘real-time’.
In addition, all payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) will be both taxable and subject to Class 1 NIC. This will be done by requiring the employer to identify the amount of basic pay that the employee would have received if they had worked their notice period, even if the employee leaves the employment part way through their notice period. This amount will be treated as earnings and will not be subject to the £30,000 exemption.
Finally, the exemption known as Foreign Service relief will be removed and a clarification made to ensure that the exemption for injury does not apply in cases of injured feelings.