Editorial team AccountingWEB.co.uk
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Editor's notebook: Accountex 2017

9th May 2017
Editorial team AccountingWEB.co.uk
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Tuesday, 9th May

The buzz about Accountex is getting intense.

Accountex has cemented itself as a key position in the calendar for software vendors and accountants. But this year the show has taken on a life of its own before it actually begins. The vendor PR departments are pumping out tweets as they assemble their stands, and we've already received some pre-emptive strikes (embargoed news releases):  IRIS sent us an interesting release that we are not allowed to tell you about until midnight.

For those who can’t wait until tomorrow, the vendors have planted their flags on the Industry Update page. Before the Excel doors have opened, MyFirmsApp has unveiled Collect, an app that clients can use to record the information needed for MTD.

TaxCalc teased in a think piece published on their Industry Update page that it will showcase their innovative solutions for MTD at Accountex.

* * *

The MTD news vaccum

One of the thrills we were anticipating at Accountex this week was an appearance by HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson. But sadly, that is not going to happen.

Even with the Making Tax Digital delay announced by Philip Hammond in his March Budget, Accountex was shaping up to be a major MTD-fest. Then Theresa May called her snap election for 8 June, sending civil servants into purdah and forcing the government to drop the digital tax initiative from the Finance Bill.

Come June, the chances are that MTD will be back as insistently as ever, but the uncertainty has swiped another eight weeks from the implementation timetable and drained some of the urgency from all the MTD-based marketing activities that were going to take place at ExCel this week. The pity for Thompson and HMRC is that the tax department is probably desperate to communicate its digital plans, but the project keeps getting sidelined by more pressing political concerns.

Someone, somewhere, it seems, really doesn’t want the project to run smoothly.

* * *

No stopping Nichola

It was fun to catch up with former AccountingWEB editor-turned-tax consultant Nichola Ross Martin at Accountex.

She’s obviously been doing very well for herself since she went solo and took out a sizeable stand at the show to promote her website, email and tax advice package for sole practitioners. But there’s more. The big news at Accountex was that Nichola has released an app for Making Tax Digital for clients.

Dismissing the competition with a hint of distain, she told us, “Why do people want go get into the cloud, or take pictures of their receipts. Ninety-nine percent of clients won’t want to do their own bookkeeping?”

Ross Martin’s TaxKey app is simplicity itself: the user keys in their numbers for any expense (and they can attach a photo if they want) and at the end of the period, they press send to dump out a spreadsheet they can send to their accountant. There’s an extra benefit with a tool that’s so simple, she continued.

“If clients can’t download and use it, you’ll have proof for HMRC that they’re digitally incapable.”

* * *

Anual gathering of the Aweb clan

Speaking of old friends, one of the highlights of Accountex is the annual meet-up of AccountingWEB members.

In his video report on day one, editor John Stokdyk talked about the annual rituals surrounding Accountex. One pleasant tradition that has emerged is the Wednesday evening gathering at the Slug & Lettuce watering hole at Canary Wharf.

As promised Glen Martin stopped in to offer an update on his quest for the ultimate Making Tax Digital-friendly practice solution, and there were appearances by chatman, cfield, Red Leader and numerous other members. The chat ranged from the pricing and functionality of all the main practice suites, gossip about how KPMG's SME cloud accounting service was doing, and eastern European holiday destinations.

Inevitably, talked turned to the AccountingWEB platform, which switched over to its new format just over a year ago. The user feedback was invaluable, and focused with some intensity on the long-awaited return of the Opportunities section. The suggestions were genuinely useful, and for the benefit of our developers, we present a wishlist summary from all the members we encountered at the show:

Bring back Opportunities

7

Drop Any Answers “View all replies” button

4

Bring Back Discussion Grops

2

Go back to chronological AA listings

2

Consolidate comment alerts into one email

1

Fix anonymous posting

1

As it happens, work is in hand to improve the Any Answers process and user experience, and these suggestions are a good guide to where the programmers should concentrate. We may contact some of those who made the suggestions to help us identify how we can make things better for regular users.

Let us know below if you think there are other areas of the site that merit attention.

* * *

Flying Scotsman: The voice of reason

Maximiti’s Norman Younger, otherwise known as AccountingWEB columnist Flying Scotsman, has a new string to his bow.

The Manchester-based practice broker Maximiti recently recruited a qualified mediator in the shape of Rafael Katz. Together they are offering mediation services to client firms, and encouraging them to look at this type of service as “another arrow in their quiver”

Any practitioner you encounter probably has first hand experience of clients who get embroiled in business disputes. Many of them may have offered support in the form of financial impact assessments, or supported their clients through difficult negotiations.

By offering a formal mediation service, accountants can accelerate the resolution of longstanding disputes, and stop them escalating to the point where lawyers get involved.

“There’s nothing that satisfies accountants more,” said Younger. “And if the other party turns down the opportunity for early mediation, it gives you an advantage when judges consider costs.”

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