Share this content

Online software compulsory?

15th Jul 2018
Share this content

I was interested to see that two readers have commented on my last post to say they won't accept new clients unless those clients are prepared to use online software.

I have heard about accountants who go a step further than that and refuse to accept new clients unless they use a particular package (Xero in one case, FreeAgent in another, Sage One in a third case). MTD is definitely one reason for this, but, as one friend told me, that's just an added incentive. She's had a Xero-only practice for years and loves the uniformity of everyone using the same system. "It means I only have to know one piece of software. I don't have to spend time looking up how to generate a trial balance in this system and a P&L in that system. And I know where clients typically make mistakes, so I can tailor my training to that, and I can find errors really easily because I know the software so well."

That's compared to us having to know any system that a client happens to bring in.

I was chatting with Paul and Maria about whether there's any chance of our practice going the same way - having just one or two systems that we'll accept clients on, and weeding out the others. Paul's sceptical sniff had Maria offering to lend him a handkerchief. "No chance."

"Not even with MTD coming in?"

"MTD won't make any difference. You know what I think about that, Allie. MTD isn't even going to be compulsory for VAT until April 2020 - "

"2019, Paul," interrupted Maria.

"You want to read your papers more carefully, young lady. No penalties till 2020. Soft landing. So it won't really become compulsory until April 2020."

"It'll be the law from 2019!"

"You're both right," I tried to calm matters down. "Go on, Paul. MTD's not going to be attracting penalties till 2020. So? That's less than 2 years away now."

"Yes but a lot can happen in 2 years. Brexit's going to be a complete train wreck. By the time the Revenue have finished sorting all that lot out, they won't have time for MTD. It'll just get forgotten about."

"Are we really safe to assume that?"

"Yes we are."

"But even if MTD doesn't go ahead, wouldn't it be great to only have to know one system? Not to have to find out how to get reports from any system you can think of?"

"Alice. How well do you know old Henry? Can you really see him sacking clients who don't use the system he wants?"

"No, Paul," I had to admit. "I can't."

"Well then, shut up and get on with your reconciliation. And make me a cup of tea while you're at it."

"I can't do a reconciliation and make you a cup of tea, you silly man."

"You're a woman aren't you? You can multi-task."

"If I spill tea on these papers then Jack will be furious. Go and get your own tea, you male chauvinist pig."

So Paul got his cup of tea and I got cold water thrown on my vision of an ideal practice. Maybe when Henry retires things will be different.

Replies (5)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By FirstTab
16th Jul 2018 22:31

We have gone through one cloud software route. One of the significant downsides is the supplier then has power to increases prices knowing the real hassle of moving means that accountants will stay on.

Though unlike others our website is not in the style of a cloud software provider. In other words, we are not blind fans. Shockingly they are many of these around. FOOLS!

We will stick with the sky blue cloud software due to to the fact we do not want to spend the time learning another cloud-based software.

Though they will become a point when the beauty is completely lost its appeal, then we will be forced to move to green cloud software.

I do not want to name them and provide them with any form of advertising.

Thanks (0)
By david.bransbury
17th Jul 2018 10:51

There may not be penalties for 2019-2020 for MTD VAT but how are you/your clients going to submit VAT returns to HMRC.
For businesses that have to comply with MTD for VAT from April 2019 their online portals will be switched off and you will have to submit your VAT figures through an API. This could be a desktop software with internet access, a cloud package or even a spreadsheet which is attached to bridging software.
No VAT returns submitted, we assume estimated assessments by HMRC.

On your other question we recommend one cloud software but we will use other packages for existing or new clients. The clients who use other packages don't expect us to ask technical questions.

Thanks (0)
22nd Jul 2018 08:45

I'd don't recall seeing anywhere that HMRC say they are switching off their filing portal- where did that idea come from?

There are many vat registered businesses under the vat threshold that do no need to be vat mtd compliant, so I don't see them switching that off on April next year.

Thanks (0)
Replying to NewACA:
By david.bransbury
23rd Jul 2018 10:02

The system is not being switched off.

It is only be closed to each VAT registered business as they enter MTD for VAT. Otherwise no one would comply with MTD for VAT.

There is nothing in the legalisation to say that it is being switched off but I have heard both HMRC employees and others say it is.

Thanks (1)
By Fox Bartfield
11th Sep 2018 08:32

Managing a portfolio of clients, cloud software is the only way to do this efficiently and effectively as well as having the ability to add value to clients businesses. Compliance will quickly become a reducing part of an practice so the ability to add value will become key.

With Sage being expensive and less functional than it's competitors, we've gone with Xero. Discounted QB for similar reasons despite the offers of reduced subscriptions. Sage as a company is in a mess, such a drastic fall from grace, will be interesting to see how they address their current issues and wonder if it will involve a merger/acquisition of someone like Xero.

Thanks (0)