Fiona Fraser, founder and managing director of Perth-based firm Fraser+ Accountants, explains why February is now officially the start to her New Year, and why challenges lie ahead in 2018.
I have decided to become an honouree Chinese citizen this year. Primarily because their New Year usually starts in February, and I’d really rather like to celebrate the turn of the New Year, rather than be preoccupied by my business and the huge amount of tax returns we need to process and file. Like many other small practitioners, I literally crawled over the 31 January finish line, dazed and wondering what the hell just happened.
As always, the main challenge has been clients. Not all of them, just a persistent group of repeat offenders who are always so very surprised that their tax return needs to be submitted by 31 January. My personal challenge for this year is how to get this particular group ready for Maxing Tax Digital whilst maintaining my sanity.
However, before I even get to that stage I need to do more work on getting my practice ready, communicating with clients, checking that I have the correct internal systems in place, using the best fit software and not getting distracted by the myriad of emails and offerings telling me how to be a practice of the future…
Then, of course, is the small job of thoroughly understanding all the changes to the tax system, being sure my staff fully understand and then being able to advise clients accordingly. Oh and not forgetting, I actually need to do the work to produce the fees……HELP!
So as I start my New Year (thank you China), apprehensive and excited in equal measures, things are changing and I want to embrace this change. So my strategy is threefold.
Firstly, to plan and communicate in a clear and concise way with clients about MTD, IR35, interest on rental income, dividends and anything else HMRC throws our way.
Secondly, I am proud that we have successfully moved many clients onto cloud-based software already; however, we need to move the rest online as soon as practical and check they are comfortable and trained in using it. Thankfully we receive a lot of support from QuickBooks, which helps tremendously with this process.
Finally, never underestimate the importance of communication. I will need to communicate with clients on a regular basis, repeating things as much as is necessary so the message is delivered and received. Never assume so they say! As for the serial offenders…well, maybe I will just pray!
Join Fiona, Rebecca Benneyworth, John Stokdyk and Intuit's Nick Williams on Thursday 15 February at 11am for a practical workshop on the key tax issues affecting small businesses. Click here to register.
Fiona is passionate about small to medium-sized enterprises. Coupled with a no-nonsense, keep things simple approach, she has now been running a successful practice for the last 17 years. A qualified Chartered Accountant who has trained and worked with the top accountants, including Ernst & Young and Price Waterhouse, she brings the best in...