You may have noticed that I haven’t published a blog post in a while – unfortunately I’ve had a lot going on in my private life recently, and so the blogging took a back seat. I’m back now though, and ready to tell you all about how accounting records have changed since I’ve been with bdhc.
We’ve recently achieved Silver Partner status with Xero, which unless you use Xero probably won’t mean that much to you. Essentially we’re trying to move more of our clients accounts across to the cloud – we already use Xero for our own business accounts and can definitely see that it’s the way forward.
It hasn’t always been like this though – if I think back to my first week’s work experience at bdhc…… there was so much paper! It was absolutely everywhere. We were in quite a small office, and some days, depending on who was in the office, I didn’t even have a computer to work at, just a desk.
There were lots of plastic bag jobs which came in, full of receipts, bank statements and other records, which had to be sorted through before you could even start the job.
If you were very lucky, and I do mean that, you got given an analysed cashbook job! This was like gold dust as it meant you could just summarise each month’s income and expenditure, sometimes by hand on an analysis pad, and sometimes in Excel (just as a special treat!)
We did have clients who had computerised records back then, such as Sage, and for these jobs the accounts process hasn’t changed too much. The working papers themselves have changed though – a lot less paper is involved, with copy bank statements being emailed across and saved directly to a folder on the server, along with any scanned invoices which we feel are relevant to the job.
99% of the working papers are actually in an excel file now, rather than being a mis-match of analysis pad workings, or photocopied documents. The trees and environment will thank us for the reduction in paper usage over the years.
We’ve recently started using an ESign software for clients to approve final accounts and tax returns before submission. Some are still dubious and request hard copies in the post, but on the whole, those who have trialled ESign with us have been complimentary of the process.
Coupled with Xero and other cloud accounting software, it means that we can complete a job from start to finish, including invoicing and filing with HMRC without so much as printing a single sheet of paper. Granted, this would be in an ideal world, and we’re still a long way from being a completely paperless office, but the ability is there, which scares and excites me at the same time!
With the MTD deadline fast approaching, we have been contacting our clients to see if they are prepared for the changes and if they need any assistance. Some were already using compatible software, and some have been converted now that they have trialled Xero. However we still have a number of clients who are more than happy with the accounts system that they use, and don’t see the need for change.
The term “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind here – although HMRC have imposed these regulations on businesses, surely the most important thing is that records are being kept accurately, rather than digitally? If a client is comfortable with an analysed cashbook/supplier ledger, or uses excel spreadsheets for keeping track of things, then why should we try and change this? If a client moves across to a system that they are unfamiliar with or don’t want to use, then it won’t be long before things fall behind or errors start to appear, even with help and support from us as accountants.
So for now I think there will continue to be a mix of different types of accounts records, and it’s our job to work with our clients to ensure that the information provided to us can be transmitted to HMRC in the required fashion.
Plus, if every job was the same then where would we get our kicks from? We’ve got to have that one job in the office which keeps us on our toes as we sort receipts into different tax years!