7 steps to a more efficient Self-Assessment season from our CFO

12th Nov 2021
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This time in our journey together towards a more enjoyable Self-Assessment season, we have asked BTCSoftware’s CFO Ian Katté for some ideas to help you reach January 31st more efficiently.

Ian has been an ICAEW Chartered Accountant for 40 years and has worked in practice as well as co-founding BTCSoftware in 1999, so he’s the ideal person to share some thoughts on the path to Self-Assessment season.

7 steps to Self-assessment with BTCSoftware's CFO Ian Katte

43 – Review last year

From his days in a busy practice through to handling all things financial for BTCSoftware, Ian’s always valued the impact of learning from the good – and the bad!

Take a moment now to review last year’s Self-Assessment season. Talk with your team, dig into available data and make sure you understand where things can be improved. It’s a great way to identify pinch-points in the run-up to January and to the filing deadline.

44 – “Practice” yoga

Anyone who’s tried yoga knows that flexibility and strength come from consistent training and practice. That can apply to your practice too. Take the learning from step 43 and create solid plans to ease the pinch.

Maybe your data shows that there’s a particular week ahead of January where you get an influx of paperwork from clients. That’s the week to ease up on meetings.

Or if you see that errors in accuracy caused pileups as corrections added to the workload, consider alternative solutions that handle data for you.

45 – Firm and fair

Creating a sliding scale of fees – where early submission of information means a smaller cost – to incentivise your clients to respond early is a tip that features in many Self-Assessment preparation guides, but it bears repeating, says Ian:

When you approach your clients with your fee structure for Self-Assessment, be firm about the consequences. Letting it slide does you no favours, it simply means you are likely to work more hours chasing clients and completing last-minute returns.

That means that if your clients have until the end of December to provide you with their data and wait until January 1st to send it over, you should stand firm on the consequences – it’s only fair to you!

46 – Know your audience

Chances are that the majority of your Self-Assessment clients are one-person operations, which means that anything you can do to make things easier for them will help everyone involved.

By being clear on how you can work together – from requests for information through to final submission – you can boost your reputation, keep your client smiling and ease the stress for everyone involved.

47 – Get ahead of more

The focus at the moment is on MTD for ITSA and the rollout of MTD for VAT to small businesses, but Ian suggests a third topic to cover during this period with your clients.

Basis period reform is in consultation at the moment with draft legislation proposing 2022/23 as the transition year and implementation in 2023/24. That means that your clients are going to start hearing about this change more frequently, and confusion on their part will mean more work for you. Be proactive and include some top-level information for your clients in your communications over the coming months so they hear about it from someone they trust.

48 – Lead by example

Digitalisation is both necessary and unavoidable, but to busy business owners, it may sound like a fresh drain on their time.

To make the transition less like herding cats, the industry – from HMRC and developers to professional bodies and accountants – can lead by example.

If you’re using social media (and you should be!) then you could consider sharing your own experiences of the benefits of digitalisation, or even those of other clients.

We're on Twitter! Join the conversation here.

49 – Get smart with software

Creating software to help you along is what we do best!

By being smart about your software and understanding what your practice needs you can ease the pressure in January and have a more efficient Self-Assessment season. Take a look at our article, 7 steps towards a more enjoyable Self-Assessment season using tech stacks, for more.

And for a more in-depth look at the future of your practice, join BTCSoftware and Pixie at AccountingWEB Live Expo for a session all about our upcoming integration!

Next time

Next week's steps: Using BTCSoftware's helpful features