de Jong & Phillips: Getting set for the ever-looming Making Tax Digital

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As Making Tax Digital grows momentum and the impending deadline looms, we sat down with Helen Bradley and Pam Phillips of de Jong & Phillips to get their thoughts on the matter.

What's the biggest opportunity for accountants and bookkeepers with MTD?

Business owners in the past have had a choice as to how they keep their accounting records and, whilst many have embraced the digital developments in the accounting industry and all the benefits they bring, not everyone needed to. MTD forces clients to keep digital records and that in turn pushes the whole accounting industry forward.

Much of the work historically done by Accountants and bookkeepers has been compliance work and, more specifically, preparation in readiness of doing the compliance work. By that we mean anything from sorting through bags of receipts and written cashbooks through to tidying up data in desktop software that we may have had no access to in between filing deadlines.

Technological developments mean that much of the preparatory and compliance work can be automated saving both business owners and us time. This time saving can be used to offer more valuable advisory services which help our clients run their businesses more successfully.

As Accountants we can help the less digitally progressive business owners by advising them on which accounting software and apps to introduce in their business, get them up-and-running on their new software and then guide them through the new possibilities available to them now they are digital.

What are the three biggest hurdles you typically face when helping clients move their books to the cloud?

It is always difficult when you are in the habit of doing things one way to embrace a very different way of doing things, especially when it affects the business that you have invested so much of your effort into. The technology that our clients use is user friendly and intuitive however it is still something new. We make sure they get the support that they need and are here to help both with the technical side and some gentle encouragement if it has fallen down the list!

When moving a client from paper and spreadsheet-based records to the cloud, we find that information is often all over the place, there is unreconciled information and information gaps. It is like a jigsaw puzzle and our job is to piece it together.

Having been an early adopter of cloud technology and having been a solely Xero practice for a number of years, we have a lot of experience in guiding businesses through this process so we are able to navigate our clients through this processes quickly and painlessly.

Can you tell us about a time you helped a client, who was hesitant to go digital, move their books to the cloud? And what did you do to get them across the line?

We have never had a client tell us that they wish they could go back to their previous way of working. The technology that we use gives the client up to the minute profit and cash positions, who needs paying and who hasn't paid up yet! It is like entering a new world of information. The challenge is painting that picture to get them on the journey. We have had a mixture of clients who have run out of cash and don't know why, want to expand and don't know if they can, worry about how big their VAT bill will be right up to the filing deadline. Using the right software, set up in the right way, gives a business owner insight into all of these areas and bring peace of mind to business owners.

What's one thing cloud accounting hasn't quite solved yet that the good old-fashioned books did really well?

Well, we are both stumped with this one and genuinely cannot think of a good example! Once a client told us they didn’t like being cloud based as it mean they couldn’t update their accounting records whilst in the air. Now that most airplanes have WI-FI even that is not an issue anymore.

By Helen Bradley and Pam Phillips of de Jong & Phillips

Seeing a need for close collaboration between business owners and their accountants, de Jong & Phillips has carved a niche by building a service where entrepreneurs have access to a dedicated accountant and business advisor alongside up-to-date meaningful information about their business.

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