Why Sole Associates are leading the way with R&D claims preparation
R&D tax relief was introduced for SMEs in 2000 and extended to large companies from 2002. The scheme is designed to encourage greater R&D spending, leading in turn to greater investment in innovation and is one of the main tenets of UK government business support.
In February 2020, the government pledged to increase public investment in R&D to £22bn a year by 2025, meaning there is a significant opportunity for accountants to scale up their operations to help more SMEs access these funds.
For many accountants, focusing on running an R&D service in-house helps them take advantage of this growth, move away from risky outsourcing strategies, win new business and become a force to be reckoned with.
We recently caught up with Joe Sole from Sole Associates who is doing just that!
Could you tell us a little bit about your firm?
Prior to setting up the firm, I had spent a number of years as a partner within a traditional firm of accountants, who at the time were delivering a compliance service. I set up Sole Associates because I wanted to offer something unique.
Did you have a knowledge of R&D before you started doing claims in-house?
We had limited knowledge at first, so we partnered with an R&D tax specialist to help us prepare claims for our clients. However, once we got to know the process and the work involved we realised it wasn’t that difficult.
We started using templated reports, but I always felt we needed something more than that to check if the client was eligible. We now use the WhisperClaims platform because it gives us structure. It looks professional and we do it as a matter of course on every claim.
When you are doing claims in-house it needs to be robust, to be compliant and easy to put together. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel if someone has a solution already.
How do you spot eligible clients?
Often clients think they aren’t eligible, but once we start talking to them about what constitutes R&D we quite often find that there is a claim there. We also place a lot of focus on being proactive with our clients. We have two meetings with them across the year. The midpoint meeting enables us to spot opportunities early, like identifying if projects could be eligible.
What sort of projects have you found are eligible?
Our clients range from SMEs who have claimed before and those who haven’t. We have an orthodontist lab that does a lot of R&D. They present seminars to dentists and do lots of research and testing. In that space we also have a dentist who is developing an LED gum disease treatment.
We have a road bike manufacturer. They improve carbon tech. A carbon advisor who does projects for McLaren in Formula 1. They conduct research to understand the characteristics of materials used in manufacturing cars.
There are clients who you wouldn’t expect to have a project but there is innovation that goes on all the time.
What are the benefits of using software to help prepare claims?
Leveraging technology has helped us to do more work without having to take on extra resources. WhisperClaims is up to date with the rules and regulations, it’s robust and you can’t miss something. There are checks to see if a client is eligible and if the project qualifies, it keeps your service in-house rather than using someone external and it gives you control over the process.
It’s not a big cost to have that comfort and it puts structure in place.
How has having an R&D service benefitted your firm?
It has helped us grow the firm because we’ve been able to take new clients on. It creates good will with your clients because if you are bringing a claim opportunity to them they’ll talk about it with their friends and family. It generates good PR for your firm. We are a small firm so when you are getting a £6-12k fee for R&D it makes a big difference.
Have you had your WhisperClaims demo yet?
Our fully automated, scalable and white-labelled software is capable of producing all the documentation needed to support an R&D claim within an hour. It is designed for accountants by R&D experts.
Or get in touch to find out more about WhisperClaims.
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