Member Since: 4th Aug 2010
2nd Sep 2021
Recruiting for any level is a nightmare at the moment. Candidates are few and far between and are generally poor and barely worth interviewing. It begs the question, if there are lots of vacancies and few candidates, where have all the people that created the vacancies gone? Have that many people walked away from the profession? I know there are far fewer European candidates but I'm not sure that explains the entire issue.
26th Aug 2021
I've only ever had two clients who used FreeAgent because they got it free with their banking. Given that I would rarely give the bank in question a glowing review if a client asked, I wouldn't foresee a situation where I would recommend FreeAgent over anything else. That said, I wouldn't turn down a client who came to me using FreeAgent. If we were doing their bookkeeping for them though, I would generally use QuickBooks or spreadsheets with AutoEntry for data capture.
I accept that FreeAgent may have improved in the couple of years since the clients in question ceased trading.
30th Jul 2021
It does sound as though what you are hoping for is straying a little bit in to "preparing me for my future career path" which, understandably, your current employer might be less inclined to finance if it means they are going to have to recruit a new bookkeeper in the not too distant future. If your current employer has an inkling that you are contemplating moving onwards and upwards, I can understand why they might be less inclined to fund conversations with the accountant. Yes, it might be inevitable that you leave anyway but they don't have to make life easier for you to do so by improving your skillset at their expense.
That said, asking the accountant for advice on things that you ought to be doing and are struggling with is a different matter.
4th Jun 2021
My work mobile doesn't get answered after 6pm (unless I chose too - which I almost certainly don't). It doesn't even come out with me on my lunch break most of the time, since I can't effectively answer a question away from my desk.
If people can't cope with the fact that I have lunch breaks and a private life, so be it. That said, if I know they work on site during the day, for example, I might suggest calling at around 6pm as a one off.
2nd Jun 2021
About £100 but I would discount it (potentially by 100%) for regular clients who we make good recovery on and who pay on time. As someone else has said, increasingly it is getting to the point of lenders coming back with more questions or wanting something changing or something putting in about Covid, etc, etc. So I might not charge a regular for the initial report but issue a fee if we start getting in to ping pong. For this reason I am increasingly saying "We would normally charge between £x and £y for this but, as you are a good client, I am not going to charge on this occasion. However, several lenders are requiring subsequent information recently and, if this becomes the case, we may have no option but to charge for our additional time." That way, if the lender starts asking for war and peace, you can issue a fee without surprising the client. Equally, if the client doesn't even bother to let me know and the request just lands in my inbox from the lender, I am less likely to be benevolent, given that they are often accompanied by "we require this information by close of business today" or, if you are fortunate, tomorrow.
2nd Jun 2021
Totally agree with those who say we all make mistakes. The first payroll run that I got trusted with for a previous employer happened to coincide with my grandmother passing away. In those days, said employer used an Excel spreadsheet to make complex adjustments to the payroll for some employees who had expenses deducted by overseas offices. I made mistakes the tune of about £10,000 (in 2006) on about five people's payroll and had to ask for the money back. I had failed to notice that the formula had not picked up the overseas deductions. The CEO hauled me over the coals in front of everyone at coffee break because he, incorrectly, assumed that it had affected everyone (not that that excused him hauling me over the coals publicly). After I'd talked to my line manager about how to deal with it, I went to the CEO and told him that the error had only affected five people and that if he had (very legitimate, in this case) problems with my work then I would appreciate it if we could resolve it on a one to one basis in future. I carried on working there for five years. My point is that sometimes there is "blame" on both sides - why were they using an Excel spreadsheet that is so open to accidental error and, even good-naturedly, humiliating me in front of all of my colleagues was wrong - but how you communicate that fact says as much about how you will fit in to the organisation as the mistakes that you make. In his defence, the CEO also accepted his error in dealing with it, apologised to me in person and then publicly stated at the coffee break the following day that he had been out of order.
I remember another ex-boss saying that he never needed to lay it on thick with me because he could never "beat me up" as much as I would beat myself up about a mistake.
Now that I'm a boss, I try to keep things proportionate to the person and the error. I won't pretend that I always get that right either but generally speaking "how are we / you going to put it right" comes first, followed by "what went wrong and why".
23rd Apr 2021
In my experience, almost everything from HMRC is unreasonably slow this year. The experience mentioned of having to contact them multiple times over the same issue is very familiar too. I phoned regarding VAT and got "you deferred your VAT in March 2020 and it is still outstanding". When I said it wasn't and that it was paid in June 2020 they saw it and told me it would be reallocated. Next time I called? "you deferred your VAT in March 2020 and it is still outstanding...".
CIS refunds in particular, CT refunds, PAYE refunds..... not to mention responses to correspondence.
I do accept, and tell clients, that HMRC are being more accommodating if the client talks to them but even so, they're quick to jump on taxpayers.
23rd Apr 2021
I genuinely feel for payroll employees at the moment. The nitty gritty of their job is changing on an almost monthly basis. They are trying to cram more in to the same amount of time and are often learning on the job as they go along due to information being released at the last minute (although I accept that that is happening less now).
When I am dealing with staff who are at their wits end with Covid and the effects that it has had on them in the past 14 months, I try to look at it from my own perspective - we've all had our own stresses, whether that's children at home, working from home, illness, bereavement, etc.
I try to sit down with the person and say that I appreciate that they've probably had personal as well as work stress within the past year (I avoid saying "I understand what you've had to deal with..." because I probably don't). However, we have to address issues that have arisen. I look with them at whether I'm just plain expecting too much of them - and stress that it is my responsibility to get that right and that them coming to me and telling me I'm being unrealistic is not them saying they're failing but just that they need help. I stress that whatever stresses I have going on that they may or may not be aware of, they should not be keeping their issues to themselves to protect me - that is my responsibility.
I tell them what I expect of them going forwards and look at procedures or checklists that they could be putting in place (assuming that they don't already exist and aren't being used). I do stress, with payroll, that any mistake has a very real consequence on someone's life (or, in the case of CJRS, on a company's cashflow) and can't be tolerated on an ongoing basis, therefore it is even more important that they talk to me, check things with me if they aren't sure and generally cover their backsides by double checking everything. I remember a job where the first month they entrusted me with running the payroll by myself, I had just lost my grandmother and made a catastrophic error due to a formula being incorrect. I learnt my lesson pretty rapidly - but I also learnt by how I was managed by my then boss.
22nd Apr 2021
I have gone back to the client with the question and am waiting for a response but my impression from initial conversations is that he intends to purchase a reasonable quantity - he's implying around £50k to begin with - of which some will be fairly standard quick turnaround and some will be more speculative and he expects to hold on to it for a lot longer before selling it when the market is right.
So, I guess, potentially I've answered my own question - if he does as he suggests, some would be investment in nature and some would be trading in nature and, presumably, if it is trading then it is subject to IT / CT. Does it make sense to transact all of it through the same vehicle or would the trading activity be more suited to a limited company (assuming all the usual factors regarding limco feasibility) and the investment activity be more suited to keeping as an individual?
Currently he has only sold items that he has inherited but has clearly done a lot of research in to the market himself and joined forums etc. He is, thankfully, the sort of client who double checks what he's read on forums with his accountant before entering in to things rather than expecting us to dig him out of a hole later. I just want to ensure that we're not inadvertently creating the hole by trusting an internet browser of choice!
16th Apr 2021
Bounce Back Loans specifically don't carry a personal guarantee regardless of whether a sole trader or limited company director entered in to the agreement.