I suspect that anyone with plenty of tax returns still to process does not want to say it for fear of being branded as dissorganised or worse.
We are not dissorganised but we stil have a mountain to climb. I am sure there are plenty out there like us. Working today and tomorrow. We'll get there, if we're spared.....
Buying Fees - Who Dares Wins
We have bought twice in the last 3 years. First was a retiring accountant who worked alone from home. Second was a firm with several offices. We had never bought fees before.
I would say it is a bit like buying a second hand car. You need to check out the previous owner and find out the real reason for the sale ie what is about to go wrong, why has someone else not bought it.
Always remember that you may not be the first person to look at the deal and the others may all have drawn back, so the deal may not be as good as you first think.
Don't expect any help from ICAEW etc. After our experience with deal one, we wanted to get advice from ICAEW before launching into deal 2. They said they could not advise and to go and read the leaflet they had produced which was pretty useless in practice.
Expect the worst, look out for dodgy deals cooked up to save tax dreamed up between the previous accountants and the clients. If we have learnt one lesson here it is that whatever the other accountant looks like or sounds like, you cannot trust their work, systems or working papers. We still do not believe how bad it was once we took over and really got into the files and tax papers. We thought all, or at least most qualified accountants produced sound work. Nope!
The other big lesson is that your cash flow will go pear shaped and possibly become non existent while you get to grips with your acquisition. Make sure you have 2 to 3 months fees in the bank to carry you over the initial period,
We thought we knew all the pitfalls after deal 1 but we had only sctratched the surface. There is stuff out there waiting to be bought that is unbelievably bad, just like dodgy second hand cars.
Would we buy again? Probably. As long as you can keep the new clients, the contrast between what you do and what they were getting before can make them raving fans quite quickly. It is hard work, but you have to grind your way through it and after 6 months to a year, see what you are left with. We are now 4 time our size before the first opurchase.
Remember you are dealing with second hand cars and second hand car dealers.
We could write a book.
I know it is not answering the question, and we are North of the Border, but I ran this query through our fee calculator and it gave the following :
Small office price, 1/2 Principals and 4/5 staff scale of operation.
Interested in feedback.
Carrot or stick
I know that some accountants charge a premium for records delivered late but we give a 10% discount to any client that gives us their records within 5 months of their year end. It is the same thing at the end of the day, but I think it looks better.
PC Share Register Plus from BHISWe have been using PC Share Register Plus for 8 years and have been very pleased with it. Simple and very straightforward but with some nice features. We currently have about 100 companies , mostly small, but one has several hundred members.
If there was more choice in the banking market, these guys would be out of business.
No wonder that Invoice Financing is on the rise when LTSB and BoS are effectively forcing businesses to use this form of finance. It is a trend made in Head Office.
Am I missing something here
We are getting another tier of "simplification" that we have to monitor so that we prepare the right accounts for that client for that year. If we prepare the wrong accounts, are we going to have unhappy clients because we prepared the "expensive version". Are we expected to charge less for simplified accounts. This is not simplification but a further burden on us and our clients that can only lead to further confusion.
There are quite a few accountants who would qualify for the cash basis. Is anyoine going to try to tell me that this cannot be manipulated, especially by accountants.
Could be an opportunity for a new Cash Planning Consultancy.
I cannot see HMRC being very happy with this. Small businesses rushing to incorporate to get the benefit of a lower Corporation Tax Rate AND adjusting their cash to suit the amount of tax they want to pay.
£1 per minute late
We filed a tax return and the acknowldgement says 00.01.49 on 3 Feb. We have just received a penalty notice. That means they are being charged approx £1 per minute past the deadline.
I would have expected a little more flexibility, especially for those of us who work off the beaten track, but for those of you who think that HMRC should be paid in blood, would this rate suffivce.
Actuall HMRC are looking into the tax laibility that was hidden by this action.
The relevant Professional body has also been informed but has declined to take any action even though the tax alone is over £100k.
It's worse than that
We have come across a case in the last few weeks where local inspectors are wanting to investigate the deliberate submission of false accounts by the former accountants (without the clients knowledge) but Debt Management say it is nothing to do with them and are moving to close the business down because of some vat arrears.
Hard to believe they are all on the same payroll.
By the way, this is a good business that like so many others just now is going through a sticky patch.
We use IRIS and produce all letters from within the sofware (standard letters as much as posiible) and scan all incoming mail. File notes are typed directly into the computer and stored in the same place. All work flows are controlled from within the iRIS software but supplemented by shared spereadsheets so that we can all keep an overview of work allocations (vats, payrolls etc). We file everything online and don't keep paper copies of anything we do not need.
Accounts working papers are generally on Excel and so stored in the client folder on the network.
It easier to look up client records on screen than go and hunt for a file that could be out on someone else''s desk and I can do it from anywhere that I can get on to the internet. We are working across 4 offices and can access any client form any office.
Are we ahead of the game? I don't think so. There must be plenty of firms out there who are just like us.
But we need to know how other firms deal with the practicalities eg on IRIS, how do you put a file note on more than one client at the same time etc and all the other anoyances.What solutions do people use to allow clients to upload files for us to access?
We want to know what other experiences firms are having, what other solutions they have found.
Really looking forward to seeing the articles and reading the posts.
We use Tolley OnlineWe live in Orkney, about 20 miles north of John O'Groats. We use Tolley online seminars. We used to use CCH but when they changed to using anonomous voices we changed to Tolley. I prefer to hear the actual presenters and many of them are familiar from courses and conferences we attend when we can get away. Our location means we cannot get to many courses and the online facility is great. We also use them as reference material and return to the online lectures as a refesher periodically. Travelling for us is expensive and time consuming and the online facility is excellent value for money as far as we are concerned.