Member Since: 29th Aug 2015
10th Dec 2019
An excellent post with some good real truths for those thinking about doing the same. Starting anything from scratch is the hardest thing and anyone reading the post would do well to remember that.
14th Aug 2019
All went smoothly for us but we learnt a whole bunch of stuff around how HMRC have delivered this which is laughable including:
Agent Services Portal - can't see VAT cert, can't amend VAT quarters, can't see submitted returns, can't do other admin you could pre MTD
VAT DD - most clients had these setup, randomly some clients portals showed this is setup others with no payment service, all clients with a previous VAT DD had MTD return taken by new DD. Go figure.
If HMRC were a software company they wouldn't have a viable MVP or any paying clients and would currently be raising some seed capital to fix it all but lucky for them the taxpayer is providing this capital.
The long outages of service (another one this weekend through to Monday) are to release technical updates and bug fixes to get things working properly so it's all hand to mouth over there!
25th Jul 2019
Agree with a lot in this article and would emphasise the point that the practice owners I speak to are struggling with;
- Training clients (time, resource, experience)
- Creating new and better processes (cloud is not ideally a bolt on to your 20 year old compliance process)
- Capturing Value both for the client and from the client (helping them run their business better and yours)
- Creating a digital client experience (digital benchmarks like Amazon/Apple etc set the bar high and client expect much of the same)
I disagree with the following ;
“If you look at the accounts production process, a lot of preparers are stuck in the data. If you automate, you’ll get gains further down the line, but it’s hard to quantify because that’s not tangible.”
Do a single set of accounts from a well kept cloud system over the course of the year and then one comparable from your old process, think you can just compare your results to show tangibly the difference. For those thinking it’s about less time overall I think your generally not correct on this point as you just spend it more evenly across the year (1/12 each month approach) and in different areas like client support.
27th Jun 2019
I agree, the functionality is appalling!
Nearly all our clients use DD but you can't setup new or change the account over when client swaps bank, changes to address, period of return etc can't be made and you loose access to VAT certificate.
Given we were 100% cloud coming into this the only thing causing us grief is the tools (or lack of) that HMRC have decided to provide which don't match the old tools. Bonkers!
6th Feb 2019
A real shame for all the hard working people in that team. It just didn’t come together for their clients. To deliver world class small business accounting (and the promised advisory) at that scale to that wider industry sectors would require EXCEPTIONAL planning and execution. It is just not that easy. Thoughts with the team today and kudos to all the smaller practices out there smashing it.
25th Jan 2018
Yup. It a f**k up alright. In order to submit a return electronically rather than be on the exclusion list I had to leave a £1 CGT gain on something particular as the system could not cope with £0. Client happy with this to be able to file but technically it was incorrect. This is basic stuff and there is no one available of any competence to help on the phone. We are supposed to fetch data via API's but those are up and down over January and HMRC won't tell you the numbers over the phone despite this. Agent team sympathetic but unable to help as it is 'policy' not to give out numbers over the phone.
8th Jan 2018
Yup, actually more like 40 quid per month per client initially. Whilst I am sure if your competent you can recover this and then some when doing advisory it doesn’t look all that great and its really expensive with a 12 month commitment to boot.
I don’t think these new software houses think about the proposition enough.
26th Oct 2017
You make a good point about pensions. I view it as a bit like the sub prime credit issues. Pensions aggregate investment in these companies in UK and farther afield. If over time the proportion of these companies that is invested in has aggressive accounting (due to the stresses of running modern business and the need for returns etc) then the returns are ultimately diluted when things go south and therefore past returns can not be an indication of future returns. Whilst I accept pension investment strategies both vary and have different classes of investment it does make you think about where your lifetime retirement savings really are. Would I want them in some of these companies, no!
I agree an answer is more difficult that pin pointing the issue!
25th Oct 2017
There is sadly a lot of truth in this. Auditors are not important in the hierarchy of decision making when the board and executives are taking decisions about how their careers, bonus, LTIP etc are being judged based on the results.
The more complex the accounting the more wiggle room there is. Contract accounting, revenue recognition, deferred revenue/costs etc are all big opportunities to tweak policies here and there to have a big impact. After all most businesses operate on small net margins of 2-5% or so therefore changing policy which has a marginal positive revenue impact of say 0.5% can lead to profits going up 25% which leads to ready made hero's in the present day.
This is why when it goes wrong it often goes spectacularly wrong as all those little tweaks add up and before you know it you are wound so tight a slight hiccup, macro or market dynamic changes are suddenly profits collapse by huge %'s as it unwinds in reverse with the balance sheet revealing the cupboard of lies it has stored up.
It is not to say audit does not add any value but people are seriously misguided if they think it means a watertight set of numbers free from executive influence.
10th Oct 2017
Good article. Workers and Overseas are going to be particularly problematic areas if they are not already!