Practice owner and tax lecturer Rebecca Benneyworth outlines her plan to tackle the digital tax challenges her clients face in 2018 and beyond.
As a challenging January heads over the horizon for another year, thoughts turn to the fresh start that February offers, tinged with “never again”, once again!
Practitioners of all shapes and sizes will be facing their own February routine – maybe attacking the neglected in-tray, or taking a few days to collect their thoughts.
For me, this year offers the chance to prepare for the big push to get my clients onto digital record keeping systems. Those who have already made the move - I will admit, much “encouraged” by me - are now finishing their first accounting period for which the records are already complete and up to date.
Although my practice is small, I have a very flexible staff resource, and this has enabled me to bring bookkeeping in-house using cloud-based technology. My remaining clients will be following the trailblazers this spring. VAT returns are now submitted within a week of the end of the period – the extra full month no longer needed.
Accounts which are ready within a month of the end of the period, ready for us to review and advise clients on their profitability and where their business can improve, whether that is through controlling costs or identifying pricing anomalies. This is work that I prefer to do, rather than the January slog of trying to collect information from recalcitrant clients.
Bringing bookkeeping in-house has enabled me to offer an end-to-end service. If I (or my staff) can show clients how to raise invoices then we, with the aid of an automated bank feed, can do the rest! New paper systems supporting the move to digital has allowed clients to feel more organised, using the folders that I provide them with to store their paid invoices, passed over to us either monthly or quarterly depending on the size of the client. We raise queries in real time, not months after the event when the client has little recollection of what we are asking about.
I am once again accepting new clients after many years of refusal. They move straight on to our systems and have a “shopping list” fee offering where they can pick and choose what level of service they would like. Most just choose “everything” for a fixed fee based on transaction levels. I’m billing quarterly too – what’s not to like?
For me, this is what the move to digital has meant. I grabbed the challenge with both hands and am now starting to see a completely new business model emerging. I am excited about the future – Making Tax Digital when it does come will just naturally fit into our new practice model.
However, before I become too dewy-eyed about all of this digital stuff, I really must get myself ready for GDPR… but that is another story entirely!
Join Rebecca Benneyworth, John Stokdyk, Intuit's Nick Williams and practitioner Fiona Fraser on Thursday 15 February at 11am for a practical workshop on the key tax issues affecting small businesses. Click here to register.
Rebecca trained in London with Kidsons and, on qualifying, spent some time as Chief Accountant of a manufacturing company. She now has her own small practice in Gloucestershire that comprises of owner managed businesses and small companies.
She also lectures extensively for a range of professional bodies, accountancy firms,...