Spring is here and the day one activity at Accountex confirms that at this time of year practitioners’ minds turn to practice management software.
Taxfiler, TaxCalc, Senta, Nomisma, Satago and AccountancyManager all had new features and modules to show off to visitors at the Docklands event.
Once tax season is over, firms frequently share their experiences on AccountingWEB and vow to improve their workflows and systems before next January. Unsurprisingly, that prompts a lot of development and marketing activity among specialist software providers that reaches full bloom by early May.
This year the rising stakes in anti-money laundering (AML) regulation is prompting practices to look at admin tools to help them with AML bureaucracy.
Professional bodies and HMRC, which effectively regulates non-qualified practitioners, have signalled their intention to crack down on the profession’s poor compliance record on AML.
In HMRC’s case, if an agent doesn’t have AML regulation credentials in place, they will struggle to get the online Agent Services Account required to file clients’ returns.
Now is a good time to start considering AML software, according to David Winch.
“There may now be a little more keenness on supervisors to check up. There will be some accountants who do nothing at all. If that’s your situation, you should get a system in place sooner rather than later. There will be checks and you will be in hot water if you don’t have one,” the profession's leading AML expert said in AccountingWEB’s On Compliance AML podcast last October.
The supervisory bodies’ requirements include more than just the usual ID checks; now the firm’s risk assessments, training and policy processes have to be properly documented.
Those requirements fuelled some of the enhancements to the Senta client portal unveiled at Accountex this morning.
“The portal has a customisable Q&A system you can adapt to collect all kinds of information,” explained Senta CEO James Kilford.
“We’ve had lots of requests for AML functionality, not just ID checking. The difficulty is if you want to handle it properly, it means more bureaucracy for accountants.”
Senta has been working with an expert from the banking sector to ensure the software can handle all the requirements.
“Senta is all about workflow and trying to automate that stuff. So you can now do risk analysis for clients and it will prompt for repeat assessments at the right time to check clients are still the same risk profile,” Kilford said.
Elsewhere, TaxCalc has brought out Practice Manager, which beefs up the features of the existing TaxCalc Hub and includes new modules including Automated Workflow, Time and an AML Centre. The latter takes the sequential processes in TaxCalc’s Simple Start interface and applies them to AML tasks, explained CEO Tracey Ebdon-Poole.
“Market forces are dictating that firms have to move in certain directions,” she said. “The firms we’re talking to are looking for certain elements and we worked very hard to meet their needs.”
Other developers with products to show in this area include:
- Taxfiler is adding practice management functionality to its online tax and accounts production package, just a year after it was acquired by IRIS. As IRIS chief marketing officer Nick Gregory explained in our Day 1 video (above), the new Taxfiler module is built on top of the system it acquired from Accounting Excellence Pioneeer Will Farnell.
- AccountancyManager has had for anti-money laundering features for the past 18 months and has been growing rapidly to more than 2,500 according to managing director James Bynre. Instead, his focus is on new integrations with Xero, QuickBooks and FreeAgent that don’t just bring in updates of trial balances, but fully synch with live transactions.
- Gbooks includes a number of practice management tools within its online compliance sutie, including an innovative taxlocker system and an integrated email system.
- Wolters Kluwer is showcasing a new MTD for VAT feature, which is part of its CCH OneClick cloud accounting software.
- Nomisma is luring visitors to its stand with a free offer for its Company Secretarial software. This cloud-based module the online Nomisma suite can handle director appointments and terminations, changes of registered office and share allotments.