Company secretarial software, which aims to save time and resources by simplifying tasks through technology, is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with recent significant changes to compliance requirements.
With constant changes in legislation, accountants and finance teams find it increasingly difficult to keep up to date and comply with the current law and Companies House filings.
The statutory registers can be maintained manually and there are paper forms available for Companies House filings. However, many companies choose software to simplify the process using company secretarial programs.
For instance, the software can produce share certificates, minutes and resolutions and file directly with the registry thanks to Companies House-approved electronic filing modules.
The new PSC regime, which will be implemented 26 June 2017, is just one example of these multiple changes in legislation. Every company has statutory obligations to fulfil, but keeping on top of these obligations can be a drain on valuable resources.
Changes to a company's PSC register have to be notified to Companies House within 14 days, instead of being able to wait until the next annual confirmation statement. According to the company, the software will automatically identify which form will need to filed based on the PSC update made by the user.
As discussed on Any Answers, the list of companies that offer these services has grown exponentially during the last few years, and the proliferation of software solutions makes it increasingly difficult for accountants to choose one of them.
Thomson Reuters, IRIS, BTC, Wolters Kluwer, Inform Direct and LifeCycle are just a few of the companies currently offering company secretarial systems.
Another of the companies, Jordans, recently announced an update to its PCSec system to adapt to the new PSC legislation, coinciding with the changes to the way PSC updates are filed at Companies House.
According to Ian Cooper, product manager - non-tax products at Thomson Reuters, the company has seen an increased level of interest in company secretarial software across the board from sole practitioners through to large tax and accounting software clients.
“Compliance with PSC regulations can be a time consuming task and not one the firm will always be able to charge back to the clients,” said Cooper. “It's crucial that these compliance jobs can be completed efficiently and with minimal risk.”
Speaking to AccountingWEB Wolters Kluwer tax and accounting UK product director Wendy Rowe explained how they have also seen a significant increase in the take up of their CCH company secretarial software over the last 18 months. Rowe also believes the new confirmation statement, which replaced the annual return from 30 June 2016 is another of the driving factors.
Cloud computing and integration
As for the future of company secretarial, one of the key points seems to be integration. Thomson Reuters, Wolters Kluwer and IRIS are just some of the companies integrating their software with other tax and accounting solutions.
According to IRIS, this allows accountants to see, for example, that the necessary Companies House forms are automatically updated and ready made for submission after an individual’s personal information is updated for a tax return.
The rapid rise of cloud computing also seems to be having an impact in this kind of software. Companies like Inform Direct have developed their company secretarial to be entirely cloud-based, which allows users to access using desktop or mobile devices, including tablets and to hold company documents online.
“As businesses of all types have become used to doing things online – for example banking and accounting – the move to (online) cosec software is an obvious next step”, said John Korchak, Operations Director at Inform Direct.