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5 Ways To Improve An Accountant's Cost

accountants cost able accountants walsallWe’ve been involved with local accountants through clients and the bottom-line determinant of which particular accountant and service to use is cost. Understandable, particularly in these hard times and when dealing with financial experts like accountants, however care must be taken as to what the true cost ends up being.

We’ve therefore come up with 5 areas of cost to carefully investigate in order to make sure you receive the most value from the lowest cost (also applicable to other business types):

1. VAT – simple, but can be an unexpected 20% on the cost that you hadn’t factored into the equation. This depends both on your own business’ VAT status and that of the accountant. So best case scenario is where you are resisted for VAT yourself so if another business charges you VAT on their service then you simply claim back in your VAT return. The worst case scenario is where you’re not VAT registered and therefore if you instruct a firm who needs to charge VAT then you get hit with this extra cost which you can’t claim back, in which case it may be worth looking at an often-smaller independent firm or sole trader who does not need to charge VAT in the first place.

2. Free Consultations – a lot of firms now offer a free consultation to start off with, maybe an hour or so, to go through with you face-to-face or maybe over the phone what your issues are and offer some general advice. A definite opportunity to look into, although two words of caution – firstly make sure you receive some helpful advice back rather than just an opportunity to sell their generic services (they need to be applied to your situation), and secondly that you don’t end up paying higher fees afterwards or being locked into a contract (yes the idea of this is to encourage you to be a client, but only on a ‘normal’ basis afterwards).

3. Credit terms – this is to do with when you need to actually pay their fee invoice once generated, often within 30 days. This can be a great help cash-wise, particularly if the accounting advice is leading to say a tax credit which may be coming from HMRC the following month which will help pay the accountant’s invoice then as well. Double check this payment-period both in their written T&S’s but also chat through if you plan to be a little late or you may receive uncomfortable credit-control action from then.

4. Frequency – clarify how often they will charge you, typically in just one invoice at the end of the instruction but firstly check when the ‘end’ is (for example when they have finished work or when you receive confirmation from an authority like companies house or HMRC), and whether any interim charges will be made throughout the instruction.

5. Incentives – check if there are any ways to incentivise your accountant to secure the best possible savings and value for you, maybe by agreeing an additional fee based upon actual savings secured, or a general bonus. They should of course have your best interests at heart anyway so this often doesn’t need expounding too much on smaller instructions, and make sure that whatever is agreed is confirmed in writing.

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Why People Don’t Understand Accountant’s Regulation

accountancy regulations able accountants walsallAn article from Chartered Accountants in Ireland earlier this year highlighted that 8 out of 10 people believe that accountants must be regulated in order to legally practice. As a consequence, 88% of people say that there is an issue of “consumer protection” without such regulation. This helps identify four conclusions:

1. People expect regulation of accountants. They’re professional advisors, and like say solicitors and doctors surely they need to be regulated by some body before they can practice their expertise. This is all about perception, accountants already assumed to be this that and the other simply by being an accountant which can all be reinforced by good presentation.

2. People probably don’t realise that you don’t necessarily need regulation. This is often confused with legislation which is the law of the land meaning you have to do certain accounts and taxes in a certain way and submitted to various authorities. This does not always say who has to do this though, hence a non-regulated accountant or even worse a non-accountant could theoretically do this.

3. People suspect there will problems from non-regulation. As the reality hits that regulation is not always needed, then quite rightly suspicions set in. If there is no way to control the practice of accountants then consumers and clients could be at risk, so logically, the first criteria is to make sure a firm is regulated by some body, for example The Institute of Chartered Accountants or Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA). Secondly though, even if a firms says they are regulated, then check this out – ask for the specific regulatory body, and contact them direct to not only check membership but if there are any issues.

4. People probably don’t understand the implications of regulation. So you find a firm which is regulated, but what does it actually mean. There are codes of conducts, ethical benchmarks, insurance requirements, complaints procedures, qualifications, and adherence to certain legislation expected. Check the theory with the regulatory body, and then check that the firm of accountants actually know and realise this, including individuals dealing with your case rather than just the firm’s status generally.

When it comes to selecting an accountant in Walsall, the trick is to sift through the small print and understand what is actually being claimed, and then do whatever checks you need in order to make sure you know this is happening in reality.

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3 Reasons Why Accountants Want to Move Abroad

accountancy career abroad able accountantsA survey we came across at the end of last year had questioned 200 UK-based accountants and revealed that 77% of them want to flit abroad in order to ‘further their careers’. As we now enter another British winter then these kind of opportunities become more and more appealing, will nearly three quarters of accountants apparently thinking the same (North America & Western Europe being the two popular destinations). An accountant’s likf is apparently not all about numbers on a piece of paper or computer screen, but the wider life experience.

Delving deeper, three top reasons for this were identified. The first is all to do with the economy and job prospects, with an expectation of greater opportunities and stability abroad rather than here in the UK at this time.

Secondly, the cost of living would expected to be be lower abroad, particularly when compared against the south-east and London costs I suspect, and the perception that they will get more for their money in foreign quarters.

The third reason is an obvious one, a warmer and more pleasant environment in other countries, with greater possibilities for recreation, social, and family times outside work – actually an important factor that can have a positive re-energised and focused perspective and productivity with work. What is linked with this as well is an accountant’s value of immediate and extended family, including the role of grandparents, and how this does play an important part in any decision to move to another culture. There will be varying degrees of risk perceived with these various options, and being able to ‘chance’ things working out.

Practically, accountancy is actually a good career to offer this flexibility of working abroad. Obviously there will be the issues of different accounting legislation and procedures in different countries, but subject to this being learnt there are opportunities to easily transfer these skills.

On one extreme you can be an employee of a large international accountancy firm who can easily offer opportunities in one of their other international offices. On the other extreme you can be a sole trader doing accountancy and book keeping still for UK-based clients, and by using all the technology of the internet and cloud-based software systems you can still do this while located in hotter climates abroad.

Even communication can be easy with free phone and video calls, and shared workload documents. There can also be the opportunity to work with other businesses to help with practical things back in the UK, whether it’s virtual office space and secretarial services, another accountant, or business-development contact to develop existing and new client relationships.

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3 Ways To Stop Your Accountant Nagging For Invoices

accountant nagging incoives able accountants walsallOh the joy of invoices. Every accountant will want bags of them, with every penny being justified by an invoice somewhere. Completely understandable as the whole point of accounting and bookkeeping is to have an accurate paper (or data) trail of money movements which can be clearly explained.

To the non-accounting person this can be a nightmare and a seemingly pointless exercise, and although a nice idea to keep on top of throughout the year, in reality it results in a mad rush at the year-end accounts and audit when the accountant lists all kinds of transactions that need invoice back-ups.

So here’s 3 tips to help out. No necessarily a magic wand to end the need for invoices, but little tricks to help make it easier:

1. Online transactions can mean easier invoices. In today’s modern virtual world this will actually include the majority of suppliers and customers, whether they are directly internet related or are proper brick-and-mortar businesses who have an online account on their website or through software where you keep track of orders and transactions.

You can even be using mainstream ones like Amazon and Bay which allow access to invoices there and then. You just have to remember that each one can have a different layout and style and will take a few minutes to get the hang of, but once you do it can be easy to get hold of online rather than request offline.

2. Get used to keeping PDF copies of invoices. So rather than instinctively printing hard copies of every invoice, you can save them on your computer as a digital PDF version. Not only can this mean less fath by then printing them all off at the same time at say year end, but you may even find that you don’t need to print off and can simply copy all these digital files straight to your accountant (you can also attach to any email to ping across).

All you need is a place to store them, maybe an ‘invoices’ folder on your computer or USB stick, and then a quick way to convert any document such as an excel spreadsheet or Word document or even an email straight into PDF format. A lot of new software allows you to save as this PDF format from a drop down list when you get the save-as pop-up menu, or you can install software like Primo PDF which acts as another printer setting (sounds strange, but go to print your document but list this as the printer type and it will dump it as a PDF on your computer screen).

3. Get everything written down. Often too easy to be true, but just jot everything down. So even if it’s a small transaction, maybe just using cash, and for whatever reason you don’t get a formal invoice then simply scribble it down on a piece of paper to make note. Ideally it can be signed by everybody, correctly described on headed paper etc., but even just on a piece of paper will help (even just send a quick email instead).

A good example is a taxi where some don’t provide one and you need to ask them to jot down the cost on a business card or something as this can an allowable expense for you.

For help finding the right accountants in Walsall then contact us today for immediate help and advice.

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4 Aspects Of The Accountancy Career

accountancy career able accountantsA career in accountancy is worth looking into. It is a solid profession to be in, with options to train without any directly related qualifications, it has opportunities away from pure numbers, and offers good rewards. It’s a good option, no matter what age or stage of your career or working life you’re at – whether still at school looking into, or already well into a different career.

So here are a few pointers if you’re looking into accountancy as a career:

1. You really need a nack for numbers. Sound obvious I know, but an important distinction to make at the start. We’re all wired-up different, so for some people they have to really strive for numbers to ‘make sense’, whereas say pictures and images can make complete sense. It’s not so much as a love for numbers, but rather a tolerance of them – you don’t mind them, you can work them, and the shear thought of them does not send you into panic attacks.

2. Be able to also think out of the numbers-box.  So yes you need to get the numbers right, but the expertise is then being able to present, manipulate, communicate, and interpret them. To be able to see patterns, determine strategies, and help solve problems. The processing side of numbers is actually getting easier with technology and software, both in and out the ‘cloud’, therefore there is a greater need to be able to make sense of these and apply to real life situations.

3. Training can be flexible. Surprisingly you can easily accommodate training around other life happenings as well as traditional full-time study before employment. Infact I’d recommend gaining experience in actually doing accounting before you even decide to do training as the practice can be a lot different to the theory. You then can not only mould the training around your life through say distance learning or online means, but you know it has a purpose at the end of it with real work afterwards.

4. Get all kinds of experience under your belt. As above, gaining actual experience in accountancy early on is essential, as with any other profession. Here in the UK we’re geared to choose a career without this, spend years training for it before then actually doing it. Personally I’d do this the other way around – try it, decide you like it, then train for it. And milk every kind of experience possible – menial admin jobs in your local firm of accountants free of choice, shadowing other accountants, offering to help people with related tasks like book keeping and taxes, or go through a set of accounts and ask qualified people questions about it.

Just go for it. 

Looking for accountants Walsall? Contact us today for more help and advice.

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