Just over 300 years ago, in 1714, Queen Anne of Great Britain granted a patent to Henry Mill. Mill, who was an engineer, had come up with the idea of a machine that could write. The patent application suggests that the machine was a sort of early typewriter. But credit for the first modern typewriter or more specifically, the keyboard, goes to an American named Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaper editor and printer who lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His colleagues in the venture were Frank Haven Hall, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule.
The keys on Sholes’ keyboard were arranged alphabetically – this caused problems as the keys of commonly used letters kept clashing. That is, until a new keyboard was introduced with the most commonly used letters kept as far apart as was possible. Thus, in the early 1870s, the Qwerty keyboard, still is use today, on typewriters, phones and computer keyboards, was born.
What did Sholes do next? He sold his idea to E Remington and Sons and the modern typewriter quickly became an indispensable tool for practically all forms of writing other than personal handwritten correspondence. It was widely used by professional writers, in offices, and for business correspondence in private homes. Typewriters were a standard fixture in most offices up to the 1980s, when they were jostled out of position by computers.
Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is said to have written The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, on a Remington typewriter with a Qwerty keyboard in 1876.
Since the beginning of time, colour has influenced the human race. But the meaning of colour and its impact differs from country to country and from culture to culture. For example:
Red in China is a colour for joyous and festive occasions, whereas in Japan it is used to signify anger and danger;
Blue for the Cherokee Indian signifies defeat, but for the Egyptian, it signifies virtue and truth, while yellow signifies happiness and prosperity;
In the Japanese theatre, blue is the colour for villains;
White is the colour of death in Chinese culture, but purple represents death in Brazil;
Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but signified sadness in Greece and jealousy in France;
In North America, green is typically associated with jealousy;
People from tropical countries respond most favorably to warm colours, people from northern climates prefer cooler colours
Marketing with Colour Although there are no hard and fast rules about colours in marketing, there are some things that seem to work well, time and time again.
Grey and blue corporate colours would be completely out of place for a fashion boutique. But these colours would be spot on for a financial services company, which must project permanence and responsibility.
Using colours in marketing is a powerful way to set emotion, which is the real driving force behind decision-making.
The simple fact is this: “Colour sells, but the right colour sells better”
When choosing colours for your design, packaging or message, remember the rules for mixing colours. The human eye cannot focus on red and blue at the same time. You should never ever use blue type on a red background (or even worse, is red type on a blue background). If you do so, you will lose your audience since mixing colours like this causes extreme eye fatigue.
Colour can have great effect on whether or not your customer likes your product. In fact, some marketers use experts to help forecast which colours consumers will like two or three years down the road.
Researchers have found differences among social classes in colour preference:
Hot, bright colours usually appeal to lower-end markets;
Deep, rich colours have historically appealed to higher-end markets.
The good news is that most colours go well together with members of the same “family”:
Warm colours of type, such as red, brown, orange and yellow look better together in combination warm coloured backgrounds;
Cool coloured type like blue, green, gray and white with cool coloured backgrounds;
Using colour families generally makes for a more appealing presentation, especially for large amounts of information.
Colour is often one of the first things that consumers notice about something and, therefore, a dominant factor in determining a customer’s first impression about a product or service. In his book, The Power of Color (Avery Penguin Putnam, January 1991, ASIN: 0895294303), author Dr. Morton Walker writes: “Marketing psychologists advise that a lasting color impression is made within ninety seconds and accounts for sixty percent of the acceptance or rejection of an object, place, individual or circumstance. Because color impressions are both quickly made and long-held, decisions regarding color can be highly important to success”.
Colour Influences Using colour influences the mood and emotion of your customers. The colours for type, illustrations and backgrounds influence the way they are perceived. Be careful with colours – using too many lessens the impact of each colour and confuses your audience.
A Basic Guide The following Table provides a basic guide to using colour in your presentations. You should be aware of the positive and negative connotations of colours and the emotional response certain colours may evoke.
Email me if you would like to receive the free publication: Colours and their effect on Consumers
Occam’s Razor (also spelled as Ockham’s Razor or Ocham’s Razor: Latin: novacula Occami). For something concerned with simplicity, it is quite complicated. There are two parts that are considered the basis of Occam’s Razor, and they were originally written in Latin, probably in the early part of the 14th century:
The Principle of Plurality– plurality should not be put forward as fact or as a basis for argument. without there being necessity for it; and
The Principle of Parsimony– it is pointless to do with more what can be done with less, a problem-solving principle which argues that simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones.
The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (1287–1347 or 1349), a scholastic philosopher, theologian and logician. The good friar William used the principle to justify many conclusions, including ‘God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone’, a statement that did nothing to endear him with the Pope at the time.
William of Ockham put the principle into Latin, which one tended to do in those days. He said: pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, (which means: plurality should not be posited without necessity). The friar’s reasoning is still widely used today as a means to slice through a problem or situation and eliminate all unnecessary elements. If you are faced with two competing theories, run with the simpler explanation as, more than likely, it usually turns out to be the right one. Police Investigators and Doctors, perhaps unwittingly, use this method.
Ockham’s early schooling in a Franciscan convent concentrated on the study of logic. Throughout his career, his interest in logic never waned, because he regarded the science of terms as fundamental and indispensable for practicing all the sciences of things, including God, the world, and ecclesiastical or civil institutions; in all his disputes logic was destined to serve as his chief weapon against adversaries.
The late Stephen Hawking gave this advice in A Brief History of Time: ‘We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely for some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it. However, such models of the universe are not of much interest to us mortals. It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam’s Razor and cut out all the features of the theory that cannot be observed.’
The underlying idea behind ‘fair dealing’ in copying copyright works is that the copying should benefit the individual or society without harming the interests of the copyright owner.
If the copying (of sections of a book) replaces the need for you or anyone else to buy the work, then the copying is probably not fair.
Usually only part of a work may be used without breaching copyright.
The source of the copy must be acknowledged. This means recording at least the name of the author and the title on the photocopy if this is not already included.
If photocopying, the copy being made should be for the person doing the copying, and no-one else. It must not be passed on; it is for personal use only.
Up to 10% or one complete chapter of a book, plus any associated endnotes or references. E.g. if a chapter comprises 25% of a book, you can photocopy the entire chapter; but if you want to photocopy extracts from more than one chapter, you can only copy up to 10% of the book (this requirement is in additionto and not in place of, the above).
No more than a single photocopy should be produced, for the personal use of the person doing the copying. Multiple copying (e.g. by teachers for students) is not generally permitted under “fair dealing” for private study or research.
“Fair dealing” for private study or research does not authorise the reproduction of copyright protected material in other works, such as publications, coursework or dissertations’
The best advice is this: If you have any doubts about copying/using Copyright works, don’t copy anything until you’ve checked with a Copyright lawyer.
The term ‘use it, or lose it’ is a commonplace statement these days, particularly in senior circles. It can mean any number of things from taking regular exercise to learning new things.
This article is about learning new things. To do this, you need two things: a functional brain and willpower. Everyone has a brain – it’s inside your skull and operates as the command centre of your nervous system and receives signals from your body’s sensory organs and outputs information to your muscles. It has a number of interesting characteristics:
It is the largest brain of all vertebrates relative to body size.
It weighs about 3.3 lbs. (1.5 kilograms).
It makes up about 2% of your body weight.
The cerebrum part of your brain makes up 85% of your brain’s weight.
It contains about 86 billion nerve cells (neurons)
The neurons are connected by trillions of connections, or synapses.
10 years ago, in March 2009, an article in Scientific American caught my eye and held my attention. It was titled: ‘How To Save New Brain Cells’ and was written by Tracey J. Shors. She had my attention straightaway as I read her opening text: Fresh neurons arise in the adult brain every day. New research suggests that the cells ultimately help with learning complex tasks—and the more they are challenged, the more they flourish.
She explained that the brain can grow new neurons. That’s good news but the bad news is that they disappear unless cognitively challenged. Apparently, fresh neurons arise in the brain every day and research carried out, albeit mostly on rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain.
Here’s the really exciting bit: the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then available to help in situations that tax the mind. This is a case where the more taxing there is, the better you can become.
Apparently, in the 1990s, scientists awakened interest in the field of neurobiology with the startling news that the mature mammalian brain (every human has one) is capable of sprouting new neurons. Previously, biologists had long believed that this talent for neurogenesis was reserved for young, developing minds and was lost with age. Now we know that new cells do arise in the adult brain—particularly in a region called the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory.
It may surprise people to know that in rats, between 5,000 and 10,000 new neurons arise in the hippocampus every day. With humans, we do not know how many. The new cells are not generated like clockwork but can be influenced by a number of different environmental factors. For example, alcohol can retard the generation of new brain cells, whereas exercise can increase the rate of production.
But don’t get too excited. Yes, exercise and other actions may help produce extra brain cells. But those new cells don’t necessarily hang around – most will disappear within just a few weeks of creation. We already know that most cells do not survive indefinitely, but their quick demise is a bit of a puzzle. After all, why would the brain go to the trouble of producing new cells only to have them disappear rapidly? The answer seems to be that they are made ‘just in case’ – if your brain is cognitively challenged, your new brain cells will hang around but if your brain is in limbo, the new cells simply fade away.
Humans have Big Brains
David Christian wrote on Delanceyplace on 10th October 2018 that humans have big brains which are unusually large relative to their bodies. Not only that, the top front layer of the brain, the neocortex, is gigantic. In most mammal species, the cortex accounts for between 10% to 40% of brain size, whereas in humans it can be as much as 80%.
Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, remember this: humans are exceptional for the sheer number of their cortical neurons. They have about fifteen billion, or more than twice as many as chimpanzees (with about six billion). Whales and elephants, who are the next in line after humans on the most-cortical-neurons list, have about ten billion cortical neurons, but they have smaller brains than chimpanzees relative to body size. Having a large brain means you have the potential to acquire, store, and use information about the things that are going on in your world.
I know what you’re going to ask: Aren’t big brains obviously a good thing? Not necessarily, as they guzzle energy. They need up to twenty times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle tissue. In humans, the brain uses 16% of available energy, though the brain is only 2% of the body’s mass. Our brains need energy to manage the dexterity in our hands and feet. In processing images, the brain uses a large share of available energy.
Connecting Two Brains
Two scientists are the first to successfully allow one human brain to communicate an intention directly to another human brain. Technologies known as brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are now beginning to allow paralyzed individuals to control, say, a computer cursor or a prosthetic limb with their brain signals. The scientists began to wonder if the same principle could be used to beam thoughts from one human brain to another. They decided to test their brain-to-brain interface by seeing if they could play a simple two-player video game. It worked – for the first time, a human brain had communicated an intention directly to another human brain, allowing the two brains to jointly complete a task.
New Brain Cells Throughout Life
People keep making new brain cells throughout their lives (well at least until the age of 97), according to a study on human brains conducted by researchers at the University of Madrid. It’s an idea that has been fiercely debated as it used to be thought we were born with all the brain cells we will ever have. But the research showed that the number of new brain cells tails off with age and falls dramatically in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Most of our neurons (brain cells emitting electrical signals) are indeed in place by the time we are born.
Whilst studies on other mammals have found new brains cells forming later in life, the extent of “neurogenesis” in the human brain is still a source of considerable debate.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, looked at the brains of 58 dead people who were aged between 43 and 97. The focus was on the hippocampus – the part of the brain involved in memory and emotion. It is the part of the brain that you need, to remember where you parked your car or put your mobile phone or car keys.
Neurons do not emerge in a fully-formed brain but have to go through a process of growing and maturing. The researchers were able to spot immature or “new” neurons in the brains that they examined. In healthy brains there was a slight decrease in the amount of this neurogenesis with age. Researcher Dr Maria Llorens-Martin told BBC News: ‘I believe we would be generating new neurons as long as we need to learn new things. And that occurs during every single second of our life.’
But there was a different story in the brains from Alzheimer’s patients. The number of new neurons forming fell from 30,000 per millimetre to 20,000 per millimetre in people at the onset of Alzheimer’s. Dr Llorens-Martin said: ‘That’s a 30% reduction in the very first stage of the disease. It’s very surprising for us, it’s even before the accumulation of amyloid beta [a hallmark of Alzheimer’s] and probably before symptoms, it’s very early.’
Dr Rosa Sancho, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘While we start losing nerve cells in early adulthood, this research shows that we can continue to produce new ones even into our 90s. ‘Alzheimer’s radically accelerates the rate at which we lose nerve cells and this research provides convincing evidence that it also limits the creation of new nerve cells. Larger studies will need to confirm these findings and explore whether they could pave the way for an early test to flag those most at risk of the disease.’
Exercising Your Mind Becomes Even More Important In Old Age
Dawn C. Carr MGS, Ph.D. posted an interesting article on Psychology Today on 5th May 2014. She says that, for several decades, people have used the term ‘use it, or lose it’ to aptly describe the best way to off-set the problems that come with aging. This is how she puts it: ‘As overly simplistic as the idea sounds, scientific studies continue to show that if you disengage in later life, things fall apart. This has particular relevance when we’re talking about cognitive performance.’
For years, we assumed that cognitive performance declined substantially as a part of normal aging. But recent research suggests, in fact, that is not the case. It is true that individuals with abnormal brain function who end up going on to get dementia show decline in cognition beginning as early as in their 40s and the decline during later life can be steep. But for those with normal brain matter, function, and activity, the average person does experience cognitive decline but there is potential for this to be quite modest. As we age, learning new, novel information takes a bit more effort and time than earlier in life, but our foundation of knowledge and wisdom is far greater allowing us to understand a deep level of complexity about subjects we know well. So, what can we do to greatly reduce decline whether it be due to impending pathology or normal aging?
At present, there are no drugs to prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease. But there is quite a bit of evidence that lifestyle greatly modifies the downward trajectory of cognitive performance as you age. There is a significant decrease in cognitive performance that comes with retirement, which researchers suggest is because when we stop engaging in cognitively complex tasks, the brain is no longer challenged enough to maintain cognitive function. It has been proposed that retirement is problematic because it results in a shift in environment in which we are no longer using our brains at a high level on a frequent basis.
 Source: A Big History of Everything, Author: David Christian, Publisher: Little, Brown, Pages: 158-160.
 Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote viewed as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. See: https://delanceyplace.com/
 The two scientists are Rajesh P.N. Rao, Director of the NSF Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) and the Cherng Jia and Elizabeth Yun Hwang Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Andrea Stocco, Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences,
 Source: When Two Brains Connect, Authors: Rajesh P.N. Rao and Andrea Stocco, Publisher: Scientific America Mind, November/December 2011, Pages: 36 to 39.
 Excerpted from an article by James Gallagher, Health and science correspondent, BBC News, 25 March 2019.
This is a rallying cry to professionals – accountants and lawyers – who are in danger of being caught in the headlights.
As business professionals, we think we have a pretty good idea of what it takes to run a successful professional practice. Attention to detail and a close eye on billing recovery rates are the benchmarks in an industry that is sadly still clutching onto the past.
Well, the bad news is that the future is here and it’s here now.
What do we really provide to our clients? An important service, certainly, but for the most part, clients only employ us because they have to. This is not a recipe for growth or optimal earnings.
We mustn’t kid ourselves that our firm has qualities that surpass anything our competitors can offer.
If you don’t believe this… Imagine for a moment a prospective client asking what makes your firm stand out from the rest. Certainly, we’d respond by saying that our fees are reasonable, that we are very approachable and knowledgeable etc. But the truth is, that if the prospect were to go to our competitor next door and ask the same question, they would get pretty much the same answer.
What does it mean?
What this means is that we don’t have an advantage at all. We are probably no better than most other firms that the prospective client meets.
To stand out from the crowd, a practice has to offer greater value than its competitors. Clients look to us to solve their problems; we are in the problem solving business, so we need to offer help and advice as well as a precise compliance service.
The nature of that advice should be wide-ranging:
Are our clients working as efficiently as they could be?
Do they have appropriate systems and processes in place?
Do they require additional services to make their working lives easier?
How do we do that?
By regularly reaching out to our clients with newsletters, factsheets, informative events or even the occasional lunch, we can provide the added value that will retain and grow existing clients and make us attractive to new ones.
The brilliance of the internet (and all-too often, the downfall of many firm), is that comparison between your competitors and your firm is easy and client mobility is rapid.
A strong web portfolio of resources such as blog-posts, fact-sheets, calculators and industry news helps to set one practice apart from another.
Clients don’t care about hourly rates or the processes we go through behind the scenes.
Ultimately, clients want to engage someone who is familiar with their business sector, who understands the pressures and opportunities that they face and who can be a trusted, caring adviser and friend.
At the end of the day, clients rarely complain about poor service, they vote with their feet. You want them to walk towards you rather than away.
Developing and maintaining new resources is no easy task, which is why Bizezia has developed a suite of tools that firm can access and brand for a low monthly payment.
Unproductivity and loss of drive can result from something nasty called decision overload.
DelanceyPlace (here) tell me that, “we live in a world with 300 exabytes of information (that’s (300 billion, billion) an amount that is rapidly expanding to ever-greater amounts from this already Brobdingnagian level. And yet the processing capacity of the conscious mind is a mere 120 bits per second. This presents a challenge to not only our processing capacity, but also our decision-making ability: Neuroscientists have discovered that productivity and loss of drive can result from decision overload.”
For the less clever clogs among my readers and those who may have forgotten, Brobdingnagian means hugely gigantic.
Click here if you don't want decision overload
You definitely don’t want decision overload. It seems obvious that making things easier is the answer. My company, BizeziaTM do just that – make things easier. I don’t want any of my readers to suffer from decision overload. What’s needed is organisation. So, to start with, here’s a book recommendation:
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
Author: Daniel J. Levitin
Publisher: Penguin Group
The author is a cognitive neuroscientist at McGill University, and this book is an ambitious attempt to bring research in neuroscience and cognitive psychology to bear on the more ordinary parts of our lives.
You never know, you might end up doing the really important things.
Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. Each week, I have included a section titled Technical Stuff. Also featured from now on is a section on Employment Stuff. These provide a useful reminder of some of the stories that emerged in the last week that touch on technical and employment issues. I hope that you find them useful.
Every now and then, I include details of something on offer from BizeziaTM – for example, this is the last chance for you to buy the 2015 Budget Summary.
The very best publication on the Budget
Chancellor George Osborne has chosen 18 March for his 2015 Budget. This will be the last Budget of this Parliament and is less than two months before the date of the general election.
His update on the economy, including any tax announcements, will come just weeks before Parliament breaks up ahead of campaigning for the 7 May 2015 poll.
Place your order now… The BizeziaTM 2015 Budget Summary is offered at an amazing price. It will be published on 18 March 2015, just a few hours after the Chancellor presents his proposals to Parliament.
It’s available this week only @ £155 + VAT. That’s a ridiculous price for something that’s worth thousands.
Anyway, the offer closes this Friday at 5pm. After then, it will cost £255 + VAT.
The ICPA said glowingly of last year’s publication: “This is simply the very best publication on the Budget available anywhere”.
See what you missed from the 2014 Budget publication, click here.
Troubleshoot and Analyze Your Mac’s Wi-FI With the Wireless Diagnostics Tool
From How to Geek: Mac computers include a Wireless Diagnostics tool that can help you speed up your Wi-Fi network and improve its signal strength. It also includes many additional tools for power users.
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This tool is useful for everyone from Mac beginners to experts, but it’s a bit hidden. It requires digging through your list of installed apps or just holding down the Option key as you click a menu.
To open this tool, hold the Option key down on your keyboard, click the Wi-fi icon on the bar at the top of your screen, and select Open Wireless Diagnostics. You can also press Command+Space and type Wireless Diagnostics to search for it.
By default, the tool opens to a simple wizard that helps you diagnose network problems. Select “Monitor my Wi-Fi connection” and click Continue to have the tool monitor your connection and attempt to detect any problems. You can also just select “Continue to summary” to see recommendations immediately.
The Secret to Peak Productivity (FREE eBook valued at $16.00)
From TradePub: Here’s a simple guide to reaching your personal best: in this constantly-connected, do-more-with-less world, being able to increase your productivity is a real advantage.
Click here to continue reading
Certified Professional Organizer and productivity expert Tamara Myles has developed a simple model—the Productivity Pyramid—which provides an actionable framework for anyone to achieve better results. Based on a sequence of steps leading to peak performance, the author’s easily adaptable system consists of five levels:
Physical Organization: from de-cluttering to filing—fool-proof strategies for handling incoming papers and ensuring information remains accessible
Electronic Organization: from dealing with email to electronic file management options such as cloud computing
Time Management: mastering the three P’s—Plan, Prioritize, and Perform
Activity-Goal Alignment: breaking objectives into specific, relevant, and measurable daily tasks
Possibility: identifying new life and business goals that will help you reach your greatest potential
By downloading this free book, you will need to agree to receive regular updates about books from AMACOM, as well as new tips from the author, Tamara Myles.
How to Quickly Type Special Characters on Any Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet
From How to Geek: Most characters you can type don’t appear on your keyboard, whether you’re using a physical keyboard or a touch one.
Here’s how you can type them on your computer or mobile device.
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You could always perform a search online to find the symbol and copy-paste it into the program you’re using, too. This is inefficient, but works for quickly inserting the occasional obscure symbol:
Windows: You can quickly insert special characters on Windows using Alt key codes. These require a separate numerical keypad on the right side of your keyboard, so they won’t work on most laptops. They’ll only work on desktop PCs if you have that number pad to the right of your Enter key.
Mac OS X: Mac OS X has its own Character Viewer, which is easier to access. In almost any application, you can click the Edit menu and select Special Characters to open it. Locate a symbol in the window and double-click it to enter it into the text field in the current application. If you use specific special characters frequently, you can add them to your Favourites list so they can be easily accessed here. The list is more organized than it is on Windows.
iPhone and iPad: You can type many additional characters on an iPhone or iPad’s touch keyboard by long-pressing the appropriate key. For example, to type the word “touché,” you’d type “touch,” long press the e key, and choose the é character.
Android: Android’s keyboard works similarly. Long-press keys on the keyboard to access related characters and symbols. For example, long-press the e to find the accented e characters. Long-press other symbols — like the currency symbol — to access additional related symbols.
Promo Marketing is the leading publication serving the $15.6 billion promotional products industry.
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Written and edited for distributor sales professionals, Promo Marketing is dedicated to helping them increase sales. Supplier products are showcased in a high-impact, easy-to-read format and feature topics are chosen to improve distributors’ selling opportunities.
USA (Print or Digital), Mexico, Selected International (Digital Only)
Offered Free by: NAPCO Media
How to Use OS X Virtual Desktops More Effectively with Keyboard Shortcuts
From How to Geek: The author says: We like having multiple virtual desktops on OS X, especially when we can supercharge them by combining them with a few simple keyboard shortcuts. So, on that note, here are some practical ways to use OS X’s virtual desktops like you mean it.
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Virtual desktops are hardly a new concept. They’ve been around for quite some time, especially on various Linux distributions, and now more recently, they’ve been added to Windows 10.
Apple’s own take on virtual desktops Spaces, has been around since the introduction of Snow Leopard in 2009, and in the latest OS X release, Yosemite, we find it alive and well.
Out of the box, Spaces works great but it can be so much better with a few simple keyboard shortcuts. To access your Spaces, you can use the Mission Control button (aka F3) on your Mac’s keyboard. If you’ve no idea what we’re talking about when we say “Mission Control,” then you should definitely read the Mission Control 101 article.
From UK BusinessInsider: By Sara Silverstein: Microsoft Excel is an amazing piece of software, and even regular users might not be getting as much out of it as they can. Improve your Excel efficiency and proficiency with these basic shortcuts and functions that absolutely everyone needs to know.
Click here to continue reading
The article covers, in detail, the following shortcuts:
Jump from worksheet to worksheet with Ctrl + PgDn and Ctrl + PgUp
Jump to the end of a data range or the next data range with Ctrl + Arrow
From Simply Measured: Improve your brand’s performance on Twitter and take your strategy to the next level with this four-part kit. This collection of resources is designed to help you master the channel and develop a Twitter strategy that works for your brand.
4 Tools to Help Retailers Sell More With Pinterest
Found in Channel Advisor: With its high-quality images, shareable content and 70 million users, Pinterest seems like a social network made with retailers in mind. If you’re not on Pinterest yet (or even if you are), find out how to best use the site to showcase your brand and products.
Build Better Facebook Videos by Using Insights Data
More from Simply Measured: By Kevin Shively: Videos seem to be all we hear about lately. New native videos on Twitter, enhanced video service on Snapchat, and in their Q4 2014 Earnings Call, Mark Zuckerberg announced that there are over 3 billion video views on Facebook each day.
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This number is no fluke. Facebook is putting serious weight behind native videos, which now autoplay in users’ feeds. Many marketers on Facebook have started to see more reach from videos than other media types, including photos.
While videos may be seeing more organic reach than photos, producing high-quality and relevant videos can be a much bigger task than producing photos, so many marketers are tentative to focus too much effort on this content type.
How do you ensure that your time is well spent on a Facebook video? Simple: You use your data. Facebook provides some crucial metrics that you may be overlooking when planning your videos.
The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight are listed below. Click on the hyperlinks for details for each item.
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What can a two-tier strategy do for your bottom line?: For organisations that have multiple sites and multinational locations, the decision to upgrade or transition to a new financial management solution can be complicated. This whitepaper studies the benefits of deploying a ‘two-tier’ financial strategy and how to find the right solution. VIEW SUMMARY Company: Infor
Outperformance: What it means and how to achieve it: Have you noticed how some organisations do better by every measure? At Investors in People, we call these organisations the Outperformers. When we redesigned our Framework for 2015, we decided to focus on them. What makes them tick? And how can others become Outperformers themselves? VIEW SUMMARY Company: Investors in People
How to grow your business: This short guide explains how accountancy practices are using the principles of automation, integration and collaboration to achieve sustained growth. There are links to customer case studies and two short videos. VIEW SUMMARY Company: CCH, A Wolters Kluwer Business
Knowledge of Auditor’s Bias May Be a Dangerous Thing
In CFO.com, By Matthew Heller: Audit reviewers may be unduly influenced by preparers’ feelings about individual clients, finds recent research. Those lunches or other gatherings where audit preparers vent or enthuse about a client to accounting-firm reviewers may have a counterintuitive effect on the reviewer’s judgment, according to a new study.
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The conventional wisdom is that reviewers who are aware of a preparer’s positive or negative feelings toward a client will correct for those biases, not allowing them to influence the final audit. The reality, though, may be quite the reverse.
University of Pittsburgh researchers found in a paper published in The Accounting Review, the journal of the American Accounting Association, that a reviewer’s awareness of bias may cause them to rely more on the preparer’s judgments than they would without such awareness.
The study’s findings were derived from an online experiment involving 119 audit managers and senior managers from two Big Four accounting firms who had an average of 9.37 years of experience.
Addressing 1500 entrepreneurs and managers yesterday morning, Collins distilled 25 years of research into “what makes great enterprises tick” into 12 questions that all business owners and leaders should seek to answer. The process of answering the questions will reveal the principles leaders need to make their companies great, he said.
“It’s dangerous to study success,” Collins said. “So instead we studied the contrast between great and good and endurance and collapse … those who thrive in chaotic environments and those who it gets the better of.”
“The answer isn’t circumstances … building a great company is not primarily a matter of circumstance, it’s a matter of choice and discipline.”
But before he revealed his 12 steps, Collins walked the audience through what great leadership is.
Collins says it is common for leadership to be confused with a big personality, but most of the leaders of great companies he has come across through his research had “a charisma bypass”.
Instead, Collins defines leadership as “the art of getting people to want to do what must be done”.
“First you have to decide what must be done,” he said.
From Citrix Systems UK Limited: Look at any great leader from history — in business, sport, military or any other industry — and you’ll notice a wealth of distinctive character traits, from strength and determination to intelligence and eloquence.
Click here to continue reading
But which traits are common to all great leaders? There’s no need to guess – just download this FREE eBook, where we examine eight of the most common traits of truly great leaders, from empathy to decisiveness, from vision to calmness under pressure. Learn 8 common traits of the best leaders, then how to avoid doing the things that can bring it all crashing down.
Read this free eBook to learn:
The domino effect of remaining calm under pressure
From Smart Company: There are two types of leaders, according to author and researcher Liz Wiseman [pictured]. Some leaders encourage intelligence and creativity in their employees, creating other leaders, while others “shut down the smarts of others and waste talent and intellect”.
Speaking at the Growth Faculty’s 2015 Growth Summit in Melbourne alongside Jim Collins and Verne Harnish, Wiseman said leaders who are able to get the best out of their teams are “multipliers”, while those that do the opposite are “diminishers”.
Click here to continue reading
Named as one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world, Wiseman spent 17 years as an executive at software giant Oracle before switching to research and founding leadership research and development firm, the Wiseman Group. Among her recent clients are Apple, Nike, PayPal, Salesforce.com and Twitter.
Wiseman is also the author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter and The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.
On Tuesday she offered 1500 entrepreneurs and business leaders insights from the research that informed both books. In her research, Wiseman studied 150 leaders to determine what the role of a leader is in creating a brilliant team and the conditions under which people do their best work.
From AccountancyAGE, written by Chris Warmoll: The Financial Reporting council (FRC) has expressed its delight at the take-up rate and level of innovation demonstrated by the profession over the requirements for extended auditor’s reports.
Click here to continue reading
First announced in 2013, the requirements call on auditors to describe the assessed risks of material misstatement, materiality and the scope of the audit, which is beginning to shed more light and transparency on a process that had previously been described as a “black box” by investors. The profession’s watchdog hopes this trend will be converted into “improved justifiable confidence” in audit. Much of the FRC’s optimism has been gleaned from the contents of its newly published survey, Extended auditor’s reports: A review of experience in the first year.
Could your Organisation Move to an Empowerment Culture?
From Niojak.com, By Gary Cattermole who asks: What is an Empowerment Culture?
Employee empowerment is a management practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with employees so that they can take initiative and make decisions to solve problems and improve service and performance.
Click here to continue reading
Empowerment is based on the idea that giving employees skills, resources, authority, opportunity, motivation, as well holding them responsible and accountable for outcomes of their actions, will contribute to their competence and satisfaction. It essentially flips the traditional hierarchy of an organisation on its head, from a traditional ‘top down’ management structure to one where responsibility is placed with the employee.
Many organisations will have an employee engagement expert as part of the HR team, which will work with staff to increase levels of wellbeing and productivity in an organisation; and employee engagement is the first step on the road to creating an empowered culture. However, it’s a big step forward, but one that if you get right can lead to a more entrepreneurial business, which in our service-driven economy, can lead to increased profitability. But where do you start?
Social media has had a huge impact on the workplace. As well as bringing great opportunities it’s also presented challenges, for example how organisations promote and control their reputation and how colleagues treat one another. It’s important to develop a policy on social media use at work view Acas social media guidance
From Advisor for Business: Secondments offer a number of benefits for employers and employees. However, employers that are considering agreeing a secondment arrangement need to be aware of the potential issues that can arise. For example, which organisation will be the individual’s employer during the secondment and what happens when the arrangement comes to an end?
Click here to continue reading
This FREE “How to” guide provides practical guidance for employers that are considering setting up a secondment arrangement. It covers:
The issues that can arise;
How to address them; and
Example clauses that employers can use when agreeing a secondment.
The guide is published by XpertHR, the UK’s leading online resource for employment law, HR good practice and benchmarking, bringing together everything HR professionals need to stay compliant with legislation changes, operate cost-effectively and maintain a competitive edge.
The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) published its report into simplifying the difficult issue of how to determine whether a worker is employed or self-employed for tax purposes.
The report lays bare the complexity of the current system with different tests for employment used for tax, employment law and pensions auto-enrolment.
Click here to continue reading
There is no definition of self-employment in law leaving businesses, individuals and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to wade through case law to establish employment status. Special categorisation rules and practices help some but can create anomalies.
The consequences to employers of an incorrect decision can be significant tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) bills, leading many to hire contractors only through intermediaries.
John Whiting, Tax Director of the Office of Tax Simplification, said:
The tax system is stuck in an out-of-date mind set. In the 1950s and 1960s the distinction between employees and the classic self-employed jobbing plumber was clear and easy. Nowadays working patterns are hugely varied, freelancing is a way of life for many and that simple split doesn’t work often enough.
This causes uncertainty, risk and administrative burdens all round. We have heard from businesses about transactions being delayed or even abandoned due to the risk posed by employment status uncertainty.
This is a difficult area with no simple solutions. We identify both direct ways of simplifying things – such as streamlining definitions – and indirect ones, which would take the heat out of the issue. Some should be acted on in the short to medium term, others are promising routes to reform that warrant further work but which would mean major changes.
The OTS recommends various improvements including:
Better employment status guidance, in one place with more real-life examples;
Help for individuals and small businesses on what action a business should take, and the documentation it should have, when engaging a self-employed individual, to preclude or reduce the burden of HMRC enquiries;
Setting up a HMRC employment status helpline and allocating more resources to this area.
Here are two stories: the first is about truth and lies (and confabulation). The second is about the science of something called captivology.
Truth and Lies
In ICAEW Economia, Mike Straw, CEO of Achieve Breakthrough, argues that companies need to have a genuinely open culture about setbacks. Otherwise people will ‘edit the truth’ about how projects are faring which can have implications for financial reporting.
There’s something you may have heard about. It’s called Confabulation. It isn’t lying as such. Confabulation is distinguished from lying as there is no intent to deceive and the person is unaware the information is false. It happens when a person fills in gaps in their memory with fabrications that they, more or less, believe to be true facts.
When Max Reede in the 1997 film, Liar Liar tells his father, Fletcher (played by Jim Carrey), that his teacher told him that ‘beauty is on the inside’, he responds promptly and honestly (in his own view) that ‘this is just something ugly people say.’ Perhaps not an advisable approach for good parenting, but what if people in business always told the truth? Would this help the FD and the accountants auditing the books?
In the past year alone the truth – or lack of it – has been a key component in a number of business scandals. From Tesco allegedly falsifying profits to Apple who are being sued for misrepresenting the amount of storage on iPhones and iPads, the truth – or the bending of it – is a key issue in business today. Accounting scandals have become almost a regular feature of the news these days.
From a book review from HarperCollins: Why are we captivated by sites like Facebook and Instagram, but couldn’t care less about MySpace? Why do some musicians grow as popular as Beyoncé, while others never make the charts? Why do some non-profits, such as Charity: Water, succeed in getting our donations, while other charities are ineffective? And why can’t anyone seem to ever get the attention of their kids?
In Captivology, Ben Parr, former editor of Mashable and cofounder of DominateFund, reveals how and why our mind pays attention to some events, ideas, or people and not others. Vividly bringing to life the stories of entrepreneurs, musicians, filmmakers, thought leaders, political strategists, magicians, and other masters of attention, Parr presents a new understanding of how attention works and identifies seven captivation triggers—techniques guaranteed to help you capture and retain the attention of friends, colleagues, customers, fans, and even strangers. These triggers spark our brain’s attention response systems by appealing to fundamental aspects of human nature.
Combining the latest scientific research with interviews of visionaries who have successfully brought attention to their ideas, projects, and companies (Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, film director Steven Soderbergh, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, New York Times bestselling author Susan Cain, and more), Parr makes the case that you can rise above the noisy crowd and be heard—without having to shout.
Insightful and practical, Captivology will change how you tell your kids to clean their room, deliver your next presentation, convince the world to support your cause, or attract users to your product.
Captivology is published by HarperCollins £16.99: Available 3 March.
Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. Each week, I include a section titled Technical Stuff – it provides a useful reminder of some of the stories that emerged in the last week that touch on technical issues. I hope that you find it useful.
Marketing and Business Promotion
Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs
More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs. Here they are:
From Informita: this is a FREE Mobile App available on Windows, Apple, Android, Blackberry and Kindle. Informita have designed this app to give fast and efficient link to the latest news and developments on working capital, cash flow and procurement. You will have instant access to our latest twitter and Facebook feeds, Informita’s weekly blog and quarterly newsletter so that you can be up to date on the latest developments about working capital, cash flow and procurement. This brings the latest news on working capital and procurement directly to your fingertips.
How to Access Region-Restricted Websites From Anywhere on Earth
From the clever people at How to Geek: The Internet is supposed to be a global network that links the entire world, but many websites are confined to specific countries. Unsurprisingly, piracy is higher in countries where content isn’t legally available.
These are the ways people around the world are actually accessing that geo-blocked content today. If you live outside the US, this will get you a lot — and even US residents might want to access BBC iPlayer or a similar service sometimes.
Hola is one of the most popular ways to access geo-blocked websites, and there’s no sense in ignoring that. This is primarily because it’s free and easy-to-install. Hola, formerly known as “Hola Unblocker” and now known as “Hola Better Internet,” is available in a variety of forms. It offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and these can be easily installed with a few clicks. After, just click the Hola icon on your browser’s toolbar and select a country. It’ll route your browsing activity through IP addresses in that country. This means you can access the US Netflix library from your current country, or the UK-based BBC iPlayer website from USA, for example.
Are you ready for it? Apple Watch will replace your car keys, says Tim Cook
In the Telegraph: In an exclusive interview: The Apple chief executive Tim Cook reveals to Allister Heath how the revolutionary features in the company’s smartwatch could forever alter our daily lives.
Like millions of people, Tim Cook stopped wearing a watch a while back. The Apple boss no longer needed one: his iPhone told the time just fine. There was just one problem, as he readily acknowledges in his interview with The Telegraph: glancing at one’s wrist can be a very useful way to find out information. It is less rude and less intrusive.
So Apple now wants to pull off something that no company has ever managed before: it wants to reverse a cultural trend that it had created itself. It wants us to start wearing a watch again.
The big event on 9 March will showcase the Apple Watch; and it will be launched to consumers in April. Cook, needless to say, is already wearing his new Apple Watch. He couldn’t even contemplate living without it anymore, he says.
“I’m now so used to getting all my notifications and all my messages,” he says. “It’s so incredible just to do this.”
In CITY A.M.: Samsung has unveiled two flagship Galaxy S6 smartphones in Barcelona marking the start of this year’s Mobile World Congress. The S6 and its curved screen sibling, the S6 Edge, are the South Korean conglomerate’s latest attempt to restore growth to its smartphone division, which has seen margins and profits erode in the face of competition.
The S6, which also comes in a curved glass S6 Edge version, boasts an even thinner body than its predecessor the S5, built-in wireless charging compatible with the charging pads being rolled out by McDonalds and Starbucks, and Samsung Pay, a mobile payments system launching in the US this summer to rival Apple Pay.
How to attract customers after a Google search engine penalty
Read on 123-Reg: By Will Stevens who asks – How much of your website traffic comes from Google? What would happen if that source of potential customers were to dry up overnight? Would your business be able to cope if your search engine rankings suddenly plummeted? Maybe they already have and you’re wondering where your next customer is going to come from.
If your site has been penalised by Google, or you’re worried that a penalty might be heading your way at some point in the future, it’s important that you start attracting visitors from sources other than organic search. If you’re unsure as to whether your site has been penalised by Google, then this guide will help you find out. It will also tell you how you can get on the road to recovery.
Unfortunately, recovering from a penalty can be a long process. So while you’re working on getting a penalty removed, here are five ways to attract traffic and potential customers. If you were attracting most of your customers through organic search before you were penalised, these alternative channels could be what you need to keep the sales coming in.
And remember, even if you haven’t been penalised, it’s never a good idea to be overly reliant on one source of traffic. Adopting these methods before something happens to your search rankings could save you a lot of trouble if your site does one day fall out of favour with Google.
3 Principles Of Storytelling You Can Learn From Kevin Spacey + House Of Cards
From NewsCred Blog, By Chase Neinken: It is no secret that storytelling has become the pinnacle practice of 2015. So what can content marketers learn from some of the best stories going right now?
Looking ahead to a new “House of Cards” release on Netflix, the author began to think about the parallels between content marketing and traditional media (in this case television). In Kevin Spacey’s keynote from Content Marketing World 2014, he told a half hour story about the importance of storytelling using his own career as a vehicle and the stories of the actors he’s played along the way as the gasoline. I distinctly remember this being one of the most #meta speeches the author has ever heard.
So what advice does Francis Underwood have to dish on storytelling? Spacey recommends that before you even begin, it’s important to ask yourself, “What story do you want to tell?” He suggests that everything will fall in line “if you start with what the result is going to be.”
“Ubuntu Linux Toolbox: A $29.99 Value, FREE For a Limited Time!”
FREE from Wiley: This book will prepare you with a host of updated tools for today’s environment, as well as expanded coverage so you can confidently start using Ubuntu today.
As a longstanding bestseller, Ubuntu Linux Toolbox has taught you how to get the most out Ubuntu, the world’s most popular Linux distribution. With this anticipated new edition, Christopher Negus returns with a host of new and expanded coverage on tools for managing file systems, ways to connect to networks, techniques for securing Ubuntu systems, and a look at the latest Long Term Support (LTS) release of Ubuntu, all aimed at getting you up and running with Ubuntu Linux quickly.
Covers installation, configuration, shell primer, the desktop, administrations, servers, and security
Delves into coverage of popular applications for the web, productivity suites, and e-mail
Highlights setting up a server (Apache, Samba, CUPS)
Boasts a handy trim size so that you can take it with you on the go
Mac OS X Isn’t Safe Anymore: The Crapware / Malware Epidemic Has Begun
Mac OS X users like to make fun of Windows users as the only ones that have a malware problem. But that’s simply not true anymore, and the problem has increased dramatically in the last few months.
This article exposes the truth about what’s really going on, and hopefully warn people about the impending doom.
Since it is actually Unix under the hood, OS X has some native protection against the worst types of viruses. But the problem these days isn’t viruses that completely break your computer, it’s spyware, crapware, and adware that sneaks onto your computer, hijacks your browser, inserts ads, and tracks what you are looking at. And much of it is legal, because you get tricked into clicking the wrong thing during an installer.
Stored in software on your PC: When you (or your PC manufacturer) installs Windows, Windows stores its product key in the registry. You can extract this product key, and — often — enter it when reinstalling Windows on your PC. Crucially, you’ll need to grab it from your operating system before you begin reinstalling Windows or it could be deleted if you format your hard drive.
Printed on a sticker: Some PCs use a technology called “System Locked Pre-installation,” or SLP. If your PC uses this, the product key on your PC — the one stored in the registry, and the one key-viewer applications display — will be different from the actual key your PC needs. The actual key is on a certificate of authenticity (COA) sticker on your PC or its power supply. The one in the registry and key-viewer application is a red herring. This system was common for Windows 7 PCs.
Embedded in your PC’s UEFI firmware: Many newer PCs that come with Windows 8 use a new method. The key for the version of Windows the PC comes with is stored in the computer’s UEFI firmware or BIOS. You don’t even need to know it — assuming you’re installing the same edition of Windows the PC came with, it should automatically activate and work without you needing to enter a key. It’ll all happen automatically.
Be sure to use the same version and edition of Windows the computer came with. In other words, if it came with Windows 7 Home Premium, you can’t install Windows 7 Professional.
Get your cash flow back on track with a free SmartCompany eBook
From missing payments, juggling credit cards, loans, mortgages, telephone and internet bills, cash flow is the issue most likely to influence a business’s operations. Even the most successful of SMEs can struggle.
Future business growth hinges on your ability to resolve these issues – luckily there are some easy steps you can take.
The latest SmartCompany eBook, Payment systems made simple – how to get cash flowing in your SME, brings to light the difficulty that companies face in regulating their cash flow and offers up strategic tips for your peace of mind.
In this free eBook, brought to you in partnership with Ezidebit, you’ll learn about:
Work-Life Balance For Dummies eBook (a $21.99 value) FREE until 3/7!
From Wiley: Work-Life Balance for Dummies offers readers advice and simple strategies to achieve more balance whatever their situation.
A survey conducted by Universum Communication found that work-life balance is No.1 on the list of short-term career goals amongst professionals. But while work-life balance is an increasingly popular term, many of us are still unsure about how to achieve it, or lack the confidence to approach employers to negotiate flexible working hours.
Discover how to:
Work out your priorities
Put off procrastination and improve your time management
From TradePub: Download this kit to learn everything you need to know about IT Management. The Essentials of IT Management Kit Edition brings together the latest in information, coverage of important developments, and expert commentary to help with your IT Management related decisions.
The Essentials of IT Management Kit Edition, brings together the latest in information, coverage of important developments, and expert commentary to help with your IT Management related decisions.
The following kit contents will help you get the most out of your IT Management research:
Executive Guide: Harnessing the Power of Enterprise Social Collaboration
How Will Mobility Change The Face Of Videoconferencing?
When Cloud Makes Sense
The 10 ‘Must Haves’ for Secure Enterprise Mobility Management
Found in Business Matters: Most people who we think are working hard are mismanaging their time.
When it comes to many of the people who we think are hardworking, we’re really just misinformed, says Inc. For instance, it is a common thought that people who work late are hardworking. Why? Because the assumption is that they have so much work to do that they must burn the midnight oil to get it done. Another example is when we see people who always seem like they are busy all the time. Again, they have taken on so much work that they must work all the time.
In truth, most of these “hard workers” are just inefficient. Look closely and you’ll see they use these methods to produce the same results as everybody else. And while it can be argued that these people are disciplined because of their work ethic, more of a focus should be put on productivity. And to produce more results, you don’t have to work longer, just smarter.
This article provides some easy ways to do this that most people don’t take advantage of. Start using these strategies today and watch your daily output increase significantly.
The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight are listed below. Click on the hyperlinks for details for each item.
2014/15 Tax Planning for Non-UK Domiciled Individuals: After more than 200 years of development, the UK tax regime remains generous to those who are resident but not domiciled in the UK. With care and good planning, you can have tax-free access to your funds that might otherwise be taxed up to 45%. Download this guide to find out more. View summary Company: Buzzacott
Tax Newsletter February 2015: Welcome to the first Kreston Reeves Tax Newsletter, this month we bring our readers valuable tax year end planning tips, important news for homeowners in the UK and overseas and some particularly good news for property owners in France. View summary Company: Kreston Reeves
The Twilight World of Lawless VAT: CCH have identified a worrying trend – HMRC’s cavalier attitude to the letter of the law. Glyn Edwards, Senior VAT Consultant, reports on recent examples of how HMRC behaves as if the law only applies against taxpayers and can be disregarded when it suits the Department. View summary Company: CCH, A Wolters Kluwer Business
Associated companies – prior to 1 April 2015: The existence of associated companies means that the corporation tax limits of £1.5m and £300,000 are divided equally among associated companies. With the unification of corporation tax rates, this guidance note discusses the current associated companies’ rules which apply until April 2015. View summary Company: Tolley
UHY Financial Planning review – Spring 2015: The review is intended to give insights into the current financial landscape, highlighting topical and timely issues that could affect you, your business and your financial arrangements. View summary Company: UHY Hacker Young Group
Accountants for business: Reporting risk: This report examines how the quality and value of risk reporting can be improved. It reviews current practice in risk reporting, the barriers to better risk reporting, the wishes of users, and the concerns of preparers. View summary Company: ACCA
Year-end tax planner 2014-15: As the end of the financial year approaches, taxpayers should review their financial, business and tax arrangements. This Year End Tax-Planner provides useful planning suggestions. View summary Company: Saffery Champness
Back to Happiness ‐ The Life of a Business Owner: Haines Watts’ latest White Paper explores the experience of being a business owner in the UK. It looks at a range of factors, from Government initiatives to whether owner-managers are managing to find a better life-work balance. View summary Company: Haines Watts
Ending late payment, part 1: Taking stock: ACCA conducted a review of the widespread problem of late payment. Ending Late Payment, Part 1: Taking Stock combines an extensive literature review with quantitative data from ACCA’s member surveys to correctly define late payment, trace its precise origins and document its impact on the globally. View summary Company: ACCA
Recent IFRS standards and interpretations: This bulletin provides a high level overview of the most recently issued International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and interpretations, to ensure compliance with international financial reporting requirements. View summary Company: UHY Hacker Young Group
Weekly tax update – February 23rd 2015: This tax update reviews recent announcements from the HMRC, including that online registration of interest for marriage allowances is open for married couples and those in civil partnerships and employers will be able to avoid penalties for delays of up to three days when filing PAYE information. View summary Company: Smith and Williamson
Ending late payment, part 1: Taking stock: ACCA conducted a review of the widespread problem of late payment. Ending Late Payment, Part 1: Taking Stock combines an extensive literature review with quantitative data from ACCA’s member surveys to correctly define late payment, trace its precise origins and document its impact globally. View summary Company: ACCA
Research reveals Top 10 questions new SMEs have
From ICAEW: Thousands of people have started new businesses already this year. For anyone thinking of starting a new business, there are some questions you need to know the answer for before you get going.
Research by ICAEW’s Business Advice Service has found the most frequently asked questions that people starting new businesses want answered:
When should I write a business plan and how do I do it?
How much money will I need to set up my business?
How can I raise the finance I need for my business plans?
How much should I pay myself?
How should I approach recruiting new staff?
Should I go into partnership with someone else?
Do I really need an office?
Do I have to set up a limited company?
What marketing and advertising should I be considering?
How do I find the business support and advice I need?
Accountants: Lots of letters for new financial reporting
From AccountingWEB: iXBRL, RTI, IFRS, AE and new UK GAAP: Download this FREE new whitepaper for ‘Acronyms: Explained’ + top tips for easing the compliance burden.
The new whitepaper from IRIS reviews developments in the compliance landscape. It also includes some tips for easing what otherwise threatens to be an escalating burden on busy corporate finance professionals.
In this article, I hope to show you that having a formal letter of engagement in place can help you avoid getting sued. And how, if you do it properly, you can earn more fees too.
It makes sense…
Setting out your terms of business with your clients, with specific agreement on the work you do for them and the fees you charge, is the only sensible way to deliver professional services. To do anything else is professional suicide. I feel very strongly about that.
We can’t complain if we get into trouble with our clients. After all, our professional bodies have been telling us for years that we must issue engagement letters.
Nevertheless, for many busy practitioners, the whole business of issuing an engagement letter to clients is a bit of a nightmare. And when something goes wrong, not having an engagement letter is going to bring you problems and cost you shedloads of money.
There had to be a better way and I found it!
When I was in public practice, I found the whole process of writing something down and agreeing it with the client to be a clumsy and time-consuming exercise. It often got in the way of doing the work itself. There had to be an easier way, I thought. Although there were plenty of standard formats available that covered a few situations, all too often the particular client assignment didn’t seem to fit those formats.
That’s when I set out to create an engagement letter system (called Contract Engine) to simplify the whole process, eliminate uncertainty with the client, and make it very easy to agree terms – including fees payable. It also had to be a management system that allowed me to find the original engagement letter and update it as and when required.
I came to the conclusion that what was needed at the front end was a very detailed “Terms of Business” letter that took into account all the risk management clauses we would all like to see. To this important letter, my idea was to append schedules for each category of work to be undertaken for the client.
Are Engagement Letters necessary?
The answer to the question, Are Engagement Letters necessary, is a resounding YES!
In recent years, litigation against professional advisers has increased both in scale and frequency.
Standard practice and indeed a requirement of many professional bodies, is for accountants and lawyers to issue a formal letter of engagement defining their relationship with the client.
Statistics gathered by the AICPA Professional Liability Insurance Program in the USA provide dramatic evidence of the importance of engagement letters:
More than two-thirds of professional liability claims in that Program arise from client allegations of professional lapses in tax practice and in approximately 25% of all claims made, the client alleged that the scope of the engagement went beyond the services which the accountant believed he or she had agreed to perform. The resulting claim then alleged that when performed, these disputed services were performed negligently.
Information from the AICPA Professional Liability Insurance Program shows that in over 40% of all claims, no engagement letter was issued at all.
Engagement letters are certainly necessary today as they form the basis of the contract between the professional and client for the provision of professional services. Your engagement letter could become a crucial controlling factor in determining the responsibilities of both parties.
Fail to have an engagement letter system in your firm at your peril. The risk is just too great.
Engagement Letters help to avoid getting sued
After Enron and other high profile failures, accountants and lawyers everywhere are right to worry about the potential of negligence claims and what the ultimate effect on their practice might be on increasing indemnity insurance premiums and an escalating level of claims.
As an accountant or tax advisor or lawyer, your primary aim must always be to make sure that you don’t get sued and that you get paid for what you do.
Unless you have an up-to-date engagement letter in place, you could be in big trouble if there is a dispute over fees or the work you’ve done (or not done, as the case may be). Your engagement letter ought to make it clear as to the scope of your responsibility and limitations on liability so that your first line of defence when a dispute arises is to show what was agreed at the start of the engagement – who does what and when.
One engagement letter is no longer enough – you should have separate engagement letters for each work assignment you take on for your client.
And you might consider updating your engagement letters at least once a year and whenever the nature of your engagement changes.
…and if you do get sued
Engagement letters are a very effective loss avoidance tool such that if problems arise in the client relationship, the engagement letter can provide essential evidence of the exact terms agreed, and may well head off an incipient legal action.
When professionals are sued, the first two questions they are asked are:
(1) Do you have indemnity insurance? and
(2) Do you have an engagement letter with the client that’s suing you setting out what was agreed?
The lack of either can make the defence against a professional indemnity claim all the more difficult.
Two good reasons…
Engagement letters help drive down the cost of indemnity insurance: Increasingly, insurers will look at your arrangements on the issue of engagement letters and take this into account when setting the level of your indemnity premiums.
Engagement Letters reduce the risk of fee disputes: Professionals should get used to using engagement letters for all new clients, new matters with existing clients and contingent fee matters. The likelihood of a fee dispute – leading to a possible later malpractice claim – can be substantially reduced if the key details of the fee arrangements are made clear at the outset and confirmed in writing.
Engagement Letters make good business sense
Whilst engagement letters are not a panacea for all disputes and disagreements, and they don’t always protect professionals from litigation, they make good business sense, because:
They help prevent misunderstandings with the client by describing, in writing, the mutual understanding of the terms and conditions of the engagement.
They eliminate any staff misunderstandings by providing those involved on the engagement with the specifics of the services to be rendered.
Enhanced client communications, such as regularly issued and updated engagement letters, help to avoid expectation gaps for services to be rendered. By re-emphasising both the value and the scope of services in advance, professionals can improve clients’ overall satisfaction with professional services rendered. A satisfied customer is more likely to continue or expand a relationship with the professionals involved.
Engagement letters can also be an effective marketing tool for clients and prospects as the professional can easily promote related services by mentioning them in their engagement letters.
Engagement letters reduce any potential legal liability by defining the responsibilities of both the professional and the client.
Introducing Engagement Letters to Clients
Proper communication of your firm’s risk management programme is important. Although other firms may have used engagement letters for years, introducing them in your practice may be new to many clients and will require some advance preparation.
It’s important that you should explain to the client why an engagement letter is required. Make the explanation from the client’s perspective to help build understanding of the change. You should mention that your engagement letter:
Defines the services you are being engaged to perform;
Identifies engagement responsibilities of both your firm and the client;
Explains fees, billing, and payment terms; and
Assures the client that additional services will not be initiated without advance approval
You may wish to emphasise that engagement letters are required of all clients. Some firms also mention “insurance requirements” when introducing engagement letters into a client relationship for the first time.
You want the best don’t you?
The chances are that you want the best, most effective and friendliest engagement letter system. That’s true isn’t it?
Well, now you can have what you want with Contract Engine. Don’t just take my word for it. Take a product tour by clicking on the video link to the right.
What is Contract Engine?
Contract Engine is the UK’s leading online engagement/client care letter system. It features a comprehensive suite of fully-editable engagement/client care letter templates (up to 150+ for accountants and 200+ for lawyers) together with market-leading terms and conditions.
Contract Engine is designed for professionals – this complete system for managing all your client engagement letters allows you to create work schedules (to cover exactly the scope of what you’ve agreed to do for the client) in seconds. And it includes your firm’s name and address details as well as properly identifying the client.
Fully-editable, regularly-updated templates
Market-leading terms and conditions
Edit and manage your client contracts online
Fast and easy-to-use – create client work schedules in seconds
New templates can be added upon request
Single or multiple users, each with a secure username and password
Highly secure back-up
No set-up fees – just an easy affordable monthly or annual payment option with a minimum 12 month subscription
Free support from Bizezia
Capture fee-charging opportunities
Improve fee income
Reduced risk of client disputes
Save time and reduce admin costs
There is no set-up fee for Contract Engine, just an easy, affordable monthly or annual payment option with a minimum 12 month subscription.
What’s happening in the law that’s different? Actually, quite a lot.
Last month, here, the UK’s Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Legal Services Board (LSB) reported on their research into how law firms (and others providing legal services) are changing the way they operate. The research aims to understand what innovation means in the legal services market, explore what is driving innovation, including the impact of competition in inspiring firms to try new approaches, and understand the barriers to greater innovation.
Richard Collins, SRA Executive Director, said: “This is our first large scale research study on this topic and will help us to understand the new and different approaches law firms and others are taking and any potential barriers they face….”
Also, last month, a Legal Futures Special Report, published in association with Thomson Reuters, looked at how SME law firms are driving change in the delivery of legal services. Innovation Nation – how SME firms are driving change in delivering legal services. The report, Innovation Nation, is available for download or viewing online here.
I came across two other interesting examples of other changes in the legal landscape: see what you think:
AdventBalance is the largest and fastest growing alternative legal services business in the Asia-Pacific region. Based in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Singapore and Hong Kong, this is what they say about themselves:
We know and understand the business of law and have responded to market demands, creating a model that is a win-win for both lawyers and clients.
Our clients have access to a team of lawyers and consultants, combining the expertise of outside counsel with the best qualities and experience of in-house lawyers. They integrate seamlessly into your business and/or team by sitting on-site with you when needed. We get a real kick out of helping our clients solve their problems more efficiently and cost effectively.
With innovation and value at the heart of everything we do, AdventBalance provides a genuine alternative that is changing the game.
Our innovative approach provides a unique and immediate alternative to permanently hiring in-house lawyers or outsourcing to traditional law firms on expensive hourly rates.
We represent significantly better value by providing exceptional lawyers without the unnecessary overheads, passing these savings directly through to our clients.
The right legal or consulting resource when you need it. From one lawyer to a team, a day to 5 years, on-site or remote – we can do it all.
With a growing team of experienced lawyers and consultants of varying backgrounds and seniority, AdventBalance clients engage them when they:
need to reduce their legal costs or require budget certainty;
have a spike in workload or drop in manpower;
need specialist expertise for a project or transaction; or
want to develop a business case before recruiting.
Axiom is an American legal company. It has a mix of both business and legal talent—alums of the nation’s best law firms and companies. They say “because we’re the only thing like us, positions [work] with Axiom are hard-won.”
Axiom is a 1,200+ person firm, serving over half the F100 through 14 offices and 5 centres of excellence globally. This is what they say:
As leaders and experts in the business of law, we experience a nerdy excitement from helping General Counsel solve business problems and we do it through three forms of engagement:
– Outsourcing; and
In recent years, the historically changeless legal industry has begun to shake itself awake.
Clients are demanding control, firms are looking to be more efficient and new entrants are innovating ways to meet changing demands. Market forces are shouting and progress is real— this changes everything.
We’ve long found ourselves inside a complex industry. We gladly stand beside the world’s greatest companies and industry leaders, helping them navigate our changing industry with innovation that makes sense.
Before 1984, accountants and lawyers didn’t really need to worry too much about communications or marketing. There’s a simple reason why: they weren’t allowed to engage in any marketing as we know it today.
Back in 1984, it was unethical to engage in any marketing. So, most firms did not have a brochure describing what they did, what services they offered and so on.
It was virtually unknown for a competitor to “steal” a client from you.
In October 1984, professional firms were liberated from the no-marketing or advertising constraints by the OFT. I remember it well.
My firm was one of the first in the UK to have a coloured logo and a powerful brochure. In fact, we were the first accountancy firm to advertise on British Television. Roughly four times a night for seven weeks, my firm brought a new message to prospective clients across Southern England… But that’s another story.
Today, firms have to communicate information to clients quickly and efficiently. If you can’t keep your service documents and information brochures up to date, you’re wasting a real marketing opportunity.
Providing technical and other information to clients and prospects
There are three ways in which a firm can maintain relationships with its clients and prospects in providing technical and other information in response to a request for information from clients and prospects.
Buy in publications from publishers
The problem with this is that this is a costly thing to do. The information can easily go out of date and it’s a clumsy way of providing information to those who ask for it. What happens in practice is that there are piles of brochures in the corner of an office, gathering dust, part of a long-forgotten marketing plan that didn’t work.
Buying in pre-printed publications was a good idea over 30 years ago when I launched the CharterGroup Partnership and LawGroup UK because small to medium sized firms couldn’t afford to write or publish their own brochures, so they had to be syndicated and bought in from a group publisher. But it’s old hat today. Today, we’re supposed to be saving the Planet and going paperless is one way to do just that.
This option costs nothing.
Clients get nothing that they need.
Prospects avoid firms that do nothing and move on to firms that provide details of their services and issue free publications.
The last option is to subscribe to a digital business library and have hundreds of brochures available via your website 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The advantage of this option is that because the publications are digital they are up to date and always available. Once clients and prospects register on your website they can simply take what they need.
Even better still is that the cost to a firm is a fraction of printing publications under option 1 and helps prevent trees being chopped down and endangering the Planet.
According to recent research over a third of small business owners feel isolated when making key business decisions.
43% confess to loneliness when focusing on changing strategy or direction, and another two fifths feel detached over business planning matters.
Accountants and Lawyers are uniquely placed to help businesses by providing them with information direct from their website through a digital business library.
Have you got 8 to 10 years to spare?
When I was in public practice as an accountant, I set about creating a digital business library. It took me about 8 to 10 years to get it right. However, it was all worthwhile as Bizezia’s Online Business Library now leads the digitally-delivered dynamic market with a comprehensive collection of some 700 professionally-written informative publications that you can offer free to your clients direct from your website.
The publications cover an extensive range of business topics from tax to marketing and most things in between.
Digital publications allow you to add significant value to the service you offer your clients, and enable you to build relationships with prospective clients. The alternative, as mentioned above, is to do nothing – it costs nothing but clients get nothing they need.
What is the Bizezia Online Business Library?
Every publication in the library is personalised and branded to your firm and available for your clients and prospects to download from your website.
These business publications provide valuable information on diverse subjects such as law, finance, marketing and management. The Online Business Library is an impressive knowledge resource, underlining your credentials as a knowledgeable, professional firm.
Nearly 700 personalised publications
Choose from 5 to 21 categories
Unrivalled quality and depth of content and subjects
Online, on-demand delivery through your website
No work on your part: Bizezia regularly update each publication automatically
Users can print, save or email the publications to a friend/colleague
Users can browse the library or search for a particular topic
No programming experience is required on your part
No set-up fees, just an easy and affordable monthly or annual payment option with a minimum 12 month subscription
Free support from Bizezia
Cost savings compared to any other library method
Always available from anywhere in the world
An impressive knowledge resource for your website
Each personalised publication is a powerful marketing tool for your firm
Attract new clients and build existing client loyalty
Valuable research resource for your staff
Bring your website to life
Keep yourself up-to-date with this valuable technical updating and personal development tool
Marketing and PromotionTables, Plans and ChecklistsLawyers and Accountants
Pensions, Investments and Estate Planning
Stock Markets and Going Public
Employment and Work
International PackBusinesses and those who run themTechnology and the Internet
Buying, Selling, Valuing and Financing for Businesses
Marketing: In today’s competitive business environment, firms must do everything they can to stand out from the crowd. The Online Business Library is a true differentiator: it underlines your knowledge credentials and brings new clients to your firm.
Website: What does your website say about your firm? Is it full of useful content which encourages visitors to come back time and time again? Or is it merely a static online brochure with nothing to capture visitors’ attention? The Online Business Library, with its 700+ publications, is a great, instant knowledge resource to make sure your website works hard for your firm.
Time & Research: The publications are so useful that even your staff will want to use them when researching client queries. With some 700 publications to choose from, the chances are that you will find the answer in the Online Business Library.
Installation is easy. Simply paste our HTML code into the website page of your choosing (your web developer or IT personnel will be able to do this for you)
A portal will automatically appear as a window on the page you choose (in a colour to match the rest of your website)
Through this portal, visitors to your website will browse the library or search for a particular topic
Each publication downloaded will be automatically personalised to your firm
There is no set-up fee for the Online Business Library, just an easy and affordable monthly or annual payment option based on how many categories you select (minimum 12 month subscription). The Online Business Library allows unlimited downloads which means visitors to your site can download 100 or 1,000,000 publications and you won’t pay a penny more.
I read an interesting article last week in the Telegraph.
You don’t have to know the entire works of Shakespeare or the square root of Pi to seem highly intelligent, says Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor of the Telegraph. There is no fast-track route to wisdom but intelligence, defined as the way that we comprehend, analyse and respond to the world, is a far more malleable concept.
Scientists once claimed that intelligence quotient (IQ) levels were hereditary. This meant that human beings had no control over their brain power; it was decided by their genes. However, recent studies have shown that IQ scores are barely linked to genes at all. They can also be extremely volatile, changing significantly – by up to 20 points – over time.
The Telegraph has scoured the writings of neuroscience experts, business leaders, technologists, and psychiatrists to find out how ordinary people can instantly boost their IQ levels by making small tweaks to the way that they comprehend the world.
The idea is to increase mental agility. The seven techniques in this article cannot make anyone appear well-read, or replace life experience. They are:
Watch out: Danny Alexander threat to firms that facilitate tax evasion.
In City A.M., Charlotte Henry reports that Danny Alexander has proposed a new law penalising firms who assist with tax evasion. The chief secretary to the Treasury said in an interview: “We should create a new offence of corporate failure to avoid preventing an economic crime and also that organisations who facilitate or encourage evasion should face the same penalty as the evaders themselves.”
Alexander added: “Organisations, be they accountants, banks or whatever, who help people evade tax will be liable for this new offence and crucially liable for financial penalties”.
Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. Each week, I include a section titled Technical Stuff – it provides a useful reminder of some of the stories that emerged in the last week that touch on technical issues. I hope that you find it useful.
Marketing and Business Promotion
Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs
More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs. Here they are:
Facebook launches Dynamic Product Ads for data-minder retailers
In Adweek, By Garett Sloane: Facebook is giving Target and other retailers a new way to market to its 1.4 billion users. It’s called product ads—yet another ad format that Facebook says sets it apart from rivals like Google because it can harness the social network’s popularity and behavioural and location data on consumers. It’s described as a solution designed to help businesses promote multiple products, or their entire catalogues, across all the devices their customers use: phones, tablets and desktop computers.”
Businesses will be able to upload their product catalogs and let Facebook generate ads for items while targeting them to users. These product ads could rival Google’s shopping ads, which have evidently performed well for retailers in search.
In a blog post, Facebook explained further: “Advertisers can curate ads as they see fit. For instance, they can highlight products that were viewed on their website/mobile app or showcase best-selling products.
5 Surprising Tips for Tweets That Drive Engagement
From Simply Measured: Learn how your brand performance compares: Written by Kevin Shively, In the recent Twitter benchmark report, Simply Measured analyzed over 23 million engagements (Retweets, @Replies, and favorites) from 117 million users interacting with 145,828 brand Tweets over the course of Q4 2014.
What can you learn from these users? Below are five tips based on findings from the study. Be sure to test these tips for your own company, as they’re based off findings from the largest brands in the world, and audiences will respond differently to everyone.
KPMG’s SME foray is doomed to fail, says Accountancy Age reader poll
In Accountancy Age, Posted 17 February, by Chris Warmoll: KPMG is doomed to fail as the Big Four firm attempts to wrest business from High Street practitioners, according to Accountancy Age readers. That was the majority view when asked if the Big Four firm “can compete with the high street for business”, with 77% of the 88 readers polled, answering no. Just over a fifth (23%) felt their move into the SME sector would succeed.
Learn from the best: The 7 Habits of The World’s Richest People
From Inc.: Wealthy, successful people have specific differences in behaviour and attributes from people living in poverty. What are those characteristics that separate extreme wealth and happiness from poverty and unhappiness? Here are seven, made from five years of observations.
Are there habits wealthy people consistently practice that impact their success? Are there traits or strategies we can incorporate into our own day-to-day lives that can give us a better chance of financial success?
In his book, Rich Habits–The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Tom Corley details habits – which he defines as daily, unconscious practices – that seem to suggest there are. For 5 years he observed the habits of 233 rich people and 128 people living in poverty. What he found were some significant differences in the daily activities and attitudes of the two groups. Here are 7 of the habits commonly practiced by the wealthy individuals he observed:
They set attainable goals.
They find a career mentor.
They are positive.
They educate themselves.
They track their progress.
They surround themselves with success-oriented people.
Click here for in-depth analysis of each of the 7 habits.
Instagram Social Marketing Strategy Kit
From Simply Measured: Make your brand a powerhouse on Instagram and take your strategy to the next level with this four-part kit. This collection of resources is designed to help you master the channel and develop an Instagram strategy that works for your brand.
How to Stop Your Mac’s Mail App From Wasting Gigabytes of Space
From How to Geek: Are you using Apple’s Mail app on your Mac? Then you’re losing gigabytes of space you could be putting to better use! The mail app wants to cache every single email and attachment you’ve ever received offline.
This could take up tens of gigabytes of space if you have a lot of emails. On a Mac with a large hard drive, this isn’t a big deal. But, on a MacBook with 128 GB of solid-state drive space, this can be a significant waste of space.
Running Great Meetings: The Meeting Leader’s Kit
From TradePub.com: Don’t miss out on this new exclusive offer from TradePub.com.
Free for a Limited Time Including: “Running a Great Meeting for Dummies”
How to put together a productive meeting
Tips on running a virtual meeting
Kit includes 3 bonus meeting resources
The Meeting Leader’s Kit is a must-read for any executive who needs to set up a meeting – fast!
Running a Great Meeting In a Day – For Dummies
Real-World Options for Multipoint Videoconferencing
Executive Guide: Harnessing the Power of Enterprise Social Collaboration
From Big4Playbook: Whether you work in public practice or are an accountant at a company, Microsoft Excel is likely an essential part of the work you perform. The author of the article says: “When I worked in public accounting, I used Excel on a daily basis for numerous work assignments. Over that time, I picked up a few useful excel tricks and best practices that made my life a lot easier.”
The following is a listing of tips and tricks (read the full article for an explanation on each) that will help you as you work through your working papers and spreadsheets.
Copying Visible Cells Only
Pasting Formats – Paste Special Shortcut
Granny bonds – the good news and the bad news
From the ICAEW Tax Faculty Team: The Chancellor introduced the new granny bonds for those aged 65 and over in his 2014 Budget speech. They were first made available by NS&I in January 2015 [and apparently have been selling like hot cakes].
First the good news: The announcement that they will be available until May 2015 looks like good news and the 2.8% rate of interest for the one year bond and 4% for the three year bond appear quite attractive. The interest is paid net of 20% tax and for basic rate taxpayers no further action is necessary.
The bad news: For non-taxpayers the tax deducted at source will have to be reclaimed using the R40 as NS&I are not part of the R85 scheme. This is likely to affect many of the individuals applying for these bonds, particularly as the new 0% savings income band of £5,000 comes into force from 6 April 2015. With a personal allowance of £10,600 and a 0% savings income band of £5,000, pensioners with income comprising a small pension of say £10,000, with a modest amount of savings income will need to reclaim the tax deducted at source on their granny bond interest.
The official rate of interest will fall to 3% from 6 April
Also from the ICAEW Tax Faculty Team: The government has announced that the official rate of interest will be 3% from 6 April 2015. This will be a fall from the current rate of 3.25%.
The official rate of interest is used in calculating the benefit-in-kind charge on beneficial loans to employees and on living accommodation provided for an employee or director. It is also use in calculating the pre-owned asset charge on assets other than land.
Several stories have appeared on the importance of getting up to speed on auto enrolment. Here are a few of them:
Seven auto enrolment myths dispelled: From accountingWEB: At the end of last year more than five million people were automatically enrolled into a pension scheme as a direct result of auto enrolment. Despite this, a wide range of myths and misconceptions still exist around the planning and implementation of auto enrolment for both businesses and advisers. Drawn from the results of Buzzacott’s recent auto enrolment research report, carried out by Meridian West, the full article sets out the seven myths about auto enrolment:
Myth 1: Auto enrolment is a low priority for organisations
Myth 2: Auto enrolment is merely a compliance exercise.
Myth 3: Three to six months is more than sufficient to plan and implement auto enrolment
Myth 4: Auto enrolment requires only minor tweaks to systems and processes
Myth 5: Organisations with existing pension provision will not need to make
Myth 6: You need to be a pension expert to implement auto enrolment
Myth 7: Most employees will opt out of auto enrolment
‘Sick-note’ culture to be stamped out under radical new scheme
In the Telegraph, By Camilla Turner: Anyone ill for more than four weeks will face a fit-for-work test in a radical new scheme aimed at stamping out the “sick-note culture” which costs the economy billions of pounds each year. All GPs will be expected to refer patients to a company that will assess their ability to work and draw up a plan for their return.
More than a million people take sick leave for over a month each year, costing the economy over £9 billion. The new scheme, which will cost £134 million over four years, is aimed at stopping people from languishing on benefits while off work for long-term sickness, The Times reported.
From Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister: Jo Swinson, the Employment Relations Minister, has (on 18 February) issued a press release about the imminent introduction of Shared Parental Leave.
Meanwhile, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has developed an online calculator to help prospective parents calculate their eligibility for shared parental leave and their pay entitlements.
Taxation: Private Residence Relief: The Trading Trap
In Tax Insider, Mark McLaughlin wrote about the capital gains tax (CGT) relief on disposal of a private residence (TCGA 1992, s 222). It’s is one of the most well-known tax reliefs available. This is no doubt due to the large number of home owners who claim the relief when moving house at various points in their lives. Some individuals move house more than others. It may be tempting to buy a run-down house cheaply, renovate it, live there for a while and sell it for a profit. This process may then be repeated for subsequent houses, with the individual seeking to claim private residence relief on each sale.
However, the question arises whether HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may seek to challenge private residence relief claims in such circumstances. For example, is the individual actually trading as a property developer? If so, private residence relief will not be available, and the profits of the trade will be liable to income tax (and normally National Insurance contributions) instead.
Mark McLaughlin warns that too many claims for capital gains tax private residence relief could attract unwelcome attention from HM Revenue and Customs, and a possible challenge on the basis of trading.
Latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight
The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight have been made available in the last week and are listed here:
Finance transformation roles: Pathways to CFO: ACCA’s smart finance function campaign showcases the good practices, challenges and opportunities corporate finance functions face. This report asks a simple question: are finance shared service and transformation roles valuable in the career path to becoming a CFO? View summary
Weekly tax update – February 16th 2015: In this issue, Tina Riches, National Tax Partner reviews the Scottish land and building transaction tax set to come into effect on 1 April 2015, the HMRC’s February 2015 employment related securities bulletin and claims for overpaid VAT by non-profit making sports clubs. View summary
Company: Smith and Williamson
Credit Wise: 2014/15 Annual edition: In this annual edition of Credit Wise, we look back at developments in 2014 and forward to 2015. If there is a dominant theme, it is that government needs to ‘walk the walk’ not just ‘talk the talk’ when seeking to protect creditors’ interests. View summary
Company: Moore Stephens
FRC proposals to replace FRSSE with FRS 105 are too complex
From AccountancyLIVE, written by Pat Sweet: The latest proposals from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to amend the new UK GAAP, FRS 102, to meet the new rules set down by the EU Accounting Directive have been described as ‘revolutionary’ by Baker Tilly, which says some three million small firms will see an impact from the changes which are now subject to consultation, although some commentators have warned that the document is ‘impenetrable’ and risks creating more complexity
There are concerns that the tight timeframe to rush through the new standard to comply with the EU Accounting Directive which comes into effect later this year means that there are concerns that business will have little time to prepare for the changes.
EC proposes accounting rules for single EU capital market
From AccountancyLIVE: written by Pat Sweet: The European Commission has indicated potential plans for the introduction of new EU-level accounting standards, as part of its wider initiatives to create a single market for capital across the EU’s 28 member states, which it says would help unlock additional funding for Europe’s businesses with a particular focus on supporting SMEs
The EC’s Green Paper on Capital Markets Union (CMU), which is now subject to a three-month consultation, looks at a number of ways of reducing fragmentation in financial markets, diversifying financing sources, strengthening cross border capital flows and improving access to finance for businesses, particularly SMEs.
From CCH Information, Contributed by Mark Cawthron: A previous feature article in CCH Tax News, ‘Second homes, holiday homes, buy-to-lets … tell us about them!’, referred to two HMRC ‘campaigns’ aimed at owners of these types of property. Much of that article was a review of some First-tier Tribunal decisions on ‘principal private residence’ (PPR) relief for capital gains tax (CGT): this seems to be an area of considerable interest to practitioners.
2013 was a big year for PPR cases before the Tribunal, and in particular for cases revolving around relatively short periods of occupation of property by the taxpayers concerned.
Tribunal cases on PPR in 2014 have, on the whole, covered different ground. Perhaps the 2013 cases, taken together, have provided sufficient ‘steer’ to taxpayers’ advisers on the one hand, and to HMRC on the other, to enable tax return enquiries in those PPR cases involving ‘short periods of occupation’, to be resolved one way or the other without recourse to the Tribunal.
This follow-up article extracts, from the earlier one, the ‘principles’ that the 2013 PPR cases had, collectively, seemed to confirm. It then runs through some of the 2014 Tribunal cases and finishes with a few ‘current points’ on PPR relief.
If you’re an accountant, you will surely have heard of Ric Payne. Ric, together with Paul Dunn pretty well changed the face of the accounting profession in the 1990s through their transformational boot camps across the world.
Today, Ric runs Principa – its object is simple: Principa was created solely to turn the challenges facing the small and medium-sized business communities around the world (SMEs) into opportunities for forward thinking accounting practices and business consulting firms.
Ric has an upcoming webinar titled: Why most SMEs don’t want to invest in your business advisory services and what you can do about it.
What’s it about?
There are few, if any, SME owner-managers who would not benefit from the help of a competent external advisor and yet the vast majority of them do not accept this.
For this reason most SME advisors confront a “sales barrier” that is not only disappointing but can also be a serious waste of time.
In this webinar Ric Payne will share his insights on how to deal with the cognitive, interpersonal, motivational, and resource scarcity challenges that result in so many business people refusing help from business advisors.
Ric will draw on his personal successes and failures as a business advisor in practice and, for the past 20 years, as a coach to advisors in the accounting profession. He will complement his practical experience in selling and delivering advisory services by incorporating contemporary research findings from the behavioural and neuro-sciences that explain why there is a natural tendency for people to reject assistance, and he’ll explain how you can use this understanding to achieve dramatically better results.
Note: If you were unable to make it to Ric’s webinar, you also have the opportunity to register to view the recording on Friday, February 27, 2015 or Wednesday March 4, 2015. To learn more, click here.
Did you know that anyone with access to your Mac computer can bypass your password unless you do something quite easy to stop them?
If fact, anyone can bypass and reset your password on any operating system you might be using.
It’s impossible to completely protect any computer from an attacker if they get physical access. But, unless you set up your Mac properly, it just takes a reboot and a few seconds to bypass your password — or wipe your hard drive. For all the talk about security vulnerabilities, the ability for anyone to quickly change a Mac’s password is rarely thought about. Read what you should do about it here
Passwords can be reset or bypassed on every operating system.
On other devices where you can’t gain access to the files, you can still reset the device and gain access to it without knowing a password. These tricks all require physical access to the device. Read what you should do about it here
Ok, the above will probably prevent loss of data and valuable information on your computers. But, don’t miss out on the latest marketing and technical update if you want to keep your clients. They deserve your attention.
Marketing and Business Promotion
Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs
More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs. Here they are:
Watch out… IFAs can make big wins from apathetic accountants
In New Model Adviser on 13 February: Employer apathy and accountant complacency mean there are still huge opportunities for IFAs who can provide a fairly priced proposition to project manage auto-enrolment, writes Neil Shillito of SG Wealth Management.
IFAs are being advised that considering the sheer number of employers that will need help and the lack of good quality support available to them, there are real opportunities to get more work.
A combination of unprepared accountants, apathetic employers and national advice firms charging too much has created an opportunity for advisers who can provide a fairly priced proposition to project manage auto-enrolment duties. Read more, here
YotaPhone 2 – From Russia with love
In Business Spectator (Australia) by Krishan Sharma: The YotaPhone 2 has to be one of the most interesting smartphones in the market.
The original YotaPhone was the first Russian-made smartphone and an engineering marvel with a LCD display on the front and a second E Ink screen on the back, similar to those found on eBook readers like Amazon’s Kindle. The new and improved YotaPhone 2 ramps up the specs, overhauls the software and introduces higher-resolution displays for both the front and back of the device. Read more, here
12 Tricks for Typing Faster on Your iPhone or iPad’s Keyboard
Your iPhone’s keyboard offers some hidden tricks that can help you type faster. iPads offer some hidden tricks, too — did you know you can split your iPad’s keyboard and move it around the screen?
Some of these tricks are well hidden. You may never discover them until someone tells you — or you read about them in an article like this one.
Double Tap the Space Bar to Type a Full Stop
When tapping out a sentence, you tap the large space bar in between each word. When you reach the end of a sentence, you don’t have to reach for that small period (full stop) button. Just double-tap the space bar to insert a period and a space so you can start typing your next sentence.
There is much, much more…
[By the way, Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He’s as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.] Read the full article here
29 Must-Know Terms For Every Social Media Analyst
From Unmetric: Social networks have improved their internal analytics offerings to the point where they are unrecognisable even from a year or two ago. Can you imagine working with the old Facebook Insights now that they provide a wealth of data about the health and status of your page?
Inside this FREE report:
Definitions of 29 essential social media terms and metrics
Instructions for locating these metrics
Bite-sized insights from industry experts
This report is for:
Social Media Analysts
Social Media Consultants
Account Planners / Strategists
Download this eBook to master the terminology and get your client, boss and colleagues all talking the same language. It’s the first step to getting your social media marketing on track. Download from here
Increase inbound leads and establish your company as a thought leader
From Marketo who say that the best way to increase inbound leads and establish your company as a thought leader is by giving your audience what they want… great content!
Download the FREE Content Marketing Tactical Plan and learn step-by-step how to create an unbeatable content machine that helps you hit your goals. With an effective content marketing strategy, you’ll be able to:
Increase inbound leads to your website at a low cost
Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry
Build relationships and excite influencers
Move leads effectively through your sales funnel
Enhance outbound marketing campaigns ROI
This FREE guide will help you create a successful and sustainable program to both keep your existing audience and attract new prospects. Download from here
Simply Measured Twitter Benchmark Report Q4 2014
From Get Simply Measured: The world’s top brands are more active, are creating more effective content, and are reaching larger audiences on Twitter than ever before. This Q4 2014 benchmark report analyzed the results and tactics of the world’s top 100 brands on Twitter to provide insights into successful brand strategies and benchmarks to compare with your own brand performance.
Free e-book: Verizon, Kraft, and Heinz share marketing best practice
From Incite Marketing & Communications who have just released an e-Book with contributions from Chief Marketing Officers at AOL Platforms, Heinz, and McGraw-Hill (among others) on becoming more customer-centric, agile, and responsive in 2015.
The 15-page briefing covers how to:
Use data to create simple, smart, and connected customer experiences
Encourage interdepartmental collaboration and internal brand evangelism
Tell stories with your content to connect with consumers
Talk to your customer where and when they’re listening
In Business Matters: If you know what you’re doing, social media is an easy and cost-effective way to improve your customer service, especially for small businesses.
As your company grows, you need to make sure that you are also developing a loyal customer base. The great thing about social media is that a satisfied customer has the ability to recommend your products and services to their family and friends.
If you are unsure how to approach social media, take a look at your competitors to get an idea of how other businesses do it. Then aim to do it better. This article provides the top five tips on how you can improve your social media customer service. Read the article here
Q&A: Should you dump the billable hour?
From the Journal of Accountancy in the USA: A growing number of industry pricing experts are urging CPA firms to jettison the venerable billable hour and replace it with a fixed-pricing model, or even the more optimal model of “value pricing.”
Few public accounting topics spark as much controversy as this one. Many firms have adopted value pricing in recent years, but others have been reluctant to do so. To give additional insight into this important topic, we sat down for a series of Q&A sessions with author and consultant Ron Baker, an unabashed value-pricing champion.
These conversations give readers an in-depth look at the reasons a firm should consider switching to value pricing, and the nuts and bolts of how a switch might work. The following Q&A session, the first in the series, focuses on the reason behind making such a move. Read this interesting article here
FREE Guide: Build A Better Social Media Strategy
From Unmetric: Discover the new intelligent social media workflow being used by the biggest brands to optimize their social content and create more user engagement than ever before. Listening and publishing tools are only half the story, learn how brands and agencies have evolved to fill in the gaps and make listening, publishing and analysis work together.
Inside this report:
The new intelligent social media workflow to create better content
The new social media platform landscape – and how to leverage it
How you can use Listening, Publishing & Analysis platforms together to uncover greater intelligence
The report is for:
Marketing VPs & CMOs
Download this FREE eBook to master the new intelligent social workflow and start leveraging the benefits today. Social media has evolved, your social team needs to use the right strategy and tools to evolve with it. Download from here
Content collaboration for the mobile workforce
From Huddle who say that The mobile invasion is here. Business is conducted on the move – walking to work, getting on a plane, sitting at the beach. And today’s modern worker isn’t just mobile. People work in a collaborative environment creating, managing, sharing and editing documents and files.
Email, Consumer file sharing apps, SharePoint: All of these are being used to compensate for this new world — but none of them is effective for collaboration. Or secure.
From Marketing Profs: As a modern marketer, you know that having your own mobile application is becoming more essential to reach and engage with your prospects and customers. But with so many challenges to creating the right user experience, picking the wrong application developer can be a disaster.
Like any project, you need the right people for the job. So, before choosing a vendor for your application, download Selecting Top Mobile Development Companies for insight to help you get started. This whitepaper will assist you in choosing a vendor by providing an understanding of the many facets of development and how they all work together to create a mobile application. Following these recommendations can mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful app.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s advice to anyone running a business
Times of India ran an interesting piece for those who want to build a successful, sustainable business: don’t ask yourself what could change in the next ten years that could affect your company. Instead, ask yourself what won’t change, and then put all your energy and effort into those things.
That’s the advice of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, highlighted in an interesting post about Uber’s big ambitions by venture capitalist Bill Gurley.
Bezos suggests that you should build a business strategy around the things you know are stable in time – like that customers will always prefer lower prices – and then invest heavily in ensuring you are providing those things and improving your delivery of them all the time. Read more, here
The World’s First Robot-Staffed Hotel to Open in Japan
An interesting item found at Live Science, posted 5 February by Tanya Lewis: What if you could check into a hotel, have your luggage carried to your room and order a coffee — all with help from a team of robots?
A new hotel at a theme park in Nagasaki, Japan, hopes to make that dream a reality. The Henn-na Hotel (whose name means “strange hotel”) will be partially staffed by androids that work as reception attendants, robot waiters, cleaning staff and a cloakroom attendant, The Telegraph reported.
Developed by Japan’s Osaka University and manufactured by the Japanese robotics company Kokoro, many of the “Actroid” robots resemble a young Japanese woman. The bots will be able to speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, make hand gestures, and pull off the somewhat creepy feat of mimicking eye movements, according to The Telegraph. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures] Read more, here
The Fundamentals of Successful Social Planning
From Simply Measured: Though many social marketers try to plan their strategy, they often do so without complete information about how their current programs are performing.
This FREE Simply Measured white paper outlines the three fundamentals of planning with social analytics, and how this process can be used to develop a complete and effective social marketing strategy.
In CITY A.M., Posted 4 February by Sarah Spickernell: The idea that male and female brains might be different is a controversial topic, but new research suggests it is an unavoidable fact of life.
Scientists at the University of Exeter and King’s College London compared male and female brain development in the womb, and found that a process called DNA methylation causes different genes to be expressed. This, they say, must lead to differences in the way men and women think, behave and respond to disease.
While it is not yet understood how these genetic changes manifest as personality differences, it paves the way for further research to take place. Read more, here
You might also like to read my blog dated 12 February 2015: “Are you cognitively challenged?” which touches on the above and many other issues about brains and heads.
Modern Marketers Essentials Guide to Data Management
From the amazing people at Marketing Profs: As a marketer, you understand the importance of data. But without the right data to fuel your marketing activities, your communications will never get off the ground.
Download this free guide to discover how to use data to deliver targeted, personal experiences to consumers at the exact moments in the purchase process that they’re ready to buy.
The guide is FREE and is provided by Oracle Marketing Cloud. You’ll learn how to:
Tame the big data beast
Centralize data to define your best customer
Unify and harness the power of all your data sources
The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight has been made available:
Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS): This article provides an overview of the recent changes in legislation regarding supplies of broadcasting, telecoms and e-services to private or non-business customers located within the EU. View summary
T&E Technology: Top 10 tips for buyers: Whether you’re looking to automate your travel and expense processes for the first time, update your existing system or integrate your spend management platforms, it’s a significant business change. These top 10 tips will help you get started with choosing the right solution and supplier. View summary
Preparing your practice for FRS 102 – key questions: Early preparation for the FRS 102 regime involves the financial reporting technical requirements, plus the time and cost impact on a firm’s resources and the risk involved in preparing clients for their conversion. This article highlights key questions to consider in preparation for the new FRSs. View summary
Company: Sage Group Plc
Year-end tax planning 2014/15: Depending on personal circumstances, an individual may be able to take certain actions before the end of the tax year on 5 April that will reduce their income tax and/or capital gains tax liability. This article covers a few of those possible actions relevant to the tax year ending on 5 April 2015. View summary
Inheritance Tax Incentive for Charitable Legacies: Individuals who give at least 10% of their net estates to charity qualify for a reduction in the rate of inheritance tax imposed on their estates. The rate can be reduced from 40% to 36%. Download this article to find out more. View summary
Company: BDO Stoy Hayward
Sweeter tax planning ideas: With the tax year ending on 5 April, use the remaining few weeks to ensure that your tax position is as ‘sweet’ as possible. This guide provides advice to business owners and private clients on how to maximise tax planning ideas. View summary
Company: Baker Tilly
Private Clients Quarterly Tax Digest – January edition: This Quarterly Tax Digest comprises topical news items and insights relevant to Private Clients. Topics covered: HMRC rental income; IHT – is your AIM correct; minimising losses on failed investments; tax efficient Enterprise Investment Schemes; new reporting requirements for trustees. View summary
FRS 102 bitesize: Goodwill: This Financial Reporting Brief looks more closely at goodwill, whether arising on consolidation or as purchased goodwill in a standalone entity. Goodwill is covered in FRS 102 Section 19 Business Combinations and Goodwill. View summary
Company: Saffery Champness
Global transfer pricing guide 2015: This guide has been developed to provide an easy reference for finance and tax specialists within multi-national companies or those considering cross border ventures. It presents the relevant rules and legislation in each country including pricing methods, documentation requirements and penalties. View summary
Company: UHY Hacker Young Group
VAT Update: January 2015: The January issue of VAT Update, looks at two topics, prompt payment discounts and sporting services supplied by clubs to non-members. View summary
Company: Saffery Champness
Streamlining and Securing Client Communication: Accountants are in a trusted position; handling sensitive personal information for their clients on a daily basis and legally are obliged to protect their clients’ data. This paper studies how accountants can use a document portal to ensure secure client communication and data protection compliance. View summary
Preparing your practice for FRS 102: FRS 102 is being referred to as the most significant change in financial reporting for a generation. This whitepaper considers some of the main issues that practitioners need to consider in preparing for this significant change in financial reporting. View summary
Company: Sage Group Plc
Key Changes to UK GAAP: This article outlines some of the more notable differences between UK GAAP and FRS 102. FRS 102 requires more financial instruments to be recognised on the balance sheet and the treatment of fair value fluctuations for investment property are also accounted for differently under FRS 102. View summary
Company: Sage Group Plc
Taxes made easy 2014/15: Download this whitepaper for practical tax tips to guide you through the tax system and help you plan to minimise your liability. Areas covered: running a business; disposals and capital gains tax; tax and your investments; property matters; preserving the inheritance; working for others. View summary
Company: Haines Watts
Found at Advisors For Business: Strategic Leadership is the focus of The Director as Strategic Leader programme at Cranfield School of Management. During this inspirational programme you will explore the different perspectives and approaches strategic leaders use to make sense of the complexity and dynamics of corporate governance, the needs of their organisations and their personal resources.
Delivered by highly regarded experts in their field, this programme will provide knowledge and experiences on how to manage the conflicting demands of different stakeholder groups. Key themes and topics include ensuring internationalisation, board composition and dealing with corruption and legislation. More information is here
The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014
The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2014
Fewer words are now disregarded for the purposes of deciding whether one name is the ‘same as’ another on the register to allow more choice and make name swaps within groups of companies easier.
Updates to the list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation to include accents and other diacritical marks.
Amendments to the list of expressions to be disregarded for the purposes of ‘same as’ (including their Welsh equivalents).
The list of words and expressions now disregarded includes where they are used with brackets, meaning a name which was previously not the ‘same as’ because of the inclusion of brackets is now treated as ‘same as’.
Widening of the ‘same as’ consent provision now makes it easier for companies in the same group to grant permission to register a proposed name.
Amendments to trading disclosure requirements now means that any company located in an office or other location occupied by 6 or more companies may make its registered name available for inspection on a register.
There a fewer ‘sensitive’ words and expressions.
FREE Pensions’ factsheet
From Hargreaves Lansdown: In less than 8 week’s time, new pension freedoms take effect. Up to 18 million people will be affected.
This free factsheet from Hargreaves Lansdown tells you what you need to know, whether you’re retiring soon, building a retirement fund or even considering starting a pension, or more importantly if you are advising clients doing these things. Download your FREE factsheet here.
Two items from CCH on Auto Enrolment:
5 Steps to Bureau Success
With 45,000 employers set to stage in 2015, many will look to their bookkeeper, accountant or payroll advisor for help and advice. Somehow, only 67% of accountants say they know a lot about Auto Enrolment.
Discover how the right payroll solution will empower you to improve profit margins and increase the turnaround of clients. In just 5 simple steps you can make sure that your Auto Enrolment service offering will be a profitable one. Download Free Guide here
Auto Enrolment Webinars
To learn more about how you can make a profit from Auto Enrolment, why not attend a free webinar? BrightPay is hosting a series of free Auto Enrolment Webinars specifically designed for bookkeepers, accountants and payroll advisors to make it easier to help clients with their new obligations. The webinar series will run this February & March and will include a number of guest speakers from the accounting and payroll industry. Register here
Amateur Sports Clubs: Moving the [Tax] Goalposts
In CCH-Info: Paul Davies provides an overview of the principal rule changes affecting Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and highlights some of the issues club officials and their advisors will soon need to address.
HMRC are moving the goalposts for Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs) and many will need to take action as a consequence. At best, record-keeping obligations are likely to increase. At worst, clubs may need to change the entity through which certain fund raising activity is conducted if existing tax benefits are to be preserved. So whether clubs are already registered, or just contemplating a registration, officials and their advisors would do well to start planning their next move now.
The proposals follow a detailed consultation throughout the summer of 2013 and the publication of draft secondary legislation on 9 October 2014 for a further review period. Reponses to the consultation were published by HMRC on 18 December 2014. As enabling powers have already been enacted, the regulations are likely to be laid no later than 1 April 2015 if all goes to plan. This article provides an overview of the principal rule changes and highlights some of the issues club officials and their advisors will soon need to address. Read full article, here
HMRC plan to scrap £100 fines for late tax returns
In the DailyTelegraph: Posted 7 February, by Tim Ross, senior political correspondent: The Government’s £100 fine for late tax returns could be scrapped for hundreds of thousands of people who return the forms “a day or two” late. Hundreds of thousands of people will no longer be hit with £100 fines for failing to complete their income tax returns on time, under radical government plans.
HM Revenue & Customs has admitted that its penalties regime may be too rigid, and is drawing up proposals to end fines for taxpayers who miss the deadline “by a day or two”.
New rules outlined for public consultation could see people who owe the government tax charged higher interest rates on their debts to encourage them to pay sooner, instead of being hit with automatic fines.
A system of penalty points – similar to motoring offences – could also be introduced so that financial sanctions apply only to people who persistently fail to pay their tax bills.
The plan, which will be open for public comments until May, comes after figures showed 890,000 people missed the January 31 deadline for completing their income tax self-assessments last week. They now face an escalating scale of penalties, starting with an automatic £100 fine.
This information, published by the Charity Commission on 2 February 2015, explains how to register your charity once it has been set up, what you need before you start your application and what happens after you apply.
When to apply to register your charity
Usually, you must register with the Charity Commission if your charity is based in England or Wales and has over £5,000 income per year.
If your charity is a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) it must register whatever its income.
Only apply to register your charity once it’s set up. This means you have:
Many employers are unaware of the obligations that apply when they have employees who work alone. I have to confess that I didn’t know too much about the subject so I did some research and am happy to share with you what I found. First though, here is my acknowledgement that the following text includes public sector information published by the Health andSafety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.
Defining “Working Alone”
The HSE suggest the following definition: “Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision. They are found in a wide range of situations”.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provide guidance on how to keep lone workers healthy and safe. It is aimed at anyone who employs or engages lone workers, and also at self-employed people who work alone.
Following the HSE guidance is not compulsory, but it should help employers understand what they need to do to comply with their legal duties towards lone workers under:
the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974;
the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Is it legal to work alone and is it safe?
Working alone is not in itself against the law and it will often be safe to do so. However, the law requires employers to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone.
Employers are responsible:
for the health, safety and welfare at work of all their workers; and
for the health and safety of any contractors or self-employed people doing work for them.
These responsibilities cannot be transferred to any other person, including those people who work alone. Workers have responsibilities to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work activities and to co-operate with their employers in meeting their legal obligations.
Who are lone workers and what jobs do they do?
Lone workers are those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision, for example:
In fixed establishments
A person working alone in a small workshop, petrol station, kiosk or shop
People who work from home other than in low-risk, office-type work (separate guidance covers homeworkers doing low-risk work – see the end of the leaflet for details)
People working alone for long periods, eg in factories, warehouses, leisure centres or fairgrounds
People working on their own outside normal hours, eg cleaners and security, maintenance or repair staff
As mobile workers working away from their fixed base
Workers involved in construction, maintenance and repair, plant installation and cleaning work
Agricultural and forestry workers
Service workers, including postal staff, social and medical workers, engineers, estate agents, and sales or service representatives visiting domestic and commercial premises
How must employers control the risks?
Employers have a duty to assess risks to lone workers and take steps to avoid or control risks where necessary. This must include:
involving workers when considering potential risks and measures to control them;
taking steps to ensure risks are removed where possible, or putting in place control measures, eg carefully selecting work equipment to ensure the worker is able to perform the required tasks in safety;
instruction, training and supervision;
reviewing risk assessments periodically or when there has been a significant change in working practice.
This may include:
being aware that some tasks may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out by an unaccompanied worker;
where a lone worker is working at another employer’s workplace, informing that other employer of the risks and the required control measures;
when a risk assessment shows it is not possible for the work to be conducted safely by a lone worker, addressing that risk by making arrangements to provide help or back-up.
Risk assessment should help employers decide on the right level of supervision. There are some high-risk activities where at least one other person may need to be present. Examples include:
working in a confined space, where a supervisor may need to be present, along with someone dedicated to the rescue role;
working at or near exposed live electricity conductors;
working in the health and social care sector dealing with unpredictable client behaviour and situations.
Employers who have five or more employees must record the significant findings of all risk assessments. Employers also need to be aware of any specific law that prohibits lone working applying in their industry. Examples include supervision in diving operations, vehicles carrying explosives and fumigation work.
Last week, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said inflation in the UK could temporarily turn negative in the spring because of falling oil prices – it was reported here.
Rising prices were always seen to be a bad thing – nobody likes to buy something this week and pay more for it than last week. But the flipside of the coin, when you’re selling something, is just the opposite. Great if you can sell something this week for a higher price than last week.
But like most things, it’s better to happen in moderation. Not too much, nor too little. Slowly does it…
Launching the Bank’s inflation report, Mark Carney added: “Prices are likely to rebound around the turn of the year, so this did not mean the economy had entered deflation.”
Deflation – Now, that’s a new word for many people.
We have all been brought up on a diet of inflation and the National Debt. But it seems we now need to worry about other things as well.
As fool.co.uk put it: “Deflation is just about the last thing you want at a time when your economy desperately needs to start growing. It is retail demand that drives the whole thing, and if goods are going to be cheaper in the future then there’s little incentive to spend now — and it’s compounded by the value of debts getting bigger. We’ve already seen the same thing happen in Japan, which suffered a 20-year cycle of deflation that proved extremely hard to get out of.”
Germany knows about deflation. Official figures from Germany show that prices fell, by 0.5%, over the previous 12 months (although, after last week’s spurt in the German economy and encouraging signals from the wider Eurozone, there’s some optimism that Europe’s economy might finally be turning the corner).
The UK is flirting with deflation too, as price inflation is expected to have fallen to a record low, with figures out this week likely to show it reached 0.3 per cent in January, according to City A.M. – read here.
But this article isn’t a treatise on the economy but rather an explanation that when it comes to juggling the figures, inflation isn’t the only thing to understand. Here are a few terms explained as simply as I can. If someone out there can provide easier to understand definitions, I’ll be very pleased to hear from them. Also, if I’ve missed anything, I’m sure you’ll let me know.
Recession is a period of negative economic growth... (click to read more)
Recession is a period of negative economic growth at the trough of the trade cycle. A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. In the United States, a larger number of factors are taken into account, such as job creation and manufacturing activity. However, this means that a US recession can usually only be defined when it is already over. Whilst a recession is bad enough, a double-dip recession is even worse: It happens when gross domestic product (GDP) growth slides back to negative after a quarter or two of positive growth. A double-dip recession refers to a recession followed by a short-lived recovery, followed by another recession. Very unpleasant indeed.
Inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level... (click to read more)
Inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level, i.e. the rate at which prices are increasing, It’s the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services and, as a result, purchasing power is falling. Central banks attempt to stop severe inflation, along with severe deflation, in an attempt to keep the excessive growth of prices to a minimum. Tip: Central banks in most countries aim for an inflation rate of 2-3% per annum. But how the economists arrived at that figure is a mystery.
Deflation is the downward price movement of goods and services... (click to read more)
Deflation is the downward price movement of goods and services, often as a result of a reduction in the supply of money or credit. It’s the opposite of inflation. It has the side effect of increased unemployment, factories closing, loan defaults and generally can lead to an economic depression. Central banks attempt to stop severe deflation and severe inflation, as they try to keep the excessive drop in prices to a minimum.
Stagflation is an economic state in which inflation combines with a downturn... (click to read more)
Stagflation is an economic state in which inflation combines with a downturn in the economy – “stagnation with inflation”. It is an economic downturn characterised by the simultaneous existence of stagnation and persistent and intractable inflation. Stagflation occurs when the economy isn’t growing but prices are – not a good situation for any country. It happened during the 1970s, when world oil prices rose dramatically, fuelling sharp inflation in developed countries.
To reflate the economy means to try to boost the level of economic... (click to read more)
To reflate the economy means to try to boost the level of economic activity. This generally means using reflationary policies, such as increasing the money supply or reducing taxation. This will shift aggregate demand to the right and boost the level of economic activity.
Disinflation is the opposite of Reflation... (click to read more)
Disinflation is the opposite of Reflation. It occurs when the increase in the “consumer price level” slows down from the previous period when the prices were rising. It’s used to describe instances when the inflation rate has reduced marginally over the short term but should not be confused with deflation.
Want to know more?
These terms and a lot more are covered in the Bizezia publication ‘Glossary of Economics Terms’, part of the UK’s biggest on-line business library with dynamic personalisation.
I’m not sure why, but there’s a lot written about them. I’m talking about brains (and heads). They’re everywhere. I’ve got one and so do you. Here are a few stories that caught my attention. They don’t have anything directly to do with my businesses – Bizezia and OneSmartPlace – but see if you find them interesting anyway.
New Brain Cells… don’t lose them!
Every day, the excellent Delanceyplace send me a snippet from a book. I was reading an email from them the other day which mentioned something about brain cells. What caught my eye was: ‘How to Save New Brain Cells’ by Tracey J. Shors written in the Scientific American magazine in March 2009 (pages 47-8) .
Apparently, the brain can grow new neurons but these disappear unless cognitively challenged. The book says: “Fresh neurons arise in the brain every day … Recent work, albeit mostly in rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain. And the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then presumably available to aid in situations that tax the mind. It seems, then, that a mental workout can buff up the brain, much as physical exercise builds up the body…”
Don’t think that brain development is reserved for young developing minds. Apparently new brain cells can develop in adults too but are not generated by clockwork. Brain cell production can be enhanced by exercise but retarded by alcohol consumption. The bad news is that whilst exercise can help to produce new brain cells they don’t always stick around and disappear. The article’s author has an answer. She says: “From our work in rats, the answer seems to be: they [the new cells] are made ‘just in case.’ If the animals are cognitively challenged, the cells will linger. If not, they will fade away.”
Viva La Difference
Last week, I read in City A.M. an article by Sarah Spickernell titled: Men and women really do have different brains. The idea that male and female brains might be different is a controversial topic, but new research suggests it is an unavoidable fact of life. The author says that scientists at the University of Exeter and King’s College London compared male and female brain development in the womb, and found that a process called DNA methylation causes different genes to be expressed. This, they say, must lead to differences in the way men and women think, behave and respond to disease.
While it is not yet understood how these genetic changes manifest as personality differences, it paves the way for further research to take place.
Three brains are better than one
According to Karen Armstrong in Fields of Blood, each of us has three “brains”: A Survival Brain, An Emotional Brain and a Thinking Brain. Each has conflicting needs and priorities, and thus together they have a complex and uneasy coexistence:
Ms Armstrong writes: “Each of us has not one but three brains that coexist uneasily. In the deepest recess of our grey matter we have an ‘old brain’ that we inherited from the reptiles that struggled out of the primal slime 500 million years ago. Intent on their own survival, with absolutely no altruistic impulses, these creatures were solely motivated by mechanisms urging them to feed, fight, flee (when necessary), and reproduce. Those best equipped to compete mercilessly for food, ward off any threat, dominate territory, and seek safety naturally passed along their genes, so these self-centred impulses could only intensify. But sometime after mammals appeared, they evolved what neuroscientists call the limbic system, perhaps about 120 million years ago. Formed over the core brain derived from the reptiles, the limbic system motivated all sorts of new behaviours, including the protection and nurture of young as well as the formation of alliances with other individuals that were invaluable in the struggle to survive. And so, for the first time, sentient beings possessed the capacity to cherish and care for creatures other than themselves.” Read more here.
Two heads are better than one but five thousand heads are better than one…
We’ve all heard the notion that two heads are better than one, meaning that two people may be able to solve a problem that is beyond the ability of only one person. It sometimes comes as “a problem shared, is a problem halved.”
Forgive ye olde English spelling from the 16th Century, but the two heads proverb is found in John Heywood’s “A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue”, 1546, which said:
Some heades haue taken two headis better then one, but ten heads without wit, I wene as good none.
But here’s something very interesting, according to Barbara Moran, five thousand heads are better than one. Her story is about ants. She says: Humans are linked with ants in ways both surprising and profound. Humans, as you may have guessed, are the other dominant social organism on the planet. Both ants and humans divide labour and form complex social networks. Both work in groups to accomplish tasks—leaf nests, Mayan temples—that no individual could complete alone. Both raise children in families. Both use the same class of neurotransmitters—“biogenic amines” like dopamine and serotonin—to govern behaviour. We both go to war.” Read her really interesting article here.
We already knew (from what we’ve been told by the papers and on TV) that France was doing badly. But most people thought the Germans were running a strong economy and were the powerhouse of Europe. Now, there’s even a suggestion that the German economy could lead Europe back into recession. German business confidence has fallen to its lowest level for some considerable time.
Last week, the Telegraph reported that Germany, the euro area’s economic titan has joined the rest of the currency bloc, and has entered deflation in January, for the first time since October 2009. It may not see inflation again before the year is out. Analysts had expected deflation – but not at this pace.
The Greeks are taking a tough line over their debts and it will be interesting to see if other Member states who received bail-outs, challenge the deals they made.
But the really worrying thing is that we are all in for a second dose of the recession. Rachel Savage wrote last week in Management Today – she says that Crispin Odey, the hedge fund manager who correctly predicted the financial crisis in 2007 that brought the world to its knees, believes the global economy is about to crash again but this time it’s going to be even worse.
Lightning can strike twice.
‘We are in the first stage of this downturn. It is too early to see what will happen – a change of this magnitude means the darkness and mist is very great. This down cycle is likely to be remembered in a hundred years,’ wrote Crispin Odey in ‘a portentous letter to clients at his hedge fund Odey Asset Management’, which manages around $12bn (£8bn).
The recession he sees looming over the horizon will ‘devastate’ stock markets, and the European Central Bank’s €1.1tn (£830m) quantitative easing bazooka will not stop the coming storm. ‘We used all our monetary firepower to avoid the first downturn in 2007-09, so we are really at a dangerous point,’ he warned. ‘If economic activity far from picks up, but falters, then there will be a painful round of debt default.’
Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week.
Marketing and Business Promotion
Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs
More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:
In Finance Rising, written by Huw Jenkins: Gmail has latched onto the UK currency revolution: users can now attach money to their messages to send to people – regardless of their email brand.
Much like attaching a folder with the infamous paperclip – a ‘£’ icon will now allow you to stick money on to emails, and will let you request amounts.
Those wishing to use the service must first setup a Google wallet account, which requires users to link a debit or bank account. The Google wallet will hold the cash for use on Google Play, or money can be shipped back to existing accounts.
The feature will be gradually rolled out to all UK Gmail users who are 18 years old or older.
Also in NewsCred, It’s a fact: The average website conversion for companies with defined content processes is more than twice that of companies without. Why? These companies set clear goals, have a plan, and built the internal infrastructure to stay on track.
Download the FREE NewsCred guide to find out how you can develop and execute a killer content strategy.
In this guide you’ll learn how to:
Understand your audience in order to define your brand mission, content strategy, and useful distribution platforms.
Build a team that understands and is excited about the value of content.
Create an efficient workflow so you can easily respond to cultural moments in real time.
Measure, analyze, and iterate until you reach your content goals.
Free Toolkit: Learn to Create Killer Marketing Content in 15 Minutes
From Act-on Software: Content marketing is on the rise, and companies that invest in content creation generate 67% more leads than their competitors.
So if you want to launch a content marketing program of your own? No problem. Everything you need to start creating killer marketing content that attracts prospective buyers and creates brand affinity is right here. Fill in the form at the link given below, to access your Content Marketing Toolkit.
This toolkit will give you a clear methodology for developing the right types of content, implementation tips, and practical resources to help you get started.
What’s Included in the Kit?
1. 15 Minute How-To Video
5 Ways to Evolve the Dreadful Annual Performance Review
From The HR Brief: The dreaded annual performance review: whether you’re on the giving or receiving end, it can be an uncomfortable experience for both managers and employees. But it doesn’t have to be.
Download this FREE guide to see how organizations use reviews to:
Increase employee productivity
Create an on-going dialog between employees and managers
Support overall organizational goals
Learn 5 key ways to driving productivity with performance reviews.
Read in Marketing Profs: Delivering a sales pitch is both art and science. It took intense amounts of work by sales and marketing to get to the right person with the right message, and convince them to make time for a conversation. The window of opportunity is small, so your sales pitch needs to sing.
How do you prepare yourself – and your pitch – for that conversation? Use this checklist to make that interaction more effective, for you and your prospect.
Having a boss could be bad for you: Freelancers are happier and earn more
From CITY A.M., written by Jessica Morris: Working for yourself could be the secret to happiness, a new report has suggested.
The report from Brighton University’s business school found the nation’s freelancers are happier – primarily because they don’t have a permanent boss – and due to taking home £42,857 per year, which is more than the national average salary of £27,200.
“For many, freelancing is emerging as the ideal lifestyle, especially in creative and digital industries where people can work from any location, including home, and which demand high levels of innovation,” Dr Jonathan Sapsed, who headed the report, told the Sunday Times.
The survey, which used funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), comprised 32 individual interviews, 304 questionnaire responses and two focus groups. Somewhat surprisingly, it found some respondents had been redundant, and said this actually benefited them in the long-run.
Reviewed on Amazon: Jim Mellon & Al Chalabi’s explosive new book ‘Fast Forward’. As the pace of technological progress intensifies, agile businesses and entrepreneurs are discovering new applications that take advantage of faster and cheaper computer processing power.
The status quo is being upended across all industries, and in some cases totally new industries are being created. Fast Forward is a book that filters this chaotic landscape and identifies the areas that will have the greatest impact to our lives, highlighting investment opportunities along the way. These disruptive technologies span the fields of robotics, transportation, the changing internet, life sciences, 3D printing and energy, all of which are experiencing tremendous growth. With their previous books published over the past 9 years, Mellon and Chalabi have established an excellent track record of recognizing investment opportunities before they become mainstream, starting with forecasting the Great Recession in 2005, and identifying gold as an excellent hedge. More recently, they have written about life sciences, and their recommended stocks in “Cracking the Code” have outperformed every major market in the world.
10 Creative Types You Need To Build A Killer Content Marketing Team
Read in NewsCred Blog, written by Lauren B. Mangiaforte: Creating content, especially in a lean marketing team, is an all-hands-on-deck endeavour. Having a dream team in place to create not only the social posts, blog pieces, and video snippets, but the strategy, big picture campaigns and creative long-term vision should be a top priority for marketers in 2015.
After all, we’re well past the infancy of content as a marketing maybe. It’s a marketing must: 78% of CMOs now believe content is the future of marketing. But where do you find the smart, creative, hard-working people to make your content strategy a success? In this new landscape, there aren’t a ton of experienced “content marketers” walking around, but that doesn’t mean people with the skills you need aren’t right under your nose.
The article lists descriptions of 10 creative types you need to build a killer content marketing team.
Found in The Register.co.uk: Discover how to get more bang for your buck by applying flash technology to your modernized infrastructure.
Flash technology is making quite a splash in the storage industry. Offering superior speed and reliability when compared to traditional hard disk drives, flash storage is a flexible and increasingly cost-effective technology that can be used to optimize enterprise storage environments running mission-critical, I/O-intensive applications.
Flash Storage for Dummies, NetApp 2nd Special Edition, explores the many uses and benefits of flash storage technology in the enterprise. From flash-accelerated storage to all-flash arrays, flash technology improves performance and increases reliability in storage infrastructures. It also reduces energy and real-estate costs in the data centre
Law Society: give accountants more guidance on breaches
In the Law Society Gazette, Monidipa Fouzder wrote about a consultation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which closed last week. Accountants scrutinising law firm figures should be given reporting guidance to avoid the ‘considerable’ confusion that has arisen for compliance officers on reporting material breaches, the Law Society has said.
In the consultation, the regulator set out a list of accounting issues that would need to be ‘substantive deficiencies’ to require accounts to be sent to the SRA. Warning signs include the lack of segregation of client and office monies, controls and checks to protect against fraud and effective oversight by management.
The Society said in order for the proposal to be effective, accountants would need guidance on what might qualify as a ‘serious deficiency’.
In its response, the Society said: ‘Lack of guidance for COLPs (compliance officer for legal practice) and COFAs (compliance officer for finance and administration) on reporting material breaches has led to considerable confusion and a variation in reporting practices. We would not want to see this repeated for reporting accountants.’
The SRA also needs to carefully consider the potential costs to firms of changes, the Society said – both in terms of the cost of the report to firms and any wider costs for firms in gearing up to comply with changes. It was ’essential’ the SRA undertakes, and publishes, an impact assessment on the likely level of costs.
The Society described the current Accounts Rules as ‘complex’, with the lack of flexibility causing difficulties for firms, and said it would welcome the opportunity to work with the SRA on a forthcoming review of the rules as a whole.
Tips for reducing professional liability risk in business valuation
From the USA, written by Frank Vinluan, in CPA2biz.com: Using engagement letters and adhering to AICPA valuation standards are among the best practices that can help CPAs (US accountants) protect themselves.
The risk of a lawsuit can start with the most innocent of questions. Take, for example, a client asking an accountant, “How much do you think my business is worth?” Even if the accountant initially declines to answer, the client may persist. After all, says Mark S. Warshavsky, CPA/ABV/CFF, the client may believe that who else but the company’s CPA, someone who has worked with the company’s financial records for years, would know the value of the business. With more prodding, an accountant may relent and provide a number—without performing the due diligence required by AICPA Statement on Standards for Valuation Services No. 1 (SSVS No. 1). If the client uses that off-the-cuff valuation on a financial statement, tax return, or loan application, or for some other financial transaction, the CPA could be held liable for failing to comply with the professional standards and face a professional liability claim.
Business valuation claims are not as common as other litigation risks facing accountants. The majority of professional liability claims brought against CPAs in the AICPA Professional Liability Insurance Program emanate from tax work.
Even when a practitioner follows proper due diligence in conducting the valuation, a party who relies on a valuation may later be unhappy about what was paid—and then blame the accountant, Sterna says. These situations can arise when an asset underperforms after the transaction.
[In my view, this is equally applicable to accountants in the UK] This is a good article that every accountant should read and inwardly digest.
Five common VAT MOSS misconceptions
In AccountingWEB, written by Les Howard – A lot of material has appeared online about the Mini One Stop Shop (MOSS) in the past few weeks – much of it misguided, writes Les Howard, the founder of vatadvice.org. New websites, blogs, and Facebook groups have sprung up, trying to cancel MOSS, defer its introduction, and help small businesses to mitigate its impact.
During December, HMRC actually relaxed some aspects of the new regime, apparently in response to the efforts of groups representing small businesses. But the actual content of the available material is decidedly patchy.
At the risk of attracting some criticism, the author offers five misconceptions about MOSS that he has come across.
In AccountancyAGE, written by Richard Crump: US standard-setters are considering whether to delay the date by which companies must shift to new rules around revenue recognition, one of the biggest changes to accounting standards in more than a decade.
Last year, the global accounting standard setter the IASB and US counterpart FASB agreed a converged accounting standard that will overhaul the way businesses record revenue on their books, allowing investors to better compare how much companies from countries around the world earn.
Companies using IFRS will need to apply the new standard for reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2017, while for US public companies the standard is scheduled to take effect for reporting periods beginning after 15 December 2016.
Posted by Rebecca Cave in AccountingWEB: If you exceed the road’s speed limit in front of a traffic camera, you expect to receive an automatic speeding fine, and possibly points on your driving licence: Many tax penalties work in a similar fashion – if a taxpayer is slow in paying tax or submitting a tax form, the HMRC computer spits out an automatic penalty. In some cases one free pass is allowed, but the principle is straightforward: Act too slow and you get a penalty.
However, when the structure of HMRC powers and penalties was re-drawn in 2009, the circumstances in which tax penalties could arise were expanded considerably. Now there are potential penalty traps in all of these situations:
failure to notify HMRC of a chargeability to tax
error or mistake on a return
failure to keep or retain records
failure to submit a return online
wrongdoing relating to VAT or excise duties
Some of these new penalties are starting to be challenged in the tax tribunals, and the results are quite shocking.
Threat from accountants spurs legal ‘merger mania’
From Pat Sweet in AccountancyLIVE: Law firms are set for a period of ‘merger mania’ over the next two years in the face of growing competition in the sector, with increased pressure coming from accountancy firms who have added a legal services arm after adopting an alternative business structure (ABS).
Research conducted by legal communications specialists Byfield Consultancy and partnership law advisers Fox Williams shows 95% of managing partners at the UK’s leading law firms, some of which have merged recently and others which have not, forecast major consolidation at the top end of the sector in future.
In addition, 45% of firms which have yet to merge said they would consider doing so over the next two years. According to the survey, growth is the key driver for mergers cited by 81% of merged firms and 73% of non-merged firms, well above the need to increase financial stability.
Anthony May, partner at executive search firm Hedley May, says the stampede to merge is caused in part by the need for law firms to face ‘the elephant in the room in the legal market’, which is the advent of alternative business structures. PwC, EY and KPMG all set up legal practices last year.
Small companies’ threshold set at £10.2m for new EU accounting rules
Posted by Sara White and Diane Tan in AccountancyLIVE: Small companies will be able to report under the new EU Accounting Directive from 1 January 2016 with companies up to a turnover threshold of £10.2m able to use the new accounting regime. The directive is set to come into force in the Companies, Partnership and Groups (Accounts and Reports) Regulations 2015 which will be passed on 6 April 2015 according to the parliament.co.uk site.
As the rules are considered affirmative regulation, as they are part of an EU directive, although they are subject to parliamentary debate, this is procedural and the SI will come into force on 6 April 2015, after parliament has been dissolved prior to the election.
Meantime, the Financial Reporting Council has confirmed that it will release the response to its consultation into the new FRSSE (Financial Reporting Standard for Smaller Entities) 2015 in March. It is not clear at this stage whether the EU Accounting Directive would effectively make the FRSSE 2015 redundant. The legislation will permit companies to access the new financial reporting regime ahead of the mandatory application date. This responds to concerns from stakeholders that companies might have to report under two accounting systems in consecutive years if a company applying FRS 102 for the first time in 2015, which then qualifies as small in 2016 under the new thresholds, had to apply the small company accounting regime in their 2016 accounts.
The new accounting rules see adoption of the EU’s recommended maximum threshold of £10.2m in net turnover for small company accounts, a balance sheet of £5.1m and maximum 50 staff. This means that an additional 11,000 companies will be able to report their annual accounts under the new regime, despite overwhelming opposition to the use of abbreviated accounts, particularly as they would not show a true and fair view.
In the event that you have missed all reference to the ‘we’re all in’ advertising campaign from the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) then the latest advertising campaign, recently launched, by the Pensions Regulator (TPR) will be just what you need to catch up.
Alongside the DWP’s message with the friendly faces of employees and business giants, which has proved so successful for the large and medium sized business, is a very clear and stark message from the TPR for SME’s and their advisers, which is ‘ Act now, it’s the law’.
Designed for SMEs, this article focuses on how your business can ensure a smooth transition to auto enrolment by communicating effectively with your clients and adapting existing software.
The staging date.
So what needs to be done now?
What will your payroll service look like with automatic enrolment?
How does your software need to adapt and how much will it cost?
Accountants need to up their game: Don’t say you weren’t warned
Posted by Julia Irvine in ICAEW Economia: Accountants are likely to miss out on a “fantastic” opportunity to become preferred adviser to small businesses over the coming year if they don’t up their game on auto enrolment.
A major survey from the National Employment Savings Trust, the trust-based pension scheme set up by the government as part of the automatic enrolment reforms, shows that accountants are more popular as a choice of intermediary than payroll professionals or IFAs – 59% of employers overall and 70% of those employing one to four workers said they were likely to ask an accountant for help and guidance.
Yet accountants are the least prepared. The survey found that 90% of IFAs and 92% of payroll bureaus claimed to know a lot or a fair amount compared to 67% of accountants.
Accountants were the least aware (40%) that employers will need to complete a declaration of compliance with the appropriate government body (v 87% of IFAs). They were also the least likely to know their clients’ staging dates (23%).
It’s not as if the accountants haven’t had enough warning: the same survey last year found that, as far as building an auto enrolment proposition (a key indicator of readiness) was concerned, accountants (22%) were far behind payroll bureaus (56%) and IFAs (46%).
This year the new rules will apply to around 45,000 small and micro employers and to more than 1m in 2016 and 2017.
Last month, I wrote at some length about the UK’s National Debt – see here.
We’ve been told that we face a financial Timebomb which is worrying for all of us. I tried very hard to unearth who our creditors are. I discovered that we owed about £1.45 trillion which, to put it into perspective, is about 30% of the value of every single home in the UK.
But, when I tried to find out who we owed the money to, I came up against a very thick brick wall.
Whatever name you give to the public debt, it’s really a loan to Britain from various sources, such as:
The Bank of England £375 billion
Overseas Lenders £?
Insurance Companies and Pension Funds £?
Building Societies £?
Investment Trusts £?
Local Authorities and Public Corporations £?
Private Individuals £?
You’ll see only one definite figure in the above list of creditors. The Bank of England engaged in quantitative easing (QE) which is an unconventional form of monetary policy – it created £375 billion as part of the asset purchase program which represents about a quarter of the total national debt.
But despite my efforts, I couldn’t get reliable figures for the remaining creditor groups. Shrouded in mystery. Jargon. Obfuscation. Defeat. Even my request to HM Treasury under the Freedom of Information Act, produced no meaningful answer for me.
Then along came Greece
And there my analysis remained… Until today when I read an article about Greece’s debts by Ian Ball, the chair of CIPFA International and the former chief executive of the International Federation of Accountants: Mr Ball opened his article with these words: “Syriza’s win in the Greek elections has focused global attention on the country’s problematic public finances. But one of the myths about Greece is that is has a debt problem at all.”
Mr Ball had my attention. He added:
Ahead of the Greek election, many articles in the international press gave centre stage to the debt issue. Yet the election was, in one key respect, a travesty of democratic process. Electors were given a choice between political parties and policies, but the choice was based on a lie.
The choice was which of the competing parties would deal best with Greece’s huge and unsustainable debt. The lie was that Greece has huge and unsustainable debt. Had it been recognised that Greece’s net debt is actually less than 20% of GDP, imagine how different the election, and the competing policies, would have been. The policies would have addressed how the Greek economy could be made to function more effectively, and how the public finances should be managed.
First, the facts. Greece’s gross debt is widely reported as being 175% of GDP. This is a number that Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, describes as ‘meaningless’, and it is.
Recent articles in the New York Times and Forbes recognise that the accounting for Greek debt has been, well, Greek accounting. Measured according to International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), the gross debt of Greece is 68% of GDP. The difference reflects, primarily, the historically unprecedented, huge effective debt reduction brought about by the 2011 and 2012 debt restructurings, which pushed debt maturities far out into the future and significantly reduced interest rates. In reporting the lower number for gross debt, international accounting standards reflect both economic reality and the time value of money, a principle that has been recognised at least since the 13th century.
But gross debt is not the best measure of debt burden or fiscal strength. Governments with strong track records in fiscal management regard net debt as the better measure, and Greece’s net debt is 18%. The difference between 68% and 18% reflects financial assets of the Greek government. And 18% means that Greece’s debt burden is markedly lower than that of most European governments.
Mr Ball concludes that the Greek election has been a travesty – sound and fury about a problem that does not exist.
This is all very worrying. What’s going on in the world today? Who can we believe anymore?
The UK has an election just a few months’ away. What financial gobbledegook will be fed to the electorate over the next few weeks I wonder?