It’s much better to be different than it is to be better

It’s much better to be different than it is to be better

This is a rallying cry to professionals – accountants and lawyers – who are in danger of being caught in the headlights.

cars

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.

You can start moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary by visiting onesmartplace.com/resources.

Remember these words from the wise Australian, Barry Urquhart: “It’s much better to be different than it is to be better”.

Here’s the way to a better practice

Here’s the way to a better practice

CE white 500pxIt’s funny (actually, it’s not funny at all) how some accountants and lawyers throw money down the drain by not charging clients for the work that they do.

Most problems arise because without a template to start with, it takes too long to draw up an engagement letter for additional work that is undertaken.

Not so with Contract Engine.

It’s the market leading engagement letter system and if you don’t believe it, just glance at the list of templates you can choose from:

Subscribing is easy. When you do, having a better practice, happier clients, more fees and a better future can never be easier.

Click here to subscribe now

 

Guarantee

We’re so sure you’ll love Contract Engine, that we’re offering you a 30 day money back guarantee. No questions asked.

Product tour

Press play to take a product tour before you buy:  

Testimonials

Still not sure? See what our subscribers say about Contract Engine. 

Here’s how to find the time to…

Here’s how to find the time to…

winding clock







 

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 organised mindThe 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 can watch him on YouTube, here.

You never know, you might end up doing the really important things.

Round up

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

george osborneChancellor 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.

You can now place your order here.

Marketing and Business Promotion and Technology

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Many more marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs.


wifiTroubleshoot 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.




Click here to continue reading

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.

Read more to learn more


peak productivityThe 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.

See more here


ipadHow 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.


Click here to continue reading

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.

Read the full article


promo marketingFREE Promo Marketing subscription

Promo Marketing is the leading publication serving the $15.6 billion promotional products industry.







Click here to continue reading

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.

Geographic Eligibility: USA (Print or Digital), Mexico, Selected International (Digital Only) Offered Free by: NAPCO Media

See more here


app marketingThe Complete Guide to Enterprise App Marketing

From Marketing Profs: Before the challenges of marketing an app overwhelm you, get answers to all of your important questions—from acquisition to revenue.

Framed around the app marketing cycle, The Complete Guide to Enterprise App Marketing takes a close look at David McClure’s Pirate Metrics to help educate you on developing the ideal app marketing strategy.




Click here to continue reading

With over 115 pages filled with tips, tactics and real-world examples, this ebook is an essential resource for marketers, developers, CMOs, and everyone in between.

You’ll learn:

  • How to break into the crowded app marketplace
  • Strategies for keeping users engaged
  • Tactics to win ratings and referrals
  • Opportunities to generate revenue

Download FREE here


virtual desktopsHow 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.


Click here to continue reading

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.

Read more


11 basic Excel tricks that will change your life

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:

  1. Jump from worksheet to worksheet with Ctrl + PgDn and Ctrl + PgUp
  2. Jump to the end of a data range or the next data range with Ctrl + Arrow
  3. Add the Shift key to select data
  4. Double click to copy down
  5. Use shortcuts to quickly format value
  6. Lock cells with F4
  7. Summarize data with CountIF and SumIF
  8. Pull out the exact data you want with VLOOKUP
  9. Use & to combine text strings
  10. Clean up text with LEFT, RIGHT and LEN

Two more resources:

Read more


Twitter Social Marketing KitTwitter Social Marketing Strategy Kit

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.

Click here to continue reading

Download the Twitter Social Marketing Strategy Kit to get:

  • The Complete Guide to Twitter Measurement (eBook)
  • The Simply Measured Q4 2014 Twitter Benchmark Report
  • How to Build a Better Twitter Calendar (Guide)
  • Must-read Twitter tactics from the Simply Measured blog

Download the kit


Pintrest4 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.



Click here to continue reading

This FREE eBook will discuss how to:

  • Share products with “Pin it” buttons
  • Display product information with Rich Pins
  • Expand with the new Promoted Pins

And more!

Download here


Facebook studyBuild 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.

Click here to continue reading

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.

Read more


Technical and Management Stuff

Latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight

The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight are listed below. Click on the hyperlinks for details for each item.

Click here to continue reading

  • 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
  • 5 ways cloud security beats what you have on-premise: Cloud-based computing is often more secure than on-premise computing for businesses. It’s like elevating your security from a humble, DIY tree fort to the sophistication of Fort Knox. This white paper explores what cloud offers. 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.

Click here to continue reading

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.

Read more


Jim CollinsLearn from the best: Jim Collins on 12 steps to taking your business from good to great

From Smart Company, By Eloise Keating: What separates the good companies from the great? This was the topic of a three-hour session with business guru Jim Collins [pictured] in Melbourne on 3 March.

Collins, the author of six books, including the best-selling book Good to Great, was a guest of the Growth Faculty’s 2015 Growth Summit, alongside Verne Harnish and Liz Wiseman.


Click here to continue reading

Read more: Nine business books you should read today

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.

Read the full article for the 12 steps and more


8 traits of great leaders8 Traits of Incredible Leaders

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
  • How to develop great instinct
  • How to loosen the reins on your employees

And more…

Download here


Liz WisemanFive ways to lead brilliant teams

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.

Read the full story to find out more


FRC praises extended auditor report take-up

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.

Read more


Employment Stuff

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?

Read more


Acas Spring recruitment advice 03/03/2015

With Spring just around the corner, and the end of the financial year for many, you may be thinking of growing your business and recruiting your first employee or taking on more staff.

Click here to continue reading

Acas has guidance to help:

Five top tips for recruiting the right staff

  • Stand back and take a look where your business has come from and where it’s going
  • Pinpoint the key tasks of a job, and the personal qualities and make these clear when advertising
  • Advertise through at least two different channels
  • Avoid interview bias by having at least two people interviewing candidates
  • Offer the going rate for the job in your business sector

Social media in the workplace Using social media for recruitment is a growing trend as a cost-effective method to help widen your pool of candidates. Here are some tips on taking this approach.

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

Source


Employer’s Guide – How to Deal with a Secondment

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.

Get the guide


employee program5 Steps to launching an employee advocacy program

From amp.dynamicsignal.com: No matter how expert your marketing and PR teams are there are physical limits as to how much time they can spend on social media engagement.




Click here to continue reading

Launching an employee advocacy program is a great way to expand a company’s digital footprint and reach a wider audience.

Download this FREE eBook and learn:

  • Key elements of employee advocacy that successful programs share
  • How to target and recruit the right employees
  • Strategies to boost employee participation
  • A list of key performance indicators to follow and set goals around

Download here


Employment status review

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.

The OTS believes that HMRC’s Employment Status Indicator (ESI) tool is a valuable resource, but it needs to be expanded and protocols developed so it can be relied upon.

Read more


Truthfully, is it fair?

Truthfully, is it fair?

Here are two stories: the first is about truth and lies (and confabulation). The second is about the science of something called captivology.

Jim Carey I can't lie

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.

Captivology

CaptivologyFrom 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.

Round up

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:

Cash Flow Central: Free App

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.”

A 10-Step Blueprint to Content Marketing Success

From NewsCred: The Content Marketing Institute recently surveyed B2B marketers and learned that:

  • 93% of marketers use content marketing.
  • Brands were 36% more confident about the ROI of content marketing last year than they were in the year before.
  • 58% of content marketers plan to increase their budgets to create more content over the next year.
  • 73% of marketers were producing more content at the end of 2013 than they were the year prior.

This FREE blueprint will breakdown the tactics you need to create quality content at scale:

  • Idea Generation: What types of content should my company create?
  • Sourcing Talent and Content: How do I find writers and manage content creation?
  • Workflow Management: How do I keep everything organized?
  • Impact Analysis: How do I measure successes and identify areas for improvement?

Samsung unveils curved screen Galaxy S6 smartphone

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.

Finding your PC’s Windows Product Key to reinstall Windows

From How to Geek: You’ll need a unique product key to reinstall Windows on your PC. This is more confusing than it sounds — you may not be able to re-use the key your computer’s manufacturer used.

Reinstalling Windows often feels necessary, especially on new PCs that come packed with bloatware. You can legally download Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 installation media directly from Microsoft.

Three Places You Might Find the Key:

  • 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:

  • Managing recurring payments;
  • How BPAY can help to cure your cash flow;
  • Tips for eCommerce online payments;
  • Payments in the cloud;
  • Data compliance;
  • A mobile payment strategy, and much more.
Download [use postcode 4160]

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
  • Move your boss towards work-life balance
  • Cast your net wider and change jobs and employers
  • Plan a relocation

Download the Essentials of IT Management Kit

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

Offered Free by: TradePub

3 easy ways to improve your efficiency

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.

Technical Stuff:

Latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight

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
  • FRS 102 bitesize: Dividends and distributable profits: This Financial Reporting Brief looks more closely at the impact of FRS 102 on profits available for distribution by private limited companies, with a particular focus on the transition period. View summary Company: Saffery Champness
  • 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.

 

The number 1 way to make more money and not get sued

The number 1 way to make more money and not get sued

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.

Engagement Letters

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 reasonsTwo good reasons…

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Product Tour Contract EngineThe 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.

Features

  • 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

Benefits

  • Capture fee-charging opportunities
  • Improve fee income
  • Better cashflow
  • Reduced risk of client disputes
  • Save time and reduce admin costs

Pricing

There is no set-up fee for Contract Engine, just an easy, affordable monthly or annual payment option with a minimum 12 month subscription.

Contract Engine for ACCOUNTANTS Express Classic Pro
No. of Engagement letters 26 150+ 150+
Usage across No. of Offices 1 1 Unlimited
No. of User Logins allowed 1 1-10 Unlimited
New Templates Added upon Request
Pay monthly at: £17 £49 £149
Pay annually at: £184 £529 £1609
VAT is added to the above figures

 

Contract Engine for LAWYERS Express Classic Pro
No. of Client Care /Engagement letters 50+ 200+ 200+
Usage across No. of Offices 1 1 Unlimited
No. of User Logins allowed 1 1-10 Unlimited
New Templates Added upon Request
Pay monthly at: £29 £79 £249
Pay annually at: £313 £853 £2689
VAT is added to the above figures

Find out more.

What’s happening in the Law?

What’s happening in the Law?

Judge Judy

Judge Judy

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

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.

Read what the press say about them.

More about the firm here.

Axiom Law

LAwAxiom 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:
    –      Insourcing;
    –      Outsourcing; and
    –      Projects
  • 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.

Read what the press say about them.

More about the firm here.

How to win

How to win

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.

Ali Boxing

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Do nothing

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.

  1. 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.

Statistics

  • 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?

OBL white 500pxEvery 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.

Features

  • 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

Benefits

  • 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

Categories

Marketing and PromotionTables, Plans and ChecklistsLawyers and Accountants

Taxation

Legislation

Pensions, Investments and Estate Planning

Company Cars

Stock Markets and Going Public

Employment and Work

Miscellaneous

Charities

International PackBusinesses and those who run themTechnology and the Internet

Insolvency

Buying, Selling, Valuing and Financing for Businesses

Glossaries

Buying a Residential Property Abroad

Online Publications for the International Market

Doing Business in Other Countries

Insurances

Budget Reports

A full List of Publications is available here.

Why do you need Online Business Library?

  • 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.

How does Online Business Library work?

The Online Business Library appears on your website through a unique delivery system:

  • 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

Pricing

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.

No. of Categoriesy Pay monthly Pay annually
1-5 £39 £421
6-10 £79 £853
11-15 £119 £1285
Over 15 £139 £1499
Note: VAT is chargeable on all subscriptions

To learn more and to subscribe, click here.

Here are 7 ways to appear more intelligent than other people

Here are 7 ways to appear more intelligent than other people

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.

gorilla
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:

  • Distrust everything you hear
  • The modesty bias
  • Look people in the eye
  • Use your middle initial
  • Become a night owl
  • Surround yourself with smart people
  • Keep schtum

Read more on the seven techniques here

Warning to accountants and lawyers (and banks)

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”.

Read more here

Round up

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.

For more details, download the full study for free today.

 

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.

Is it true or just wishful thinking?

Decide from yourself: Read more here.

 

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:

  1. They’re persistent.
  2. They set attainable goals.
  3. They find a career mentor.
  4. They are positive.
  5. They educate themselves.
  6. They track their progress.
  7. 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.

Download the Instagram Social Marketing Strategy Kit to get:

  • The Complete Guide to Instagram Measurement (eBook)
  • The Simply Measured Q4 2014 Instagram Study
  • 10 Tips for Increasing Brand Engagement on Instagram (Guide)
  • Must-read Instagram posts from the Simply Measured blog

…and much more.

Click here to download the full strategy kit.

 

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
  • 45 Cool Analytics We Can Extract From Phone Calls
Read more here.

Technical Stuff:

4 Excel Tricks That Will Save Hours of Headache

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.

  • Absolute References
  • Copying Visible Cells Only
  • Pasting Formats – Paste Special Shortcut
  • Pivot Tables

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.

 

Stories on Auto Enrolment

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.

 

Shared Parental Leave: BIS Eligibility Calculator

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.

To learn more about shared parental leave, see the Acas Good Practice Guide or the BIS Technical Guide.

 

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
    Company: ACCA
  • 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
  • The local authority insolvency jargon buster: A handy A-Z guide aimed at recovery staff to explain those confusing technical terms often used in the world of insolvency. 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.

Read more here.

 

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.

Read more here.

 

TAXATION: The Principal Private Residence again

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.

Read more here.

Why most SMEs don’t want to invest in your business advisory services and what you can do about it.

Why most SMEs don’t want to invest in your business advisory services and what you can do about it.

History

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.

time to learn

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.

Upcoming Webinar

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.

Available Registration Dates

February 25, 2015, in the US & UK

Have you got the time to learn?

Don’t miss the opportunity!

Registration at: www.onlinemeetingnow.com/register/?id=ypr5738nzu&&inf_contact_key=24d26fb33f6edafdae9e3a5e912123f0ac4846035090f3997f78825b1ed00e8b


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.

How not to lose everything

How not to lose everything

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 Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, it’s easy to gain access to a computer’s unencrypted files after resetting the password — the password doesn’t actually prevent access to your files.

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
  • Community Managers
  • 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.

Download this benchmark report to learn:

  • How active the world’s top brands are on Twitter
  • How engagement has outpaced activity and follower growth
  • Which tactics have fueled increased brand engagement
  • Benchmarks for comparing your brand performance

…and much more.
Download from here

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

Get your complimentary copy here

Using social media for better customer service

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
  • Brand Managers
  • Agency VPs
  • Senior Marketers

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.

What you need is the next generation of content collaboration.
More information is here

Selecting Top Mobile Developers

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.

Download this whitepaper to learn:

  • Key questions to ask mobile developers
  • Vendor selection recommendations
  • Important development considerations

Download from here

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.

Download this white paper to learn:

  • The theory and practice of social planning
  • How to think about planning in context with social analytics
  • Which analyses will improve your social planning
  • What to focus on during your analysis

…and much more.
Get the FREE white paper here

Men and women really do have different brains

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

Details here

Technical Stuff:

Latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight

The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight has been made available:

Summaries:

  • 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
    Company: Spendvision
  • 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
    Company: Tolley
  • 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
    Company: Buzzacott
  • 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
    Company: Lindenhouse
  • 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

How To Lead Your Organisation Strategically

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

New company and LLP name rules are now in force

A reminder that new rules affecting company names came into force on 31 January 2015.

The regulations concerned are:

  • 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

Main changes

  • 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.

Auto Enrolment:

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 Daily Telegraph: 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.

Read more, here

How to register a Charity

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:

Read more, here

Lone Working – what should employers do?

Lone Working – what should employers do?

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.Lone working

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”.

HSE Guidance

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?

safety hatWorking 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.

Further information about controlling risks can be found on the HSE website at: www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox

Further sources of information are listed at the end of the HSE leaflet downloadable from: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf

The Economy – what’s next?

The Economy – what’s next?

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.

vocab

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.

Many graphsAs 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

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

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

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

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.

Reflation

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

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.

Glossary of Economic TermsWant 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.

Click here to find out more information and how to subscribe.
Are you cognitively challenged?

Are you cognitively challenged?

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.

Cognative

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.

Ants

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.

Bad News: The Recession hasn’t really gone away at all

Bad News: The Recession hasn’t really gone away at all

I’ve written before to say that perhaps the recession hasn’t actually gone away:
here, here, here, here and again 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:

UK Gmail users can now attach money to emails

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.

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Content Strategy

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

2. Downloadable Resources

3. Community Support

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:

  • Motivate employees
  • 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.

Download the guide

Preparing for your next sales pitch

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.

Download the checklist

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.

Read more

Book review: Fast Forward

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.

Source

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.

Read the article

Download Flash Storage for Dummies

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

Free download

Technical Stuff:

Law Society: give accountants more guidance on breaches

In the Law Society GazetteMonidipa 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.

FASB considers delay to revenue recognition rules

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.

New error and wrongdoing tax penalties bite

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.

Rebecca Cave is the author Tax Rates and Tables 2014/15 published by Bloomsbury Professional.

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.

Auto Enrolment

Have you heard the word?

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.

Topics covered:

  • 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?
  • Assessment and communications.

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.

National Debt in the limelight once again

National Debt in the limelight once again

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.

time bomb

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

then along came GreezeAnd 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?

Why did you choose the job you’re in?

Why did you choose the job you’re in?

We’re all different but what motivated you to choose your line of work?

A recent survey by the University of Law found that nearly half (49%) of prospective solicitors said that they wanted to become lawyers so that they could help people. And some 61% of aspiring barristers said the same thing.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accountant should be a detailed-oriented, analytical thinker with good communication and organisational skills.

I don’t personally know all of the tens of thousands of you who receive my weekly bulletin. But I’m willing to bet that a desire to help people is a key element of what drives you on. Or it should be.

How badly do you handle your phones?

I was interested to read about how badly accountants handle their phones. Last Friday, Chis Warmoll wrote in AccountancyAGE that although accountants may be good with the numbers and making sense of “Gordian tax knots”, their telephone manner is leaving their clients less than satisfied, a new survey has shown – less than a quarter (22%) of the 1,000 British consumers quizzed in the survey, are happy with the way accountancy firms handle their phone calls. This is much the same as Arthur Daley-esque car dealers (21%) but on a par across all British businesses at 23%.

Now, perhaps this is a bit controversial but I’m willing to bet that lawyers aren’t all that good at handling phone calls either. Strangely, dentists are pretty good at it – whether it’s a phone or a drill, they do it well.

You could handle your telephone better couldn’t you?

To help, why not ask for our free publication: ‘Using your Telephone’s Full Potential‘ – more information here.

Are KPMG after your clients?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about KPMG stealing all your clients. Well, I didn’t mean “stealing” in an unprofessional or illegal way, but offering something which your clients might find more appealing than your current offering.  A torrent of defiance and disbelief has been unleashed by accountancy practices across the UK after KPMG’s recent vow to disrupt and dominate the SME market by telling small businesses “you can pay us the same as your current accountant, but we’ll give you more”.

The Big Four firm plans to take on high-street accountants and the mid-tier accountancy firms focusing predominantly on the SME market. It follows KPMG’s £40m investment in its enterprise programme, which includes subscription-based cloud accountancy support for small businesses.


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:

5 Steps for Social Success

Your marketing and PR teams only have so much time to devote to the all-important task of engaging with your customers over social. So what if you had a tool already at your disposal that could significantly improve your ability to reach your customers on a personal level?

Download 5 Steps To Launching An Employee Advocacy Program to discover how your employees—those who interact with your brand every day—can help engage your customers and strengthen your brand via social. This comprehensive guide outlines the key components to launching a successful employee advocacy program that will benefit your business today and over the long term.

Courtesy of Dynamic Signal, download this FREE this guide now to learn:

  • Why an employee advocacy program is important to your social strategy
  • How to identify and target the right employees
  • How to establish goals and KPIs
  • The keys to adoption and long-term success

Download this FREE guide from: www.marketingprofs.com/store/free/2255/5-steps-to-launching-an-employee-advocacy-program

The world’s worst passwords

Jessica Morris writing in CITY A.M. asked: Is your go-to password a mish-mash of “password” followed by a random sequence of numbers? If so then it could be time for a change.

SplashData has released a list of the world’s worst passwords that expose internet users to being hacked or having their identities stolen. Simple numerical passwords should be avoided, with nine of the top 25 passwords comprising numbers only.

Other passwords to ditch include anything related to a person’s favourite sport, their birthday or year of birth as well as common names like “Michael”, “Jennifer” or “Thomas.” Swear words and phrases, hobbies, famous athletes, car brands and film names are also a no-no.

“Passwords based on simple patterns on your keyboard remain popular despite how weak they are,” said Morgan Slain, chief executive of SplashData. “Any password using numbers alone should be avoided, especially sequences.”
Read more: www.cityam.com/207526/here-are-25-worlds-worst-passwords

Windows 10 to be free for Windows 7, 8 users

Via Reuters, Posted 21 January: Microsoft has said the upcoming Windows 10 operating system will be offered as a free upgrade to users of the most recent versions of Windows and Windows Phone software.

The announcement by Terry Myerson, who runs Microsoft’s operating systems group, is a marked change for the company, which has charged for new versions of Windows, one of the main profit drivers.

Windows 10, expected on the market this autumn, will be available for one year as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, Myerson said.
Read more: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Windows-10-to-be-free-for-Windows-7-8-users/articleshow/45971611.cms

Microsoft shows off more of Windows 10

Microsoft has revealed some more details about what its next operating system will look like. It appeared that its digital assistant Cortana would play a pivotal role. Windows 10 will focus on bringing harmony to the diverse array of mobile gadgets in people’s lives. The US tech company said its new operating system would make it easier to interact with devices.

“The number of devices is exploding around us,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson said during the presentation. “It should be easy to put one device down and pick up another where you left off; technology needs to get out of the way.”
Read more: www.dw.de/microsoft-shows-off-more-of-windows-10/a-18208078 

WhatsApp launches desktop messaging option

In BBC News, Messaging platform WhatsApp has announced that users can now send messages from their desktop web browsers.

However, in a blog post announcing the feature, the company says that messages will still live on users’ phones. The desktop messaging option is also not available to users who access the app on Apple devices.

“We will not be able to provide [the] web client… due to Apple platform limitations,” it wrote.

Last February, Facebook paid nearly $19bn (£12.6bn) to buy WhatsApp, which recently reported that it had around 700m mobile users. The acquisition was completed in October.

WhatsApp is one of the world’s largest messaging platforms, but concerns have been raised about how it plans to increase its user base in addition to how it will make money.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30926333

BBC News app revamp offers personalised coverage

Leo Kelion, BBC Technology desk editor wrote: The BBC’s News app has been given a major overhaul with the goal of offering a more “personalised” service. In addition to pre-existing sections – including Top Stories, UK and Politics – users will be able to add specialised feeds of their choice, for example: Apps, Taylor Swift, Genetics, and Oban.

The revamp is part of a wider shake-up, which will also involve major changes to the look of the BBC’s news website.

One expert warned the update was likely to upset some users. But the executive responsible said the switchover would provide a better service. “We know we have got a very large number of people who used the existing app and they really like it,” said Robin Pembrooke, general manager of news products at BBC Future Media.

Users can choose to follow topic-specific indexes, including ones about specific companies. “But we also know that a number of users express frustration at things they can’t do – there’s no local news, it’s not the full range of stories, and there’s little ability to personalise. It will be a big change for a number of people, so we are trying to provide a warning up front. We’ve got easy guides on how to use the new app, and there’s in-app tips to help people use it.”

The app is being rolled out to Android and iOS devices in the UK this week. An app for Amazon devices is set for release within three weeks, and global editions will follow.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30894674

Hands On With Microsoft HoloLens

Seen in UK.PCMAG.com, written by Dan Costa: It is safe to say that no one in the audience at the Windows 10 launch event expected Microsoft to announce a Holographic platform.

When Alex Kipman, a technical fellow on Microsoft’s OS team, first said the word holography, the author of this article thought he had misheard him. His mind flashed back to when holograms made their way onto charge cards as a security measure.

Microsoft’s plans are much more ambitious. Redmond showed a video that demonstrated how holograms will be incorporated into our everyday lives, which looked a lot like the augmented-reality demos we have seen for years.

Then the company brought out a prototype headset, which looks more like Oculus Rift than Google Glass. HoloLens isn’t quite ready for sale, but Microsoft let the assembled press into its development lab to take it for a spin anyway.
Read more: uk.pcmag.com/consumer-electronics-reviews-ratings/39112/feature/hands-on-with-microsoft-hololens

Drayton Bird’s 51 Helpful Marketing Ideas

“Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone else in the world”, said David Ogilvy, advertising legend.

Get Drayton’s 51 Free Helpful Ideas now.
From: draytonbird.com/51/marketing_for_business_owners.html

KPMG’s SME move is part of a worrying change to small practice landscape

Kevin Reed (editor Accountancy AGE) asks: Is your practice scared that KPMG is looking to widen its nest and provide a cheap (for them) service to smaller businesses? Probably not. And you’re probably right to think that way. It’s unlikely that vast swathes of your clients are going to up sticks for a Big Four firm fluttering its eyelashes at them. And the range of commentary from the small practice community has veered between indignation and incredulity.

KPMG’s move, however, is indicative of a number of interesting issues. For the firm itself, it is suggestive that its core markets are becoming increasingly tough in which to grow. Audit and related services are being strangled, while driving value in tax is a tricky area – and that’s putting it lightly.

So the firm is spreading its wings. But will it succeed? It’s hard to imagine it not, despite the clear hurdles it faces: building a brand i.e. convincing clients that they will ‘care’ in the same way a ‘local’ practice would; and achieving a margin.

So will KPMG take your clients and kill your practice? No, but the firm’s move is part of a bigger, worrying change to the landscape in which smaller practices operate.
Read more: www.accountancyage.com/aa/opinion/2391501/leader-kpmgs-sme-move-part-of-a-worrying-change-to-small-practice-landscape

 

Who was William Edwards Deming?

Who was William Edwards Deming?

Put simply, he was a man with prodigious knowledge yet was able to express his ideas to those he spoke to in such a way as to bring about profound change.

Deming was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. He knew a lot about numbers but he wasn’t an accountant. In fact, he specialised in something which is called mathematical physics (if you want to understand what that is, click here).

Deming was a very, very clever chap. He is credited with the rise of Japan as a world-leading manufacturing nation, and with the idea of Total Quality Management (TQM).

One thing always leads to another
Deming went to Japan just after WWII to help set up a census of the Japanese population. While he was there, he taught ‘statistical process control’ to Japanese engineers – a set of techniques which allowed them to manufacture high-quality goods without expensive machinery. In 1960 he was awarded a medal by the Japanese Emperor for his services to that country’s industry.

The ideas Deming taught were:
1.  The problems facing manufacturers can be solved through cooperation, despite differences.
2.  Marketing is not sales. It is the science of knowing what repeat customers think of a product, as well as whether, and why, they will buy it again.
3.  Initial stages of design must include market research, applying statistical techniques for planning and inspecting samples.
4.  The manufacturing process must be perfected.

Deming said one disease was: Running a company on visible figures alone because many important factors are “unknown and unknowable.”

Perhaps there’s a lesson here for all professionals: in the words of Aldous Huxley – “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.”

Put it another way if you like, as: “It’s not what you know that matters, it’s what you do with what you know that’s important.”

What are you going to do with what you know, or what you learn from this email?

The very best publication on the Budget

Chancellor George Osborne has chosen 18 March date for his 2015 Budget. This will be the last Budget of the 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 Bizezia 2015 Budget Summary is not free but it’s 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. You can now start placing your order for it here.

The earlier you order, the cheaper it is. You’ve already missed the chance to buy it for only £20 + VAT. The lucky subscribers got it for that price by ordering before 9 January. Remaining options are:

Order by 5pm on Price
06/02/2015 £80 + VAT
06/03/2015 £140 + VAT
13/03/2015 £155  + VAT

The ICPA said glowingly: “This is simply the very best publication on the Budget available anywhere”.

See what you missed from the 2014 Budget publication, click here.

Please don’t miss it this year.


Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

By 2020, your car will look like a computer

From Australia, in Business Spectator, in an article by Richard Brooks: To take a look at the cars on your street, it might not be apparent that the automotive industry is going through one of its most dramatic periods of change. Yet, rising purchasing power in emerging markets, tightening emission regulations and advances in electronics are driving a major shift in how vehicles are powered, constructed and driven.

Nothing will supersede the internal combustion engine but vehicles will increasingly resemble computers integrated with home applications, their surrounding infrastructure and each other.

The line between car-maker and tech company will become increasingly blurred. By 2020, what a car looks like will depend very much on where you live.

Emerging markets and new brands
The biggest story in the next five years however is not an issue of technology but economics: hundreds of millions of people in emerging markets will buy cars, often for the first time.

In 2009 China overtook the US as the world’s largest car market, and by 2016 India and Brazil will displace Japan in fourth and fifth place respectively. This is an enormous opportunity for manufacturers in emerging markets to acquire economies of scale and launch themselves on the world stage.

Within a few years we are likely to see these new brands spread into developed economies. The signs are already there. Companies such as the Indian manufacturer Tata, which bought Jaguar-Land Rover, or China’s Geely, which now owns Volvo, are well placed to use these high-status brands and dealership networks to move into mature markets.

This won’t just mean different brands on the same old cars either. Car makers in emerging markets have to deal with price-sensitive first-time consumers, urban congestion, poor air quality and (in some cases) concerns over fuels costs. This creates a fertile space for innovation in smaller vehicles, where China is already dominant, and alternative fuels where emerging economies stand to gain a technological lead. Recent launches of models such as the long-range, low-cost electric Denza model in China and the super-low cost e2o in India highlight this trend.
Read more: www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/1/14/technology/2020-your-car-will-look-computer

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.

Download the FREE Instagram Social Marketing Strategy Kit to get:

  • The Complete Guide to Instagram Measurement (eBook)
  • The Simply Measured Q3 2014 Instagram Study
  • 10 Tips for Increasing Brand Engagement on Instagram (Guide)
  • Must-read Instagram posts from the Simply Measured blog

…and much more.
Download the full strategy kit from: go.simplymeasured.com/Mn0O0w0jIX51m00ZI0hX0T3

What Makes People Top Performers?

From Gulf Business: Highly-rated Manfred Kets de Vries, professor of Leadership Development & Organisational Change, INSEAD, writes that top performers can be made.

High fliers are often a study in paradox. But what makes them so special?

Oganisational high flyers display many contradictory behaviour patterns, and it’s this paradoxical nature, which makes them so successful. Spotting nascent stars can be a challenge, not least because we can’t always be sure what we’re looking for. Some may first impress us as “golden larvae”, but never complete metamorphosis, while others grow into true butterflies.
Read this interesting article at: gulfbusiness.com/2015/01/makes-people-top-performers/

Facebook at Work app aims for role in the office

Leo Kelion wrote on BBC News: Facebook is launching a new app that aims to expand the US firm’s presence within companies and other places of work.

The software is designed to provide a way for users to communicate as an alternative to email and other intranet systems.

The firm says information posted within the service is kept “secure, confidential and completely separate” from personal Facebook profiles.

The move poses a challenge to LinkedIn.

The work-focused social network recently announced its own plan to release a new app to help co-workers share information. There’s more here.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30819036

Technical Stuff

Auditor regulation: effects of the EU and wider reforms

On 12 January, a discussion document on the implications of the EU and wider reforms of statutory auditor regulation was published on Gov.uk.

Executive Summary 
Effective financial reporting underpins the development of the best businesses – those that others are willing to invest in and to do business with. It informs decisions that are made, for example, by shareholders, directors, investors and suppliers. Audit is an essential safeguard to provide independent assurance that the financial reporting of businesses properly reflects their circumstances. This discussion document asks for views on a range of reforms to enhance confidence and strengthen the audit regime. It looks at the structure for regulation, oversight and standards taking into account new European requirements, recent Competition and Markets Authority measures and recommendations, and wider work underway to refine technical and ethical standards.

It is therefore about how the UK can put in place the best possible regime, one that will most effectively respond to the modern fast moving, highly developed business economy. At the same time, the Government does not want to make unwarranted changes. The Government will consider the issues that arise in responses, ahead of a formal consultation, next year, on detailed proposals to change the regulatory regime.

Alongside this document, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is consulting on some of these issues, particularly related to ethical standards for auditors. This shows how a non-legislative approach could be taken to improve standards in line with the new European provisions.

Views of all interested groups are essential to inform the approach to the implementation of the: new European Directive on Audit; and to make legal provision for the application of the new EU Regulation that is now applied directly under EU law.

The Regulation will apply from 16 June 2016, by which time the new Directive must also have been transposed into national law.

Both the Directive and the Regulation provide Member State options. This discussion document gives you the opportunity to contribute to the Government’s thinking about how to implement the Directive; how to provide for the application of the Regulation; and how the wider framework for audit regulation could be improved in the light of these changes, those identified by the Competition and Markets Authority, and others from the FRC.

There will be a separate consultation later on the technical implementation of the EU Directive and Regulation – the intention here is to ask about how the full range of reforms should work together. The new deadline for the consultation is 19 March 2015, a day before the deadline for comments on the Financial Reporting Council’s own document on audit changes.
Read more: 
www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/394374/bis-14-1285-auditor-regulation-discussion-document-on-implications-of-eu-and-wider-reforms.pdf

Guidance for Charities that need to submit accounts

The Charity Commission has launched a new digital tool to allow a third party, such as a charity’s accountant, to submit its accounts on the charity’s behalf. Previously only the charity itself was able to submit its accounts. The new service has the option for an “accountant or other nominated agent” to submit its accounts.

All charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) regardless of income, and all other charities with income over £25,000 must submit their accounts and a trustees’ annual report to the commission.

Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that the accounts are prepared and submitted. You can:

How charity advisers can submit accounts
An accountant or other nominated agent can log in or sign up to submit accounts on behalf of a client charity.

The charity must first tell the commission that the adviser is authorised to act on the charity’s behalf.

How to authorise an adviser
Log in to change your charity’s details. In the ‘trusted third party’ field, enter the email address that the adviser will use to sign up to submit accounts.

Please allow a day between the charity updating the third party field and the third party being able to apply or login themselves, due to the database updating overnight.
Source: www.gov.uk/authorise-a-charity-adviser-to-submit-accounts

Companies Act 2006: Takeovers: restricting share capital reductions, draft statutory instrument

The Government has published a draft statutory instrument to prohibit a company from using a ‘cancellation’ scheme of arrangement to facilitate its takeover or merger. The government plans to amend the Companies Act 2006 to restrict the use of share capital reductions in company takeovers. This change will prohibit a company from using a ‘cancellation’ scheme of arrangement to facilitate its takeover or merger.

The draft regulations will not prohibit intra-group restructures, de-mergers, or debt restructuring. It will also not affect takeovers already in progress before these regulations take effect.

An information and impact note is provided which sets out the analysis behind the proposed legislative changes.

Who is likely to be affected?
Likely to be affected are companies that are parties to a future takeover to be implemented by means of a ‘cancellation’ scheme of arrangement, advisers to such companies, and their shareholders and creditors.

General description of the measure
The measure will protect the stamp taxes base by preventing the use of share cancellations by target companies in takeovers conducted using schemes of arrangement. Companies effecting a takeover or merger would in future be required to use a ‘transfer’ scheme of arrangement or a contractual offer, on which stamp tax on shares1 is payable.

Policy objective
The Government’s objective is to ensure that stamp tax on shares is payable regardless of the mechanism used to effect it.
More information: www.gov.uk/government/publications/companies-act-2006-restricting-share-capital-reductions-in-takeovers-draft-statutory-instrument

Cyber security boost for UK firms

New measures to help UK businesses face the cyber security challenge and help the UK’s cyber security companies tap into the US market were announced on16 January 2015, as the Prime Minister visited the United States with UK cyber security firms. He was in the US for talks with President Obama and cyber security is high on the agenda as the government steps up its efforts to combat cyber threats against the industry. In a bid to win more British business for the growing sector, a group of 12 UK cyber security firms are also travelling to Washington to meet a host of US businesses.

New government support to keep UK businesses stay safe in cyberspace includes:

  • a new cyber security envoy has been appointed to help British small businesses and first-time exporters promote their business interests across the US. Andy Williams will be based in the British Embassy in Washington and help boost UK-US cyber security deals
  • an updated ‘10 Steps to Cyber Security’ guide which shows businesses how to combat cyber threats
  • new research published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which shows top UK companies are improving their responses to cyber threats. The results of the annual ‘Cyber Governance Health Check’ for FTSE350 companies shows increased awareness and action, along with areas for improvement
  • publication of a new report from GCHQ detailing the common cyber-attacks used against industry by cyber criminals and how to stop them

Read more: www.gov.uk/government/news/cyber-security-boost-for-uk-firms

Five trends that will shape the workplace of the future

From Australia, in Business Spectator, Steve Coad wrote: The modern working environment is unrecognisable from offices of the past. Fax machines, individual offices and nine-to-five working hours are now confined to the annals of history. And, although it’s hard to imagine, it won’t be long before cubicle farms, individual desks and even the concept of a traditional office will be superseded.

To take a closer look at what work will look like in coming decades, the author and others collaborated with insight consultancy The Future Laboratory to produce a white paper that explores what the business environment of the future is likely to be.

Read on to learn about some of the major trends uncovered in this paper that we can expect to see evolve in the Australian workforce.
Read more: www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/1/16/technology/five-trends-will-shape-workplace-future

 

Do as you’ve done before and you’ll get what you deserve…

Do as you’ve done before and you’ll get what you deserve…

You’ve heard it thousands of times before. You know, the statement by Henry Ford: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

If you are absolutely happy with what you’ve got, well done.

What does the statement mean?  It probably means: “If you continue to do what you’ve done before but it failed, the chances are that if you keep doing it in the future, you’ll continue to fail.”

What’s the lesson? “If you aren’t sure what to do, and what you’ve tried before has failed, then try something different.”

It worked for Apple. If it worked for Steve Jobs, it could work for you. View their “Think Different” Ad.

The marketing guru Drayton Bird emailed me today with a helpful hint. He said it is so brief and simple, that he was tempted to apologise for giving it.

It is: Start with the truth, not what you wish it to be.

However, far too many people seem unaware of the importance of this, which is prompted by something Drayton read in a New York Times obituary in 1984: “Honesty is not only the best policy. It is rare enough nowadays to make you pleasantly conspicuous.”

Unless you are a most remarkable organisation around, you aren’t perfect, and admitting this, wins you big brownie points with your prospects. When you admit to your shortcomings, people are far more inclined to believe other things you say.

My message to you today is: Read the last few articles I’ve sent to you. Doing something different doesn’t happen by magic. But when it works, it’s just like magic.

Most of what’s offered here is free. It costs nothing. Except if you think it’s a catch and don’t bother to read it at all – which would be a real shame.

The very best publication on the Budget

Chancellor George Osborne has chosen 18 March date for his 2015 Budget. This will be the last Budget of the 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 Bizezia 2015 Budget Summary is not free but it’s 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. You can now start placing your order for it here.

The earlier you order, the cheaper it is. You’ve already missed the chance to buy it for only £20 + VAT. The lucky subscribers got it for that price by ordering before 9 January. Remaining options are:

Order by 5pm on Price
06/02/2015 £80 + VAT
06/03/2015 £140 + VAT
13/03/2015 £155  + VAT

The ICPA said glowingly: “This is simply the very best publication on the Budget available anywhere”.

See what you missed from the 2014 Budget publication, click here.

Please don’t miss it this year.

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:

The Accountant’s Checklist to Prepare for Client Meetings

From Sageworks: You can now download this FREE checklist, “An Accountant’s Checklist to Prepare for Client Meetings,” to learn questions to ask to facilitate information exchange and build relationships with clients.

Questions include:

  • Do you annually budget for your expected cash requirements?
  • Do you know your Gross Margin, and is it comparable to your peers?
  • Can you describe your ideal customer?

Building relationships with our accounting clients requires trust, rapport and an atmosphere for open dialogue. Many accounting firms use a checklist to prepare for client meetings and to facilitate information exchange. This FREE checklist has some questions that many accountants who are clients of Sageworks have found helpful when interacting with their business clients.  Details here.

Download ‘An Agenda For Growth’, the KPMG Exclusive YouGov Report.

Accountants everywhere take note. Learn what the big boys are doing…

How much time do you spend growing your business? KPMG’s new report ‘An Agenda for Growth’ finds that administration and accounting take up almost 60% of the working day for entrepreneurs running growing businesses. How much is this impacting your ability to grow and run your business? The report brings together views from over 1,000 SMEs in the UK and uncovers the hurdles and challenges they face.

There is also expert analysis and comment which reveals:

  • Where to best apply technology to lighten the administrative load
  • How spending more time on what’s important can future-proof your business
  • Why you could be missing out on initiatives and tax incentives aimed at SMEs
  • What SMEs want government to do to support growth

KPMG Small Business Accounting is our new affordable online accounting service. They take away lots of admin, like invoices, receipts, expenses, and bank reconciliation, leaving clients free to focus on your business while they take care of the books. To find out more, click here

Can you learn anything? Definitely, yes.

2015 Social Marketing Planning Guide

From Simply Measured:  2015 is already here, but there’s still time to fine-tune your social strategy. Start the New Year off right with ten fresh tactics based on the 2014 trends we expect to shape this year, and learn how you can refine your brand’s social strategy for success.

Download this guide to learn:

  • What changed in social marketing in 2014?
  • How you can expect social to change in 2015?
  • Ways for you to take advantage of the latest social media trends

…and much more.
Click below to download the guide: get.simplymeasured.com/2015-social-planning-em.html

Technical Stuff

Get ready for 2015 with a FREE 32-page Accountancy FRS 102 guide

From accountancyLIVE: As the countdown to the new UK GAAP starts, download a FREE 32-page guide to FRS 102, effective 1 January 2015 to help you manage the transition. The Accountancy FRS 102 Guide provides the ideal starter pack for anyone preparing for the move to the new UK GAAP or as a refresher for those of you already well down the road to adoption.

Read the step-by-step guide to the new accounting rules written by technical experts, Helen Lloyd FCA, accounting specialist at Wolters Kluwer and Andrew Davies ACA, technical accounting lead at EY.
Click here to download your copy of the Accountancy FRS 102 guide: www.accountancylive.com/exclusive-accountancy-frs-102-guide-0

Tools to help you prepare for new UK GAAP

From ICAEW: The ICAEW have described new UK GAAP as “the biggest change to financial reporting rules in a generation”. And it becomes effective this month (on 1 January 2015). So how prepared are YOU for the change?

To help to ensure that you are prepared and make a smoother transition, Wolters Kluwer have compiled comprehensive coverage of the Standards, expert commentary, and practical tools onto three different platforms. Choose the ones that suit the way that YOU work.
More at: www.newukgaap.co.uk/advice-and-help/tools-to-help-you-prepare

Accountants note: Overhaul of Class 2 NICs planned for self-employed

From accountancyLIVE: By Diane Tan: The new tax year 2015/16 will see a major overhaul of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) for self-employed taxpayers, marking a significant change in the way self-assessment tax liabilities are collected.

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) are urging the government to reconsider plans to bring the collection of Class 2 national insurance contributions (NICs) into the self-assessment system, as announced in the Budget.

From April 2015, Class 2 NICs will be collected along with other self-assessment tax liabilities, on 31 January following the year of assessment for all self-employed tax payers, warns the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG).

Under the new arrangement, Class 2 NICs for 2015-16 will be collected on 31 January 2017.

This is a significant change for those who pay their Class 2 NICs by either direct debit (on a monthly or quarterly basis) or by direct billing by HMRC (six-monthly) as these will both cease automatically during 2015, with the last monthly/ quarterly direct debit payment collected by 10 July 2015 and the last six-monthly bill due by 10 July 2015.

The change will impact those who rely on their Class 2 NICs for payment of certain state benefits, for example Employment and Support Allowance or Maternity Allowance, as they may need to pay contributions earlier than would be required for annual self-assessment liabilities.
Read more: www.accountancylive.com/overhaul-class-2-nics-planned-self-employed

I don’t get it: Why make things harder for yourself?

I don’t get it: Why make things harder for yourself?

This weekly communication is designed to tickle your marketing glands.

But, maybe you’re like some of the people who, when approached a few years ago with the invitation to take a free £5 note out of an envelope, thought it was a catch so they didn’t take the money.

There’s no catch. So why make things harder for yourself?

Most of what’s offered here is free. It costs nothing. Except if you think it’s a catch and don’t bother to read it.

The very best publication on the Budget

The Bizezia 2015 Budget Summary is not free but it’s offered at an amazing price. It will be published on 18 March 2015. You can now start placing your order for it here. The earlier you order, the cheaper it is:

Order by 5pm on Price
09/01/2015 £20 + VAT
06/02/2015 £80 + VAT
06/03/2015 £140 + VAT
13/03/2015 £155  + VAT

The ICPA said glowingly: “This is simply the very best publication on the Budget available anywhere”.

See what you missed from the 2014 Budget publication, click here.
Please don’t miss it this year.

Differentiation

I read something interesting from the marvellous marketing guru Drayton Bird the other day. It was a list of 21 things to start you thinking about why you, or your firm are different to your competitors:

Are you unique?
Cheaper?
Quicker?
Better value?
Safer?
The most trusted?
The friendliest?
The first?
The top seller?
The most tested?
Give quicker service?
The most advanced?
The latest?
The oldest?
The most loved?
The one experts prefer?
The most reliable?
More fun?
You sell in a special way?
Easier to deal with?
More helpful?


Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

Getting People to read your Blog

Content marketers know how important blogs are to a solid marketing strategy. But creating beautiful works of literature for the marketing-inclined is only half of the puzzle.

How do you get people to read the darn thing?
HubSpot has stepped in at just the right moment to show you how. They’re giving Unbounce subscribers their ebook “How to Get 100,000 People to Read Your Blog” for free!

You’ll learn how to:

  1. Determine who your audience actually is.
  2. Determine what it is your readers are searching for on Google.
  3. Turn casual readers into avid email subscribers.

So what are you waiting for? Your blog deserves more readers.
Download from: get.unbounce.com/hubspot-blog-ebook/

3 Ways You Can Boost Client Loyalty to Your CPA (Accounting) Firm

From Kevin Stockton who says: With CPA firms constantly investing their resources in service expansion and the attraction of new clients, oftentimes existing clients and their needs trickle down to lower priority levels. This is important to note because neglecting existing customers is one of the most common errors in the business world that also can have one of the biggest impacts on your CPA firm’s bottom line.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 68 percent of clients break relationships with their CPA firms because of how they are treated by the firm, whereas only 15 percent leave due to poor technical quality.

Could that 68 percent of clients be retained? The answer is probably yes. However, to do so, investing in client loyalty needs to be a priority.
Read more: info.grwco.com/blog/three-ways-you-can-boost-client-loyalty-to-your-cpa-firm

IT advisory part one: A guide to providing an IT advisory service

Seen in AccountingWEB: Is your firm working with clients to solve their technology problems? As more and more firms are generating profits by advising clients on the best use of technology AccountingWEB and Microsoft have teamed up to help.

This FREE guide examines the issues that four of AccountingWEB’s members have experienced in integrating IT advisory with their core practice. It also looks at some of the options you might explore to do the same.
You can download part one from here.

From Down Under: Top tech toys for high-flying executives

Read in Business Spectator Australia: Krishan Sharma has written an interesting article, from down under, about the top tech toys for executives who have it all.

  • Asus S1 Mobile LED Projector: Ditch that projector and notebook for those business presentations on the road. Travel light by beaming your presentation from your smartphone to a pocket-sized projector instead. The Asus S1 is a pocket-sized portable projector with a relatively long battery life (3 hours) that can beam a 100-inch WXGA (854-by-480) resolution image from 2.4 metres (or a 41-inch image from just one metre away) and also has the ability to charge other mobile devices attached to it.
  • Bose QuietComfort 25 noise cancelling headphones: Regular jet setters swear by Bose’s QuietComfort headphones and for good reason – it has hands down the best noise cancelling performance of any pair of headphones on the market. The new QuietComfort 25 is the first update in five years, making improvements in both noise cancellation and headphone design while also upping the audio quality in the process.
  • LG G Watch R or Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch: Smartwatches have been slowly gaining momentum in the market, with almost every smartphone maker and notable luxury brands getting in on the act. After a rather bland debut of the first round of Android Wear smartwatches in the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, tech companies are now taking a more sophisticated approach to design and nowhere is this more evident than in Motorola’s Moto 360 and LG’s follow up – G Watch R.
  • Livescribe 3 smartpen: Writing with a stylus on the glass of a smartphone screen will never feel as natural as the pen on paper experience, but with the Livescribe 3 Smartpen, you can have the traditional writing experience all with the digital perks of easily archiving and sharing your handwritten notes on your iDevice.
  • Luggage tracker – Trackdot or Lug Loc: There’s nothing worse than having your luggage go missing after a long flight and this is where a luggage tracker can come in handy. Over 30 million bags go missing via transit every year worldwide, meaning that airlines are losing over 3,000 bags every hour. While using a luggage tracker doesn’t completely eliminate the nuisance of lost luggage, it does give you a greater chance of actually recovering your belongings by making them traceable.
  • Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector LSPX-W1: If you have some serious cash burning a hole in your pocket, then look no further than Sony’s jaw-dropping 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector also referred to as ‘LifeSpace UX’. At a cool US$50,000 however, only those with extravagant tastes and deep pockets need apply.

Read more: www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/12/17/technology/top-tech-toys-high-flying-executives

A Model to Deliver Personalized and Orchestrated Customer Experiences

From the US, Marketing Profs say that there’s one challenge all marketing organizations face today: how do you integrate your efforts over time and across different touchpoints? It starts by getting your marketing team in sync and fixing your fragmented approach.

Thanks to the proliferation of new media and channels, making an impression with consumers is harder than ever. It’s even worse when you’re stuck in an old campaign mindset, with messaging split between various touchpoints. Based on Forrester research of 200 advertising and marketing professionals, The Rise of Marketing Orchestration offers valuable insights into how you can deliver consistent customer experiences and build long-term relationships through marketing orchestration.

Download this FREE compelling report to learn:

  • The challenges of marketing to the ultra-connected customer
  • Six components that define marketing orchestration
  • Key recommendations for implementation

Download today from here

Gadget guide: six new technologies to watch in 2015

[18 December 2014, Smart Company] Posted 17 December: By Andrew Sadauskas: It’s sink or swim for many new gadgets in 2015. A year ago, SmartCompany listed the top new technologies set to race into 2014.

Another year has come and gone, and a new group of technologies are emerging over the horizon. So what new technologies should you look out for in 2015? It’s time to gaze again into the crystal ball and take a look at six technologies you should keep an eye on in 2015:

  1. Make-or-break time for smartwatches
  2. Mobile payments and tickets
  3. Multi-device app development
  4. Health tech
  5. Plastic OLED displays

In conclusion
From health tech to mobile payments, there is a range of technologies that will potentially have a big impact on Australian small businesses over the next year. But perhaps the most important thing for businesses will be to make sure your consumers have a seamless digital experience across all of them.
Read more on the above in the full article at: www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/45110-gadget-guide-six-new-technologies-to-watch-in-2015.html

Technical Stuff

Holiday Pay – Cap on Backdated Claims

From Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister: The government has introduced the Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014.

They do two things:

  1. Limit all unlawful deductions claims to two years before the date the ET1 is lodged (with the exception of certain categories of unlawful deductions claims such as claims for SMP, SSP and guarantee payments, which remain unaffected); and,
  2. Explicitly state that the right to paid holiday is not incorporated as a term in employment contracts.

The effect? To remove any chance employees have of bringing long-term claims for back holiday pay, either in the tribunal or civil courts. But the new Regulations don’t apply to ET1s presented before 1st July 2015 – so anyone with a potential long-term backpay claim who wants to gamble on somebody else appealing the Bear Scotland decision should get their claim in now.

Anyone remember Preston v Wolverhampton? The ECJ held that the UK’s backstop of two years on equal pay claims was unlawful, and the two year limit had to be removed. But that argument is unlikely to succeed here, partly because of the lesser nature of the right to holiday pay (Directive, as opposed to Article in the Treaty of Rome), and also because the six month delay in implementation gives workers a real chance to put in their claims (which is relevant to proportionality).
Source: www.danielbarnett.co.uk

Islamic Finance: A Trend Too Significant to Ignore

From the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC): By Jaseem Ahmed, Secretary General, Islamic Financial Services Board: The year 2014 has seen a flurry of international activity in Islamic finance with important issuances of Islamic securities—in the form of sovereign Sukūks —by the United Kingdom and Luxembourg in Europe, as well as by South Africa and Senegal in Africa, among others.

These issuances come in the wake of sustained growth of the industry in recent years. Although the origins of Islamic finance go back many centuries, its re-emergence is relatively recent.

The modern revival of Islamic finance dates from the 1960s and is closely linked to the emergence of newly independent countries that found the means and incentives to respond to the unmet need of their citizens for a form of finance that they could trust, and which was in accordance with their ethical and moral principles. Banking the unbanked—before that memorable phrase was invented—has been a part of the Islamic finance success story among Muslims. But many non-Muslims have also been drawn to Islamic finance, attracted by the value it places on high ethical standards and its resilience and stability during the global financial crisis.

The Principles and Conventions of Islamic Finance
A distinctive aspect of Islamic finance is that it is a form of financial innovation in which legal contracts for real sector productive activities serve as the basis for financial intermediation—intermediation that must serve a socially useful purpose.

Many of these contracts have their origins in classical times.
Read more: www.ifac.org/global-knowledge-gateway/viewpoints/islamic-finance-trend-too-significant-ignore

Dynamic Firm Benchmarking: the New MAP Survey Platform in Action

Learn something from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA Blog) Have you ever performed an in-depth comparison of your firm’s standing against other firms of the same size? The 2014 PCPS/TSCPA National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey provides some new and valuable ways to assess where your firm stands and plot your future course. If you participated in the survey this year but haven’t really delved into the results, which became available in November, you definitely want to check them out. Thanks to a new online platform, it’s much easier to take a peek at how firms like yours operate. And even if you didn’t participate, the survey offers some valuable information that will help your firm plan.

Take the case of a single owner firm like mine. We have a boutique corporate tax practice. In addition to myself, our permanent staff includes one CPA and one CPA candidate, but we add an administrative person and per diem help in busy season. When I’m planning for the future, I often wonder what a top performance single-owner firm looks like, but it’s tough to find more than anecdotal information.
[NOTE: The author is Stephen L. Nelson, CPA, a sole practitioner in Redmond, Washington, and the author of QuickBooks for Dummies and Quicken for Dummies, among other books]
Read the full blog at: blog.aicpa.org/2014/12/dynamic-firm-benchmarking-the-new-map-survey-platform-in-action.html

Chancellor George Osborne sets 18 March date for 2015 Budget

Chancellor George Osborne is to deliver his last Budget of the Parliament on 18 March 2015, less than two months before the date of the general election.

He announced the date while appearing before the Commons Treasury Committee in Parliament.

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.

Mr Osborne has already announced his spending plans for 2015-6.

He has also set out his intention to secure a surplus in current government spending by 2017-8, which will entail £30bn in either spending cuts or tax rises in the first years of the next Parliament.
Read more here

Please, let nothing interfere with your immediate action.

Please, let nothing interfere with your immediate action.

Please, let nothing, absolutely nothing, interfere with your immediate action.

A change for the better fully justifies no delay. Don’t watch others achieve success and make money which you should make too. Get on with it and do it now. Some other time may be too late.

Read this message in full from start to finish and please do it this very minute. If you take this advice now it will mean that your future will be much better for you.

What is it that you must do?
Click here to go to One Smart Place and choose any product and try it out, now. Trust me, it’ll make a big difference.

Credit where credit’s due, Drayton Bird, the marketing genius, wrote to me this week with a similar message which I have adapted entirely for your benefit.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

FREE calculator for your website

From Bizezia and One Smart Place: on 3 December 2014, The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement announced new stamp duty rates from 4 December 2014 payable by the purchaser of residential property.

The new rates, based on tranches of the property purchase price, are:
Up to £125,000: 0%
Next £125,001 to £250,000: 2%
Next £250,001 to £925,000: 5%
Next £925,001 to £1.5m: 10%
Above £1.5m: 12%

Thanks to Bizezia, Accountants, Lawyers and Estate Agents can now provide a FREE stamp duty calculator to their clients by visiting the link below.
Details at: onesmartplace.com/resources/stamp-duty-calculator or email me at: mpollins@onesmartplace.com

Don’t confuse this calculator with the one that you can see and use on the HMRC website. The above calculator enables you to insert your firm’s name and web address so that when it sits on your website, it’s a handy tool from your firm. Needless to say, the HMRC calculator is not available to sit on your website at all.

Now for the round-up…


Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

The Steve Jobs guide to getting what you want

Spotted in Times of India:  Steve Jobs didn’t launch two of the most valuable companies in modern times by following the rules all the time. He had a unique way of crafting his own reality, a “distortion field” that could persuade people that his personal beliefs were actually facts, which is how he pushed his companies forward. And he also used a blend of manipulative tactics to ensure his victories.

Many consider Jobs to have been a genius, but there’s no reason why we can’t all learn a thing or two from his tactics. The full article expands on all these points:
1. Earn everyone’s respect
2. Pitch with passion
3. Disarm people with seduction and flattery
4. Claim all the good ideas are yours
5. Make decisions quickly and definitively
6. Build a strong following by using brutal honesty
7. Don’t wait to fix problems
8. Either address problems head on…
9. …Or ignore the problems entirely
10. Strike when the iron’s hot, and strike hard
11. Use leverage when you have it
12. Demand perfection
Read more in the full article: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/slideshow/The-Steve-Jobs-guide-to-getting-what-you-want/itslideshowviewall/45395392.cms

Midmarket Collaboration for Dummies guide

From Avaya who invite your midsize company to have the reach of a much larger enterprise.

Big reach leads to big ideas and there’s no reason why a midsize company can’t operate in the same way as a large enterprise. Avaya provides industry-leading solutions to connect the people you work with and getting the best out of your network so you can work smarter, and larger, every time.

Read the FREE Avaya Midmarket Collaboration for Dummies guide and discover how to bring your connections together to boost productivity in a remote working world.
Download from here

The Google Analytics dashboard of your dreams is only 3 minutes away.

Klipfolio say: Just think: in the time it takes for your favourite barista to make you a cup of coffee, you could build the Google Analytics dashboard of your dreams. Not only will it save you countless hours of reporting each month, it will provide your team with instant answers to your most frequently asked web analytics questions.

When it comes to dashboards, seeing is believing. Which is why Klipfolio is inviting you to try their KlipStart Google Analytics dashboard. All you need to get started is 3 minutes and a Google Analytics account.
Read more: www.klipfolio.com/landing/google-analytics-klipstart

Unfair Advantage: The Power of Financial Education – FREE eBook

Free, from TradePub but available for a limited time! (A $9.92 Value), this publication enables readers to learn what schools will never teach you about money.

On the heels of his 2010 New York Times bestseller Conspiracy of the Rich, Robert Kiyosaki takes a new and hard-hitting look at the factors that impact people from all walks of life as they struggle to cope with change and challenges that impact their financial world.

In Unfair Advantage: Power of Financial Education, Robert underscores his messages and challenges readers to change their context and act in a new way. Readers are advised to stop blindly accepting that they are ‘disadvantaged’ people with limited options.

In true Rich Dad style, readers will be challenged to understand two points of view, and experience how financial knowledge is their unfair advantage.

Robert Kiyosaki is the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, the international runaway bestseller that has held a top spot on the New York Times bestsellers list for over six years. He is an investor, entrepreneur and educator whose perspectives on money and investing fly in the face of conventional wisdom. He has, virtually single-handedly, challenged and changed the way tens of millions, around the world, think about money.
Download it from here

Unwrap the power of customer analytics with these 10 real-world examples.

From Needle.com: How can you gain the insights you need to build stronger relationships with customers and improve your business results this holiday season?

Read this FREE ebook and discover how leading companies are gaining deeper insight into their customers, enabling them to provide personalized experiences that engage customers across channels, increase conversions and drive revenue. Find out how they’ve harnessed the power of customer understanding and analytics to drive business results.

Unwrap the power of analytics and learn:

  • How an increased understanding of the customer lifecycle can reveal new opportunities to better engage contacts
  • Why insights into customer behavior are critical to delivering relevant, personalized content
  • How marketing, commerce and service professionals are using customer analytics to create superior customer experiences

Download it from here

What are the most innovative new ways to increase your online revenue?

Gartner researched the latest groundbreaking technologies, and now reveals how these new developments positively impact your bottom line.

In this report you’ll learn how:

  • Consumers demand personalized experiences
  • Select brands are gaining first-mover advantage
  • Real-time interactions increase online revenue.

Download the FREE Gartner Cool Vendors Report now and learn how you can take advantage of these cutting-edge technologies to increase your online revenue.
Download it from here

The 5-Star Guide to Responding to Online Reviews

From Go.Connectivity.com: Simply responding to reviews is no longer enough. Knowing how to craft the best response to each review is vital for the success of every business. Almost everyone checks reviews online before making a purchasing decision, so brand response matters more than ever.

The FREE 5-Star Guide to Responding to Online Reviews shows enterprise, franchise and multi-location marketing teams how to:

  • Get organized and set goals for 2015
  • Stop negative reviews before they are written
  • Respond to both negative and positive reviews
  • Put user-generated content to work for brand goals

Download it from here

Twitter is Where It’s at for Content Marketers in the UK

Stumbled across in Business Matters: Seventy-five percent of content marketers surveyed in the United Kingdom say Twitter is effective for them.

This is the highest effectiveness rating ever for a social media platform in all the research done by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). That’s just one of the eye-opening findings in the new research, Content Marketing in the UK 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends, from CMI and the DMA UK.

This is the third year for one of the most highly-anticipated content marketing research reports in the UK. This year’s survey, sponsored by Axonn Media, looks at how UK for-profit marketers (both B2B and B2C) approach content marketing as compared with last year. Aside from getting great results from Twitter, another prominent finding from the survey is that UK marketers are much more focused on their goals for content marketing and that those goals have changed.
Read more: www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/27630/twitter-content-marketers-uk/

Effective collaboration in your business

From Huddle who say:  The days where you worked with only the few people in your immediate location are gone forever.

Modern organizations must work across time zones and with other entities: customers, suppliers, external consultants, partners and more. You could call it a “collaboration economy.”

In this new collaborative workflow, modern knowledge workers are using the technology they know (non-secure applications like email or consumer file sharing tools) to get work done. But these applications fall short of true collaboration.

Emerging cloud technologies are transforming the way we effectively collaborate in business. Read this FREE white paper to learn how.
Download it from here

A motivated team is a productive team 

From Citrix: Meeting your business targets is hard enough. Doing so with a demotivated team is near impossible.

In this white paper, learn how top managers motivate and energise an ever-evolving workforce. Understand what keeps your team from achieving its full potential and discover how you can set realistic goals that keep you on track for success.

Download this FREE white paper and learn how to:

  • Understand how to remove the elements that demotivate your employees
  • Take an honest and personal approach to employee communications
  • Nurture an entrepreneurial atmosphere that encourages creativity and collaboration

And more…
Download from here

Technical Stuff

Disability Discrimination: Meaning of Disability

From Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister: The question: Was an employment tribunal entitled to conclude that an employee who suffered from depression and anxiety was not disabled?

Yes, held the EAT in Saad v University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust and another.  It was accepted that Mr Saad suffered from a depressive and general anxiety disorder; an impairment for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. However, the employment tribunal concluded that the impairment did not have a substantial adverse, nor a long-term effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Dismissing a subsequent appeal, the EAT held that the employment tribunal was entitled to conclude, on the evidence before it, that the impairment did not have a substantial adverse affect on Mr Saad’s normal day-to-day activities.

Contrary to the argument raised by Mr Saad, on a fair reading of the decision, as a whole, the employment tribunal did assess the effects of the impairment on the work environment including his ability to concentrate, communicate with colleagues and access the work place.

Further, the employment tribunal had not misdirected itself as to the meaning of “long-term”. It did not fail to have regard to the fact that adverse effects could be long-term even if they fluctuated over time.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Jonathan Gibbons of Black White and Grey Limited for preparing this case

Disability Discrimination: Reasonable adjustments and correct comparator

From Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister: The question: Is it a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010 to require a bus company to have a policy requiring non-wheelchair using passengers to move if occupying a space required by a wheelchair user?

The answer: No, held the Court of Appeal in FirstGroup PLC v Paulley, in a widely reported judgment. Mr Paulley, a wheelchair user, was unable to take a bus due to a passenger keeping a child’s buggy in the wheelchair space. Mr Paulley argued for a reasonable adjustment changing the bus company’s unenforceable policy requesting passengers to move from the wheelchair space, to one requiring passengers to move when necessary.

The Court noted that an absolute policy would be “unworkable in practical terms”, there was no power in law for bus companies to enforce such a policy, it would not be a ‘reasonable adjustment’. However, Arden LJ noted that bus companies “must take all reasonable steps short of compelling passengers to move from the wheelchair space”.

The Court split on what had put Mr Paulley at a disadvantage, the majority (Underhill and Arden LJJ) held it was the (agreed) provision, criterion or practice ‘PCP’ applied by the bus company of a policy of giving priority to wheelchair users for wheelchair space, but that space was filled on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

Lewison LJ in the minority regarded Mr Paulley as being put at a disadvantage not by the PCP, but by the design of the bus with one wheelchair space, and regulations which prohibited a wheelchair from being carried other than in the designated space.

Arden LJ indicated that asking Parliament to look at the law was the proper remedy.
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Ed McFarlane of Deminos HR for preparing this case summary.

Legal Tech Startups Have A Short History And A Bright Future

Found in TechCrunch.com, written by Basha Rubin (co-founder and CEO of Priori Legal) who says: Legal technology is booming, with companies attempting to disrupt the legal space at every level and from every angle. And with good reason.

Some estimates value the market size at as much as $400 billion. While legal still hasn’t caught up with other industries — either in terms of funding or widespread adoption, the future is bright and coming at us fast.

Legal has been a tough nut to crack because there is significant non-uniform regulation and risk-averse, disaggregated stakeholders. These factors have slowed disruption. But change is nigh: consumers are demanding more efficient, transparent and affordable legal services, and lawyers are looking for cutting-edge ways to compete in an oversaturated market.

There are three areas in the legal space on the precipice of major disruption in 2015. This excellent article lists the trends to watch.

Bitcoin isn’t the future, but the blockchain might be…

From ICAEW IT Faculty by Kirstin Gillon: What does the future of money look like? The clear conclusion of the IT Faculty annual lecture, given by Dave Birch, was that the future isn’t Bitcoin, despite all the current hype. But the blockchain technology, which underpins Bitcoin, has the potential to transform all kinds of financial and non-financial services.

Dave gave the IT Faculty’s annual lecture last month to a packed council chamber in Chartered Accountants Hall.  And he made two thought provoking points.

  • Bitcoin is not very good as money or as a payment system.
  • The real buzz is about the blockchain

So, what about the future for bankers in this decentralised world where peer-to-peer transactions avoid the need for intermediaries? And how about accountants, if financial transactions are all on public ledgers and verified through cryptology? Dave was confident that accountants and bankers would survive the digital revolution in some shape or form. But of course that’s not to say they won’t have to adapt and do things differently.
Read the full article at: www.ion.icaew.com/itcounts/post/Bitcoin-isn-t-the-future–but-the-blockchain-might-be-

HMRC targets solicitors with unpaid tax bills 

From Accountancy Live: The latest taxpayers to be targeted by the HMRC are solicitors, who have been given the opportunity to disclose unpaid and undeclared tax in a three-month campaign launched today. This is aimed exclusively at individuals who work in the legal profession as solicitors.

The solicitors’ tax campaign is described as ‘an opportunity for individuals who work within the legal profession as a solicitor to bring their affairs up to date in a simple, straightforward way and take advantage of the best possible terms’.

This voluntary disclosure opportunity runs from 8 December 2014 to 9 June 2015, and is available for solicitors working for themselves in their own business, within a partnership of limited liability Company, or within or as a company.
Read more: www.accountancylive.com/hmrc-targets-solicitors-unpaid-tax-bills

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: