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: 

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.


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?
Better value?
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

Controlled Immigration Can Reap Rewards

Controlled Immigration Can Reap Rewards

Britain to become Europe’s top economy


For some time now, the papers have been banging on about immigration. Control it say several politicians. Ban it altogether suggest others. Yet, the UK’s population boom could make it the EU’s top economy and once again become the most powerful economic force in Europe… but only if we leave the immigration gates open, according to an article last week in the Telegraph, here.

The Telegraph cites new projections by the European Commission:  Britain will be Europe’s biggest economy by some distance within 45 years, with France in second position and Germany pushed back into third place.

But the bad news, depending on your point of view, is that pole position economically will have been largely won on the back of population growth, and not because of loose immigration controls. Britain’s higher fertility rate and demographic profile (Britain is already a younger country than Germany) play their part in this.

It’s simple really: adding more people to the workforce will automatically increase national income, but is unlikely to help GDP per head very much, suggests the Telegraph article.

Make sure that foreign inventors don’t go elsewhere

puzzle bridgeNeil G. Ruiz and Mark Muro, wrote an interesting article, on Brookings, here. They say that buried in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo on “Policies Supporting U.S. High-Skilled Businesses and Workers,” the new directive recognises the importance of foreign entrepreneurs and expands ways for them to remain in the United States. Specifically, the memo orders DHS to grant parole status—on a case-by-case basis—to inventors, researchers, and entrepreneurs who have received “substantial” U.S. investor financing or otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation.

This move is important, say Ruiz and Muro as it represents a significant step towards tapping more of the huge potential economic impact of foreign inventors who may otherwise start their businesses elsewhere. The foreign entrepreneurs’ impact on the U.S. economy is huge.  Nearly 40% of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. However, immigration to the United States for entrepreneurs remains a rocky road in many instances. Surveys show that the share of Silicon Valley startups with foreign-born founders decreased from 52% to 44% between 1995 and 2012.

Other Thoughts on Immigration Trends 

UK borderControlling immigration in the UK is a hot political potato right now and it could influence who is voted in as Prime Minister after next year’s General Election. The Labour party have (apparently) issued a directive to their MPs not to mention the “I” word and to steer away from any discussion about immigration – that is, according to the Telegraph on 15 December. But then the “I” word cropped up in Ed Miliband’s speech reported by the TUC who say that the government should protect migrant workers from exploitation – see here.

Many people say that restricting benefits of immigrants needs to be looked at but it’s the idea of ensuring that we don’t miss out on the talent of foreign entrepreneurs and investors that I find tantalising – see above.

Net Migration to the UK in the year ending June 2014 was 260,000, according to the Migration Watch UK website: See here for the latest report from the Office for National Statistics.

Last month, the Guardian reported that only forty per cent of the British public considers immigration to be the most pressing issue facing the country, whereas it’s just over 20% of people in Germany.

Many immigrants become British citizens, which might arguably be a good thing. It could certainly help to calm concerns about immigration. There are some useful pointers on migrant naturalisation on Oxford University’s Migration Observatory website, here, which can be summed up as:

  • More than two million immigrants have been granted British citizenship since 2000 – about half the total.
  • In 2013 alone, a record 204,541 requests for a UK passport were rubber-stamped by the Home Office, official figures show.
  • 53% of naturalisations went to foreign nationals who have lived in the UK for the required five years, plus one additional year as a settled resident for non-EEA/Swiss nationals. Most of the other half is split between spouses and civil partners of British citizens and minor children registering as citizens.
  • Among British citizens naturalising in 2012, the largest groups by citizenship were from India (15% of the 2012 total), Pakistan (9%), Nigeria (5%), the Philippines, South Africa and China at (4%) each.

PassportWhile citizenship numbers have been growing in the UK, according to the Left Foot Forward website, here, more than 2 million foreign nationals have become British nationals since the turn of the century despite the British government raising the bar for those seeking naturalisation:

  • Since 2004, the cost of applying for British citizenship has escalated significantly. At around £1,000, it costs almost five times the cost of German or Canadian citizenship.
  • Conditions have also been tightened to include a demanding English language exam, a ‘good character’ requirement and a challenging ‘Life in the UK’ test.

The European Commission has some useful data on migration, here.

Why not let me know please what you think on immigration: email me at mpollins@onesmartplace.com

Yes or No to TTIP?

Yes or No to TTIP?

what do you know about ttip
“It’s the biggest trade thing happening right now that most people know very little about.”

Have you come across TTIP yet? It stands for the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership and it is on the lips of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. Lee Williams wrote a great article on TTIP in The Independent, here, Have you heard about TTIP?

He says don’t get too worried, if you don’t know much about it: you’re not meant to have any knowledge on this subject, he says. The process of working towards an agreement has been secretive and undemocratic, he says. This secrecy is on-going, with nearly all information on negotiations coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests.

What is it?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. As a bi-lateral trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations. It is, as John Hilary, Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, said: “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.”

It’s sometimes called the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA).  The European Union and the USA are currently negotiating a far-reaching trade agreement designed to drive growth and create jobs. It aims at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US.

say no to ttipThe Europa website, here, says that apart from cutting tariffs across all sectors, the EU and the US want to tackle barriers behind the customs border – such as differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures. These often cost unnecessary time and money for companies who want to sell their products on both markets. For example, when a car is approved as safe in the EU, it has to undergo a new approval procedure in the US even though the safety standards are similar.


Talks on the agreement started in July last year.

The Business and Human Rights Resource centre has a useful summary, here. They say it will pertain to goods and services in a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, services and agriculture.  The purpose of the agreement is to reduce regulatory barriers to trade, including by making the EU and US laws pertaining to health, safety, environment and financial security more compatible.

Independent research shows that the agreement could boost:

  • the EU’s economy by €120 billion;
  • the US economy by €90 billion;
  • the rest of the world by €100 billion.

Those in favour of an agreement say it would result in multilateral economic growth. But those against it say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit.

A million sign petition against EU-US trade talks

BBC News reported on 4 December, here, that a campaign group website says over a million people in the European Union have signed a petition against trade negotiations with the United States. The petition calls on the EU and its member states to stop the talks on TTIP.

It also says they should not ratify a similar deal that has already been done between the EU and Canada. It says some aspects pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law. One of the concerns mentioned in the petition is the idea of tribunals that foreign investors would be able to use in some circumstances to sue governments. There is a great deal of controversy over exactly what this system, known as Investor State Dispute Settlement, would enable companies to do, but campaigners see it as an opportunity for international business to get compensation for government policy changes that adversely affect them.

It’s the biggest trade thing happening right now that most people know very little about.

Marketing Round up for Professionals December wk 2

Marketing Round up for Professionals December wk 2

Sunil Bali tells me that award winning journalist and author Will Self said, “Whenever I produce my best work it’s always because I’ve spent time being idle. Something always emerges after nothing.”

Is that the same for you?
It’s interesting isn’t it?

Research by Professor William Duggan at the Columbia Business School shows that the human mind has an amazing self-correcting mechanism. Read about it in his book: Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement. You can order a copy at Amazon from here.

When we relax, de-clutter our mind and let it wander, flashes of insight, sparks of creativity and clarity of thought emerge. That’s why we get our best ideas and inspiration when we’re out for a walk, in the shower or driving and not working flat out at two hundred miles an hour in the office.

There are some sensible lessons here for all of us.
Unfortunately, some people will always be too busy doing it, doing it, doing it, to realise what they’ve missed.

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.

Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Bitcoin: The Good, the Bad and the Future.

Bitcoin is mentioned day-in-day-out but many people still don’t know what it is or how it can be used. As a relatively new and emerging alternative to credit cards and cash, Bitcoin remains largely unknown to many business owners – even though it’s a freely available, viable option for taking payments and paying suppliers.

Bitcoin is a decentralised virtual currency, meaning it does not exist in the physical world, nor does it have a central bank such as the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England. There is also a finite number of bitcoins in the world, with a limit of 21 million bitcoins set to be reached by 2014, according to Metro Bank, here.

Bitcoin.org, here, say that “Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system”.

Reizel Sales, one of our many Round-up readers, works closely with the Findmyshift content team, and they recently compiled data surrounding the Bitcoin trend, and how it impacts business owners and ecommerce.
They put the data in the visual at: www.findmyshift.com/bitcoin-for-business-the-good-the-bad-and-the-future.

Doctor Who helps teach children coding

Gov.uk has announced that the BBC’s new Doctor Who computer game will teach local children more about coding at D5, the London conference for leading digital governments. International D5 delegates will also share experiences and discuss the best way to teach code in primary schools.

Coding is when you give a sequence of instructions to a computer so you can make it do what you want to do. Children as young as 5 are able to grasp coding concepts. Learning to code strengthens their problem solving and logical thinking skills.

More and more jobs now rely on computing and coding, but conversely fewer people have the skills to fill them. D5 delegates will talk about how to avoid a global coding crisis by educating the next generation of coders. At D5, the BBC-led coding session will use a new Doctor Who game called ‘The Doctor and the Dalek’ to help 11-year olds from Netley Primary School, Camden, London, understand more about coding. The game sees the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, take on dangerous quests against his enemies. Anyone can play it for free on the CBBC website.

Play The Doctor and the Dalek.

The BBC has published a range of resources for students and teachers on BBC Bitesize to coincide with the new computing curriculum in England.  The resources include computer programming study guides, quizzes, games and videos. These Bitesize resources and The Doctor and the Dalek game support a range of other material, including 3 children’s TV shows, released as part of the BBC’s wider Make it Digital initiative, with more to come in 2015.

In England, there are around 900 volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for 9 to 11-year-olds.
Find out more about Code Club.

“Cryptography For Dummies – eBook (usually $22.99) FREE for a limited time!”

It’s FREE so you’ve nothing to lose… Learn everything from the terminology used in the field to specific technologies to the pros and cons of different implementations.

  • Cryptography is the most effective way to achieve data security and is essential to e-commerce activities such as online shopping, stock trading, and banking
  • Discusses specific technologies that incorporate cryptography in their design, such as authentication methods, wireless encryption, e-commerce, and smart cards
  • Based entirely on real-world issues and situations, the material provides instructions for already available technologies that readers can put to work immediately
  • Expert author Chey Cobb is retired from the NRO, where she held a Top Secret security clearance, instructed employees of the CIA and NSA on computer security and helped develop the computer security policies used by all U.S. intelligence agencies

Offered Free by Wiley from: whitepapershg.tradepub.com/free/w_wile141/

Match Customers with the Products They’re Searching For

This comes from Magento. To realise the convenience benefit of shopping online, customers need to find what they’re looking for, and to find it quickly.

This FREE eBook provides:

  • EXAMPLES FROM MERCHANTS: A treasure chest of valuable customer insights around site search
  • OPTIMIZE CONVERSION: Three recommendations for increasing conversion through site search

Many merchants’ site search tools don’t fulfill the promise of delivering meaningful results. Learn how to use your website’s site search data to better understand your customers, their needs and their intent, and how to properly leverage site search to help customers find what they’re searching for.
Download from: enterprise.magento.com/content/site-search

Beyond the Basics: Strategic Marketing for CPA Firms

Great stuff here for accountants and also for lawyers.

When it comes to marketing for businesses, most people can agree upon the following five steps:

  • Set your budget
  • Prioritise initiatives
  • Set expectations and goals
  • Periodically assess marketing performance against goals
  • Revise budget, initiatives and goals as necessary

While this covers the basics, this lather-rinse-repeat marketing routine completely misses the mark when it comes to strategic marketing. Budgets and goals are how you implement a marketing strategy; they are not the strategy itself. Developing an effective marketing strategy means clearly understanding and then communicating what makes your practice different from others.

For example, a marketing strategy must address how to get past the label of being “just another CPA” – known for price-based commodities like tax returns and audit services – by focusing on branding and how your firm stands out from competitors. A marketing budget or an outline of performance expectations for your marketing program might be helpful to you, but it won’t tell your target audience what makes your firm stand out from all of the others out there.

This is a great article for any accounting firm interested in strategic marketing – either for themselves or their clients.
Read more: info.grwco.com/blog/beyond-the-basics-strategic-marketing-for-cpa-firms

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

2015 Social Marketing Planning Guide

In Simply Measured, they say that 2015 is going to be a great year for social marketers, but to make the most of it you’ll need a fine-tuned social strategy.

This FREE guide is your countdown to the New Year with ten fresh tactics based on the 2014 trends we expect to shape the coming year, and ways you can refine your brand’s social strategy for success.

Download this FREE 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 the link below to download the guide!
From: go.simplymeasured.com/q1OI0m0jIj0n5F03X0hv00w

LinkedIn leads the pack for social SMEs: How your firm can get on board

From Australia, in SmartCompany.au, By Eloise Keating: Public relations specialist and social media expert Catriona Pollard receives at least one email a week about a new business opportunity as a direct result of her LinkedIn profile. It may be from someone Pollard has never met but who has found out about her PR agency through LinkedIn, or in some cases, from someone who Pollard has been connected with for some time but now needs her expertise for a particular project. Whatever the purpose, it’s clear Pollard would not be receiving the emails without LinkedIn.

Pollard is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs and small business owners recognising the value of LinkedIn, a professional networking platform used by 350 million people worldwide.

In the fifth SmartCompany and Crowe Horwath SME Directions Survey, LinkedIn was voted the most effective social channel by more than 430 business owners and managers.

While word-of-mouth still dominates when it comes to marketing for the SMEs who participated in the survey, 41% nominated LinkedIn as the most effective of the social networks by far.

Pollard says LinkedIn is also particularly useful in the B2B space, as the platform makes your professional contacts “more visible”.
Read more: www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/social-media/44939-linkedin-leads-the-pack-for-social-smes-how-your-business-can-get-on-board.html

Technical Stuff

UK: Leave and Pay for Mothers – Know Your Rights booklet

FREE booklet from TUC: Pregnant women are protected from harm in the workplace and have the right not to be dismissed or unfavourably treated because of their pregnancy. Most employed mothers are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and 39 weeks’ Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. Mothers with children born on or after 5 April 2015 may also be able to convert some of their maternity leave and pay into Shared Parental Leave and Pay which they or their partner can take on a more flexible basis in the first year of their child’s life.
Details at: www.tuc.org.uk/node/121636

Leave and Pay for Fathers and Partners – Know Your Rights booklet

Another FREE booklet from TUC:  If you are an expectant father or the partner of someone due to give birth or adopt a child, you could be entitled to time off to attend ante-natal appointments plus up to two weeks’ paid paternity leave. You may also be able to take more time off in the first year as Shared Parental Leave and be entitled to some Shared Parental Pay.

Other rights that may help you combine paid work with looking after your child include unpaid parental leave, the right to request flexible working and emergency time off for dependents.
Details at: www.tuc.org.uk/node/121639

Crisis of SME Lending and how to circumvent it

In Business Matters, despite a growing economy, SMEs can still find it difficult to fund their expansion plans. Freddie Bellhouse, director of call handing agency MessageBase, looks at the different options available for business owners.

Many small businesses are struggling to raise much-needed funds to expand. This is nothing new. Since credit tightening at the onset of the recession businesses of all sizes have struggled to raise debt to varying degrees. However in a period of low interest rates and a growing economy, why is this still the case?

Whilst the vast majority of lending comes from traditional sources such as high street banks who have traditionally required assets as security (something most small businesses simply don’t have) or otherwise require substantial turnovers for cash flow lending, new lenders do offer some considerable hope to small businesses. In short, they can be separated out as follows:

  • Crowdfunding
  • The Venture Lender
  • The Gordon Gekko Solution
  • The Establishment Lender
  • Giving up a Slice of the Pie

Read the full article for details on the above: www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/27535/crisis-sme-lending-circumvent

The National Debt

The National Debt

We’ve done a lot of fighting and every time we go to war, the national debt goes through the roof.

War BondsThis article is about Britain’s national debt. It was prompted by an announcement that caught my eye last week that “Britain is finally preparing to pay off some of the huge debt it incurred as a result of the First World War.”

£218m of Britain’s debt mountain is to be repaid on 1 February 2015. [see end of article for update in December 2014]

The money we’re repaying next February was borrowed by the Chancellor Winston Churchill in 1927, to refinance huge debts from World War 1, mainly National War Bonds. But the refinancing included debts from earlier conflicts around the world – over time, Britain has done a lot of fighting. And every time we go to war, our national debt goes through the roof.

In 1927, we issued something called 4 per cent Consolidated Loan (often referred to as “Consols”). The Independent newspaper reported last week that the UK Debt Management Office estimates that Britain “has paid a staggering £1.26bn in total interest on these bonds since 1927.”

The Independent added: “It is partly due the Government’s current ability to raise debt at much lower rates than paid by the 4% Consols that the Chancellor has acted to repay them.”

Bear in mind that a low debt-to-GDP ratio indicates an economy that makes and sells goods and services at a sufficient level to be able to pay back debts without incurring further debt or defaulting. But more of this below…

The Bank of England and UK Debt Management Office

BOEA bit of history… After the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 when William of Orange and Queen Mary ascended to the throne of England, there was a growing desire for a national bank. The London-based Scottish entrepreneur, named William Paterson fresh from failure in the Darien adventure in Panama, proposed the idea that eventually found support for a “Bank of England”. The public were invited to invest in the new project and subscriptions totalling £1.2 million formed the initial capital stock of the Bank of England and were lent on to the Government in return for a Royal Charter.

Not heard of the DMO? It is an Executive Agency of HM Treasury and responsibilities include debt and cash management for the UK Government, lending to local authorities and managing certain public sector funds. The DMO’s remit is set by HM Treasury and published alongside the Budget and Autumn Statement.

Figures behind the figures

My training as an accountant taught me to look at figures behind the figures when reviewing balance sheets. So, I set out, with confidence, to look into what Britain owes, why we borrowed the money in the first place, and who our creditors are.

What do we owe?

First, the simple fact is that Britain is sitting on a £1.45 trillion public-debt time-bomb. That amount is £1,450 billion, or £1,450,000,000,000, is a lot of money. The interest cost is over £50 billion a year, which works out to around 3.5% per annum.  And the amount we owe is growing fast:

  • Between April and September this year, Britain borrowed £58 billion — £5.4 billion more than during the same period last year.
  • In total, public finances will be in deficit by more than £100 billion in 2014.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has warned that the Government would need to slash public spending by a quarter in order to get Britain’s debt mountain down to sustainable levels. The IEA has urged the Chancellor et al to replace the state pension with compulsory, private defined-contribution (DC) pension arrangements in order to cut public spending (Source, CITY A.M., here).

So, now we know what we owe: £1.45 trillion and it’s rising fast.

How did we get into debt?

So why did we borrow the money? This is much more complicated. We have to go back to the end of the 17th century as a sort of starting point (see above). Add in a few wars and conflicts and poor fiscal management by the governments since then and we get to where we are today. It’s a bit like pay-day loans or other arrangements when people get into a mess with their money: borrow a little, spend unwisely, borrow some more, spend more again and hey presto, you have a financial time-bomb.

At headline level, Britain’s debt mountain came about because, amongst other things:

  • We fought too many wars and spent too much we couldn’t afford on conflicts when in reality we had inadequate resources and pretty abysmal leadership
  • We exported too little and imported too much.
  • We made too little, surrendering our powerhouse status too easily.
  • We had no recovery or success strategy.
  • Previous administrations ran the country as a giant welfare machine – “don’t put too much effort into anything but press for more and more benefits and wages” seems to have been the mantra.

EurosContrast the above with Germany – Europe’s powerhouse. There was a  good article by Simon Wren-Lewis in Social Europe Journal last Thursday. He talked about how the Eurozone suffered a crisis from 2010 to 2012, as periphery countries were no longer able to sell their debt. Then he focused on something he called nominal wage growth (per employee) in the Eurozone before the Great Recession. Between 2000 and 2007, German wages increased by less than 10% but the Eurozone as a whole increased by double that figure.

What effect did this have on Germany’s finances: Low nominal wage growth in Germany led to lower production costs and prices, which allowed German goods to displace goods produced in other Eurozone countries both in the Eurozone and in third markets. In other words, low production costs equals major export opportunities.

High employment provides the tax coffers with lots of money. The key to a low debt to GDP ratio appears to be sustained economic growth and high employment.  We had that once upon a time… Although in the post-WW2 era, in the late 1940s, our debt to GDP was over 230%, it then fell gradually reaching a low of 25% in 1993. From the early 1950s to early 1990s, there has been a consistent decrease in the debt to GDP. Using the above measure of national debt, UK debt as a % of GDP reached a low of 25% in 1993. Since then, it has nudged upwards.


GDPIf you search for definitive statistics on debt percentage to GDP, you’ll probably come to a dead end as I have, since the various figures that come up appear to be inconsistent. Perhaps, suffice it to say that Germany has the best figures in Europe of the major economies and the UK lags behind. The lowest figures come from Estonia and Luxembourg. Greece, Italy, Iceland and Cyprus appear to be in a mess and Japan’s figures are awful.

Interestingly, debt to GDP is not reduced through cutting government expenditure. There’s a good paper on this titled: UK post-war economic boom and reduction in debt by Tejvan Pettinger, which you can read here. In fact, anything you want to know about economics can probably be found on the EconomicsHelp website here.

There are two more confusing issues on the matter of debt:

  • The first is what we actually mean by “debt”: The accepted and widely used figure for debt is actually the net debt of the UK. This comes from the total debt less the liquid assets we have.
  • The second is that the UK national debt is often confused with the Government budget deficit (known as the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement (PSNCR), which is the rate at which the Government (or rather, the country) borrows money.

There’s a useful table on page 6 of the bulletin issued by the Office of National Statistics on 21st October showing how the national debt is calculated.

Who are our creditors?

Everywhere you look, you will see the term Government Debt. I prefer to refer to it as the National Debt. The Bank of England is a big buyer of government gilts and thus a large proportion of UK debt is financed by the Bank of England. Whatever name it’s given, it’s really a loan to Britain from various sources, such as:

  • The Bank of England (see above)
  • Overseas Lenders
  • Insurance Companies and Pension Funds
  • Building Societies
  • Investment Trusts
  • Local Authorities and Public Corporations
  • Private Individuals

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.

If I expected it to be easy to find a definitive list of entities/countries to whom we owed money, I’d have to say that I have been disappointed. I’ll keep researching but I’m not holding my breath. I made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to HM Treasury to provide me with the numbers. Unfortunately, when they replied, HM Treasury told me to go and look at various postings by the Office for National Statistics to get the information I wanted. Now, I’m well versed in finance but I can’t find the information that HM Treasury say has been published. I’ve asked other people to find the information, and they can’t find it either. Is the game of obfuscation being played with me as an innocent participant?

Whilst we do not know who we owe money to, at least we know how much we owe in total. To put the numbers into perspective, if you took all the homes in the UK and put them into a shopping basket and set off to the bank to get a mortgage against the value of all of them (we’ve been told in the last week that the value is £5 trillion) the amount of the mortgage we would need to raise will be of the order of 30% of the value of those properties. That’s 30% of every home in the UK.

We owe an enormous amount of money.

As Liam Halligan reported in the Telegraph last month, the Conservatives seem determined to join Labour in refusing to come clean with the electorate about the scale of Britain’s fiscal predicament.  Against the blurred deficit/debt distinction, the politicians seem to be suggesting that “the deficit will soon be gone” while, as Mr Halligan suggests, the spin-doctors say that these concepts are “too hard” for ordinary people like you and me to grasp.

If Joe Public is being either starved of true facts or fed on a diet of confusing definitions and incomplete and inaccurate data – designed to cause obfuscation – then the politicians and spin doctors need to think about the probable fate of several top people at Tesco and reflect on whether the same might also happen to them.


[Update: On 3rd December 2014 HM Treasury announced that the government will repay all the nation’s First World War debt. At the same time, the other remaining undated gilts (that is, government securities with no fixed repayment date), some of which have origins going back to the 18th Century. The remaining £1.9 billion of 3.5% War Loan will be redeemed on 9th March 2015, although it is doing so by refinancing the debt from the issue of new bonds: it sounds a bit like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.]

Marketing Round up for Professionals December wk 1

Marketing Round up for Professionals December wk 1


Steve Jobs, when aged 33, looked in the mirror and thought to himself:
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Do you feel like that sometimes?

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The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

It may be me, of course, but I cannot understand why some firms just don’t bother to treat their clients like customers.

Governments rule much of our lives. The interest we pay on our mortgages, the interest that we don’t get on our hard earned savings and how we draw our pensions. On 3 December, Chancellor Osborne will, once again, explain what he is doing with our money and the huge National Debt we have built up over the years.

What Mr Osborne says on 3 December will affect you and all your clients.

Don’t you owe it to your clients to send them a handsomely designed summary from your firm about the Chancellor’s proposals?

Send out a million copies, if you like, of the summary to clients and prospects for £100 + VAT. For details, visit our shop or email me at: mpollins@bizezia.com.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It’s happening

You don’t go into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson with no gloves and no strategy to protect your vital bits, do you?

A month ago, I warned you that the big boys were going to take away your clients (see onesmartplace.com/lose-clients-kpmg-pwc/)

It’s happening. Right now.

KPMG Enterprise, who believe that online accounting is the way forward for start-ups and growing businesses, have launched their marketing initiative. They work with their strategic technology providers to help clients ensure that their business benefits from the flexibility and freedom that this form of accounting can offer.

Delivered as part of the KPMG Small Business Accounting solution, they now offer a suite of services designed to meet the needs of growing businesses, including bookkeeping, VAT and Corporate Taxes, annual accounting and payroll.
Built around an award-winning cloud accounting platform (Xero), to prepare and maintain accounting records, providing instant access to the figures for a business, such as cash flow, payables, receivables and commentary. No more email attachments with hard-to-download spread sheets. Just accounting on the go for your growing business.

That’s what they say.

What do you say? Or rather, what are you going to do about it?

Marketing round-up:


Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

5 Common Myths About VoIP Phone Systems

From VTSL Business Phone Systems, written by Audra Oliver: New technology is often misunderstood. Even those that have a decent understanding of the basics are rarely aware of the nuances or differences between providers. Take something like digital radio. Digital radio (DAB) became available in the UK in 1999 and has become increasingly popular over the years. A tech-savvy person will likely be able to tell you that digital radio is a compressed analogue audio signal transmitted using a digital modulation scheme. But that same tech-savvy person will likely be unable to tell you which DAB radios you should buy, or what to look out for when shopping for one.

The same is true for VoIP. Most people know it stands for voice over internet protocol—a form of telephony in which your voice travels over a network (such as the internet)—but few know much about the differences in systems, or whether the general assumptions are true or not.

In this article, the author dispels some common myths about VoIP phone systems.
Read more: blog.vtsl.net/blog/5-common-myths-about-voip-phone-systems

White Paper: Top 3 Reasons to Use Multiple Email Service Providers

There are more than 400 email service providers out there, using just one limits your scope and success within your day-to-day email marketing operation. Boost performance and engagement with the multiple email service provider approach. Find out how this can be done and why you should have been doing this yesterday.

Download this FREE white paper, Top 3 Reasons to Use Multiple Email Service Providers, to find out:
• How to get into more inboxes and maximize ROI
• How to reduce your email marketing costs
• How to easily setup backup systems for redundancy

To learn more about the benefits of working with multiple email service providers, check out the in-depth white paper now.
Source: e.marketingprofs.com/a/hBUdc8PAJaJZfB891IbB9lxEmNU/og3

How to Master the Balancing Act Between Web Design and Functionality

From Marketing Prefs, written by Roy Chomko: The technical and aesthetic components of “good” Web design are often presented as two competing forces, or separate entities that must be corralled into grudging cooperation for the sake of producing a functional product.

However, by implementing a few best-practice development process strategies, Web designers and developers can work as a unified team to achieve a common set of project goals.

From a website’s conception to official go-live date, the design and development teams need to have shifted out of their silos and onto the same workbench:
1. Know your audience
2. Bring developers on board sooner rather than later
3. Resist the development veto
4. Try before you buy
5. Don’t be a lemming
Read the full article at: www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/26560/how-to-master-the-balancing-act-between-web-design-and-functionality

Don’t get left behind in the enterprise mobile app dev (r)evolution

Found in Business Matters:  In seven years we have gone from Blackberry and Nokia to iPhones, smartphones, tablets and wearable devices. Today mobility is king. Employees like – and expect – the same experience they have at work as the one they have at home.

The latest Forrester report on mobile app development published this month predicts that consumer and employee demand for innovative mobile experiences will increase in 2015. According to the report, the requirement for innovative mobile experiences will continue to grow as mobile platforms, development tools and programming techniques evolve at a similar pace in an attempt to keep up with demand for best-in-class apps that create customers’ mobile moments.

The percentage of enterprise-focused developers has also significantly risen in the last few years, increasing from 29.3 per cent in 2010 to 42.7 per cent in 2013. In the same period, developers primarily interested in consumer-facing apps have shrunk from 70.7 per cent to 57.2 per cent. Where mobile app dev is concerned, the enterprise is where the activity is happening now. Developers are increasingly focusing on building apps for internal purposes to improve processes for the finance teams, HR, sales and marketing, instead of solely focusing on building new mobile B2C apps.

In fact, when we talk about mobile app dev we should really make the distinction between enterprise and B2C because business to consumer apps are quite different in terms of the approach and the development environment than that used for business to enterprise or business to employee apps.
Read the full article at: www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/27512/dont-get-left-behind-enterprise-mobile-app-dev-revolution/

Latest SME Finance Survey, Continued move away from traditional bank funding

Business Matters report that while the appetite to seek finance may be on the rise for UK micro and small businesses, the latest information from the BDRC Continental SME Finance Monitor, released on 27th November, highlights that many continue to shun traditional banking products and are looking towards alternative financial providers, their supply chain or dipping into their own personal funds to finance future growth.

However, the report also highlights that small firms still perceive ongoing difficulties in securing funding, reporting a confidence gap of 10 per cent in terms of those who were fairly or very confident that they would receive bank finance and the proportion that actually did.

In addition, 68 per cent of businesses surveyed reported their aspirations to pay down what is owed and to be debt free and only 39 per cent are happy to use external finance to help the business grow.
Read the full article at: www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/27508/latest-sme-finance-survey-shows-continued-move-away-traditional-bank-funding

UK: Business birth rate soars to near 10-year high

Angela Monaghan reported in the Guardian some interesting figures on new businesses. UK businesses were created at the fastest rate in almost a decade last year as confidence increased against a backdrop of economic recovery. The business “birth rate”, which measures new companies as a proportion of all enterprises, was 14.1% in 2013, the highest since records began in 2004, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The proportion of business “deaths” fell to 9.7%, the lowest level since the financial crisis took hold in 2008.

The number of new businesses jumped 28.5% last year to 346,000, as Britain’s economic recovery looked more secure with growth in every quarter. Administration and support services were the areas with the highest rate of business births.

Businesses which stopped trading fell 6% to 238,000 over the year, with those operating in the finance and insurance sectors experiencing the highest death rate, followed by accommodation and food services.

In the run up to the crisis, businesses were created at a faster rate than they closed, but that trend was reversed in 2009-10. Business births overtook deaths once again in 2011.
Read more at: www.theguardian.com/business/2014/nov/27/business-birth-rate-10-year-high

New Class 3A NICs

[26 November 2014, ICAEW Tax Faculty Team] Posted on 24 November: People who reach state pension age before 6 April 2016 will be able to top up their state pension by paying a new class of voluntary National Insurance contributions (NICs) – Class 3A – from October 2015.​

The new class of NICs was announced at the 2013 Autumn Statement. The government has recently published:

Class 3A voluntary contributions will give existing pensioners and individuals who are entitled to a state pension, and who reach state pension age before 6 April 2016, the opportunity to increase their pension.

The measure is aimed particularly at women and other groups who have done less favourably under the existing rules for the state pension and have not previously been able to top it up.

Paying Class 3A NICs
Those eligible will be able to pay Class 3A contributions from 12 October 2015 in Great Britain, and from a date to be appointed in Northern Ireland.

The opportunity runs until 5 April 2017.
Read more: www.ion.icaew.com/TaxFaculty/post/New-Class-3A-NICs

HMRC clarifies pension lump sum recycling rules

From William Robins in New Model Advifser: HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) has clarified rules relating to the annual allowance in retirement, brought in under Rightthe pension freedoms, amid fears people will recycle pension cash back into their scheme.

Under new rules outlined earlier this year, which come into force in April 2015, an annual allowance of £10,000, known as the money purchase annual allowance, will be triggered whenever someone goes into flexi-drawdown or takes an uncrystallised fund pension lump sum (UPFLS).

However it is often possible for people with old money purchase occupational schemes to take what is called a ‘standalone’ lump sum, which can be of substantial size. It would mean they would be using neither flexi-drawdown nor UPFLS.

At an HMRC pensions’ industry forum, HMRC clarified that a ‘standalone’ lump sum would not trigger the money purchase annual allowance except where the member has primary protection as well.

It said a stand-alone lump sum will not trigger the money purchase annual allowance rules unless the member had primary protection, but not enhanced protection as it is possible to have both, and protected ‘standalone lump sum’ rights exceeding £375,000.

Primary protection was available to anyone whose pension funds on 5 April 2006 where at or above the annual allowance of £1.5 million brought in that year. Enhanced protection, available until 5 April 2009, had the effect of eliminating and lifetime allowance charge in return for surrendering certain rights.
Read more: citywire.co.uk/new-model-adviser/news/hmrc-clarifies-pension-lump-sum-recycling-rules/a785664?re=31777&ea=248678

SRA consults on accounts rules

Nick Huber in AccountingWEB] reported that fewer solicitor firms will be required to have an annual audit under a proposal from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The proposal is to exempt firms from the requirement of getting an annual accountant’s report if there is a low risk of a solicitor taking customers’ money.

This is part of a wider plan to cut unnecessary regulation in the law profession.

The SRA consultation, published on 18 November, also suggests another reform of accounting rules; changing the criteria for when an accountant has to qualify the report. The intention is to reduce the amount of fairly “trivial” qualified accounts it gets.

Proposed changes could cut income for accounting firms, although the new rules may have some benefits. The SRA suggests that accountants be given more freedom to use their professional judgement when checking solicitors’ accounts. “The primary purpose of the current Accounts Rules is simple – to keep client money safe,” the SRA says in its consultation.
Read more: www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/law-regulator-wants-relax-requirement-firms-get-annual-audit/568614

Do bankers and politicians lie or confabulate?

Do bankers and politicians lie or confabulate?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about brains. Stating the obvious, I said that we humans share a number of things with other humans: we all have a brain.

Some brains are bigger or smaller than others, while some brains are better (brainier, if you like) than other brains, is what I wrote.

CavemanThe past…

New Scientist [25 October 2014] say that writing has only been around for about 5,000 years: long before typewriters and iPads. Although early man may have walked on two legs their heads were small, their teeth were large and their arms were long.

Let’s hope it wasn’t too cold or windy as humans didn’t start wearing clothes until about 70,000 years ago.

Man was smart and started long-distance commerce as long as 140,000 years ago.  But man’s development really took off when the first writing occurred, and long after cave art was practised: possibly when accountants and lawyers started to emerge and keeping records was a good way to keep tabs on what their charges were going to be?

Early on, man realised he had to get out of his environment because of the dangers perceived from in-breeding and so they searched in far off places for their perfect mate. It’s said that this exodus from the family environment is what made men such good map-readers. Jack Blocker wrote about this [here] earlier this month. This theory was devised by academics at the University of Utah – they came to their conclusions after studying the traditions of the Twe and Tjimba tribes in Namibia, southern Africa. You can read about it in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, albeit an extract, here.

The future…

Brain blueBrains can act like computers, in a way, if they communicate with other brains. “We can now send thoughts directly between brains” say Rajesh P. N. Rao and Andrea Stocco in an article in Scientific American, this month. “The dawn of human brain-to-brain communication has arrived”, they add. You can read the article here. You can buy the publication, Volume 25, issue 6, here.

The future has exciting things in store for humans not the least of which will be brain uploads. New Scientist suggests that in the future, the brain’s functions will be simulated in silicon (maybe 3D printing?).

An article in the Guardian titled Brain will be battlefield of future, warns US intelligence report caught my attention. It said that in a report commissioned by the Defense Intelligence Agency, leading scientists were asked to examine how a greater understanding of the brain over the next 20 years could drive the development of new medicines and technologies. It talked about behaviour-altering drugs, scanners that can interpret a person’s state of mind and devices capable of boosting senses such as hearing and vision. But what I really found interesting was that “some day there could be a technique developed to extract information from a prisoner that does not have any lasting side effects.”

If it could work with prisoners, could it work with bankers and politicians?  Getting old fashioned truth from them would be a good thing wouldn’t it?

Brain FictionIs it all fiction?

Of course, it’s possible that bankers and politicians don’t lie at all. Perhaps they simply confabulate: Confabulation is distinguished from lying as there is no intent to deceive and the person is unaware the information is false.

William Hirstein, the author of Brain Fiction, describes confabulation as a person’s construction of false information while genuinely believing (self-deception if you like) that they are telling the truth. He says that people (he doesn’t mention bankers or politicians per se) sometimes have a tendency to confabulate, rather than admitting “I don’t know”. The book is available at Amazon and good bookshops.

Marketing Round up for Professionals November wk 4

Marketing Round up for Professionals November wk 4

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

It may be me, of course, but I cannot understand why some firms just don’t bother to treat their clients like customers.

Governments rule much of our lives. The interest we pay on our mortgages, the interest that we don’t get on our hard earned savings and how we draw our pensions. On 3 December, Chancellor Osborne will, once again, explain what he is doing with our money and the huge National Debt we have built up over the years.

What Mr Osborne says on 3 December will affect you and all your clients.

Don’t you owe it to your clients to send them a handsomely designed summary from your firm about the Chancellor’s proposals?

Send out a million copies, if you like, of the summary to clients and prospects for £100 + VAT. For details, visit our shop or email me at: mpollins@bizezia.com.


Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. It provides access to tools you can use right now to promote your firm plus software that will help those endeavours.

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Why You Need To Install Windows Updates Automatically

An article at HowToGeek.com said that once again there are urgent security patches released for Windows, and this time the problems they fix are “potentially catastrophic” issues with the encryption stack. This is why you should have Windows install updates automatically.

It’s possible you leap into action every time you see the security notification, but many people don’t. And, if you do, what’s the point of installing critical security updates manually? Just have them install themselves.

Patches Should Be Installed as Soon As Possible
You often need to patch security problems as soon as possible to fix whatever the problem is.
After a patch is released, the security hole becomes public knowledge if it wasn’t already. Attackers now know the problem and can rush to start exploiting it as soon as possible before people update. Attackers know business and home users are often slow to update, and they can wreak some havoc in the time before people patch.
Read more: www.howtogeek.com/202038/why-you-need-to-install-windows-updates-automatically

Technology solutions for increased productivity: a free SmartCompany eBook

From SmartCompany.com.au in Australia: One of the biggest challenges for SMEs is finding ways to get more productive and grow without being bogged down in time consuming and costly approaches. Increasingly technology is providing solutions – allowing both businesses and individuals to become more productive and efficient. But the challenge lies in equipping your SME with the right tools.

SmartCompany and SAP recently looked into the technology habits of SMEs, along with their productivity and growth ideals. We found that while SMEs appear tech savvy and understand the impact of technology on business, 50% say they don’t have the resources required to improve their productivity. Clearly there is an imbalance.

This free SmartCompany eBook, Five ways to get productive and grow with technology solutions, brought to you by SAP, is designed to showcase these findings and demonstrate how SMEs can increase their productivity without enormous costs.

You’ll also learn:

  • What SMEs find challenging about adopting new technology;
  • How SMEs can overcome a lack of resources;
  • How technology can help with the issue of staff disengagement;
  • Why better productivity doesn’t have to be expensive;
  • How to navigate regulatory burdens with technology, and more.

Read more: www.smartcompany.com.au/resources/library/ebooks/44674-technology-solutions-for-increased-productivity-a-free-smartcompany-ebook.html

How leaders use personas to drive innovation

From Quarry.com: The Savvy Marketer’s Guide® to Leading with Personas shares three real-life success stories — and one decided failure — of how change leaders leveraged personas to drive innovation and inspire change in four complex and very different business situations.

What will you learn?
The Savvy Marketer’s Guide to Leading with Personas shares:

  • How personas can be used to create alignment, shake off misconceptions and inspire innovation.
  • The insightful stories of three leaders who used personas to achieve their goals (and the cautionary tale of one that didn’t!).
  • Seven ways that personas can be used as powerful change-leadership tools.

Get the FREE guide from: www.quarry.com/better-practices/savvy-marketers-guide-leading-personas

Simply Measured Twitter Study Q3 2014

If you want to learn more about Twitter, read this: From Simply Measured: Twitter is a key channel for social brands to connect with their mobile audiences, but the network continues to change fast.

In their latest study, Simply Measured analyzed the top brands in the world and the new ways they’re using Twitter, the results they’re seeing, and which tactics have contributed to bigger audiences and increased brand engagement.

Download Simply Measured’s latest Twitter study to learn:

  • How active the world’s top brands are on Twitter
  • How top brands are using hashtags, link types and visual content
  • Which tactics have contributed to increased brand engagement
  • Best practices for perfecting your Tweets

…and much more. Click the link below to download the full study!
From: get.simplymeasured.com/2014-q3-twt-study-em.html

How To Successfully Scale Your Social Efforts Across Your Entire Organization

From Hootsuite This FREE white paper is designed to take your organisation through the essential steps involved in implementing a successful and scalable social media strategy. Scale to meet customer needs and reap the rewards of effective social media engagement across the enterprise.

Gain insight on how to mandate social media use to positively impact all departments:

  • Integrate social into existing organizational and departmental goals.
  • Listen to conversations about your brand and learn from your competitors.
  • Engage to Build Community: Empower your Social Team to contribute to the conversation.
  • Encourage your Social Teams to distribute new learning both within the Team and your organization as a whole.
  • Secure your online profiles to avoid publishing errant messages.
  • Measure your Social ROI: Build the capacity for measurement into every social action
  • Amplify your outreach and invest in a social future.

Download your FREE copy today: hootsuite.com/resources/white-paper/Organize-your-Social-Business

Effective time management

From Go To Meeting: In this FREE white paper, well-known time management expert and best-selling author Cordula Nussbaum demonstrates methods for creative and individual self-management. Cordula also provides an introduction to modern, effective time management practices.

Download the white paper and find out how to:

  • Identify and switch off personal stress causes and time thieves
  • Re-organise your daily work according to your personality
  • Efficiently prioritise tasks and delegate if needed
  • Get back into top form with successful self-management

Download the white paper: learn.gotomeeting.com/Personal_time_mngmt_Key_to_success_G2M_NE-WP-S

3 Hiring Process Blunders

So you are hiring people again.  This FREE eBook from Foundation Resourcing details the latest, cutting-edge Financial Services hiring techniques.

When you get this FREE eBook, which you can read at your leisure, you will discover…

  • The little known concept of “deep referencing” and the 7 key questions you can ask which will highlight a poor hire before its too late.
  • 10 crucial interview questions you should be asking and a breakthrough questioning technique which is guaranteed to reveal a candidates genuine strengths and weaknesses to you.
  • The 4 rules to effective assessment days including the radical new concept of subterfuge assessment stooges to glean attitudinal behaviour
  • A full brief on the latest psychological profiling techniques, which have proven to be the most effective in the financial services industry.

Read more: www.foundationresourcing.co.uk/landingpage

5 Steps to Social Planning for Enterprise Brands

From Simply Measured:  Written by Bridget Quigg: At the biggest brands, the dollars being spent on social media require careful planning, regular analysis, and optimization on a large scale. These high-revenue companies are pushing hard to make social media support their business.

Ron Schott, Director of Professional Services at Simply Measured, provides insight on how he sees the major brands he has worked with – leaders like MasterCard, IHOP, HTC, and KIA – approach their social strategy planning process.

Click on the link below for his summary of five planning steps and some advice on each.
Read more: simplymeasured.com/blog/2014/11/14/5-steps-to-social-planning-for-enterprise-brands/

Did you know that 94% of Crowdfunding Funded Companies are Successful and Still Trading

From Business Matters: Angels Den, a leading equity crowdfunding platform, has this week revealed that 94% of the businesses that raised funds through the site are still trading, despite the leading research stating 56% of all angel investments will fail.

Technology start-ups and those operating in the food and drink sector emerged as the top performing industries in terms of successful start-ups, with London and the South-East the most likely locations for them.

A newly-released infographic designed and compiled by a leading crowdfunding platform and angel network has revealed that as many as 94% of the businesses that have raised funding through the site have gone on to achieve financial success and are still trading. This statistic has come to light despite a recent finding from NESTA that suggests around 56% of angel investments will fail to make any return on capital.
Read more: www.bmmagazine.co.uk/news/27461/94-companies-funded-crowdfunding-platform-successful-still-trading

How the Most Successful People Keep Innovating

From American Express: Written by Vivian Giang: If you feel you or your business are stuck in a rut or, worse yet, failing, use the strategies from 6 innovation experts to spark creativity and change in your company

No matter what activity you’re pursuing, you have to continually evolve or you won’t make any progress. This is especially true when it comes to business—you have to keep transforming and innovating, staying fresh and up to date. You often have to zag while everyone else zigs.

So how can you keep up with the fast-churning world of business in order to remain viable and needed? Some of the most successful people in the world share their secrets to blocking out the noise and continuously innovating below.
Read more in the full article: www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/successful-people-continuously-innovate/

Law-Mart: Pick up a Will with your TV at Wal-Mart

In BNN.ca: Written by Jeff Gray: Walk into one of four Toronto-area Wal-Marts and in addition to the advertised “pre-Black Friday deals” that include discounted toys and flat-screen TVs, shoppers can also pick up a last will and testament drafted by a real, live lawyer.  Recently launched Axess Law has put itself among the most aggressive of a new breed of low-cost law firms by installing a bright-orange branded retail presence inside Toronto Wal-Marts over the past year, offering wills for just $99 and real-estate deals for $1,288, tax and other expenses included. The service is the first of its kind in Canada.

The law firm says the move has been so successful it is expanding the service to seven more Toronto-area Wal-Marts over the next six months, with a plan to move into Wal-Mart Canada Corp. outlets across the country. The next location, at Toronto’s west-end Dufferin Mall, is due to open in weeks.

“It’s only a matter of time before you see our bright orange in Alberta and B.C.,” Axess Law co-founder Mark Morris, 38, said in an interview.

The concept is not unlike accounting firms and travel agencies that have set up shop in various large retailers. But it is a still revolutionary step in this country’s conservative legal circles…
Read more: www.bnn.ca/News/2014/11/20/Law-Mart-Pick-up-a-will-with-your-TV-at-Wal-Mart-.aspx

UK: How to get a guaranteed pension that lives on after you’ve died

From the Daily Telegraph: Written by Katie Morley: One of the downsides of buying guaranteed pension income from an insurer is that the pension dies when you do. But a little-known clause that allows you to pass it to loved ones could be about to hit the mainstream

A little-known pension option, which allows people to pass a guaranteed pension onto loved ones as an inheritance is expected to boom in popularity next year.

In April 2015, the Government will ban the “pension death tax” which currently means people have to pay 55pc tax on pension money they pass on as inheritance. The ban is primarily for drawdown pensions, where people will be able to take control their own investments and take as much or as little income as they like. However, the ban will also apply to a rare form of annuity that comes with an inheritance option called “value protection”.

Annuities provide a guaranteed income for the rest of someone’s life in retirement, but when they die, the pension dies with them, and the insurer pockets whatever’s left. But when people with these so-called “value protected” annuities die, the insurer pays out up to 100pc of the sum for which they bought the policy, minus the combined value of the annual income they’ve been paid.
Read more: www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/11241516/How-to-get-a-guaranteed-pension-that-lives-on-after-youve-died.html

UK: Finally, you can hold buy-to-let in your pension. Here’s how

[24 November 2014, Telegraph] Posted 22 November: By Richard Evans and Nicole Blackmore: Buy-to-let landlords may be about to have their biggest dream come true: being able to hold their properties in a personal pension.
This would make any future capital gains tax-free. Holding residential property in a pension has previously been impossible.

The change, which comes about as a result of a new fund that invests in rental properties, could even see investors receive a windfall from the taxman if the value of their buy-to-let portfolios is boosted by tax relief when it is put into the pension.

This manoeuvre, which would see investors swap their existing, directly owned properties for shares in the property fund, could suit small buy-to-let investors with a handful of properties. A different tax perk could benefit larger landlords who own their properties via a limited company, who may be able to defer some of their capital gains tax liability.

Either process would be complicated and would involve costs as well as benefits. Here we look at how they would work, first for small landlords and then for larger ones who already own, in effect, their own property company.
Read more: www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/buy-to-let/11245456/Finally-you-can-hold-buy-to-let-in-your-pension.-Heres-how.html

A risk that’s not worth taking

A risk that’s not worth taking

You already know this: accountants and lawyers, who fail to advise properly, leave themselves open to a claim for professional negligence. In the “old days”, negligence claims against accountants or lawyers were rare. Not any more – nowadays, clients and banks or others who claim to have suffered a financial loss, have become much more willing to find someone to blame for their loss.

This article looks at something you may not have thought about before…Risk

Social enterprises and not-for-profit organisations are diverse. You’ve probably got several of these organisations on your client list. And if you think about it for a moment, you would put them well down the pecking order of risks to your firm. You don’t conduct an audit, so where’s the risk?

But you could be wrong.

A couple of questions:

First, do you have an engagement letter in place?

Next, when the people running the organisation approached you, what did you advise them about their exposure to liability? Did you tell them it was an unlimited exposure?

Chances are you didn’t.

Most firms don’t. But that no excuse.

It’s a dangerous thing to do. If someone asks for your advice, you should explain everything or you could be blamed if things go wrong.

What could go wrong?

Hands in the airSomething that is generally not realised is that Management Committees of unincorporated organisations (e.g. associations) and also members, are completely at risk of personal liability compared to an incorporated organisations. If the Management Committee enters into any contractual or other arrangements on behalf of the organisation (either alone or collectively) they are “jointly and severally responsible” for the affairs of the organisation.

To protect trustees from liabilities, some charities have registered as a limited company or a company limited by guarantee.

Did your engagement letter explain why you advised the clients to form an unincorporated organisation?  Did it explain their possible exposure to unlimited financial claims that could bankrupt them?

If the answer to the last two questions is NO, then you could be in trouble.

In particular, did you explain that Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) are a new legal form for charities that stops a charity’s trustees being responsible for its debts?  CIOs became available to charities in England and Wales on 4 March 2013.

Some committees might argue that the risk of exposure is small. However, as we live in a litigious society, anything can happen: for example a claim for injury by a member of the public when the risk hasn’t been insured under a liability policy. Another example could be a celebratory function organised by the committee (such as a Ladies Night or Centenary Dinner) that is a financial disaster through overbooking or costs not taken into account in the budget. In the front line for claims are the Treasurer and Secretary of unincorporated organisations.

If they have acted honestly and reasonably, claims can usually be met out of funds that the organisation has but if the claims exceed available funds, then personal insolvency for the members can ensue.

It might be possible for the committee to obtain Directors & Officers Insurance for risks such as those mentioned above. Professional advice should be taken.

CIO publicationIf you were asked for advice and didn’t raise these issues with the client, you could have a problem.

It’s not worth taking the risk.

Oh, and by the way, Bizezia has just published a booklet about CIOs. I wrote it and it is available now as part of the Online Business Library.

Bizezia’s Contract Engine system has a specific engagement letter schedule that deals with this matter: (62- Engagement for Accountancy Services to an Unregistered or Unincorporated Club or Society (Non-Audit Assignment))

Please contact me at mpollins@bizezia.com if you are interested in these products.

Marketing Round up for Professionals November wk 3

Marketing Round up for Professionals November wk 3

Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. It provides access to tools you can use right now to promote your firm plus software that will help those endeavours. The really good thing is that most of them are FREE – yes, that’s right, they won’t cost you or your firm a penny (or a dime, if you are reading this in Canada or the USA).

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Say ‘hi’ to your new colleague: the needy robot

Emma Jacobs blogged on FT.com: The next Machine Age will not just augur job losses and the transformation of some professions. The future could be a lot worse. It may also let loose an army of needy robots.

The MIT Technology Review described a new generation of Cobots – collaborative robots – made by a team under Manuela Veloso, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. These are autonomous intelligent mobile robots capable of performing service tasks and interacting with humans.

The robot is as polite as Star Wars’ C-3PO but there the similarities end. It has no arms and no legs. In fact, the article describes it as “a laptop and a cluster of sensors sitting atop a wheeled bar-stool”.
Read more here.

Big Data: the mega-trend that will impact all our lives

Found in Soft Expert: There are some things big enough to cause implications for everyone’s life, whether we want it or not. And Big Data is one of those mega trends that will impact everyone in one way or another.

Basically, Big Data refers to our ability to collect and analyze the vast amounts of data we are generating in the world. So what is new? Haven’t companies and organizations captured and analyzed data for a long time? The answer is yes, but there are two factors that are changing at the moment and are making the phenomenon of ‘Big Data’ real: the rate at which we are generating new data is frightening; and our ability to analyze large and complex forms of data has been transformed in recent years.

With this article, “The Big Data Guru” Bernard Marr wants to explain what is behind this mega buzzword and outlines why it will impact everyone.

Bernard Marr is a best-selling business author, keynote speaker and consultant in strategy management, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data
Download from: www.softexpert.com/whitepaper.php?wp=706&pg=83#706

Top Five Questions Marketers Should Always Be Asking Themselves

On Marketing Profs, Preeti Upadhyaya posted: Marketers are juggling more projects and deadlines than ever. There’s never been more pressure to create and maintain a brand that “sticks” with increasingly distracted audiences.

With so many different channels and metrics to consider, it can be easy to forget about the basics of marketing.

For marketers to keep their eye on the prize—their audience—marketers should always be asking themselves the five questions covered in the article. Briefly, they are
1. What are our target audiences’ personas?
2. What is our audience doing all day?
3. What is keeping them up at night?
4. What will make your message stand out from the noise?
5. What action do you want your audience to take?
[Preeti Upadhyaya is the content specialist at WebDAM, a leading cloud-based digital asset management platform]

Nine TED talks every entrepreneur should watch

Adam Anticaglia wrote in Smart Company to ask: Who needs to pay big bucks to attend expensive business seminars when there’s so much free inspiration on the internet? TED talks have become a global phenomenon and Smart Company has rounded up the nine best TED talks for entrepreneurs. Set aside some time to watch these and really turbo charge your business.

It’s a list that includes an Australian author, a former United States federal prisoner, a CEO of a multinational consumer goods company, a Harvard business school professor, a millionaire entrepreneur and more.

These nine TED talks are sure to inspire, stimulate and generate thought about how to successfully run a business. They’re a must watch for SMEs and entrepreneurs.

By the way, in case you didn’t know: TED is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan: “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

Top 10 Online Marketing Trends for 2015

From ActiveDEMAND: It’s that time again to budget for the coming marketing year. Have you made all the right choices? Download the new eBook “Top 10 Online Marketing Trends for 2015” and compare your plan against what the rest of the industry is doing.

What you’ll find inside…

  • Direction of content marketing
  • How search and social media relate
  • Next steps for mobile marketing
  • Evolution of e-Mail marketing
  • The next position HR needs to fill
  • and lots more!

Free for a limited time only, download from here.

7 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Facebook Post

From Simply Measured, By Lucy Hitz: As your social media audience grows, a microscope is placed on the value you’re driving with your efforts. You can’t afford to be careless with the content you publish.

To get a better understanding of the specific aspects that make a Facebook post successful, the author culled the most pertinent data from the Simply Measured Facebook study and other industry research.

The article has seven traits of successful Facebook posts from The Interbrand top 100 global brands, and other industry leading Facebook pages.
Discover more, here.

Download “The Essentials of IT Security – Free Kit”

The Essentials of IT Security brings together the latest in information, coverage of important developments, and expert commentary to help with your IT Security related decisions.

The following kit contents will help you get the most out of your IT Security research:

  • Citrix NetScaler: A Powerful Defense against Denial of Service Attacks
  • The Future of Backup as a Data Protection Strategy
  • 10 Network Security Tools and Tests Everyone Should Use
  • Website Security Threat Report 2014

Offered Free by: TradePub
Click here to downloadwww.howtogeek.com/elk/670/211639/12359

5 Steps for Social Enterprise Success

Think about how much information you have access to at any given moment, thanks to email, websites, instant messages, blogs, and social networks. Now imagine using these types of social technologies to drive meaningful change within your enterprise.

Download this comprehensive ebook to learn the value of social networking tools in business, whether you are looking to implement social tools or an enterprise business solution.

You’ll discover:

  • How to justify the investment
  • Tips for evaluating vendors
  • How to deploy the social network
  • Ways to drive internal adoption
  • How to maintain growth and engagement

Download today, from here.

Health & Safety Policy – have you got one?

From Bizezia.com: Every employer must have a comprehensive Health & Safety Policy by law where you employ five or more people.

Your Health and Safety Policy must:

  • Be signed by the Principal or Managing Director of the company
  • Be updated annually

In addition, amongst other requirements, you must:

  • Have formal risk assessments for all routine tasks and operations with effective safe systems of work;
  • Ensure that all employees and sub-contractors have been trained in safety procedures which apply to their jobs and the equipment they operate (including due consideration to ensure that such training has been understood by individuals 
whose first language is not English).

With the Bizezia Work Manual, you can create your own office policies and procedures manual on a fully-editable online system. Additionally, you can use Work Manual to create office policies and procedures manuals as an additional fee-generating service to your clients.

Work Manual now comes with templates for Contracts of Employment, Written Employment Particulars and a comprehensive editable Job Description Library (with over 500 templated job description) as well as optional additional work policies.
Read more here

100 Ways to Motivate Yourself

From best-selling author, Steve Chandler: 100 proven methods to positively change the way you think and act—methods based on feedback from the hundreds of thousands of corporate and public seminar attendees Chandler speaks to each year.  Create an action plan for living your vision, in business and in life.

This eBook is usually $15.99 but is FREE for a limited time!

The third refreshed edition of 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself features 100 proven methods to positively change the way you think and act—methods based on feedback from the hundreds of thousands of corporate and public seminar attendees Chandler speaks to each year. The book now also includes techniques and breakthroughs he has created for individual coaching clients.

100 Ways to Motivate Yourself will help you break through the negative barriers and banish the pessimistic thoughts that are preventing you from fulfilling your lifelong goals and dreams. This edition also contains new mental and spiritual techniques that give readers more immediate access to action and results in their lives. If you’re ready to finally make a change and reach your goals, Steve Chandler challenges you to turn your defeatist attitude into energetic, optimistic, enthusiastic accomplishments.

Steve Chandler is one of America’s best-selling authors whose dozens of books—including the best-sellers 100 Ways to Motivate Others, 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself, The Hands-Off Manager, and Reinventing Yourself—have been translated into more than 25 languages, with best-sellers in China and Japan.

Offered Free by: Career Press. Other Resources from: Career Press
Download from here

7 Key Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

From socialmediopolis.com, written by Sofie De Beule: Used the wrong way, social media can have a negative impact on your business. One little error can set your brand’s reputation back for a long time. Making mistakes is human. But how can you stay alert and make sure your brand avoids the most common slip-ups?

This article looks at 7 key social media mistakes to avoid.

  • Not Having an Engagement Strategy
  • Inconsistency
  • Using Too Many Channels
  • Being Nonresponsive
  • Sending Out the Wrong Links
  • Not Using Social Media Management Tools or Multiple Tools at Once.
  • Forgetting About the Purpose of Each Network.

To wrap it all up, it’s important to question whether you’re hitting the right marks. Your social media efforts should be continuously updated. Remain attentive to certain pitfalls and be cautious to avoid them.
[This article originally appeared on the Engagor blog]

EU VAT: Excerpt from training manual – Management and advice

Accountancy Age Insights provide a free resource is taken from the Tolley Exam Training EU VAT Advanced Diploma in International Taxation (ADIT) training manual.

It covers ‘Management and advice’ and the difficult distinction in the area of financial exemptions between a ‘transaction’ (carrying our instructions) and ‘advice’ (suggesting what instructions to give) where ‘transaction’ is exempt, but the provision of advice is taxable. Relevant cases in this area are also provided.
Get it from here.

Free Business Resources: Business Growth Resource Centre

From down under:  Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD): In such volatile economic times, mid-size business owners are searching for essential strategies for encouraging sustainability and growth. AICD’s ‘Directing Growth Program’ offers up a framework for long-term success.

As a business owner and director of a mid-sized organisation, there is no doubt you will face a particular set of challenges as you look to move your business forward. With tighter resources than ever before in a competitive environment you need to find smarter ways to initiate growth and refresh your business agenda. The new ‘Directing Growth Program’ from the Australian Institute of Company Directors examines strategies for building a strong governance structure for improved business performance. Find out more about the program here.
Download your FREE business resource from here:

UK: FRS – Is it really a big deal?

[17 November 2014, Accountancy AGE Insight] With less than 30 working days to go to new FRS and UK GAAP compliance, Steve Cox – IRIS Product Director, takes a candid look at the implications of change. How many hours will compliance take for a typical set of accounts? What are the benefits of early compliance?

Download this article from Accountancy AGE Insight to find out more.
Topics covered:

  • Planning ahead to manage increased workload.
  • Ensuring compliance.
Charitable Incorporated Organisations: What you may have missed

Charitable Incorporated Organisations: What you may have missed

It seems, from conversations I’ve had recently, that many professionals – accountants and lawyers included – are not up to speed with the changes last year that affect unincorporated organisations.

Here’s a brief introduction which I hope you’ll find useful. As ever, there’s a caveat: This guide is for general interest – it is always essential to take advice on specific issues.Asda tokens


Social enterprises and not-for-profit organisation are diverse. They include local community enterprises, social firms, mutual organisations such as co-operatives, and large-scale organisations operating nationally or internationally. There is no single legal model for a social enterprise. Options include companies limited by guarantee, industrial and provident societies and companies limited by shares: some organisations are unincorporated and others are registered charities.

Most charities currently exist as either trusts or unincorporated associations, but these structures give their volunteer trustees a legal responsibility for any debts the charity creates. To protect trustees from this responsibility, charities previously had to register as a company – a process that can be too expensive or complicated for some small and medium-sized charities.

The new form of incorporated organisation

Charity boxesCharitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) are a new legal form for charities that stops a charity’s trustees being responsible for its debts. The final legislation was passed at the end of 2012.

CIOs are registered through and regulated by the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

The regulations that complete the legal framework for CIOs enable organisations to:

  • apply to register a completely new organisation as a CIO;
  • set up a CIO to replace an existing unincorporated association or trust.

The legal framework for the CIO is set out in the Charities Act 2011 and in two sets of regulations and an Order. These are:

  • the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (General) Regulations 2012 (General Regulations);
  • the Charitable Incorporated Organisations (Insolvency and Dissolution) Regulations 2012 (Dissolution Regulations);
  • The Charity Tribunal (Amendment) Order 2012.

Benefits of a CIO

The main benefits of a CIO are that it:

  • has its own legal personality;
  • can conduct business in its own name;
  • provides the protection of limited liability so that its members and trustees will not have to contribute in the event of financial loss.

The above benefits are already available to limited companies. However, while charities can be formed as companies, they must then be registered with both Companies House and the Charity Commission. In contrast, the CIO provides limited liability protection but only needs to register with the Charity Commission. This is expected to reduce bureaucracy for the charity.

The CIO status became available to charities in England and Wales on 4 March 2013. In Scotland, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator began registering Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs) in April 2011.

Liability of Members in an Unincorporated Organisation

Carey streetSomething that is generally not realised is that Management Committees of unincorporated organisations (e.g. associations) are completely at risk of personal liability compared to an incorporated organisations.

Unincorporated organisations do not have an independent legal identity/personality.  If the Management Committee enters into any contractual or other arrangements on behalf of the organisation (either alone or collectively) they are “jointly and severally responsible” for the affairs of the organisation.

It is thus possible for members of a committee (or the organisation’s membership as a whole) to be personally liable, without limit or indemnity, to settle any debts or other liabilities that may occur (e.g. fees for professional services, rent under a lease, or damages for breach of contract).

Some committees might argue that the risk of exposure is small. However, as we live in a litigious society, anything can happen: for example a claim for injury by a member or the public for injury when the risk hasn’t been insured under a liability policy. Another example could be a celebratory function organised by the committer (such as a Ladies Night or Centenary Dinner) that is a financial disaster through overbooking or costs not taken into account in the budget. In the front line for claims are the Treasurer and Secretary of unincorporated organisations.

If they have acted honestly and reasonably, claims can usually be met out of funds that the organisation has but if the claims exceed available funds, then personal insolvency for the members can ensue.

It might be possible for the committee to obtain Directors & Officers Insurance for risks such as those mentioned above. Professional advice should be taken.

Other Matters

CIOs are designed to be a more efficient way to run a charitable venture than standard charitable companies because their regulation is not as complicated or onerous as that for companies (for example, a CIO will only have to submit one annual return and one set of accounts per year.

A CIO is different to a community interest company (CIC). A CIC is a new type of company introduced in 2005 under the Companies (Audit, Investigations and Community Enterprise) Act 2004, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good. CICs are intended to be easy to set up, with all the flexibility and certainty of the company form, but with some special features to ensure they are working for the benefit of the community.

This publication is concerned only with CIOs. For information on Community Interest Companies please refer to the publication Community Interest Companies.

Further information including details of the relevant legislation, forms to download and sample articles of association can be found in the Community Interest Companies website, here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Charity Commissioner has published a list of frequently asked questions about the CIO structure and its benefits. You can access them, here.

Marketing Round up for Professionals November wk 1

Marketing Round up for Professionals November wk 1

The Boot Camp team returns:  Paul Dunn to join Ric Payne again!

After 15 years Paul Dunn [pictured] and Ric Payne are again collaborating to continue the work they started more than 25 years ago. The Australian pair are widely recognised as having a trans-formative impact on the public practice arm of the profession around the world through their famous Accountant’s Bootcamp and are set to do it again.

Paul Dunn said “Ric’s been saying for years that the basic model of an accounting firm is broken and he is absolutely correct. Principa’s Practice Innovation Workshop is not tweaking it at the edges. He’s coming right out and giving people an innovative model — one that is relevant right now and will set the stage for a firm’s future. I have a personal commitment to finish the job we started. And that’s why I’m delighted to play a part in this breakthrough and very different programme. It is very, very exciting.”

Payne said “It’s so exciting to be working with Paul again. He has a gift for communicating complex ideas in a manner that not only makes sense but inspires action. That was the key to the success we had with the Bootcamp. The hyper-competitive environment that accounting firms will be facing in the future will be nothing like the past and the strategies that worked then are failing to deliver results.”

“This is industry evolution in action. It’s time to re-think the accounting services model and that calls for a new way of looking at how a firm creates, delivers and captures value which is what the Practice Innovation Workshop is about” he said.

“The four major issues facing firms now and in the foreseeable future are attracting, developing and retaining talent, learning how to innovatively use emerging technology and communication protocols to create value for clients and the firm, helping clients navigate an uncertain economic environment, and dealing with succession issues.” Payne said.

The Practice Innovation Workshop has already been attended by over 200 firms and has received rave reviews by participants. The next programme in the UK will be held in Birmingham, November 17-18.
For more information and to register click here

Come on, why aren’t you getting it yet?
Before you get delve into the gems in this article, see if you can find the time to view the latest product from the One Smart Team at Bizezia: Your Daily News. Think about how you can use it as part of your firm’s objective to keep in touch with clients and prospects. It’s a great marketing tool and all for less than the cost of a Big Mac each morning! Go here to discover more…

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

7 Steps For Wi-Fi Security

From Industry Bulletins: Whether your employees are taking some personal vacation time or work-related business keeps them on the road, now is a perfect time to think about your company’s Wi-Fi knowledge. 54 percent of people are connecting mobile devices to free Wi-Fi hotspots, and 35 percent are doing so on a regular basis, but people aren’t taking the proper measures to protect their personal and/or company data along the way.

This article shares some Wi-Fi tips for best ways travellers can stay productive and safe while traveling or in transit. Download from here

UK: Large businesses under HMRC enquiry

From ICAEW Economia: Julia Irvine reported that HMRC is looking into the tax affairs of two thirds of 800 largest companies in the UK. According to Jennie Grainger, director general of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, 528 as yet unnamed companies, including a number of multinationals, are “under enquiry” after HMRC identified instances of possible tax avoidance and non-payment of taxes.

She told the audience at HMRC’s stakeholder conference last Thursday that although the number of large businesses being investigated was high, it did not mean that most of them were “on the make”.

“But it does highlight both the complexity of the international tax system in which they operate and our need to be very actively scrutinising how they negotiate their way through the system.” she said.

Editorial comment by Bizezia: HMRC’s strategy appears to be counter-intuitive to the idea of attracting large foreign businesses to operate in the UK: The last thing they’ll want is to spend time and money on HMRC enquiries.

Boost Your Customer-Centric Approach

Provided by Influitive: There was a time when campaigns were king and sellers were in control. Not anymore. Welcome to the age of the customer, which means big things for customer marketers.

Marketing success was once dependent on short-lived advertising campaigns and email blasts. Now it demands more engaging approaches that build strong, ongoing relationships and put the customer at the center of it all. That also means that the role of customer marketers has changed, and it’s now more important than ever. Chock full of insights, recommendations, and resources, The Rise of the Customer Marketer can help you better understand this fundamental strategy shift and how you can succeed as a marketer in this new age.

Download this FREE guide to learn:

  • The role of customer marketers, then and now
  • The challenges of customer marketers today
  • Key metrics for measuring the success of your advocacy and engagement programs

Why understanding Google Shopping should be your number one priority

In Business Matters, Luke Smith, Founder and CEO of Croud wrote: Modern retail marketing can be a minefield. Like countless others, when you think you’ve got to grips with the latest trend, software or technique, something new comes along.

Luke Smith “bets” you often read about changes to Google’s search algorithm to see how this will affect your campaign and maybe you spend hours researching RTB platforms to see which is the most effective. If you are a digital retail marketer I’m going to simplify things for you. Understanding Google Shopping should be your number one priority right now.

So what is Google Shopping? Simply put, it is the latest evolution of Google’s Product Search, or even more simply ecommerce ads that contain images alongside product descriptions, formerly known as ‘Product Listing Ads’. It allows people to find products and compare prices between different online merchants. The algorithm that supports this paid for model also factors in feed quality and structure, allowing merchants to influence the listings using SEO techniques, which makes it all the more interesting.

All of a sudden, Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is resembling a marketplace, not dissimilar to Amazon.

If a company understands how to get the most out of Google Shopping, it can provide one of the most impressive ROIs across all product advertising. In 2013, almost 6bn searches were made on Google every day and online sales hit the £100bn mark in the UK. With the SEO and PPC support on Google Shopping, merchants have great opportunity to position their products prominently and drive traffic to their site.
Read more here

Why 802.11ac “beamforming” might be the answer to your office wireless woes

From Smart Company: David Hancock, the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company writes: If you’re struggling with Wi-Fi black spots around the office, “beamforming” lets you target your signal where you need it most.

Wireless networking is one of the wonders of the modern age, letting you cut the cable as you roam around the office. While it’s heaven when it’s working at its best, Wi-Fi can quickly turn to a living hell if you’re plagued by reception issues.

There are a few basic things you can do to improve your office Wi-Fi coverage.
Read this article to find out more here

10 New Rules of Marketing Professional Services

In Hinge Marketing, Lee Frederiksen: In David Meerman Scott’s classic New Rules of Marketing and PR, he discusses the changes that have redefined the world of marketing.

Hinge Marketing decided to use the New Rules as a springboard to discuss the changing rules of marketing professional services.
Read more here

Six quick wins to convert web visitors to clients

In accountingWEB, posted by Robert Lovell who says: In this article, Alex Tucker, who leads the PracticeWEB marketing team, reveals six areas of focus that accountancy firms can increase the volume of leads and sales generated from their websites.

Speaking with Chris Hughes in a live webinar, Tucker outlined the following simple and practical ways to convert web visitors to clients [read the full article for the “how to” actions required]:
1. Optimise your ‘about us’ page
2. Mobile friendly
3. Trust symbols
4. Social proof
5. Think about forms
6. Call to action
Read more here

Shift work dulls your brain – report

James Gallagher Health editor, reported on BBC News website: Working antisocial hours can prematurely age the brain and dull intellectual ability, scientists warn. Their study, in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggested a decade of shifts aged the brain by more than six years. There was some recovery after people stopped working antisocial shifts, but it took five years to return to normal.

Experts say the findings could be important in dementia, as many patients have disrupted sleep. The body’s internal clock is designed for us to be active in the day and asleep at night. The damaging effects on the body of working against the body clock, from breast cancer to obesity, are well known.

Now a team at the University of Swansea and the University of Toulouse has shown an impact on the mind as well.

Three thousand people in France performed tests of memory, speed of thought and wider cognitive ability.

The brain naturally declines as we age, but the researchers said working antisocial shifts accelerated the process.
Read more here

Microsoft: Retail sales of Windows 7 and 8 ended

Microsoft has officially stopped selling retail copies of some versions of Windows 7 and 8.The date to stop selling the software was set some time ago and should help Microsoft move people onto more recent versions of its operating system. Separately, statistics suggest people are finally moving away from some very old versions of Windows.

The next version of Windows, called Windows 10, is due to be released in late 2015.

Old code
From 31 October, consumers could no longer buy copies of the Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate versions of Windows 7. Now, Windows 8 is also no longer available. The change affects both copies bought in shops or loaded on PCs and laptops.

The current version of Windows, 8.1, will be the default version offered on PCs.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29880144

UK: VAT Changes – Planning for HMRC’s restriction in VAT recovery

Chantrey Vellacott report that following the case of the British Airport Authority (BAA) HMRC have updated their guidance in relation to the VAT recovery position of holding companies. This highlights HMRC’s increasingly strict and narrow view on when VAT may be recovered.

In determining whether VAT may be recovered HMRC will consider whether a holding company is a taxable person engaged in economic activity and whether there is a direct and immediate link with taxable supplies. The basic functions of a holding company, such as acquiring shares, disposing of shares, receiving dividends and defending its subsidiaries from takeovers do not, of themselves, give rise to the right to recover. A holding company must make actual taxable supplies, such as management services, if VAT is to be recovered. Alternatively VAT may be recoverable where a holding company is a member of a VAT group and it can be shown that the costs it has incurred are a cost component of taxable supplies made outside the group by its subsidiaries.
Read the full article to find out what do you need to do here

Taking the British Public for Fools

Taking the British Public for Fools

kettleIs it smoke and mirrors or something more sinister?

On hearing the Chancellor’s report on negotiations with the powers that be in Europe on the budget top-up payment we are to make, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls claimed the Chancellor was “trying to take the British people for fools” with the deal and has in fact not saved the taxpayer “a single penny”.

In a blistering attack on the Government, Ed Balls said: “By counting the rebate Britain was due anyway they are desperately trying to claim that the backdated bill for £1.7 billion has somehow been halved. But nobody will fall for this smoke and mirrors. The rebate was never in doubt and in fact was confirmed by the EU Budget Commissioner last month. The fact is the Treasury knew about this issue for weeks and weeks, but the Chancellor was asleep on the job. And David Cameron and George Osborne have totally failed to make the alliances we need in Europe to get a better deal for the British taxpayer.”

George Osborne, clearly elated at what he thought he had done, said (as we heard on the news on Friday): “Instead of footing the bill, we have halved the bill, we have delayed the bill, we will pay no interest on the bill. And if there are mistakes in the bill, we will get our money back.”

We shall see. To me, it sounds like smoke and mirrors.

But funny things have happened in Brussels before

It reminds me that one of the most celebrated battles in history, Waterloo, actually carries the name of a small village in Belgium near Brussels, which was nowhere near the battlefield, simply because Wellington had been sleeping in an inn there. The Battle of Waterloo, on 18 June 1805 marked the final defeat of French military leader and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. But all was not as it seemed as you can read here. Unfortunately, Bonaparte didn’t have spin-doctors available to report it as a French victory. Interestingly, Bonaparte is credited with saying: “Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools.”

I haven’t read it yet but there’s a new book out this month: The Lie at the Heart of Waterloo: The Battle’s Hidden Last Half Hour, by Nigel Sale. Amazon have it here.

Are we fools? Did we get the whole truth?

OsborneChancellor Osborne’s victory in Europe on Friday seems to be nowhere near the truth, or to be fair, the full truth. It was not as it seems. The Independent reported that George Osborne is accused of using an accounting trick to claim he had slashed the surprise £1.7bn bill from the European Commission. The fact is, he hasn’t slashed anything. All he has done is to offset the refund, which we would have got back in 2015, against the £1.7 billion demand. But he has also gained some time by paying the debt is two instalments next year and avoiding interest – which was probably never going to be imposed anyway.

Interestingly, we weren’t told that the deferral, so that what’s due can be paid in two instalments, has now been extended for all countries and will be settled in instalments in July and September. Remember that the EU had set a deadline of 1 December 2014 for the UK to pay up.

So the idea planted in the minds of the British electorate by the politicians, that our Chancellor had negotiated a “time to pay” arrangement, wasn’t really true either it seems.

Oh Dear, what are we to believe these days.

It’s not the first time

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says: “The Chancellor used the wrong statistics, presented them badly and made a case that doesn’t survive scrutiny.”  But she wasn’t talking about the Chancellor’s visit to the EC to sort out the budget payments. Her statement was made in a press release from the TUC on Saturday asserting that HM Treasury (HMT) breached the official statistics code with misleading employment figures.

This is what the TUC says: “The HMT announcement from 23 October 2014 – used to promote a series of workplace visits by the Chancellor – claims that female employment has increased in every sector of the economy under the current government. It further claims that this was in contrast to the previous government, under which increases were concentrated in the services sector. No data were presented to support these assertions. In a press release given to journalists, the claims were reinforced by a data graphic giving the visual impression that over the last four years the contributions of agriculture and mining, manufacturing and construction to female employment growth have been greater than that of services. However, the graphic did not adjust for the size of each sector. Had it done so, it would have shown that almost four in every five jobs that account for female employment growth under the current government are in the services sector.”

£1.5 billion for National Grid investment – was this part of the negotiations by the Chancellor?

national gridLast Friday, the European Investment Bank agreed to provide £1.5 billion for investment by National Grid plc across its national electricity transmission network. The EIB press release said:

  • This new support for connecting new power generation, upgrade ageing assets and improve network resilience to climate and security risks represents the largest ever single loan made by Europe’s long-term lending institution.
  • The EIB backed programme will also include improvements to protect critical infrastructure from floods and providing substation capacity needed for new connections to offshore wind farms and new interconnectors to continental Europe.
  • Since 2009, the EIB has provided £5.7 billion for investment in energy infrastructure, including electricity distribution, offshore transmission links, energy efficiency, interconnectors to the continent and wind farms such as London Array and West of Duddon Sands.
  • Over the last five years, the European Investment Bank has provided nearly £22 billion for investment in UK infrastructure including transport, social housing, hospital, water, schools and universities.

It’s anyone’s guess on whether this £1.5 billion handout was part of Friday’s agreement. I just get the feeling that we are not being given all the facts.

I think there’s a good word that nearly explains this: disingenuousnot being candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does. The dictionary says that: To deceive is to knowingly induce someone to believe that something is true when it is not.

It will be interesting to learn what the Chancellor and HM Treasury say in response to the attacks on them.

Anyone would think a General Election is coming up.

David Cameron was right – Jean-Claude Juncker appears to be a bad choice

JucknerI’m going to finish in a positive mode (or rather positive for the UK and very negative for the EC).

David Cameron was right to argue that Jean-Claude Juncker [pictured, in an apparent warm embrace with the German Chancellor] should not be president of the European Commission.  The new president of the European Commission, was “always a bad choice for the job, foisted on the bloc’s 28 national governments by a European Parliament eager to expand its powers. It’s becoming clear now just how poor a decision that appointment was.” So say the editors in an article on Bloomberg View last week.

Shrouded in Secrecy

The Bloomberg View article relates that Juncker was the prime minister of Luxembourg, a tiny nation with a population 1/17th the size of London’s, for almost two decades. In that time, he oversaw the growth of a financial industry that became a tax centre for at least 340 major global companies, not to mention investment funds with almost 3 trillion euros ($3.7 trillion) in net assets – second only to the USA. Partly as a result of the Swiss-style bank secrecy rules and government-blessed tax avoidance schemes that helped draw so much capital, the people of Luxembourg have become the world’s richest after Qatar.

“Juncker, you could say, made his country rich by picking the pockets of other countries, including those of the European Union he is now mandated to serve. The commission was already conducting an investigation of Luxembourg’s tax arrangements. Juncker says he won’t interfere – but he won’t recuse himself, either. Indeed, his spokesman says he is “serene” in the face of the revelations. He shouldn’t be. At this point, he could best serve the European project by resigning”, the article adds.

Is this the right way?

RomansPerhaps the European leaders (except our Prime Minister) could have learned something from the past.  Augustus by Adrian Goldsworthy [available at Amazon, here], provides useful insight on running for public office in ancient Rome: Those in the know will be aware that Augustus was the founder of the Roman Empire and its first Emperor, ruling from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD. There were no political parties in Rome as such nor were elections primarily contests about policy. Voters selected on the basis of perceived character and past behaviour rather than the views a candidate expressed. It seems odd then that most of the European leaders ignored David Cameron and appointed Jean-Claude Juncker anyway.

I must be too cynical, perhaps because my training as an auditor required me to validate and examine everything.

How long Jean-Claude Juncker lasts in office is anyone’s guess – what’s yours? Comment below or email me at mpollins@bizezia.com

There’s been a lot going on… are you keeping up to date?

There’s been a lot going on… are you keeping up to date?

This article is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. It provides access to tools you can use right now to promote your firm plus software that will help those endeavours. The really good thing is that most of them are FREE – yes, that’s right, they won’t cost you or your firm a penny (or a dime, if you are reading this in Canada or the USA).

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Is this happening to your client base?

One-in-five small to medium businesses have shrunk over the last three months, Zurich’s quarterly SME Risk Index, released yesterday, shows. In spite of continued recovery this year, SME confidence in the economy has remained low this quarter.

Small business Britain shrugs off risk as confidence surges
This is what the Index shows:

  • Latest Zurich survey shows SME confidence has almost doubled compared to last quarter
  • There’s a 10% leap in SMEs reporting lower risk in the market economy
  • SMEs now re-investing in assets and operations up around 50% compared to three months ago
  • Workforce capacity and availability of talent are now rising concerns
  • Overall concerns have lowered substantially since the Zurich SME Risk Index began in 2012 and have fallen to 39.92 in October from 42.17 in July.

Read the full report here.

Social Media Manager, Are You Asking Your Co-Workers These Questions?

In Simply Measured, Lucy Hitz posed these questions: What am I missing?  How should I repurpose content? Why isn’t our campaign hitting right?

If these are questions you’ve asked yourself while thinking about your brand’s social strategy, look around your marketing and social media departments.

The answers are likely right there, in the people who your company has hired to execute on email marketing, sales and account management, and even community management.

As a Social Media Manager, it’s your job to make sure your marketing strategy doesn’t exist in silos, so take some people out for coffee, burgers, ice cream, or vodka, and make sure to ask the right questions.
Read more to get the questions, here.

Office 365 adds storage, MDM enhancements

In Tech Target, Jake O’Donnell, wrote that in an effort to entice more enterprise customers, Microsoft has beefed up Office 365 with mobile device management (MDM) and free unlimited storage.

Microsoft is upping the ante for IT shops in need of more storage availability and mobile management controls in Office 365 plans.

The company will beef up its Office 365 storage and management capabilities to entice IT customers to weigh Microsoft’s full slate of mobile product offerings. It will soon introduce mobile device management capabilities directly in Office 365, plus free, unlimited storage in OneDrive for all Office 365 customers.

While the changes could pique IT’s interest in Office 365, integration with existing systems will be key to whether or not Office 365 is a good fit for organizations.
Read more, here.

How to Command a Room Without Saying a Word

In Inc. Magazine, Will Yakowicz wrote that, as a leader, there are times when it’s crucial to assert your influence. His article provides tips to help you make everyone else stop what they’re doing the minute you arrive. You know the old-school-leader archetype – a powerful presence walks into a room, and everyone present stops in their tracks. While command-and-control leadership is a thing of the past, charisma is a timeless attribute.

You can harness your charisma to demonstrate your dominance over a room, to create a feeling of friendship and loyalty, and to communicate good or bad news. Your emotion at the time affects your posture and reveals your intentions subconsciously, so others will see and feel whatever signal you are giving off. Remember, back when you worked for someone else, how you could tell what kind of news the boss had before he opened his mouth at a meeting?

Interestingly, you can learn how to control these subconscious triggers for your own benefit as a leader. Nick Morgan founder and president of communications consulting firm Public Words, writes in Harvard Business Review about how leaders can master the art of entering a room to wield influence and take advantage of their own charisma.

To exert your influence on others, Nick Morgan says you need to first find out what you’re putting out there. “Take inventory of how you habitually position yourself in front of the world and repair if necessary,” he writes.
Check out Nick Morgan’s tips here.

First impressions: Oppo N3, the phone with a motorized swivel camera

From an article in Times of India: Oppo was the first phone maker to launch a Smartphone with a rotating camera module, eliminating the need for two different lenses for front and back. Now, the China-based premium device maker wants to take the experience to the next level with its new N3 Smartphone that features a motorized camera swivel. This means you don’t need to manually rotate the camera mount when you wish to take a selfie. The Smartphone also features high-end hardware specifications and a premium design.

Oppo N3 looks like a refined version of the N1 with a relatively compact form factor and a more curved jaw line that we’ve seen on the Oppo Find 7. It even shares the Find 7’s Skyline notification light. It fits well in the hand and one of the reasons for that is the 5.5-inch display (the Oppo N1 sported a 5.9-inch display.

Scientists develop mind-reading “brain decoder”

Sarah Spickernell wrote in CITY A.M. that mind reading has become possible for the first time ever, thanks to a brain decoder developed by a team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

In an interview with the New Scientist, the team explained that the decoder works by translating the signals fired off in your brain while you think into actual words, since the brain responds to its inner voice in the same way as it responds to other people’s voices.

“If you’re reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head,” lead researcher Brian Pasley explained.

“We’re trying to decode the brain activity related to that voice to create a medical prosthesis that can allow someone who is paralysed or locked in to speak
Read how it works here.

How to be charming: it’s in the voice

Sarah Spickernell also wrote in CITY A.M. to ask: why is it that some people are more charming than others? In a completely platonic way, it is possible to feel attracted to someone based entirely on the way they move and speak.

It’s all down to how low your voice is, and how easily you can adapt it to suit the person you are speaking to, according to a group of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles.

They changed the vocal frequencies of male politicians from Italy, France, Portugal and Brazil, and analysed how these were perceived by over 250 participants. French president François Hollande and Luigi Magistris, the mayor of Naples, were among the politicians whose voices were altered.

It turned out those with lower voices were generally found to be more appealing because they seemed more dominant, while those with higher voices were viewed as weaker, more submissive leaders.

Crowded markets for the SME: entering where others wouldn’t dare tread

From Business Matters: Entrepreneurs are used to hearing phrases, ‘X have developed something similar’ or, ‘There’s already an app for that’. They are also used to being told that the market is too crowded and they are too late to enter it. For some this is exactly where the opportunity lies.

However, a crowded market, if anything, shows that demand – and a market – exists. Facebook was not the first social media site, and Google was not the first search engine. The key isn’t finding an empty field – but narrowing your product or the service you provide to a well-defined and niche customer, and meeting their needs better than anyone else.

This idea doesn’t make the situation any less daunting, however. A crowded market inherently involves a competitive climate – the article provides some ways to make sure you have the edge.
Read more here.

Why you should find your ‘Why’

[30 October 2014, AccountingWEB] Posted by Rachael Power on 29 October: There’s a lot of talk about finding your ‘Why’ recently, based on a famous book and Ted Talk by author, business coach and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. But what is it and why should accountants listen?

At the 2020 Group annual conference in Birmingham recently, Bootcamp pioneer Paul Dunn [pictured] gave an impassioned speech on practices finding their ‘Why’. Based on this same theory from Sinek, Dunn’s speech implored practitioners to find their ‘Why’, in other words the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.

On finding this, Sinek argues, can you then reach your full potential as a firm and reach the clients you want to reach – those who share your passion and your enthusiasm.

“I imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves,” according to Sinek.

To first buy into this philosophy, accountants [and lawyers] need to recognise that they don’t need to accept whatever clients and work rolls in the door. Instead, realising you have the ability to pick up and work with your ideal clients, the ones who resonate with your firm’s why will lead you down the path of picking them up.
Read the full article at: www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/why-you-should-find-your-why/567118

Check out Simon Sinek to spur you to bigger and better things

From my blog on 5 August in which I wrote about Simon Sinek: He’s an optimist and is described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect”. In a series of YouTube videos, he invites you to imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves. He’s a trained ethnographer, and the author of two books: the global best seller, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and his newest book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.

Born in Wimbledon, Simon Sinek speaks a lot to professionals at audiences in the USA and the UK (and elsewhere, no doubt). Go to YouTube and search for Simon Sinek. Here are a few videos that you’ll want to watch and learn by:

FREE iPad CTO Tips and Tricks Guide for IT Executives and Managers

Tradepub.com reports that the iPad CTO Kit 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:

  • iPad Tips and Tricks – A Guide for Executives and Managers
  • How Mobile Management Services Fill a Critical Security Need
  • The ABCs of Mobile Device Management
  • Taking Windows Mobile on any Device

Download the FREE guide from here.

Rahman Ravelli E-Book 26th Edition: Now available for download

Rahman Ravelli has been ranked as one of the elite fraud firms of solicitors in the world’s most prestigious legal guide. They have just published their E-Book 26th Edition which is now available for download. The E-book includes the following articles:

  • THE RISK OF FAILURE: Official talk of a new offence of failing to prevent business crime may emphasise the need for compliance.
  • EVERY LITTLE HELPS: Is Tesco’s £250M financial black hole a case of salesmanship, aggressive accounting or straightforward fraud?
  • LIBOR AND LIABILITY: Why the Libor scandal touches on so many business crime issues.
  • SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM: Financial problems in outsourced public contracts are a multi-million pound reminder of the need for a proper anti-fraud approach.
  • EASTERN CUSTOMS: China teaming up with Europe to prevent fraud may be a taste of things to come.

Download from here.

Lean Six Sigma: Leadership in designing its implementation

From SoftExpert.com: The up-front design and development of the program before a Lean Six Sigma implementation goes a long way to ensuring that the correct success factors and measurables of the entire program are followed and delivered to all relevant stakeholders.

In this white paper, the author discusses and examines the implementation criteria of a Lean Six Sigma program to maximize the chances for success of the project – relevant to all organization types.
Download FREE whitepaper from here.

Legion Trade Finance launches special funding initiative for the UK fashion industry

From BM Magazine:  Specific funds of at least £20m have been allocated by Legion to boost the buying power of SMEs as they make plans for Spring Summer 2015. The UK fashion industry is now buying for Spring Summer 2015 with buyers touring the world securing the right products. Trade finance enables businesses of all sizes to pay for goods and Legion is playing a critical role in providing much needed capital.

In recent months, Legion has funded goods with an onward sale value of over £5m. It has supported a wide variety of businesses, from haute couture designers to high street suppliers through to discount stock wholesalers. This experience is now being extended to businesses of all sizes, with facilities available to help pay suppliers. Legion has allocated a £20m fund specific to the UK textiles and clothing sectors, although much more is available subject to demand.
Read more here.

Company Reporting – Emerging Issues: Joint Arrangements under IFRS

From AccountancyAGE Insight: This FREE report, taken from the Company Reporting “Emerging Issues” series from CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, looks at the way in which companies have altered their accounting policies for joint arrangements following the adoption of IFRS 11.

The report examines the way in which companies apply the concept of joint control, taking into account the guidance given by IFRS on whether arrangements fall within the scope of IFRS 11. It goes on to look at the way in which companies assess whether joint arrangements should be considered joint ventures or joint operations and how these are accounted for using, respectively, the equity accounting method of IAS 28 “Investments in associates and joint ventures” or by directly recognising the share of the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses of a joint operation.

The report also examines financial reports from nine companies.
Download the FREE report from here.

VAT Changes are coming

Last week, on the Europa website: Ideas on how to ensure a simpler, more effective and more fraud-proof VAT system tailored to the Single Market in the EU have been outlined in a paper published by the European Commission.

After much political and technical consultation, it has appeared that an origin based system is not achievable and the consensus is that any definitive regime must be based on the principle of destination i.e. VAT is due at the point of destination of the goods. However, there are many ways in which this can be designed and implemented for B2B supplies of goods. The document published on 30 October sets out what the Commission considers to be 5 feasible options. These are:

  • The supplier would be responsible for charging and paying the VAT , and supplies would be taxed according to where the goods are delivered
  • The supplier would be responsible for charging and paying the VAT, and supplies would be taxed according to where the customer is established
  • The customer – rather than the supplier – would be liable for the VAT, and taxation would take place where that customer is based (Reverse Charge)
  • The customer – rather than the supplier – would be liable for the VAT, and taxation would take place where the goods are delivered
  • The status quo would be maintained, with some modifications

The document also gives a brief explanation of the options. The Commission is now undertaking an in-depth assessment to determine the impact of each of the options for businesses and for Member States. On the basis of its findings, it will present the possible way forward in Spring 2015.
The document is available from: ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/vat/future_vat/index_en.htm

Concern at IRS use of Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws in the USA – same worries as HMRC’s new powers?

Mike Godfrey in Tax-News.com wrote about the actions the IRS are taking to collect money – not so different to HMRC’s approach in the UK to collect tax from delinquent taxpayers.  HMRC probably got their ideas from our US cousins.

Following a recent report in The New York Times, lawmakers have expressed concerns about the Internal Revenue Service’s use of civil asset forfeiture laws to seize the assets of small business owners.

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Act of 2000, which was aimed at preventing money laundering, drug trafficking, or other crimes, has been criticized for enabling government agencies to use greatly reduced standards of evidence to seize assets, and for the assets’ owners themselves to generally have to prove their innocence. In addition, civil forfeiture victims must either pay for a lawyer, which some cannot afford to do, or defend their property themselves. Overall, more than USD2bn was collected in 2013 from civil and criminal forfeitures.

In its article, The New York Times, using various examples, pointed out that: “the Government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The Government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent.”

One example showed how the IRS had not accused a small restaurant “of money laundering or cheating on her taxes – in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than USD10,000 at a time [so-called ‘structuring’], which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.”
Read more here.

Innovation in Legal Services: creating the turn-key ABS

In this article, RPC reflect on the UK legal market seven years after the “Tesco Law” big bang and highlight one very innovative project they advised on, involving the establishment of a major new member-owned ABS1 on an outsourced basis.

With the media reporting “rip-off Britain”, the Barbarians at the Gate, aka New Labour (as part of their wider modernisation agenda) decided it was time for change for cossetted professionals. The Legal Services Act 2007 blew open the padlocked doors of the profession, bringing to an end centuries of self-regulation and unnecessary red tape which limited the ownership and management of law firms to lawyers only. Why, this particular change was felt to be a priority was never clear but the Act, as a whole, was thought to be all in the best interests of consumers, providing them with better, cheaper access to “Tesco Law”.
Read the full article here.

Surviving self-assessment: 5 ways a client portal can help

From AccountancyAGE Insight: The hectic weeks leading up to the self-assessment deadline on 31 January are a stressful time for tax professionals.  Fortunately help is at hand! Technology exists to make the entire process quicker, easier and more efficient. Read this short FREE guide from CCH to find out how.

Learn how a client portal can help you to:

  • Collect data from your clients.
  • Get verifiable, online approval.
  • Share information with clients and team members.
  • Give all parties secure 24/7 access.
  • Protect client confidentiality at all times.

Download the FREE guide from here.

TESCO – don’t write off the giant yet

TESCO – don’t write off the giant yet

There’s been more bad news about TESCO: Over the weekend, there were several stories about TESCO selling its bank. At first glance, it seems like a bad move but admittedly TESCO has to do something to restore itself to its former glory. However, the bank’s 6 million customers might feel more confident with a new owner. Time will tell. 


The Telegraph reported: “Tesco has begun exploring the possible sale of a stake in its banking arm as it speeds up plans to raise billions of pounds in much-needed additional capital. The troubled supermarket giant, fighting the biggest crisis in its 95-year history, is in the early stages of examining a potential partial float of Tesco Bank, which could raise between £500m and £1bn.”

I’m not sure why TESCO needs to raise £2 billion or so: OK, they haven’t been doing so well recently but they’ve still been profitable. If they get their act together, they’ll soon have the money they need to expand. Selling their bank is rather extreme and as it’s closely linked to their credit card operations and Clubcard loyalty scheme, it doesn’t seem the smartest thing to do.

planeTESCO is also looking to sell its five-strong fleet of aircraft – most people will agree with that decision.

Then there is the mooted sale of Dunnhumby, the data mining engine behind its Clubcard loyalty scheme – I’m not sure if that’s the right decision at all. It might raise £2billion, or even as much as £3 billion according to analysts, but it’s long been regarded as one of the jewels in the TESCO crown. The accumulated knowledge that business has about TESCO customers, their behaviours and buying habits – surely TESCO won’t want someone else owning and using that information if the business were sold?

The overstatement of profits and the general malaise about TESCO’s response to the supermarket war raging in the UK, have conspired to topple the company from its previous lofty position as a respectable and growth-oriented organisation. Until their current problems, TESCO had been a darling of the UK stock market. When Warren Buffett sold a large chunk of the company’s shares recently, he was open enough to say that he made “a mistake” on TESCO, a group in which Berkshire Hathaway still owns just under a 3% stake.

tesco truckTESCO, founded a year after the end of World War 1 by Jack Cohen originally as a group of market stalls, changed its name in 1924, after Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname.

I have blogged about it before arguing that companies like TESCO have three strategic options:

  • To be a cost-cutter – in that camp are Aldi, Lidl and possibly ASDA.
  • To be a differentiator – companies such as John Lewis, Apple and Virgin and come to mind.
  • To do nothing new and therefore to wither and die or to be bought by an alert white knight predator.

I place TESCO in the third category. They haven’t withered or died yet but they seemed set to go in that direction unless they did something dramatic. Maybe the £263m black hole in profits we’ve learned about over recent weeks is a blessing in disguise since serious action was needed.

Of course, we all know that TESCO is a retailer and a pretty big one too – one of the largest retailers in the world. In the 1990s, Tesco “repositioned” itself, from a “pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap” retailer, to one that embraced a wide social group and grew some five-fold in the process, by number of outlets. It may not have totally shed its “pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap” status and, as its inventor, it certainly isn’t used to losing out to newcomers such as Lidl and Aldi. The real trouble is that it may have lost its identity being neither one thing nor the other and it probably needs to reinvent itself all over again.

dave lewisAs the Telegraph put it last month, “the crisis facing Tesco is being celebrated by opponents and campaign groups who were bulldozed out of the way by its dominance”. But it needs to survive and reinvention is the answer. Apple did it. So can TESCO. That’s why the appointment of Dave Lewis [pictured], a non-grocer, as chief executive may have been one of the smartest moves TESCO has made for a long time. He is already talking about re-thinking and re-energising the company and you can hear his views in a frank video, here.

As I close this article on TESCO, I see that not only is it being bashed around in the UK but it is also losing market share on the global stage as German discount chains continue to steal its retail territory, according to researchers at Euromonitor International. CITY A.M. report that TESCO has now been bumped from fourth-largest retail chain in the world into fifth place by German value group Schwarz Beteiligungs. Its dominant position in the UK is also being eaten away by high-end supermarkets like Waitrose, and hard discounters Aldi and Lidl. Wal-Mart remains in pole position so it would be interesting to see how they’ve done what TESCO (so far) have failed to do.

Perhaps the solution for TESCO lies in the Euromonitor International small print. Their data on the global retailing industry is showing a steady growth of 5.3% in 2014 due to improved performance in Western Europe. Key findings from their new research shows:

  • From 2014 to 2019, a third of new global retail sales will come from China.
  • Nigeria is expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% to 2019, due to a growing middle class and an overall increase in disposable income.
  • In the last year, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were the most dynamic regions with increases of over 12% in retail sales.
  • Apparel and footwear are reported to be the most popular products sold online and are expected to generate over US$360bn. Food and beverages are expected to be the most dynamic with 18.2% CAGR by 2019.
  • Amazon and Alibaba are the only online retailers in the top 15 global retail rankings.
  • Online retailing is set to generate a third of all new retail sales, driven by strong growth in both emerging and developed markets.
  • Mobile internet retailing will account for 32% of internet retailing sales compared to 18% in 2014. Euromonitor International forecasts internet retailing to increase by 15% CAGR to reach US$1.7tn by 2019, making multichannel operations key for all retailers looking for growth.
On a train to nowhere: The UK and Europe – A Soured Relationship

On a train to nowhere: The UK and Europe – A Soured Relationship

TrainThe papers have been full of it. David Cameron is extremely angry about the demand from the EC to pay £1.7 billion by way of adjustment to reflect, in part, how well the UK economy has been performing. He says that he won’t pay the demand by 1 December. Apart from the immigrants queuing up to get into the UK, nobody seems to love us anymore.

Actually, the EC bill is more than the amount referred to above. The total due on 1 December is actually €3.591 billion, EU sources explained. The UK would however receive a one-off rebate of €1.491 billion under a separate amended budget for 2014 currently under negotiation, and expected to be agreed on before the December deadline.

The EU’s Budget Commissioner Jacek Dominik has added fuel to the fire telling journalists he was “surprised by the reaction” in Britain because “up to this moment there was no single signal from the UK administration that they had problems with this figure.”  His comments seem at odds with what the UK didn’t know about this unexpected bill. But the apparently unfriendly Mr Dominik makes it worse saying:  there was no possibility under current EU rules to give Britain more time to pay the bill and a change to the law would need support from a qualified majority from EU governments and this would be “extremely difficult”.

Because most people have been (apparently) kept in the dark about these matters, I was (very slightly) encouraged to read what Mr Dominik wrote on his website: “I shall strive to make an impact of the EU budget visible to the people across Europe.”  His words are odd – what does “an impact” mean? How many impacts are there?

What is the £1.7 billion for?

In a press release on 27 October, the EC provided clarification in a question and answer paper on the contributions made by Member States to the annual budget

The UK isn’t the only Member state that’s been hit. Why aren’t the others kicking up a fuss too?  The answer is that they seem to be adopting a less confrontational stance than the UK and may get a more sympathetic hearing.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem says that the Netherlands would pay its €642m surcharge “if the facts and figures are correct”. Taoiseach Enda Kenny says Ireland will pay the additional bill. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wants clarification on how the EC calculated the figures. Sandro Gozi – Italy’s Europe minister – is reported as saying “We will see whether it will be really necessary to apply the new method to calculate (national) contributions.” See here for commentary. Apparently, Italy and Greece will have to pay an extra £268m and £70m, despite flagging growth, because of the size of their ‘black economies’, according to Public Finance International.

Why is this happening?

Jean-Claude JunckerBack in June, David Cameron declared that Britain is in a ‘war’ with the EU after European leaders pushed through the appointment of arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker [pictured with Germany’s Chancellor Merkel] as the new President. Our Prime Minister probably won nobody over when he warned other Members that they would be making a ‘profound mistake’ if they chose Mr Juncker. His words fell on stony ground because Mr Juncker was duly appointed. He seems to have Germany as an ally – see picture. Should our PM try charm rather than threat to bring about the changes we want?

depaturesActually, the threat of an exit from the EU probably hasn’t warmed the EC administration towards the UK and pressing for renegotiated terms of EU membership won’t have helped either. Nobody else seems to want the immigrants floating around Europe who, it seems, think that the UK is the best place to start a new life – David Cameron has been seeking some limitations to the freedom of movement, which has resulted in the uncontrolled immigration that is the subject of huge concern to many British voters.  However, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has dismissed the prospect of any radical change saying that “Germany will not tamper with the fundamental principles of free movement in the EU”, according to an interview in The Sunday Times.

The galling thing is that France and Germany are likely to get back around the same amount of money in aggregate that the UK is being asked to pay on the budget adjustment issue.

We know (from what we’ve been told by the papers and on TV) that France is doing badly.  But most people thought the Germans were running a strong economy and were the powerhouse of Europe. There’s even a suggestion that the German economy could lead Europe back into recession. Read about it here. The article suggests that whilst Germany’s banks may have got the all-clear, there are worrying signs of weakness in Europe’s powerhouse economy.  German business confidence has fallen to its lowest level in almost two years, a survey suggests, raising concerns about the strength of Europe’s largest economy. The Ifo think tank’s closely watched German Business Climate Index fell to 103.2 in October, down from 104.7 in the previous month. “The outlook for the German economy deteriorated once again,” Ifo said.

On the bright side, the UK has some support from an unexpected source – see here – former French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche (who unfortunately doesn’t have a vote on the matter) says:

“I think it’s ludicrous to actually go and punish the one country that has suffered the reform. The results are showing up now – the unemployment rate has gone down to half what it is in France. The growth rate is four times what it is in France – and we go and punish the British? It’s madness”. 

Judith Ugwumadu, writing in Public Finance International (here) put the situation like this:

“A number of European Union member states have been hit with unexpected bills to fund the EU’s budget, while other countries are expected to cash in. The bill is based on new calculations of VAT and gross national income since 1995, which has prompted the EU to make financial adjustments. The calculations are used to decide how much each member state should contribute to the budget. EU country leaders were, however, caught off-guard as details of the one-off bill were exposed as a summit in Brussels began today. The extra payments are due on December 1.”

What else is going on?

On 28 October, the European Commission proposed to provide Italy with €1.8 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 608 former workers of Whirlpool Europe S.r.l. to find new jobs. The redundancies occurred in the Autonomous Province of Trento. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for their approval. Italy applied for support from the EGF following the closing down of Whirlpool’s plant in Spini di Gardolo (Trento) specialised in the production of fridges.

The EC press release says that the total estimated cost of the package is approximately €3.1 million, of which the EGF would provide €1.8 million.

The reason I mention this is that I cannot understand why the EGF is paying anything at all. Surely the total cost involved should be shared between Italy and Whirlpool itself, shouldn’t it?  Whirlpool, the US White goods manufacturer, is a huge company with global sales approaching $5billion a year. Read about it here. Why should the UK have to pay for any of this?

Back to the EC budget demand: The Telegraph this week suggested that Europe’s financial demands will backfire on the Bureaucrats from Brussels: On the one hand they say they want Britain to remain a member, yet “they behave in precisely the fashion most likely to bring that membership to an end”. Read about it here. The Telegraph says that on its own, this episode (the £1.7 billion bill) would be bad enough but it fits a pattern. They put it like this:

“There has been the concerted effort on the part of European leaders to slap down Mr Cameron for suggesting that there may need to be some limitations to freedom of movement, which has resulted in the uncontrolled immigration that is a subject of huge concern to many British voters. Then there has been the European Parliament’s unilateral and high-handed decision to ignore the wider EU budget deal agreed by national leaders – particularly galling to Britain because it was Mr Cameron who persuaded his colleagues that Brussels should share the pain of austerity felt so keenly elsewhere.”

BoJoLast words – On your bike?

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is quoted in The Politics Companion as saying:

“The best reason for going into politics is to stop people bossing you and me around and to stop them taking away your and my money for no good reason at all”.