“My interest in desperation lies only in that sometimes I find myself having become desperate. Very seldom do I start out that way. I can see of course that, in the abstract, thinking and all activity is rather desperate.” – Desperate Dan in the Dandy, many years ago

I hope you enjoy this update for accountants and lawyers of news from last week. If Desperate Dan can keep up to date, so can you. desperate dan

Marketing and Practice Management Issues

“Tomorrow’s Practice”?

This month, ICAEW launched a major new research project looking at how accountancy practices must evolve over the next 10 years and beyond. Members of ICAEW are invited to get involved with the project, Tomorrow’s Practice, which will report later this year. Members will be asked to think boldly and bravely about how the profession should change to better serve the changing needs of society and of business in the years ahead. Crucially, research by Intuit, ICAEW’s project partner, shows that many small businesses currently want services or support that accountants do not offer. More

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies

Organisations are increasingly allowing staff to connect to their corporate network using their own personal devices. This factsheet highlights some of the security issues that should be considered and safeguarded against when adopting such an approach.  More

How Mobile Consumers Engage With Promotional Emails

Consumers decide to read promotional emails on their mobile devices primarily based on whether they recognise the message sender, according to a recent report from Campaigner. Just over 42% of US consumers surveyed say familiarity with the sender’s name is the main influence on deciding whether to open a promotional email on their mobile device. Other major factors include awareness of a special deal/price in the message (20.5% say it influences) and the email’s subject line (20.3%). More

Five Reasons Marketers Should Be Customer-Centric

it takes months to find a customerDo you know about customer-centricity? And why does it matter? Customer-centricity is a marketing strategy with the primary goal of acquiring high-value customers and maximizing the value of every customer relationship. It acknowledges that there is no “average” customer and that the differences among customers represent an opportunity to build more long-lasting, profitable relationships through relevant communication. Customer-centricity stands in contrast to other common marketing strategies, such as product-centricity (competitive advantage through superior product design or merchandising) or channel-centricity (focus on achieving dominance in one or more channels). More

Can the collaboration trend work in favour of the mid-size firm?

Sir Nigel Knowles’s recent published opinion contrasted the consolidation in other industries with the relative fragmentation of the legal market. This won’t last forever, he predicts:  “The firms that emerge [..] will be either highly global or truly niche” (16 June 2014). But, not all senior lawyers take that view… More

Top personal injury consortium paying Google £8m a year

InjuryLawyers4u, the leading law firm marketing consortium, is paying Google £8m a year, it has emerged. Andrew Twambley, director of InjuryLawyers4U and managing partner of Amelans, said the consortium was spending £3m on Google four years ago and 10 years ago “probably about £3”. He said Google was the biggest player in digital marketing “by a long way” and in a “monopoly” position. More

From top retailer to law firm chairman

Leading retailer Greg Tufnell, new non-executive chairman of innovative legal practice Radiant Law, has told Legal Futures that changed expectations among clients over pricing is one of the key elements driving disruption in the legal market. As first reported in Legal Futures in March, Radiant Law applied to become an alternative business structure so as to allow Mr Tufnell, a former managing director of Mothercare and Burton menswear, to take a minority stake in the business. It has now been awarded its licence. More

Practising certificate fee set to fall by 17%

The individual practising certificate fee will fall by 17% in 2014/15, subject to Law Society Council approval and a consultation with members that starts today.The fee proposed is £320, down from £384 this year. The Compensation Fund levy is expected to be £32, which would result in a total fee of £352, a fall of £88 on 2013/14. More

Great work, great publicity: Bristol accountant coaches students for national competition

An accountant from Bristol has coached students to take part in a national competition aimed at developing business skills, reports the Bristol Post. Alan Crawford, of Lyndhurst Accounting, mentored Bristol Grammar School and Norton Hill School for the Business, Accounting and Skills Education (BASE) competition. The business game was set up by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to help young people develop skills needed in the workplace. More

Details That Make a Big Difference

Building and growing a brand online takes skill and an eye for detail. Often, people think the more grandiose the idea for improving their website, the better their conversion rates will be. The truth is that most conversion increases come from changes to small, overlooked details.This article provides seven such small details that will make a big conversion impact on your site. More

Move from Boring monologue to Profitable dialogue

[18 June 2014, marketingprofs] You’re not the only one who gets a little nervous interacting during presentations; your audience does, too. Why not make it easier for them to participate? “No matter if you are presenting in a virtual or in-person environment, your presentations will benefit from audience participation and interaction.”  This eBook by educator and coach Matt Abrahams outlines 3 best practices that will help you transform your presentations from detached monologues to interactive dialogues between you and your audience. Download the complimentary eBook from the source link below. Registration is required. More

The Most Effective Calls to Action for Facebook Posts

Asking people to share a post is often the most effective call to action (CTA) for Facebook posts by brands, according to a recent report from TrackMaven. Posts that include the word “share” garner nearly two times as many social actions (likes, comments, and shares) on average compared with those that do not (4.02 vs. 2.19 average interactions per post), the analysis found.  Use of the word “please” was also found to be an effective CTA, with nearly double the average number of interactions as well.  Of the words examined, “now” was found to be the least effective: posts including that word have only marginally greater effectiveness than those that do not. More

Succession planning key as firms look to grow

The majority of accountancy firms say succession planning is now more important than before the recession. Three-quarters of HR directors believed succession planning was of higher importance now than in 2006, according to a poll of 100 leading HR executives by accountancy recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional. Succession planning focuses on identifying potential future leaders to fill key positions, Randstad found. There is rising interest in succession planning, with 67% of HR directors working in accountancy firms saying it is likely to be of higher priority in future. More

Upgrading to a New Computer? Take the Opportunity to Unclutterman by computer

Before moving from one apartment or house to the next, you sell, discard, or donate items that are no longer needed. You unclutter. You don’t move everything over, then discard unwanted items. Why then, would you choose the latter when moving from one computer to the next? You have three choices when upgrading to a new Mac computer: Transfer from Time Machine or other disk, transfer from another Mac or PC, or start with a clean slate (let’s call this the “unclutter” option). There are similar options for PCs. More

Lawyers – watch your back!

A bar-commissioned study has found that clients will be able to instruct half of all barristers directly by next year, jeopardising a huge amount of work presently channelled through solicitors. The second Barristers’ Working Lives report, published by the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board, shows the number of barristers that clients can access directly will comprise almost 50% of the bar by the end of 2015. One in five barristers (20%) plans to complete new public access training. That will swell the ranks of the bar trained to work directly with clients to nearly 7,500 – almost half the entire bar – from the current 4,400. The study also showed that one in seven barristers (14%) plans to apply for authorisation to conduct litigation, further edging out solicitors. More

Barristers move towards ABS, survey says

Nearly one in five criminal and family barristers are considering joining alternative business structures (ABS) with non-lawyer owners, while four out of 10 of all barristers plan to apply, or are thinking of applying, for authorisation to conduct litigation, according to a major survey. In a statistical snapshot that showed barristers struggling to cope with the impact of legal aid cuts in publicly-funded work, the biennial survey of the Bar 2013, Barristers’ working lives, found the earnings of two thirds of self-employed criminal barristers had fallen. More than half were not satisfied and were considering their options – with nearly a fifth intending to leave the profession altogether. More

Accounting profession: Going strong, but facing issues

dilbert marketing cartoonFrom the USA: The CPA brand remains “incredibly strong,” according to American Institute of CPAs president and CEO Barry Melancon, but the profession still faces challenges. In a keynote address on “The State of the Profession” at the 2014 Practitioners Symposium and Tech Conference, Melancon and AICPA chair Bill Balhoff updated attendees on a variety of issues, initiatives, and regulatory and governmental developments that will affect the profession going forward. Among the good news was the high reputation of the profession, and the value clients put on it. Melancon reported survey data showing that, among other things, 91 percent of business decision-makers are very or somewhat satisfied with the work of their internal CPAs, while 87 percent were very or somewhat satisfied with the work of their external CPAs. At the same time, 75 percent of them said that they would be more confident in work done by CPA than in work done by a non-CPA accountant. More

“Give clients what they want – not what you think they need”, digital pioneers tell law firms

Three leading digital pioneers yesterday told law firms to “give clients what they want” rather than what they think clients want, whether that is a daily blog or free legal documents. Speaking at the Legal Futures‘ NatWest mmadigital ‘From Click to Client’ conference, Paul Hajek, principal of Clutton Cox in Gloucestershire, said the internet still had a “huge way to go” in the law. More

Free Social Media E-Book Downloadinternet marketing ebooks

Social Media is one of the most hyped and misunderstood Internet marketing tools available for professionals. Promises of receiving tons of leads for creating a Twitter account now ring hollow. LinkedIn and Facebook present exciting yet strange and frightening frontiers for marketing initiatives. This free social media e-book attempts to guide you in the right direction in an age where local search and community engagement are reshaping the Internet marketing landscape. Download from here. Registration is required.

Have you tackled the social media beast yet?

When you’re busy looking after clients finding the time to get active on social media might not be top of your priority list, but it can be a very powerful tool for finding new customers and communicating with existing ones. In this free guide FreeAgent’s Social Media Manager, Adrian Mather, will give you an overview of the social media landscape, why your practice might want to use social media, and then provide some practical tips on how to get started on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Download the free guide from here. Registration is required

How Different Cultures Understand Time

From Richard Lewis, Richard Lewis Communications: Time is seen in a particularly different light by Eastern and Western cultures, and even within these groupings assumes quite dissimilar aspects from country to country.

Examples:

  • In the Western Hemisphere, the United States and Mexico employ time in such a diametrically opposing manner that it causes intense friction between the two peoples.
  • In Western Europe, the Swiss attitude to time bears little relation to that of neighbouring Italy. The Thais do not evaluate the passing of time in the same way that the Japanese do. In Britain the future stretches out in front of you. In Madagascar it flows into the back of your head from behind.

Richard Lewis is an internationally renowned linguist and the founder of Richard Lewis Communications. He founded the Berlitz schools in East Asia, Portugal, and Finland and spent several years in Japan, where he was personal tutor to Empress Michiko and five other members of the Japanese Imperial family. He is the author of the award-winning book “When Cultures Collide,” and lectures on cross-cultural issues around the world. Read this interesting article here.

How to Boost the Effectiveness of Your Online Forms

How can you boost the conversion rate of the forms on your website? Does including branding help? Can tweaking the language on the “Submit” button get more people to click? Formstack recently set out to answer those question by examining data from more than 450,000 online forms created by publishers across a range of industries. A key conclusion from the analysis is that the type of form, rather than its length, has the biggest impact on the overall conversion rate (the number of people who submit a form compared with the total number of visitors to the form page). Of all the form types examined, contests have the highest conversion rate on average (28%) and surveys have the second-highest rate (21%). Contact forms have the lowest conversion rate on average (4%), in part because they are often used by visitors for informational purposes (i.e., to find a phone number or street address). More

Effective marketing for accountants

Accountancy practices engage in a variety of marketing and business development activities to boost client numbers and increase fee income, but how effective are these? What works and what doesn’t work? How many leads do professional firms expect to generate and how many of these end up becoming new clients for the practice?  To answer these questions, Wolters Kluwer ran an online survey in May and June 2014. This document presents a summary of the 137 responses so far received. Registration is required. More

The 5 key qualities of a successful FD

play with figuresTo remain successful and dynamic, FDs need to be resilient to change and have the ability ‘to think outside of the box’ to ensure their organisation is best placed to drive their business forward. ‘Number crunching’ has become just a single thread of the growing number of qualities that FDs need to possess. The role of the FD has taken on many different angles encompassing a variety of roles and responsibilities in addition to their standard day-to-day activities. We are seeing a new breed of proactive, dynamic FDs entering the market who are turning the traditional model of the FD on its head. These talented individuals are on a constant learning curve, welcoming new opportunities, seeking ways and means to develop and grow not only their business, but the role they play within the organisation. This has translated in the FD having their pulse on many different aspects of the running of the organisation from innovating ideas, investing in IT, facilities management, HR, strategic planning and seeking and exploring opportunities for mergers and acquisitions.

This free guide considers what key qualities the modern FD needs to not only perform well but to meet the demands of the changing market. To remain successful and dynamic, FDs need to be resilient to change and have the ability ‘to think outside of the box’ to ensure their organisation’s success. This guide considers what key qualities the modern FD needs to not only perform well but to meet the demands of the changing market. Registration is required. More

How creating a business plan for your clients can evolve the service you offer

It’s quite clear that, these days, we are living in the Attention Economy. People crave attention. They need it. And in many unfortunate cases they aren’t particularly embarrassed by how they get it. But the attention economy is also becoming increasingly visible in the world of business too. Now, clients expect more tailored advice and higher levels of personal service. In fact, they are no longer just looking for a traditional accountant at all, but for a business coach too. A proactive advisor who does more than just check figures and balance the books. A consultant who can also contribute ideas. A guru whose pearls of wisdom guides entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. This free whitepaper studies how accountants can use new technology to develop closer ties with clients and generate additional service revenue. Registration is required. More

Google: two million legal searches made every day in UK

Two million online searches on legal subjects are made every day in the UK, according to a senior Google executive, who went on to advise lawyers that their future clients would increasingly be reached through video and mobile technology. Alex Lowe, a digital marketing expert and Google’s industry head – classifieds, told this week’s Legal Futures’ NatWest mmadigital FROM CLICK TO CLIENT conference that consumers were becoming a “new breed” who had a “voracious appetite” for video. More

Lawyers’ PII reforms set to be approved on 2 July

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has confirmed it will not extend its tight deadline for responses to a string of consultations proposing wide-ranging and controversial reforms of regulation. The news came as The Law Society renewed its attack on the plans, which include radical changes to professional indemnity insurance, the compensation fund, multidisciplinary practices and accountants’ reports. Reform of PII, including the proposal to slash minimum cover for small firms to £500,000 and cut run-off to three years, are expected to be approved at an SRA board meeting on 2 July, just two weeks from now. More

Technical Stuff

Direct recovery of debts: why the proposals are risky for taxpayers

The government is consulting on plans to give HMRC sweeping powers to recover debts directly from individuals’ and businesses’ bank accounts, but are the moves too draconian?  Meg Wilson, tax expert at CCH, analyses the proposals and outlines potential pitfalls to a policy shift which has been met with strident opposition from MPs to professional institutes. More

Upfront tax: time to settle

HMRC’s accelerated tax payments plan means members of tax schemes could find themselves caught retrospectively because the proposed changes allow HMRC to demand payment before the outcome of any ongoing tax enquiry for any schemes that fall under Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) says Andrew McKenna, partner and head of tax investigations at Smith & Williamson. More

Marriage breakdown ruled a reasonable excuse

marriage cartoonA taxpayer has won an appeal against HMRC concerning £10,000 late tax payment penalties, after a tribunal ruled his marriage breakdown was a reasonable excuse for tardiness. In Timothy Cooke v HMRC [TC03633], Cooke, a businessman from Telford, West Midlands, was issued two late penalties totalling around £10,000 for his self-assessment tax return for the year ended 5 April 2012. Cooke owed capital gains tax (CGT) of about £100,000, due by 31 January, after he made £380,000 by selling shares in a company he used to work for. But he didn’t pay the tax until 24 October 2013. Cooke told the tribunal that he had been in financial difficulties and used £70,000 from the share sale to pay off his Individual Voluntary Arrangement. He also used £30,000 from the share sale to pay a loan.  More

The Next Debate: Taxation of Digital Goods and Services 

From the USA: This is a digital world. People read books on digital readers. They listen to music on phones and tablets, some downloaded and some streaming. They turn off the lights and lock the doors in their homes remotely while standing in the office. They download apps to help with everything-cooking, running, driving, and entertaining. Digital goods and services are becoming more and more integrated into people’s lives. The taxation implications are covered in this interesting article. More

New Revenue Recognition Standard could affect tax practitioners and auditors

From the USA: The new converged revenue recognition standard from the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board could have an impact on not only financial statement preparers, but on tax practitioners and auditors as well. “It’s not just accountants who need to worry about this,” said Bloomberg BNA Tax & Accounting executive editor George Farrah in an interview Friday. “Tax people will need to know about it because you might have to change your accounting method for tax purposes, and you need to assess whether or not that’s going to have an impact. They also need to be aware of it for their transfer pricing policies. Their transfer pricing may have been based on revenue estimates. Those estimates need to be looked at to see if there is any impact on them.” More

Disclosure of cautions breaches privacy rights, Supreme Court rules

Disclosure of childhood and other minor convictions violates human rights law, the Supreme Court has ruled. Five judges rejected a joint appeal by home secretary Theresa May and justice secretary Chris Grayling against a Court of Appeal ruling that prospective employers need not be told of convictions and cautions that were spent under the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act when they asked future employees about their criminal record. The court said cautions represent an aspect of private life that should be protected and any requirement to disclose them to potential employers was a breach of the right to a private life and would ‘significantly jeopardise’ entry into their chosen field. More

SRA attacked from all sides on indemnity reforms

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s proposed indemnity insurance reforms have been attacked from all sides – by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, the Law Society and the insurance industry itself. In a highly critical response, the consumer panel said it was opposed to three of the five main proposals – cutting the level of compulsory cover from £2m to £500,000, reducing the amount of run-off cover from six years to three, and introducing a cap on aggregated claims. More

Train all youth justice lawyers, says damning report on failing system

[19 June 2014, Law Society Gazette] By Catherine Baksi: Mandatory specialist training for criminal lawyers working with children should be introduced ‘without delay’, a damning report from MPs and peers on the failings of the youth justice system says today. The report highlights a lack of specialist professionals with many practitioners, including lawyers and judges, insufficiently trained to recognise young offenders’ needs, and lacking knowledge specific to young defendants and youth court law. More

Reform of the EU Statutory Audit Market – More FAQs

Europa has published FAQs on reform of the EU Statutory Audit Market. More

Budget reform risks call for simplified advice says think tank

The think tank, International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC) has called for the development of simplified financial advice to avoid consumer detriment from Budget pension freedoms. ILC warned that one million pension savers aged 55 to 64 face significant risks as a consequence of the new pension freedoms to be introduced in 2015 in a new report titled, ‘Freedom and Choice in Pensions: Risks and Opportunities’. It said the new pensions freedoms are likely to increase the need for financial advice, meaning those caught out by the ‘advice gap’ were at risk. More

How to take tips from Tesco to plug the advice gap

Financial services firms must look to the likes of Amazon and Tesco with their responsive service development and increasingly seamless cross-channel execution methods, writes Natalie McLellan of Egremont Group. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has challenged financial firms to innovate in an effort to plug the advice gap. Firms looking to take up the challenge should look to retailers and technology companies to learn a few tricks. FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley acknowledges that concerns over regulation had held back firms from developing simplified or technology-based propositions. More

Jail for fraudster: not for hiding in wardrobe but for VAT fraud

A woman from Northern Ireland who hid in her bedroom wardrobe when HMRC called at her home to look into her business dealings has been jailed for a £140,000 VAT fraud. Donna Magee from Dungannon was arrested by HMRC in February 2012, as officers investigated her fictitious business and fraudulent VAT repayments for the construction of non-existent new business premises. When officers raided her address Magee was found hiding in a wardrobe. More

ESMA report on accounting for business combinations

From Deloitte’s IAS Plus: the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a report ‘Review on the application of accounting requirements for business combinations in IFRS financial statements’.  The report finds that some good business combination disclosures are provided in the annual financial statements of European companies but that there are also certain areas where improvements are needed. More

Updated EFRAG endorsement status report

From Deloitte’s IAS Plus: the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) has updated its Endorsement Status Report to reflect that the European Union has published a Commission Regulation endorsing IFRIC 21 ‘Levies’.  In addition, the report has been updated for the issuance of a draft endorsement advice letter on the amendments to IFRS 11. More

European Union formally adopts IFRIC 21

From Deloitte’s IAS Plus: the European Union has published a Commission Regulation endorsing IFRIC 21 ‘Levies’. IFRIC 21 is effective in the EU for annual periods beginning on or after 17 June 2014, however, earlier application is permitted so EU companies can adopt in accordance with the IASB effective date (1 January 2014). More

Registry presses on with land charges takeover

Land Registry of England and Wales is to press ahead with controversial plans to take over the management of the local land charges register – despite overwhelming opposition in a public consultation.  Announcing plans for Land Registry to become the sole registering authority for local land charges (LLCs) today, Ed Lester, chief executive, said he had made ‘a number of changes’ in the teeth of opposition. Of 620 responses to the consultation on the agency taking on ‘wider powers’, 95% of those expressing an opinion opposed the proposal to take on local land charges.  A statement from the registry said the change would make it easier to register a property and create a standardised national fee, ending what it called ‘the existing postcode lottery’.  At present, local land charges are maintained by 348 local authorities, with search fees varying between £3 and £96 and turnaround times between 1 and 42 days. More

Ban lawyers giving tax advice, Tory MP urges

Solicitors who advise clients on legal financial strategies that have no purpose other than to create a tax advantage could face prosecution under proposals floated in parliament by a Conservative MP. Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and a former tax lawyer, has tabled amendments to the Finance Bill that would create a summary offence to propose an arrangement ‘which meets the definition of “tax abuse”’. This, in turn, is defined as ‘any arrangement that, having regard to all the circumstances, it would be reasonable to conclude is an arrangement that has no business, social or other purpose other than the obtaining of a tax advantage’. Another clause would entitle HMRC in certain circumstances to ‘require any person to disclose any privileged information’. More

Mansworth v Jelley update 2014

From the ICAEW Tax Faculty Team] The Personal Tax Contentious Issue Panel sets out the circumstances in which HMRC will allow claims for capital losses calculated on its original (erroneous) interpretation of Mansworth v Jelley. The aftermath of the Mansworth v Jelley decision rumbles on. The latest development is the decision of HMRC’s Personal Tax Contentious Issues Panel (PTCIP). This has been published by the Tax Faculty in TAXGUIDE 06/14.  In overview, the decision is that, in certain circumstances, taxpayers who claimed losses based on HMRC’s original interpretation of the Mansworth v Jelley case can have relief for those losses.  Catch up here.

Finally, wisdom from Dr Seuss…Dr Seuss

Martin Pollins

Martin Pollins

Managing Director at Bizezia
Martin Pollins is a Chartered Accountant with wide experience in corporate finance and business management. He holds a number of directorships and has served on the boards of several companies, including those listed on the London Stock Exchange, AIM and OFEX.

He was a Council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales from 1988 to 1996.

Martin Pollins ran his own firm based in Sussex and was the first Accountancy firm in the UK to advertise on television and Martin went on to create and launch the CharterGroup Partnership (the UK's first Accountancy network) and then LawGroup UK (one of the largest networks of lawyers in the country).

Martin started work on the Bizezia concept in 1996, developing the broad range of information resources and products over the past 18 years.
Martin Pollins
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