A quick round up today reveals some interesting stories for professionals…

Now there’s no excuse by saying “I didn’t know that”.

Marketing and Practice Development

Hiring external non-execs

executiveAlmost a quarter of British law firms now have one or more non-executive directors on their board, as firms seek to hire specialist external management teams to compete in an increasingly commercial sector, reports CITY A.M. Some 24 per cent of the UK’s Top 100 law firms have added a non-exec to their board, according to executive search firm Edward Drummond, which said law firms are adopting corporate management structures similar to the equivalent sized stock market- listed firms.

My question is this: How many law firms have been bold enough to appoint a qualified accountant as chairman of their management board? And whilst you’re thinking about that, how many accountants have appointed a lawyer as chairman?

Online accounting sees UK SMEs paid 23 days faster

This will interest all professional firms. Calum Fuller wrote in Accountancy Age that UK SMEs using online accountancy programs get paid an average of 23 days quicker than they did in 2011, according to research undertaken by software vendor Xero. Around three million invoices that UK SMEs raised in the two years since October 2011 were analysed. In the UK, businesses that use online accounting are getting paid an average of 36 days after invoicing their customers, down from 59 in 2011, resulting in significant cash flow improvement.

The UK has had the biggest drop in the amount of time it takes to receive payment. The reduction to 36 days represents a 39% decrease, compared with 37% in Australia and 31% around the globe, including the US.

Read the full article here.

More SMEs in profit and planning to grow, monitor finds

Calum Fuller wrote in Accountancy Age that the number of SMEs in profit has risen over the last quarter, while half are expecting growth over the coming year, according to BDRC Continental’s SME Finance Monitor. Around 69% of SMEs in Q1 2014 reported making a profit in their previous 12 months trading, up from 64% in Q1 2013, while there was a decline in the number of SMEs with a “worse than average” risk rating, down from 56% in Q2 2013 to 47% in Q1 2014.

The proportion of businesses reporting an injection of personal funds in the previous 12 months has declined over time. In Q1 2014, 30% reported having made such an injection. 15% said that they felt they “had to” inject funds. It has declined somewhat over time from a peak of 26% in Q3 2012.

Read the full article here.

Are You a Barrier to Your Own Growth?

barrierDaniel Hood, in the USA wrote in accountingTODAY that accounting firms are full of barriers to growth, many of which are invisible, and some of which may spring from the owners themselves, according to growth consultant and Rainmaker Companies president Angie Grissom. “There are a lot of natural barriers in our organizations,” Grissom said, speaking at a session called “Blur the Lines to Clear Your Strategy” at the 20th Annual Rainmaker Superconference, “To create a culture of growth, you need to find those barriers and ‘blur the lines’” to get around them.

Mr Hood added that Grissom and session attendees identified a number of barriers that can exist within accounting firms that make it difficult for them to create a culture of growth. Read about them here.

Why Law Firms [and accountants] must have a Strategy

In his blog, Eric Golding of Stanley Davis Practice Support Services asks: Would you take a trip on a luxurious Ocean Liner which was complete in all respects except for the steering equipment or the rudder? Of course not, too much of a risk, yet many firms are prepared to risk their business lives by conducting their practices without one, no strategy!

Mr Golding stresses that why a strategy is so important is because it will define who you are, why you are in business and what your ambitions are. The partners will have confirmed their commitment to the strategy and the role of the managing partner before it is implemented. It is worthless exercise if all those concerned, who for the purposes of this note, the author calls “partners”, do not agree with it and give it whole hearted support.

Read this excellent blog here.

Thomson Reuters Offers CPA Firm Marketing Newsletters

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief, accountingtoday.com, writes from the US to say that Thomson Reuters has released two new client marketing newsletters for CPA firms seeking to grow their accounting, auditing and international tax practices.

The Accounting & Audit Monthly newsletter focuses on recent and emerging developments in accounting, financial reporting, corporate governance, and assurance standards, including relevant projects from the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the International Accounting Standards Board, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Institute of CPAs. CPA firms can distribute the newsletter to their clients at private and public companies to keep them informed about compliance issues.

The International Tax Monthly newsletter focuses on foreign tax issues and legislative developments important to American expatriates and to companies based in the U.S. that conduct business abroad. Topics include transfer pricing, compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, the structure of Interest Charge Domestic International Sales Corporations, expatriate returns and international tax planning.

Technical and Finance Stuff

Man Convicted of Threatening to Kill IRS Agent and His Family

taxA fall-out with the taxman is one thing but this is going too far, isn’t it? In accountingTODAY, Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief, writes from the US: A Rhode Island man has been convicted of threatening to assault and murder an Internal Revenue Service revenue agent and his family.

Andrew A. Calcione, 49, of Cranston, R.I., was found guilty on 26 May of the charges by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith, who presided over a trial on May 21. Calcione faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced in September.  “The vast majority of Americans understand the payment of their federal taxes is part of their civic responsibilities,” said U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha in a statement. “A very small number do not, and an even smaller number not only refuse to pay their taxes, but engage in the kind of outrageous, threatening, and frankly bizarre behaviour involved here.

BDO Business Trends: April 2014

The BDO Monthly Trends Indices are ‘polls of polls’ that pull together the results of all the main UK business surveys. This month, we learn that the BDO Output Index continued to rise to its second-highest reading ever, the Employment Index rose sharply to 104.3, yet the Inflation Index remained at 97.1.

Download this report from here, to find out more. Registration is required.

Andrew Marshall: where next for the audit report?

Spotted in accountancyLIVE:  Audit reform is high on the agenda as firms come under pressure to deal with criticism from stakeholders and the public, but Andrew Marshall, senior technical partner at KPMG UK, sees opportunities to improve the quality of audit.

Read the full story here.

Single parent community interest company launches major family law panel

single parentLegal Futures reports that a community interest company which offers support to separating parents through its websites OnlyMums and OnlyDads, has launched a family law panel which it says could become “the place to go as the starting point for family law matters”.

The company claims to be the leading national on-line signposting organisation supporting divorcing/separating parents in the UK, and says it receives thousands of emails and questions from parents at different stages of the separation process, many of whom are looking for legal advice and support.

Read about it here.

New LSB chief: “primary legislation needed to reduce regulatory complexity”

Sir Michael Pitt, the new chairman of the Legal Services Board, has said that primary legislation will be needed to reduce the complexity of legal regulation and ensure it moves “at market pace”.

In his first public statement since taking office a month ago, he laid down a marker to the government, which earlier this month ruled out major changes to the legislative structure of regulation for the time being. Justice minister Shailesh Vara instead put the onus on frontline regulators to reduce burdens on practitioners.

Read the full story from Legal Futures, here.

Ditching the hours

First, we learned that many firms were no longer charging fees by the hour. Now we find that lawyers are not having to learn by the hour.

In a guest blog, in Legal Futures, Julie Brannan (director of education and training at the Solicitors Regulation Authority), explains the rationale for the move from hours-based CPD to ‘continuing competence’

This is interesting stuff: read what Ms Brannan says, here.

Martin Pollins
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