Your future accountant

Well as I return still slightly hyped up like an excitable child on too too much orange squash and milky bars, from my annual trip to Accountax, the annual accountants conference and freebie grab, I thought it was a good chance to share what the big talk is for the next year amongst the profession, we hear about it first, then we package it with big words and bigger numbers up and you pay money for it second. Oh, my friends if only it was that easy.

So here is what’s on the cards:

Accountancy firms well may replace your local bank branch

As banks are closing branches like its going out of fashion, which to be fair is in line with customer behaviour (if you are under 35). More and more people are transacting digitally, as we all know there is increasing less cash changing hands in our trade, even small businesses don’t meet their manager anymore. So therefore, people are withdrawing less cash, hence no need for branches…

Well Gary, I hear you ask what about those who still need cash and other related bank services. Banks are starting to share “hubs” with groups like the post office and building societies, but what about needing to talk to a human about loans and general trading and the guidance that the old-style bank manager used to give.

Well step in the accountant. Practices such as mine have always given lots of business advice anyway, but in the future as we become more digitised our profession could become the local finance hub as well. The technology is there. We already have access to software that just feeds off your bank account, so why not take the company incorporation that most good accountants already do and add start-up capital and access to a business bank account, insurances and card payment as well. All of this is already doable technologically, so watch this space.

General Data Protection Registration Rules Starting to Kick In.

Well its been here for a year, (UK Data Protection Act 2018) and many people are still scratching their heads as to what the parameters really are?  If you haven’t sent out your consent emails and published your GDPR policy document, shame on you. I have followed cases now of fines between £40,000 and £200,000 for unsolicited emails, texts and telephone calls, from companies such as pension providers, accountants and even a funeral service.

One unacceptable figure is the number of professional individuals leaking data, email messages to partners and friends, and even one case where someone accessed sensitive information out of pure nosiness. All caught or reported and fined.

Unfortunately, the amount of data breaches is also up, but much of this is from aggressive hacking or phishing, few firms have been immune to it, so I can’t express how important it is to keep your cyber security and digital housekeeping up to scratch. We learnt that unfortunately from our own experience of a digital attack but with good process the risk can be ringfenced and your critical data protected.

Digitally Onboarding Clients

I’m sure that isn’t an operator or new driver that hasn’t noticed that we all have had to up our game when it comes to signing people up for whatever reason. In the PH trade it’s about checks and apps and training (at least it should be, see me if this isn’t you) but in our profession we are adopting new ways to onboard new clients as easily as possible. Even my firm are adopting a data sharing portal system.

My practice has been using digital signatures for everything from our contracts to signing accounts for years, but as you will know (if you follow my column) we have been on the cutting edge of The Making Tax Digital pilot and so have been ensuring that the appropriate technology is available. However, our job is to make it mad easy for you, easier than a pen and paper, so that you don’t need to be a tech expert, but we can digitise it for you. That in my view is the real job of an accountant in the MTD process.

From simple receipt capture, to cloud bookkeeping, our job is to simplify and train. Sounds good but sometimes the gliding swan you see is kicking its legs like crazy under the water. Anyway, the whole process of changing accountants is much easier and will get more so. And why not, we should all be kept on our toes every now and then.

Well that’s as much as we can look at for the time being, next month we will be looking at how the rollout of Making Tax Digital for VAT is going, a revisit to workers’ rights and its effect on operators as well The HMRC’s consultation on the private sector off payroll rules and its effect on driver engagement. Drive safe