Business Advice

How long does it take to on-board an accountant? 150 150 Stepping Stones Accountancy

How long does it take to on-board an accountant?

So you’ve decided to work with an accountant and now WHAT? What do the need, how much of my time is it going to take? … Watch this little clip to find out more.

Steering the Ship Thanks to the Numbers | Accountancy Advice
Steering the ship thanks to the numbers 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Steering the ship thanks to the numbers

The concept of ‘steering by numbers’ is a business strategy of forecasting, planning and analysis. This very simple idea will look at business logic from a forecast and budget model which then allows comparisons between performance and expectation.

We now live in a data driven world and the modern way of finance can choose how to generate forecasting. They can explore through artificial intelligence (ai) and then get specialists to translate it into meaningful and useful data. Alternatively, you can take the simplest of approaches; you set a target based on previous results and you take the actions needed to achieve success.

If we explore this simple approach, we really are saying that you are steering your ship thanks to the numbers. You have a vision and an idea of what the journey to success will be and you translate the performance numbers into your goals. Setting objectives and a clear budget that will help to keep you travelling in the right direction with as little deviation as possible.

Of course, while the process does seem like a simple one, by just following the numbers, we know that there can always be an unaccounted influence on any journey. At times you will have to adapt to varying circumstances. Using our shipping analogy, the weather could change and we might have to detour slightly to safely navigate through the storm. Forecasting and budgeting is not always easy but with the help of business leaders and specialists you can quite quickly get back on track.

Another factor to consider is a business could have sufficient budget funds available but if they do not have any detail around planning or strategy then how can we measure success? If you budget and plan based on performance and accurate strategy, then you are on the right track to achieve success. Strong foundations in numbers, makes the planning process easy and enables safe navigation to your onward destination.

The one final element to help is the storage of all the data so that the numbers are on hand as and when you need them. Again, back to our shipping analogy this is the ships navigation system that helps you navigate throughout your journey, even if you manage to slip off-course. By utilising technology (e.g., Xero or Quickbooks) to help you with your budgeting and forecasting, the process is made even simpler.

If you are looking for a little help with your numbers or need a little bit of guidance, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

What Are You Asked For When Setting Up With A New Accountant | New Accountant |
What are you asked for when setting up with a new accountant? 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

What are you asked for when setting up with a new accountant?

Change can often fill people with dread. We are at our most happy when we are content and feel safe. Even the little things like changing the provider of our home insurance or our utility provider can cause stress, so much so that many just stick with an auto renew.

However, change can be good and should be embraced. Gone are the days when changing to new suppliers cause extra work, hassle and delays. Instead, change is simple, easy and stress free. The same can be said when appointing a new accountant. Of course, there is a little bit of work to be done but by completing the following simple activities your new accountant can be up and running in no time:

Stage 1 – 20 Minutes

The first step takes no more than 20 minutes, it is a simple telephone call to undertake a fact-finding exercise. It is a great chance to cement the business relationship, run through some standard business questions, identify the type of help that is needed and recommend steps to move forward.

Stage 2 – 2 days

Next step is a data exchange process which includes proposal of work, access to all relevant online portals and uploading data. This is typically a 2-day process, and the result is the acceptance of the accountant’s plans and commitment to agree to work being undertaken.

Stage 3 – 1 week

Our third step is a 1-week process focussed on due diligence. The necessary security checks will be undertaken, including photo ID for recognition and anti-money laundering. Following this will be the full registration to a client portal.

Stage 4 – 2 to 5 weeks 

The final stage, which is the longest, is the registration through HMRC. This will involve applying for Corporation Tax, PAYE, VAT and Self-Assessment codes which allow the accountant to act on behalf of the business or individual. Authorisation will typically take 10 days to arrive and then a scheduling of works can commence.

Once these key steps are taken a business owner can sit back and relax in the knowledge that all of their accountancy responsibilities are taken care of, and they can focus solely on the successful running of their business.

If you have any questions or have a few more questions, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30-minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Why Are We Regulated | Regulated Accountants Bristol | Importance of Accountancy Regulation
Why are we regulated? 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Why are we regulated?

Did you know that not all accountancy firms are not created equal?

It’s perfectly reasonable for you to assume that your accountancy firm holds at the very least the appropriate qualifications and perhaps is regulated by a professional body, but this is not always the case. Remarkably, there is nothing to prevent anyone from setting up an accountancy practice, even if they hold no qualifications or insurance.

However, by employing a firm that is a member of a regulatory body, you can be assured that the company that you are dealing with are qualified and held to high standards both ethically and in the quality of the advice that they provide. Member firms will be monitored proactively to ensure that they comply with all appropriate regulations and standards. Education and continuous development are also often a requirement of being a member of a professional body as is abiding by a code of ethics and professional standards.

The systems and procedures put in place by the regulatory body can provide peace of mind to anyone using a firm that is registered with them and will also provide a framework should the need to complain arise. These firms must also hold a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance, providing peace of mind for clients should the worst happen.

So, to ensure that you can fully rely on your accountant, check that they are registered with a regulatory body which will provide you with peace of mind that the advice that they are providing is appropriate, ethical, accurate and up to date.

Naturally, here at Stepping Stones we are all appropriately qualified and insured and to help demonstrate this we are licenced with AAT (license number 1001767). Also we have an ACCA qualified accountant and 2 others who are currently in training.

If you have any questions or need some accountancy help, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30 minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Bookkeeping and why to do it regularly | Bookkeeping Bristol | Help with Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping and why to do it regularly 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Bookkeeping and why to do it regularly

Whilst the words bookkeeping, spreadsheets and accountancy software can fill you with dread and the thought of inputting all that data and ensuring that it all adds up can be overwhelming, a little planning can make the whole process much more manageable.

By allocating your bank transactions on a regular basis you can save yourself a huge headache at the end of the year. Not only will it seem less daunting, but it can also provide you with many other benefits:

  • It delivers an accurate picture of how your business is doing.
  • By completing it whilst transactions are fresh in your mind, it can provide up to date profit reports.
  • It lessens the delay of completing tax returns and year end accounts.
  • Little and often is key. It will take much longer to complete if it is only done every 6 months or worse, once a year.
  • What takes longer, costs more!

If you are struggling with sticking to a regular bookkeeping routine, ask your accountant, they will be very happy to help.

Alternatively if you are looking for a new accountant we would be delighted to offer our support. Please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30 minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Implementing a monthly accountancy routine 150 150 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Implementing a monthly accountancy routine

This animated video explores the benefits of why a business or sole trader should immediately implement a monthly accountancy routine

Renting home office space to your company | Home Office Accountant Advice | Advice on Home Office Set-Up | Accountancy Support Bristol
Renting home office space to your company 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Renting home office space to your company

The last few years have seen more of us working from home and although life is slowly returning to normal, many organisations have realised there are many benefits of home working and are encouraging staff to make this change, whether full or part time, more permanent.

Naturally this change in work location incurs additional costs and this is recognised by HMRC with their work from home allowance. Whilst this allowance enables people to reclaim a proportion of the costs of running a home office, it does not allow directors of companies to claim for a percentage of their rent or mortgage interest charges.

To mitigate this, directors are entitled to charge rent to their company for the use of their property, with this then being declared as commercial rent on the directors’ personal tax return and enabling them to also declare a proportion of costs.

It is essential that a rental agreement is put in place between the director and the company so that the director can become the landlord and in turn charge commercial rent. If the rent is charged at the same rate as the costs, then income offsets costs and thus no rental profit needs to be declared. As rental income is not subject to National Insurance many see this as a cost-effective way to release money from your business.

Prior to setting up a formal rental agreement there are some elements that must be considered:

  • Will your mortgage provider/landlord allow you to enter into the agreement and how will it affect your home insurance?
  • Ensure that the agreement only covers trading hours as it is normal for a home office to be utilised for personal use outside of these hours.
  • The proposal to put an agreement in place must be evidenced in the board minutes and cannot be backdated.
  • The agreement must be in joint names if the property is joint owned.
  • Rental costs may include service charges for a proportion of heating, light and power costs.
  • The rental cost must not exceed local commercial rental values, or it may be deemed by HMRC as disguised distributions.
  • The director must genuinely work from home and be able to evidence the costs that are being claimed for.
  • If you are leasing a substantial part of your property or separate buildings then a formal lease agreement would be more appropriate and this must be drawn up with the help of a solicitor as it would be covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act and would have implications for Capital Gains Tax and Business Rates.

If you have any questions or need some accountancy help, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk. You can also book a free 30 minute call with Yarka – https://calendly.com/yarka-ssa/30min

Corporation Tax Changes Ahead | What Are The New Corporation Tax Changes | Help with Corporation Tax
Corporation tax changes ahead 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Corporation tax changes ahead

The 1st of April 2023 will see a substantial increase to corporation tax for UK businesses. The current rate stands at 19% for all businesses no matter what their size, however this will be increasing to 25% for companies with profits above £50,000 from next year. All companies whose profits fall below this threshold will continue to pay the current rate of 19%.

There is however, some good news for those companies facing this huge increase, if their profits fall between £50,000 and £250,000 it may be possible to claim Marginal Small Companies Relief (MSCR), allowing for a tapering of the new rate. However, the formula used is complex and not necessarily beneficial. Thus, depending on the profit levels of the business, it may be of more benefit to plan ahead in order to reduce profit margins so that they fall below this marginal rate relief limit. Strategies such as pensions contributions and large equipment purchasing can be utilised to achieve this.

There are many things that must be considered when planning for this new rate, including when there are multiple companies, the impact on dividends and the situation for companies vs sole traders and partnerships.

For help and advice on understanding and planning ahead for the corporation tax increase, please call us on 01173 700 079 or e-mail hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

Should Office Parties Get A Tax Break | Business Tax Advice | Tax Savings for Business
Should office parties get a tax break? 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

Should office parties get a tax break?

As the festive season is fast approaching many companies have finalised their plans for a little fun and laughter choosing to bring back the traditional office party. The key question many are asking is, can they get a tax break?

It appears that the simple reason for asking is that companies want to further encourage staff members to return to the office and funding a Christmas party is seen as a positive step towards that. It will also further boost the hospitality sector, who have been one of the most heavily impacted industries by COVID-19.

Requests are being made of the Government to aid in this by relaxing some of the rules around Christmas parties (or similar events). It is also believed that there is a growing interest for the Government to increase the “tax-free” allowance per employee from £150 per person to £300 per person.

Key reasons for proposing the increase are:

  1. Companies can use this increase to offer thanks to their employees without having to worry about tax implications through the benefit-in-kind restrictions.
  2. Rather than a bonus scheme, a business can thank all its employees as a united team, rewarding everybody in the same way.
  3. As previously mentioned, it boosts the desire to encourage more people to start working back in the office which also results in more activity in town centres and urban areas.
  4. Finally, it gives confidence to people who might previously have been reluctant to get back to working in an office.

As a reminder, and as it currently stands, the tax-free allowance applies to any event in a calendar tax year. It is possible to hold more than 1 event but the total cost cannot be any more than £150 per head (with the hope of this increasing to £300 per head).

If you have any questions around tax and benefit-in-kind, please call us on 01173 700 079 or email hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

What Happens Behind The Closed Doors Of An Accountancy Practice | Why Use An Accountant | Accountant in Bristol
What happens behind the closed doors of an accountancy practice 758 513 Stepping Stones Accountancy

What happens behind the closed doors of an accountancy practice

Most businesses only think about hiring an accountant once a year when it is time to complete their tax return and they’re struggling. But an accountant can add so much more value to your business. Naturally, they can help with your tax return, but their knowledge and skills can be a true asset to your business if you work with them throughout the year.

Here are our 6 jam packed points you may have not known about.

ONE – Accountants have a license to practice and that doesn’t happen over night. Years of studying is behind it. They have to prove they have the correct qualifications, are committed to programme of continual learning and have completed an anti-money laundering course. Vitally important is the professional development, which helps when HMRC/Government makes announcements. Accountants do NOT even get a month notice from the government about changes so they must be prepared for when the change actually happens.

TWO – Accountants have a plethora of tools designed to accurately record and process data along with making it readily available and easy to access for all customers. This makes analysis much more simplified and saves customers a huge amount of time when providing all relevant data.

THREE – Communications are streamlined thanks to the use of systems such as QuickBooks, Receipt Bank, Sage or Xero. Both the client and the accountant can feed data directly into these systems. They can also be automatically updated with all necessary changes implemented by the Government. Of course, these systems are also 100% compliant to all GDPR requirements.

FOUR – Time is being saved by an accountant completing a tax return. By completing your own tax return your focus is taken away from your day job meaning a loss of revenue. It could cost just £300 for an accountant to complete a tax return, in reality it could be double or triple that with the time a solopreneur takes to complete a return and therefore loosing revenue as their focus is away from their day-to-day business.

FIVE – An accountant knows exactly what is required for a tax return, they will look at many areas that individuals just wouldn’t event consider such as allowable expenses & claiming for working from home/mileage/telephone, profit from equipment sales, donations to charity, VAT charges, tax planning and pension contributions…

SIX – Finally an accountant will also ensure you know exactly what is happening. They will keep you up to date with reminders, e-mails and when payments need to be made. Alongside this they are also available to answer any questions or offer guidance as and when you need it.

Remember YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW – that is when we come into the picture.

If you have any questions or need help with a tax return, please call us on 01173 700 079 or email hello@steppingstonesaccountancy.co.uk.

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