I had the pleasure of attending Accountex this year for the full 2 days, being able to take some time to speak to accountants in practice about the challenges they are facing at the moment.
There seems to be a lot of talk about what to use as a practice management tool, with there being a number of suppliers in the market place, many of the accountants I spoke to were there to speak to their preferred supplier to find out more about implementation of the tool, or to speak to a range of possible suppliers to find out about the benefits of each of them and to work out which tool to use.
And of course, there is still lots of talk about Making Tax Digital. Different people have different views on MTD, ranging from the ‘this is a great opportunity’ right through to ‘What’s making tax digital?’.
As an accountant in practice, you are having yet another ‘thing’ pushed on you by HMRC. Not only do you have to keep up to date with the changes in legislation with regard to preparing accounts and tax returns for your clients, and it doesn’t feel that long ago that iXBRL was the latest ‘thing’. MTD though, feels to me like an opportunity to help your clients to integrate to a system of bookkeeping where there is a lot more automation available and that will give them up to date financial information, and could easily save them hours of time (and money) when it comes to having their accounts prepared by you, giving you the opportunity (and time) to help them with other aspects of their business.
The Shocking Conversations
I know that for many businesses MTD isn’t required just yet, but it will be upon us before we realise. The number of sole practitioner accountants I spoke to at Accountex with over 100 clients, who had done nothing so far about talking to their clients was shocking. I didn’t go into detail with these accountants, as there wasn’t the time, but surely the laws of averages would suggest that some of these businesses are likely to be over the VAT threshold?
I also find it scary that friends and family of mine that currently have manual books and are over the VAT threshold are only just being approached by their accountant about MTD, and not given very much information (meaning that they are coming to me asking for help and guidance).
If you are an accountant in practice, create a basic document for all of your clients about the changes that are coming, and encourage them to move to a system that will allow the future integration of MTD so that they are prepared and so are you, rather than rushing around at the last-minute panicking.