Suggestions of how accountants can use technology to grow their business in 2018

It is no longer good enough for accountants to just have new technology; they need to tap into its full potential to stay ahead in the market and help drive business success for their clients.

Accountants, technology, smart phones, software
Accountants and the use of technology to help their clients

When running a practice, it is easy to forget that you should treat your firm as a business rather than just a service. Businesses focus on growth and productivity, and so should accounting firms. A key way to ensure maximum growth is the optimisation of technology for multiple purposes.

Today’s technology can be adapted to your business, and here are seven ways you can use it to grow faster in 2018.

Automate processes for daily efficiency

The accounting and bookkeeping tools on offer today are transformative for both accounting firms and their clients. They can make tasks up to five times quicker than if they are completed manually, ensuring bookkeeping is automated and effortless, and there is no longer any need to spend time on mundane yet necessary actions.

The benefits of this automation are significant. The labour-intensive processes of yesterday only enable bookkeepers to have a limited number of clients, but with automation freeing up much of their time, they are able take on more clients, therefore growing their firm.

Offer real-time advice

Cloud technology enables accountants to give their clients anytime, anywhere access to their data within just a few clicks. This empowers the client to find out information for themselves instead of contacting their accountant, therefore releasing more of the accountant’s time.

One barrier to cloud accounting is security; there are still clients out there, who will be sceptical about the cloud. It is the accountant’s job to be knowledgeable about how cloud security works and stay up-to-date with changes so they can reassure their uncertain clients.

By providing clients with a way to access their data easily, accountants can spend more time growing relationships with current clients and looking for prospects.

Be contactable anytime, anywhere

There are many ways to reach current and prospective clients now. Traditional face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, and emails are now mixed with messaging apps, video calls, and social media. Accountants must be contactable and active on all platforms. Listen to your clients and establish their preferred way of contact.

Accountants can be in contact with clients even when the client is not actively seeking their services. Social media is an effective and sometimes even free way to market yourself. By posting content clients want to see, establishing a strong brand, and even reacting to comments from customers and prospects, firms can grow their business.

By advising your clients that they can contact you whenever they need to, and ensuring you always answer them or get back to them as soon as you can, they will trust your services and be more likely to recommend you to others.

Optimise services for millennial clients

Since millennials now make up 35% of the workforce according to a KPMG report, all businesses must ensure that every aspect of their services meet the preferences of these workers. This includes how they receive their invoices and other communications, and the overwhelming preference is for digital.

Out of the millennials surveyed, 82% would prefer if their accounting firm went totally paperless. It is easy to agree that removing paper receipts from the mix would be easier, not least because it prevents the issue of losing them, but actually making the switch is another story. Now, with products out there like Receipt Bank’s scanner app, clients can snap receipts and invoicing and send them to their accountants quickly.

Always consider the preferences of each individual client and cater to this. Show potential clients you can adapt to their specific needs, and be aware that many will favour digitisation.

Embrace mobile working

Apps are the friends of accountants and clients alike. If customers can use a smart phone, they will find using accounting apps, such as Receipt Bank, easy. By installing these apps on their phones or other mobile devices, clients can make use of them wherever they are; if they have a busy day planned they can still send paperwork while waiting for the train!

The benefits for the accountant are also clear. Clients can get receipts, bills, and other paperwork to accountants via apps in real time rather than sending everything at once at the end of the month. Accountants can then process them as they come in, and provide their customers with outstanding service by giving them the information they need to run their business successfully all the time.

By encouraging your clients to use mobile apps, you will reduce their responsibilities as well as making your job easier and giving you the chance to deal with bills as you go along.

Impress current clients, and gain new ones

According to 80 percent of high-performing accountancy firms, adding value to existing clients is the most effective means of growth. For this reason, accountants should not only look to implement new technology with prospective clients. They also need to get current clients on board.

Book in some time with your current clients to talk about their pain points and how you could help them grow their business. Introduce the new technology they could make use of to save them time and make their jobs easier. Sell them a package they cannot turn down because doing it themselves would be more expensive and time-consuming.

Excel during tax season

By making full use of automation tools and accounting apps, firms can always stay one step ahead of their clients’ needs. Technology leaves more time to consider advanced improvements to client services, such as rolling out a monthly recurring revenue model instead of dealing with a mad rush at tax season.

Accountants should actually see tax season should as an opportunity, rather than a nightmare. It is a chance to convert year-end customers into monthly paying customers, therefore providing the accounting firm with a steady cash flow.

Technology can be the difference between a good and a great business. Accountants can use technology to bring maximum benefits to both their firms and their clients, enabling their practices to become thriving businesses in 2018.

Find out how Stanley Carter can help your business work smarter, grow faster, and go further contact us on 01612056655 or send us an email or check our website for further details

Skills you need to develop as an accountant

We take a look at the key skills accountants need to develop to pursue a successful career.

Accountants, skills, accounts
Skills required for accountants

If you are striving for a successful career in accountancy, there are a number of key skills which you should look to develop and build upon throughout your career.

A combination of accredited qualifications and excellent interpersonal and professional skills will enable you to pursue the successful career you are aiming for.


The accounting industry is changing rapidly. The role of the accountant is becoming more of an advisory one as technology automates processes and removes the need for paper. Clients have new expectations, and accountants can now collaborate and work with their customers in real time.

With technology bringing constant change, accountants need to be able to adapt quickly and react to whatever curve ball is thrown at them.


Honesty is highly valued in the accounting world. Accountants and the firms they work for pride themselves on adhering to the highest ethical standards and always treating their clients with honesty and integrity.

It is important to be transparent when making decisions, providing advice, and completing tasks. This is true of every workplace relationship, whether with clients, your manager, or when working in a team of colleagues.

Strategic decision-making

Automation of many administrative tasks means accountants have more time to focus on the strategic decision-making side of their role; and clients know this.

Individuals who have strong commercial skills and have invested in their accounting training will be considered highly valuable by clients and firms alike.

Information technology expertise

Accountants should look to be knowledgeable in general IT and accounting software, especially when it is likely your client will know how to use it too.

Cloud accounting is the latest technology break-through in the accounting industry. Working in the cloud means data and software are available anytime and anywhere, so clients can keep their finances up to date across different platforms. Many clients will also be technically savvy about the cloud, but for those who aren’t, the accountant needs to step in and explain it clearly.


Clients and colleagues can communicate with you at any time they want to from anywhere in the world. Accountants need to be willing to interact with people across all mediums, from phone to video conferencing. It is a good idea to master social media as well as the more traditional email.

While clients may contact you regularly via the phone, most will also value face-to-face meetings. This is also the best way to build a trusting relationship. When it comes to complex financial or technical discussions, accountants must be able to relay information clearly and concisely.

Creative problem-solving

Change is likely to bring about challenges as well as positives. Therefore, firms need accountants who can think outside the box and come up with effective ways to solve new problems.

Initiative, a skill which can be developed in professional, educational, and personal situations, is highly valued by employers. Firms are keen to recruit staff who want to share ideas to continually improve business performance.

Customer service skills

For accountants working in public practice, it is essential to be able to build a strong relationship with current customers, in order to retain them, as well as being able to attract new customers.

In corporate accounting, individuals must meet the needs of the organisation’s other departments and their managers. In both instances, strong customer services skills are invaluable.

Here at Stanley Carter we are a highly skilled and experienced accountancy firm. If you require any help or information please contact us on 0161 2056655 or send us an email or check our website for further details

Would the new corporate governance code have saved Carillion?

Carillion, the second largest building contractor in the UK and the lead on a number of key public service contracts, entered into liquidation last week. Various commentators have highlighted poor governance at the company but would the revised UK Corporate Governance Code recently announced by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) have prevented its collapse?

What caused the collapse?

There are differing views as to what caused Carillion’s problems but many have pointed at internal failings and a poor governance culture. Roger Barker, Head of Corporate Governance at the Institute of Directors said “it is clear that major providers of public services must be governed in a prudent manner”. He suggested that the collapse highlights a lack of effective governance at Carillion and questioned whether the board and shareholders acted appropriately before the collapse.

The Government has acknowledged these worrying signs and has ordered an investigation into the conduct of Carillion’s directors. Executives at the company are said to have tweaked rules in the firm’s bonus scheme to make it harder for those bonuses to be clawed back if the company failed. This sounds like the executives were trying to preserve their own position at the expense of shareholders’ interests. The bonuses have been branded ‘exorbitant’ in the House of Commons.

Further concerns related to the excessive pay of former chief executive Richard Howson who received £1.5 million in 2016. Carillion also agreed to continue paying his remuneration until October this year, handing him a £600,000 salary.

Many believe that the directors of Carillion did not follow responsible internal processes. Recognising the crippling debt, and other significant problems the company was facing, they should have acted in the best interests of the company and looked to minimise the risk of collapse, which eventually became unavoidable.

The revised corporate governance code

Poor corporate governance, particularly excessive executive pay, has been a hot topic for reform in the last 12 months. The FRC has opened a consultation on those proposed revisions after undertaking a ‘comprehensive review’ of the code.

In the consultation document, the FRC highlights the heightened public scrutiny faced by the country’s largest companies and the impact poor internal governance can have on a wide range of stakeholders. So could the proposed changes help to prevent another Carillion failure?

The revised, ‘shorter and sharper’ code aims to encourage high standards by being clearer and more concise. It focuses on the application of principles relating to stakeholders, integrity, corporate culture and diversity.

Excessive pay

A significant change, introduced in an attempt to tackle excessive levels of executive pay, relates to shareholder dissent and the percentage of votes against a resolution. So when more than 20% of shareholders vote against a resolution, the company should: explain the actions it intends to take following the vote; publish an update on the position within six months of the vote; and provide a final summary in the company’s annual report setting out the steps taken as a result of the vote.

To increase transparency, the Investment Association has introduced a public register that lists companies which have experienced high levels of shareholder dissent. The first published list shows that, at their last AGMs, 24 FTSE All-Share companies received significant shareholder votes against their remuneration policies and 43 had 20% or more votes against their remuneration report.

The new code should give shareholders more say in how company executives are remunerated. The excessive pay levels at Carillion may have been tackled earlier had the directors had a greater responsibility to address shareholder concerns.

Employee engagement

The new code will require boards to establish a mechanism by which they can engage with the company’s workforce and gather its views. The collapse of Carillion will have serious repercussions for its 20,000 employees whose jobs are now in limbo. Perhaps if the board had engaged more directly with those employees and been required to listen to their concerns, steps could have been taken to safeguard their position.

Section 172 duty and stakeholder engagement

The Government intends to introduce legislation which would oblige companies to explain how they have complied with the requirements under section 172 Companies Act 2006 to take account of stakeholder interests when making decisions. This is needed to increase transparency and ensure the internal processes adopted by a company promote its success and are for the benefit of its members as a whole, whilst also taking account of wider stakeholder interests.

Carillion’s supply chain is thought to include up to 30,000 small businesses who had already suffered persistent late payments before the firm’s final collapse. The changes to the section 172 duty are intended to highlight that it’s not just the shareholders who are affected by the decisions of a company’s board of directors.

The future of governance

Whilst a range of factors contributed to Carillion’s collapse it is right that poor governance practices are being highlighted as a key contributor. But whether the new corporate governance code would have prevented the collapse is unclear. Ultimately, the new requirements will only bite if shareholders and investors are prepared to step in and hold boards to account.

The new code should help to increase transparency in a number of key areas, helping stakeholders to understand what is going on behind closed doors. Preventative action could then be taken to stabilise any struggling company before it reaches the point of no return as Carillion did earlier this month.

Give us a call on 01612056655 or email us on or check our website for further details

The deadline is looming. Companies and Business owners have until the end of this month to submit it.

January can be a tricky time for companies and business owners. Even if you’ve kept on top of it all throughout the year, you can still have a time consuming task on your hands.

Tax return, HMRC, tax
Deadline approaching

Companies face a number of challenges at this time of year, particularly as the tax deadline is in tandem with reduced revenue after the Christmas break.

It’s all too easy to forget that small business owners don’t have the luxury of enjoying much downtime over Christmas. The break is often a prime opportunity to catch up on important business admin and to start planning for the year ahead.

It’s worrying that nearly half of small businesses in the UK admit that they have struggled to pay tax bills, according to a report from insurer RSA. But what’s more worrying is that problem with accounting, or simply a lack of awareness about the process or the deadline, mean that as many as a quarter of companies are missing the due date.

Failing to file a self assessment form by 31 January can leave you facing an automatic £100 penalty.

The fines build up after three months, with HMRC starting to charge penalties of £10 per day, and after six months, the penalty amounts to five per cent of the person’s tax or £300, whichever is higher.

Being hit with fines will inevitably put a strain on the cashflow of small businesses, so managing your tax properly is important. We have here some tips to help you manage your taxes:

First, stay organised. You don’t want to be panicking the day before the deadline trying to find bits of paperwork, so it’s a good idea to file everything in an organised fashion throughout the year.

If you haven’t made any progress, there’s still a week until the deadline. Just don’t leave it until the last minute.

Second, keep tabs on all expenses and include all the information required. Make sure you don’t miss any sections out on the form, and include all earnings, including dividend income on any shares you own. You don’t want HMRC to reject your tax return if there are any mistakes, so also allocate time to double-check the form before you submit it.

Third, use tools available to you. The days of doing everything by hand are long gone. Software’s are available to give you a helping hand when managing your accounts, so do a bit of research to figure out which app is best suited to your business. Making use of these tools will make your life a whole lot easier; think of it as an investment.

Finally, if you are really stumped when it comes to your tax return, you can get a professional accountant involved who should be able to take all the stress away.

Yes, this will come at a cost, but you have to consider if that cost outweighs the penalty from HMRC. Seeking advice from an accountant on your finances can be invaluable to your business, particularly later down the line as your company grows.

Fulfilling tax obligations can be one of the biggest barriers to the success of a business, but don’t let it stop your company from having a prosperous future.

For help filling your tax return give us a call on 01612056655 or email us on or check our website for further details

HMRC penalties to corporate Directors

The number of personal penalties levied by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) against corporate senior accounting officers (SAOs) remained high last year.  The figures showed that HMRC was taking an aggressive approach to enforcement. HMRC office

Given the scale and complexity of the money flows in large businesses, simple errors in the finance department can result in mis-reporting and subsequent fines. Finance directors need to understand all the requirements set out by HMRC. The policies, procedures and systems in place to ensure tax compliance need to be carefully monitored to avoid the potential for mistakes,”

There are two types of personal penalty that can be issued under the regime: firstly, for failing to take steps to ensure the accounting arrangements are adequate; and secondly, for failing to provide an annual certificate either confirming the arrangement are adequate or disclosing details of the deficiencies. Accounting arrangements are considered ‘adequate’ if they enable all relevant tax liabilities to be calculated accurately in all material respects.  Businesses can also be fined under the regime for failing to provide the name of their SAO to HMRC.

The total number of penalties issued under the SAO regime last year was actually lower than the number issued in each of the previous years.

If you have any queries about your tax or HMRC penalties send us an email on or check our website for further information

Changes to the UK Corporate Governance Code

The UK Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has confirmed it will launch a consultation on changes to the UK Corporate Governance Code.

Among the proposals, the watchdog said, would be the need for companies to link corporate governance to purpose, engagement with wider stakeholders, and consider how they benefit wider society.

The FRC added that it would sound out views on the future development of the UK Stewardship Code, including the extent to which the interests of wider stakeholders and broader social impacts,  including environmental, social and governance factors  were integrated into engagement and monitoring by investors.

The development comes after the FRC faced criticism from corporate-governance campaigners over claims that it had failed to enforce the requirements of section 172 of the Companies Act 2006.

Section 172 says company directors must not only run a successful business but must also take account of a wide number of stakeholders such as employees, its suppliers, the wider environment, and even the wider reputation of the company.

The FRC has revealed plans to conduct a series of targeted thematic reviews of company financial reports during 2019.

The audit watchdog said the reviews, which will supplement its routine oversight of financial reporting, will focus on four key areas. In its sights are smaller listed and AIM companies, revenue recognition, lease and financial instruments accounting.

The FRC said it planned to contact 40 small companies before their financial year-end and select two areas of disclosure from their upcoming reports and accounts for review.

The areas that the FRC will select for review,  will be drawn from five areas that have been flagged up in recent thematic reviews or in Financial Reporting Lab reports.

The IASB has recently introduced major new standards covering revenue, leases and financial instruments.

Disclosures about the effects of Brexit are also on the FRC’s hit list.

If you have any queries about how these changes will affect your business please send us an email on or check our website for further details

Are you ready for GDPR

Bookkeepers who run payroll and store large amounts of personal data must ensure it is kept secure and GDPR-compliant

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is due to come into force May 2018, a key component of which is holding businesses accountable for securing personal data. This means that bookkeepers who run payroll and store large amounts of personal data must ensure it is kept secure and GDPR-compliant.

Running a payroll process involves accessing and storing an individual’s personal information, such as information on starters and leavers, changes of address and status as well as normal cyclical information like receiving timesheets, notification of pay rises, bonuses and other increases in pay.

If you need any information or help please contact us on or check our website for further details

Your accountant role can be an asset to your business

Retail spending in the UK fell in October 2017 at the fastest pace for any October since 2008. This has been attributed by some to consumers curbing purchases of non-food goods in the face of rising inflation. In addition, there remains the prospect of a 4% business rate rise next year being confirmed in the Budget, which many have predicted could have serious consequences for investment and confidence. Either way, for many small businesses, and particularly smaller retail businesses, the outlook is uncertain and challenging.

At times like this, though, small business owners often look for those best positioned to provide business as well as financial advice. In the past, this may have been the bank manager or their local Business Link when was still operating, but times are, perhaps, beginning to change. In a recent online focus group with small business owners from around the country, when we asked who they would turn to for help and advice about running their business, more than half of our participants cited a small business organisation or network, but nearly a third also mentioned their accountant.

First and foremost your accountant’s role should be to keep your business meeting its financial obligations, whether that is paying appropriate income tax and National Insurance, ensuring you register for and keep track of VAT and paying corporation tax as a limited company, all of which can become increasingly complex and time consuming as your business grows unless managed efficiently. This process, for example, will likely include improving your record keeping so, for example, you can legitimately claim business expenses that can be used to reduce your profits and your tax liability.  Having some form of accounting software or some form of mechanism to keep up to date records of your financial affairs is a major step towards avoiding those sorts of issues. Your accountant will help you with this.  As your business grows and you become an employer, your accountant can look after payroll and even more advanced financial reporting whilst you focus on further growth.

This recognition that an accountant can be valuable for more than just the figures, though, is an interesting development. It points to the genuine contribution that an accountant can make in providing sound support, including general as well as financial guidance, that frees you up to concentrate on your core activity. The accountant’s position as a critical friend can be more than helpful. Moreover, with many small businesses likely to be using a small practice or an individual accountant, each of which is likely to be a small business themselves, owners seem to recognise that their accountant is likely to identify with many of the challenges they are facing or will have experienced them vicariously through the raft of other companies with which they work.

Whatever view you have of how the next few years will play out, one thing is certain and that is that nothing is certain! Now might be the time to find an accountant with whom you feel you can build a relationship and ask them discuss your short, medium and longer term hopes and plans. Ask them to explain how they could support you through the next phase in your business journey.

For for further information you can contact us on or check our website

Cloud good or bad for Accountants?

In 2017, accountancy practices face many challenges that span the regulatory, economic, political and technology spheres. In particular, digital transformation has brought about rapid change, with accountancy practices needing to consider how to thrive in the digital age, and how to evolve their businesses to maintain pace with the digital revolution in the UK and beyond.

The majority of UK businesses are now leveraging technology to achieve business success. The adoption of cloud technology has almost doubled in the past seven years, according to a study by the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF), with 88% of businesses now using cloud services. In addition, as revealed by the CIF in March 2017, 67% of companies expect to increase their adoption of cloud services by March 2018.

So, why should accountancy practices prepare to move to the cloud, and what steps should they take to get there?

What to gain from the cloud

Digital transformation has had a significant impact on the accountancy industry. As technology enables “traditional” accounting bookkeeping services to be automated, accountants have been presented with an opportunity to transition to an advisory role, adding value to clients.

So, what are the benefits of moving your practice to the cloud?

 Improved efficiency

With the cloud comes efficiency. Technology allows accountants to automate repetitive tasks, saving time spent on paperwork. And the cloud also eliminates the need for spreadsheets as well as reducing the risk of manual errors, improving accuracy of data.

Increased accessibility

Data in the cloud can be shared with clients, colleagues, or anybody who needs access, at any point. It also provides accountants with the freedom to work remotely – all you need is an internet connection.

Improved decision-making

Accountants can leverage real-time information to help make informed decisions and provide strategic advice to clients. Whereas accountancy practices without cloud capabilities must often delay decision-making until end of year historical data is available, accountants on the cloud can make the right decisions quickly.

Streamlined systems

A paperless working environment is a key advantage for practices overrun by paper records. Cloud technology also offers a reliable storage system, with quick and efficient access to client and business data, all stored safely and securely with no danger of missing or lost files.

Before moving your clients to the cloud, become a true advocate of the technology by first moving your practice’s accounts to a cloud accounting system. This will enable you to use the system to interpret your own data first and adjust to the system before turning to client data. Become accustomed to the differences between your existing accounting set-up and the new services that the cloud technology offers, fully understanding the benefits that you can leverage to fulfil your clients’ advisory needs.

Finally, it’s important to identify the right clients to move to the cloud first. Young, tech-savvy and small companies are the ideal candidates. By beginning with business that don’t have stock control, custom requirements and a large number of transactions will make the transition smoother for your practice.

For further information about your accountancy needs send us an email on or check our website

UK organisations are struggling to meet the challenges of paying gig economy workers

According to new research out today from ROC Consulting, the global consultancy dedicated to digital Human Capital Management (HCM). Just over half (56 per cent) of UK private sector decision makers and little more than a third (39 per cent) of their public-sector equivalents believe their payroll can meet the challenges, despite 74 per cent agreeing that changing staffing models require new ways of paying workers.

With the ONS revealing that self-employment rose 22% from 2008 to 2015, and currently accounts for 15%  of the UK workforce, the results suggest that traditional payroll systems are not being used effectively to help secure the best short-term talent.

Fifty six per cent of IT and Finance decision makers agree they need to find better ways to pay quickly, but cut offs and systems mean that 59 per cent are unable to pay a new starter until a new payroll cycle has started. When the majority (78 per cent) still pay monthly, and 60 per cent would not consider paying daily, new workers could wait for up to six weeks before receiving payment.

London-based businesses felt they were better prepared for the gig economy (65 per cent) versus the UK as a whole (50 per cent), and more likely to pay daily (64 per cent against 39 per cent).