Last week was a busy one for team ValueAdd! The calendar was chock-a-block with meetings, software demos, webinars and networking. Not to mention the day to day client work! But the most exciting day of the week was Wednesday, when I hopped on a train to Edinburgh bright and early, in time to arrive at the Hilton Carlton North Bridge for the 2018 Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Inspire Tour.
The ICB are passionate about ensuring their members are held to high standards. It’s all about professional excellence. So, it makes sense that the day was centred around ensuring were all up to date with key legislation affecting the profession and the businesses we work with as bookkeepers.
We kicked off the day by discussing the importance of a good contract. Terms and Conditions are sometimes seen as the boring bit. But they protect bookkeepers AND they protect clients, so it’s important to have a good understanding of exactly what you’re both signing up to.
We’ve recently moved to a new piece of software that helps us deliver slick, well designed T&Cs to our new and existing clients. Its called Better Proposals and not only does it look pretty flashy, it works a treat! We can see exactly how much time our new clients have spent reading the ‘small print’ as it were, plus it offers online signature functionality along with pricing lists and some lovely formatting options.
What is AML?
The next topic on the agenda was an incredibly important one Anti-Money Laundering (AML). As an ICB practice, we’re supervised by ICB in this regard. This means that were registered under Anti-Money Laundering regulations and carry out the necessary due diligence and risk assessment checks on all of our clients.
Now, that might seem a bit boring – why should it matter to our clients whether or not we’re registered for Money Laundering Regulations? Well, it should actually matter a whole lot! Did you know that because were supervised by ICB they’re actually risk assessing us as bookkeepers? And on top of that all beneficial owners, officers and managers are required to complete a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check that will highlight any relevant convictions that may mean they really shouldn’t be bookkeeping. Ask yourself, “If my bookkeeper isn’t registered under MLR, why not? What else are they cutting corners on?”
We also heard from Rob Thomas, the UK Sales Director for AutoEntry. For those that don’t already know, AutoEntry is a great piece of software that captures, analyses and posts invoices and receipts into your accounting software. As you can probably tell, its a software we already use, so perhaps the talk and product demo were a bit basic for us. That being said, it’s great to meet software representatives face to face so you can ask them any tricky questions you may have. It was also super refreshing to hear Rob really encourage checking the information the software has recognised before pushing it straight over to the accountancy software to be reconciled. Without naming names, we’ve been at rather a lot of software demos where the gist was ‘…and the software does it ALL for you!’. That’s a fallacy. Never believe it! The amount of time we’ve had to spend unpicking the damage done by our poor unsuspecting clients – who thought that, with a click of an OK button, the software would be able to completely and accurately record their invoices and receipts for them.
Making Tax Digital
Next, we were given a talk from Julie Wedgewood (Sage) about MTD and Sage accounting software. There’s understandably quite a lot of focus on Making Tax Digital now (and if you don’t know what that means, you should!!). QuickBooks have even launched a new marketing campaign with the tagline Making Tax Delightful. However, we’re already pretty confident when it comes to MTD. All of our clients are on software that will be MTD compliant and we’ve even signed up for the Beta testing of the system, so were hoping that these new regulations are going to cause minimal disruption to our practice and even less to our clients. Just goes to show it pays to be ahead of the curve!
We broke for a quick lunch and subsequently a makeshift panel of the Scottish branch chairs and software representatives was formed to answer some questions. There was quite a lively debate on the future of Scottish branch meetings, and what we can do to improve reach in the more rural areas of Scotland.
After that, we heard about the importance of succession plans and Continuation of Practice Engagement. Basically, what happens when you’re not around to take care of your clients – due to serious illness, for example. Lucky for us, not only is ValueAdd a team, but our MD Michelle also has several highly skilled associates on-board to assist should anything go wrong.
All in all, it was a super informative day, and well worth the rather taxing travel. Although, to be fair, we only popped over from Glasgow. There were bookkeepers there from as far away as Nottingham and Ireland! It’s comforting to know we have a proactive professional body to guide us.