Seeing things from a new perspective

Accountancy firms that are part of the HCWA network offer a unique range of perspectives and employ people from a variety of different backgrounds. JONATHAN BROWN explains how he came to join Barnett & Turner in Nottinghamshire and why he thinks his move has been so positive.

Working in an independent accountancy business has been quite a new experience for me. That’s because originally I trained in the public sector. 

Of course, there were plenty of personal motivations for the move – not least the fact that I was undertaking a lengthy commute into Sheffield each day as a trainee management accountant. Ultimately though, I feel the culture here suits me much better.

We’re a tight-knit team and there’s a family feel to the business, which is important to me. Inevitably, when I joined the public sector after graduating from university in Accountancy and Finance, I found things to be pretty hierarchical. It can be a political environment with a number of restrictions, so getting things done can be quite a long-winded process.

Here, although things are on a smaller scale, there seems to be much more variety. Dealing with clients in the private sector, you don’t feel as if you’re doing the same job more than once. You’re always on your toes, there’s lots of responsibility and you feel valued, by both our clients and within the team.

From a client perspective, you get the best of all possible worlds. Our team may come from a variety of backgrounds and have insights into the way that different organisations work. At the same time, we’re given a sense of ownership and a really varied range of tasks. That makes us truly committed, responsive and ready for whatever challenge gets thrown at us next!

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Being true to your values may take a little bit of reflection

Like a chameleon, the environment at Barnett & Turner is changing. And it’s all to do with the unique ‘Culture Club’ set up by Jono Wilson - Here, he makes the case that every organisation can benefit from a little open discussion, reflection and renewal to get the best out of any team!

When you manage a business, it can sometimes be too easy to keep ploughing on in the same direction. After all, you’re preoccupied with day-to-day pressures and deadlines. But it’s healthy to take stock once in a while and reflect on the way that everyone interacts with one another and the expectations we have for behaviour.

That’s exactly what we’ve done recently at my own accountancy firm. Barnett & Turner has been around for 110 years or so and as a business we continue to learn, change and improve. So I have brought together a group of staff to form what we’ve called our ‘Culture Club’ to review, redefine and take ownership of our business culture, ensuring that we play by the right rules to maintain a positive environment for us and our clients.   

It’s a process that I believe could benefit almost any company.

We have a range of people involved. Some are client-facing fee earners, while others work behind the scenes. There’s a good male-female balance and a variety of ages, so we get a healthy range of perspectives. 

Our aim is to focus on what we need from each other as people, to ensure our continued success both as individuals and as a business. We started out by considering who we admire externally – friends, sportspeople and others with a high profile. Could we bring some of their traits and habits into the work that we do here?

After plenty of discussion, we’ve produced a ‘play-book’ which pulls together the cornerstones of what we consider to be our unique culture and how we want the firm to be – for us, it is much more than just a mission statement or staff handbook! The principles include making a difference to our clients and each other, being true to our values, ownership and trust, honesty and commitment and solution based thinking. We’ve also included fun and positivity - it’s important to show some love!

We’re currently preparing to present our play-book to the wider team working in the business and I admit to being excited at the prospect, as everyone has been so engaged in the process so far. I’ve also found that it’s given me a new lease of life and motivation as a leader. 

Our intention is to use the Culture Club as a talking point with new recruits and to share the play-book in interviews. It means we can be quite clear and up front with them: “This is who we are and what we expect. Do you feel that you will fit in and are you excited at the prospect of joining B&T?”

Over time, the values will become a benchmark for appraising our work and behaviours. We will challenge ourselves to check that we’re living up to our aspirations and embracing the culture that we have collectively agreed to create.

It takes a little time and commitment, but I really believe it’s worth the effort and I have no doubt that it will help us get the best out of each other. Perhaps it’s time to consider creating your own version of the Culture Club?

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Keeping an eye on your business via the cloud

One of the great advantages of cloud accounting is that your professional adviser is there with you in real time, writes Natalie Goodall of accountancy firm Barnett & Turner

While it’s true that the key driver for using cloud accounting systems has been the government’s Making Tax Digitalprogramme, we’d usually advise all our clients to work in this way, even if they’re not VAT registered.

From our point of view, there are a number of advantages, if we notice for example, that profitability is healthy, we can work proactively to manage tax liability. On the other hand, if a client’s figures are not looking so rosy, there may be another conversation we can have, which gives us the chance to offer some specific advice or recommendations.

A key advantage is the ability to spot problems before they get out of hand. Keeping accounts in the cloud means that your professional adviser is able to log on at any time and see exactly what’s going on. While some businesses joke about ‘Big Brother’, the reality is that they soon see the advantages.

As cloud accounting became more commonplace, we started checking in on client accounts on an ad hoc basis, but we are now putting systems in place to ensure regular monitoring.

In terms of practical impact it can make, think about notification of your corporation tax bill. Would you rather have an idea of the figure eight months in advance or just a week before it became due?

Most accountants will be happy to offer some training to clients, depending on their level of confidence with software such as Xero, Sage or QuickBooks. Inevitably though, queries arise from time to time and we find that this serves as a useful communication channel. When a client calls up to ask for advice on the software, there’s always an opportunity for a five-minute chat to get up to date on their business and accounting issues.

We work closely with the leading providers, Xero and QuickBooks, and are cloud certified advisers. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of the new technology, make sure to have a chat with us to see how we can help with a stress-free demo and set up options.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Manage cashflow with superior tax planning

Jono Wilson of accountancy firm Barnett & Turner in Mansfield shows how tax and cashflow are closely inter-related and points out some opportunities you just might have missed.

With a downturn in the economy and some uncertainty surrounding the UK’s position after Brexit, many companies are turning their attention to tax planning – especially if cashflow is becoming an issue. Here are seven different areas that are worth thinking about and, of course, discussing with your professional advisers.

Research & Development

Companies involved in qualifying R&D activity, may qualify for tax relief on certain costs incurred as part of the process. If you’re a small or medium-sized enterprise, this result in additional relief of up 130% on costs incurred. Where a company has made a loss in the year the benefit of this relief allows Small and Medium enterprises to surrender tax losses generated by R&D tax relief for a cash repayment.  

Patent Box Relief

Innovating in your market place with new, patented technologies or inventions? Patent Box Relief allows you to access a lower rate of Corporation Tax on the profits derived from the exploitation of patented technologies and products. While the qualifying criteria are complex, the benefits to companies can see their Corporation Tax liabilities significantly reduced to as low as 10% on these profits where this relief is available.  

Capital Allowances

Don’t overlook this advantageous relief, Capital Allowances are often a valuable relief assisting in reducing a company’s taxable profits, generating deductions of up to 100% of the qualifying capital expenditure incurred. If you have incurred significant expenditure on property renovations in the previous 2 years, a review of the expenditure should be undertaken to maximise any Capital Allowances available which could result in significant tax savings for companies.

Corporation Tax

With a downturn in the economy and some uncertainty surrounding the UK’s position after Brexit some companies are facing the prospect of making a current year tax losses. If a company has previously been profitable and paid Corporation Tax in the prior period there is the potential to utilise current year losses against prior year’s profits and generate a tax repayment.

Foreign Tax Credits

If you are undertaking work overseas, you may find that you suffer a withholding tax on payments received. What you may not realise is that you can claim relief against UK Corporation Tax on a pound-for-pound basis for any withholding taxes which have been suffered potentially generating a repayment. This claim can be made for a period of up to four years, in some cases allowing companies to access significant tax savings.

Tax-efficient remuneration and benefits

We always encourage our clients to think about what savings can be made in other areas of their business. Staff costs will typically be a significant cost to most company’s therefore any savings that can be access in this area are usually welcome. Simply changes like moving to an alternative provider for your Corporation Benefits package can result in significant cost savings for a company as well as great some tax efficiencies for your employees as well, for example moving to a salary sacrifice pension scheme.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Why weak personal security is a risk to business too

Many businesses are becoming better protected in the IT sphere, argues Jono Wilson of Barnett & turner, but the lax personal security of employees can still pose a risk.

We’ve all become quite used to the idea of enterprise security. In business environments, there are often well-defined procedures and protocols for using IT and most companies understand the potential risks.

But what about our personal security? We’re often less careful outside the work environment and many of us have a large digital footprint.

Email is a particular concern. If you think about it, your email address is a linchpin for pretty much everything else you do online. It’s the primary building block for most authentication. If you need to reset a password, where does the link get sent?

Many of us can get quite lax over password protection too. We’re asked to remember so much information for so many different online contexts, we end up going for the easy option and repeating the same letter/number combination.

Perhaps in a business, you’re encouraged to change your password every 30 days. But when did you last change it with your home ISP? In some cases, it can be five, ten or even fifteen years ago. So if there’s one thing you definitely do as a result of reading this short article, my plea would be that you go and change that personal password. Don’t put it off until next week or next month, as it’s way too easy to forget.

If someone manages to get into your personal email, it can easily help them to gain access to other services too. A door is thrown wide open. And this can have a knock-on effect to the enterprise environment too, as it may be that personal emails feature in multi-factor authentications.

Another issue is that people may not even know their personal email has been compromised and, if they do find out, they lack the expertise or resources to sort things out.

One very useful free site is https://haveibeenpwned.com/. You simply type in your email address and it will give you a description of any compromising activity on the account. At least then, you’re aware and in a position to take some action.

As a business owner or manager, it may be worth talking to your staff about the potential issues that arise with private security online. After all, there’s no point in investing in your own security when it can be undermined by the personal email accounts of your employees.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Helping employees live your brand

How your staff can become ambassadors for the business… Jono Wilson, managing partner of accountancy firm Barnett & Turner, shares his insight on how your team members can play an important role in promoting your brand.

Your company’s brand is one of your most valuable assets. It’s what differentiates you in the marketplace and cements your reputation. When employees believe in the brand, a business will prosper. So here are a dozen quick tips for ensuring that everyone is playing their part in the process.

Ensure brand alignment

It’s essential to ensure that both employees and the leadership team understand what your brand stands for. Any lack of clarity from the top will mean employees don’t understand what is expected of them, which will translate into a confusing experience for your customers.

Communicate the vision

Make sure your employees understand the brand proposition. It’s vital that everyone is speaking from the same page when it comes to who you are and what you do, so make sure you have communicated the vision effectively. How can your team deliver on the corporate brand promise if they aren’t clear about what it is?

 Keep it simple

Your brand needs to have simplicity at its heart. Some marketers can alienate their internal audience by creating an overly complex brand structure that is difficult to execute for employees.  

Make your employees the hero

Celebrate your employees in your brand materials and put them front and centre. Ditch the generic stock imagery or shots of your slick new building and create imagery centred around your teams. 

Educate your employees

Provide your employees with training and guidance about how to represent and live the brand. Map out the customer journey with them, helping them identify what materials to use and how to ensure a cohesive brand experience.  

Create great content

You must create compelling and relevant content that will inspire employees to spread the word. Company news, articles and press releases can be fine, but interactive and design-rich media such as infographics, images and videos will work much better.

Invest in design

Make your employees proud of your brand and its content by ensuring it looks the part. Today people are far more design savvy than ever before and regularly consume design-rich content. Make sure your brand can stand up against not just your competitor set, but also the brands that your employees are interacting with. 

Don’t be over-protective of your brand

You should have the confidence to let employees present your brand in a way that feels authentic to them. Give them the understanding, tools and guidance and then let the brand breathe. Not every employee is the same and one size does not fit all. Different types of people require different tactics in order to turn them into brand ambassadors, so try to have as flexible an approach as possible and build a full brand tool kit that they can draw from.

Don’t be afraid of social media – let employees tell the brand story

When social media first became popular, many employers banned its use at work because it was a distraction. If you want your employees to post, tweet and snap about your business, you’ll need to relax those rules. Also, give employees the opportunity to attend industry events and conferences where they can meet clients and get the chance to promote the brand to their peers or competitors. 

Make it easy to share and keep them informed

Send out a weekly company-wide email that includes all content (news, articles, events, images etc) that employees can share. They know their clients best and can send on information that is timely and accurate. You should also encourage employees to follow, like and share the firm’s social media updates with their networks. 

Internal networking

Encourage internal networking by providing a forum for staff to interact with each other. It will help facilitate sharing of information, peer-to-peer learning and idea generation. You would be surprised how much practical insight can be brought into your branding communications.

Listen and act on feedback

Engage in a two-way dialogue with your employees. Invest the time to listen to your staff and provide them with a forum to influence the direction your brand takes. This might include an annual survey where employees can provide candid anonymous feedback. 

Finally, remember your brand is not static. It can morph over time and should be as dynamic as your organisation and its people. Always look for it to evolve.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Online support that helps charities tackle fraud writes Yvonne Lovett of Barnett & Turner accountants.

Cyber fraud is sadly on the increase and it’s an issue charitable trustees simply can’t afford to ignore. In fact, the government estimates that 70% of all fraud is now committed online.  These scams can be complex and difficult to detect.  They normally involve hacking into your system or taking your identity.  

Here are 10 steps to protect yourself in cyberspace:

1.    Make sure that your network is protected by a suitable firewall and malware protection is kept up-to-date (cyber criminals are constantly attempting to defeat protective defences)

2.    Apply updates and patches at the earliest opportunity to limit exposure to software vulnerabilities

3.    Make sure that all access to your programs is protected by strong passwords, and these are known to only essential personnel and frequently changed

4.    Use a hierarchy of passwords, so – for example – only the financial controller may access the accounts system and bank account

5.    Make sure that all users are trained to accept (and open) emails only from known sources;

6.    Remove unnecessary software and default user accounts (these are often supplied with the software and often no attempt is made to prevent access by their removal)

7.    Restrict access by mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones to critical services such as the accounting system or online bank accounts

8.    Make sure that the network configuration is secure to restrict system functionality to the minimum required for operational needs, and apply this to every device that is used to conduct business

9.    Make sure that staff are trained to prevent and recognise cyber fraud activity

10.Impose “perimeter defences” to block unnecessary access to insecure websites, or only allow permitted websites to be accessed

The Charity Commission is aware of trustees’ vulnerability and there is a useful website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/protect-your-charity-from-fraudto improve awareness of trustees and trust directors.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

2019: the year VAT goes digital

April onwards sees a major change in the way that businesses have to file VAT. It’s time to get prepared, says Jono Wilson of accountancy firm Barnett & Turner.

April 2019 is looming fast and that means a big change in the way in which we account for VAT.

From that date, any VAT-registered individual or business above the threshold will have to comply with the new Making Tax Digital regime. There may be some leeway for people who have registered for VAT voluntarily, but anyone else will have to file quarterly returns online.

It’s important you’re fully compliant and up and running by the deadline, so now’s the time to talk to your professional adviser. They’ll be able to help you select the most appropriate software, such as QuickBooks or Xero unless bridging software can do the job for you.

If you’re currently using Excel spreadsheets or keeping paper-based book-keeping records though, there’s no doubt the new system may come as a big change and you have some decisions to make. So the sooner you can make the transition, the better.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

A Free Gift from The Taxman

In the run-up to Christmas, it’s normal to see plenty of national charity adverts tugging at our heart-strings and asking us to donate to various worthy causes. Everyone will ask the giver to gift aid their donation. Yvonne Lovett of Barnett & Turner Accountants expresses astonishment at how few of her own charity clients take advantage of the scheme.

It never ceases to amaze me that when we first meet a new charity client, how many are not making Gift Aid claims.

Why wouldn’t you? It’s free money and a no-brainer!

Charity trustees should always seek to maximise income for their charity, but we are often given excuses that it’s ‘too difficult to make a claim’, it’s ‘not worth it’ or there is ‘not much money involved’.

Here’s a reminder. For every £100 donation from an individual that a charity receives which can be gift-aided by the giver, the charity can reclaim back £25 from HMRC (while the basic rate of tax is 20%).  Just think. £2,000 in gift-aided donations yields £500 tax back. Surely that’s easier than organising a coffee morning or table top-sale?

So, what’s involved with making a Gift Aid Claim?

Gift Aid Declarations: To claim Gift Aid, every donation must be supported by a declaration. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here, as model declarations and guidance are readily available from HMRC’s website or from charity support websites. If you are a church charity, for instance, then the Parish Resources website is a great help.

Gift Aid Claims: Before your charity can claim Gift Aid, you must register with HMRC by completing and submitting the online application CHA1. If it’s a requirement that you are registered with a charity regulator (such as the Charity Commission or OSCR), you must have done so before registering with HMRC.

There are three ways to claim Gift Aid:

·       Online claims through the Charities Online Service;

·       Use of compliant donor management software; and

·       Paper Claims (it’s still possible to claim using paper forms contrary to popular belief).

 As you would expect, there are some time limits to consider and rules regarding certain types of donations where the donor might receive some benefit, but these are not too onerous and they don’t apply to most straightforward monetary gifts.

Record Keeping:Charities must maintain auditable records of declarations and of receipt of donations on which Gift Aid has been claimed. Most charity’s accounting systems should be able to provide the audit trail required

Oh, and there are more freebies to be had under the Gift Aid Small Donations Schemeor GASDS for short. 

A charity can claim a Gift Aid-like top-up payment on small cash donations (notes, coins and contactless card payments) of £20 or less, a figure which will rise to £30 at the start of the 2019-2020 tax year. There is no requirement to obtain and store Gift Aid declarations. The scheme does not extend, however, to card payments, cheques and bank transfers. The top-up is calculated in the same way as Gift Aid. This means, with basic rate tax at 20%, the top-up payment is worth 25% of the value of the donation. The total value of donations eligible for the top up payment is capped at £8,000.

There we have it. Gift Aid is not too difficult, is it?  So speak to your accountant about it and get claiming! 

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk

Get insured or get fined!

Employers’ liability insurance provides cover for businesses in the event of accidents in the workplace. Your business can be fined up to £2,500 for every day that it doesn’t have proper Employers’ Liability insurance. It can also be fined up to £1,000 if the insurance certificate isn’t adequately displayed in the workplace.

This legislation applies to all businesses except those who employ only family members, including:-

·      Spouse or civil partner

·      Parents & grandparents

·      Siblings & half-siblings

·      Children & grandchildren

·      Step-parents & step-children


Employees who are not ordinarily resident in the UK are also normally exempt. Any insurance policy must be purchased from an authorised insurer and the minimum level of cover is £5 million, as per the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

It’s also worth remembering that any officer of a business who consensually, or neglectfully, fails to put an appropriate policy in place may be proceeded against personally. So, such cover not only makes sound business sense, but ensures you are not breaking the law!

If you’re unsure about your responsibilities, or if you’d like and introduction to an authorised broker to arrange your policy, then make sure to contact your accountant for some guidance.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk