LifeLineIT Cloud IT Global AccountantThey say every cloud has a silver lining and with more companies than ever choosing cloud accountancy packages and software, the reality is it’s not always blue skies and sunshine in this virtual world.

LifeLineIT specialise in helping both accountants and SME’s – the core cloud accountancy market – with their network support and the two key issues we come across are security and availability of efficient Wi-Fi.

Cloud accountancy is ideal for many, as it means businesses have access to their accounts at a touch of a button, wherever they are or whatever time it is. But that only works if you have a good internet connection. Our recent research revealed that unreliable and costly communication networks that limit flexible working are one of the biggest frustrations amongst users.

Nearly half of those we surveyed regularly work remotely on cloud and 80% said access to reliable and fast public Wi-Fi was a concern. There are also frustrations with poor performing broadband, as well as having to pay for inadequate public Wi-Fi – something that is often fast, efficient and freely available on the continent.

It is estimated that one in 10 premises is a broadband and mobile ‘notspot’ (‘hard to reach area’ for broadband) and the Government is working on a number of ways to improve Wi-Fi and broadband, with eight pilot schemes currently underway to look at increasing broadband speeds, particularly in rural areas which are most affected. But again, that’s a major drawback for those who would have chosen a cloud option.

Another key concern highlighted in our research was open networks and public Wi-Fi security, especially given the sensitive and often confidential nature of conducting accountancy work over cloud.

Whilst it is encouraging that the Government is taking the issues around broadband and mobile networks seriously, unfortunately many of the initiatives to improve services will not come into practice until 2016.

However, there is still action that can be taken. The following guidance can help make working on cloud smarter, safer and more cost effective, especially in rural ‘notspots':

  1. Stay safe

Look at creating a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The nature of accountancy is the processing of confidential, financial information, so it is a worthwhile investment and should be subject to strict use throughout your company.

  1. Clean up your computer

Make sure your computer makes the most of open networks or slow broadband by doing everything you can to speed up browsing, such as ensuring your software and particularly your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) is up to date and free from Malware and Adware, which sap your processor power and could compromise your privacy.

  1. Invest in the best

Modern laptops will normally run the latest Wi-Fi standards which will allow you to connect at the fastest and most reliable speeds, but if you are running older hardware, you can buy an external wireless device that connects via your USB port that will allow you to take advantage of more modern standards with your existing computer.

About Daniel Mitchell:

Lifeline IT Founder and Director Daniel MitchellDaniel is a co-founder and director of Lifeline IT, a network support company which specialises in managing IT services for the accountancy and finance industry.

With more than 20 years’ experience and a financial services background, Daniel has specialist expertise in global cyber security and data protection.

For further information about Lifeline IT, go to

The UK tech sector enjoyed robust growth in the last quarter of 2014, avoiding the slowdown seen across the wider UK economy, according to the latest KPMG/Markit Tech Monitor UK survey.

KPMG Tech Survey Global AccountantThe report, which tracks the performance, confidence and employment outlook of UK technology businesses, illustrated that tech sector jobs growth accelerated, delivering sustained improvements that now stretches to five years. It also found the widest performance gap between the tech sector and the rest of the UK economy for almost six years.

According to the report, the UK tech sector enjoyed a robust and accelerated improvement in profitability in the final quarter of 2014. Much of this was down to new business gains, the success of new products and slower cost inflation. At 55.8 in Q4, the index measuring tech sector profitability was the second-highest for any quarter since Q4 2007.

The report also found:

  • Tech sector job creation and new business trends exceeded UK-wide benchmarks by substantial margins in the final quarter of last year, with firms citing a wave of new product launches and greater investment spending as the reasons for a hike in employment
  • More than half of the survey panel (53%) expect a rise in business activity over the next 12 months while only 7% forecast a reduction
  • New orders received by the UK tech sector were well above the 50.0 no-change value, at 60.1, up from 57.9 at the end of Q3.
  • Tech sector job hiring intentions and capex plans remain upbeat for the next 12 months, but are less positive than those reported in mid-2014.

In a word of caution, the survey points out that tech companies tempered their business confidence in Q4 2014, broadly mirroring overall UK service sector patterns, with the latest survey pointing to the lowest level of optimism for two years.

Commenting on the latest Tech Monitor UK results, Tudor Aw, partner and head of technology sector at KPMG, said:

This quarter’s report shows that the concerns highlighted in Q3 2014 about the sector entering into storm clouds have been misplaced. The previous survey showed that while tech sector business activity had been strong, the rate of expansion had slowed noticeably. Remarkably, the final quarter of 2014 marks a period of sustained job creation in the sector that now stretches to five years, something that should be celebrated loudly.

In the run up to the General Election, the message from the latest Tech Monitor UK survey is clear; the tech sector remains a star performer of the economic recovery, and the future looks resoundingly bright in terms of industry growth and job creation

Tech start-ups show greater momentum and resilience than other sectors

The report goes on to provide an in-depth analysis of the UK start-up scene.  It reveals that the number of new tech start-ups is rising rapidly and looks to have reached a seven-year high in 2014, after falling sharply in the direct aftermath of the global financial crisis. Start-up numbers are estimated to have risen by around 40% year-on-year and hit a post-crisis peak in absolute terms in 2014.

It also found that although the UK average survival rate for start-ups has improved in recent years, tech start-ups have outperformed the national average with the sector survival rate at 82%, comfortably above the UK-wide survival trend of 76%.

Commenting on the UK start-up scene, Tudor Aw said:

The survey results echo my personal view that the UK tech start-up scene is vibrant and far outstripping other sectors. For those naysayers, it also shows that they have a higher survival rate than the UK average for all start-ups. I sense momentum is building and that it is only a matter of time when we begin to rival the west coast

Xero has announced its all-in-one cloud accounting and payroll solution in front of more than 700 accountants at its annual FinTech conference, Xerocon.

Gary Turner, Xero managing director said:

XERO Global Accountant Building on top of its existing online accounting solution, the company is able to do for payroll what it has already done for accounting.

Small businesses have been waiting too long for companies to innovate in payroll and improve their experience, which up until now has been painful.

We’re now able to offer each of our 60,000+ UK small business customers an innovative solution within Xero that enables more capability than any of our competitors and talks directly to our accounting solution

With Payroll in Xero, small business owners and their employees can schedule time off, view payment information and more – from any device, at any time.

And for the business owner, there’s no need to worry about submitting RTI to HMRC again, with submissions automatically handled after each payroll, along with PAYE, student loan and National Insurance calculations. The information is then automatically updated in their Xero accounts, with no duplication of data-entry, giving business owners more time to focus on running their business.

This payroll announcement comes alongside the launch of Xero’s business performance dashboard following its recent investment in business intelligence architecture. Using big data for small business to provide a full picture of key financial ratios and performance metrics, Xero empowers small businesses and their advisors with accurate, real-time data to aid in business decision-making.

Next generation banking

The company has also today welcomed revolutionary high street bank Metro Bank to its growing network of automated bank feeds, alongside RBS, HSBC, Natwest and Silicon Valley Bank, enabling more small business owners to simplify their workflow processes between accounting and banking.

Turner added:

In this age where changes to government legislation are constantly making it tougher for UK small business, it is important for us to support our 400,000 small business customers around the world with smart software that will arm them with greater insight, mobility, and control of their core business management

This is just the start of a new wave of innovation we have planned as we further leverage our powerful accounting platform

How You Can Focus Your Board on the Right Risks

by Jim DeLoach and Lindsay Dart

Protiviti Home Logo

In our ever-changing world, the vital importance of board oversight on the risks faced by an organisation has never been greater.

All too often board members express concerns that the risk oversight activity is unstructured and unfocused. So how can a board be sure that its consideration of risks is sufficiently comprehensive and relevant, whilst at the same time being focused on the risks that really matter to the organisation? More importantly, how can accountants contribute to achieving the desired focus?

The U.S.-based National Association of Corporate Directors suggests the following five broad risk categories that apply to every company, regardless of its organisational strategy and unique risks:

Governance risks include the board’s consideration of such matters as CEO selection and compensation, board leadership and composition, board structure, and other governance issues.

Board-approval risks pertain to either specific transactions or parameters within which senior management makes future decisions {e.g., proposed acquisitions, divestitures, major capital expenditures and other significant decisions warranting timely board input}.

Critical enterprise risks are the risks that could be so disruptive that they could threaten the validity of strategic assumptions and the viability of the business model. The criticality of these risks – such as significant regulatory issues, geopolitical uncertainty, commodity price volatility and foreign exchange risks – requires full board engagement, as well as an ongoing management process to identify, mitigate and monitor them.

Business management risks are the myriad of operational, financial and compliance risks embedded within operations that are not considered critical enterprise risks.

Emerging risks are risks not included in the above categories {e.g., effects of new geopolitical developments, climate change, catastrophic events and new security threats}.

The above risk categories can be used by management and accountants to focus on how the board oversees risk. For example:

Governance risks fall within the domain of the board, and board-approval risks require directors and management to agree on the matters the board approves in advance and the timing of board involvement with respect to such matters.

The lion’s share of the board’s risk oversight agenda is directed to the critical enterprise risks and the processes the organisation has in place to identify emerging risks. For critical enterprise risks, the board might expect management to report on the status of risk mitigation efforts and periodically obtain input from executives who have direct responsibility for managing these risks.

With respect to business management risks that are not considered to be critical enterprise risks, the board should expect prompt escalation of significant issues and periodic briefings in specific areas over time. To that end, the board should identify specific categories of business risks that pose the greatest threat and determine whether to oversee each category either at the full board or board committee level.

Properly focused, the board’s risk oversight process can assist senior management in adapting the organisation successfully to rapidly changing markets. accountants can play a key role in contributing to the desired focus by using the aforementioned risk categories.

iZettle, Europe’s number one mobile payments provider, is partnering with cloud based accounting software Xero, in a collaboration that will allow Xero’s small business customers to automatically integrate their accounts with their  iZettle activity in real-time.

Chip and Pin iZettle Global AccountantThe integration, which has been beta tested amongst a handful of small businesses and accountants, will be available to all in two weeks.

Managing business administration such as VAT returns, bank reconciliation and invoicing can be a painful process. Connecting iZettle with Xero relieves that stress and allows business owners, bookkeepers and accountants to work smarter and faster together. Users no longer have to manually input their transactions, deposits and receipts, saving time and reducing errors.

Sian Kelly, director and accountant at Inform Accounting said:

Connecting Xero with iZettle increases business productivity

We no longer have to wait for our clients to input their transactions and we can view their bank balance in real-time, improving the rate at which we can provide business critical recommendations

Jens Munch, VP of strategic partnerships at iZettle added:

Helping small businesses grow and succeed is at the heart of everything we do

We have helped small businesses accept card payments and increase their sales, and now we want to remove further headache and help small business owners manage their accounts in a simple and convenient way

Gary Turner, managing director at Xero contributed:

We’re pleased to have iZettle on-board. Together we’re simplifying financial management for small businesses and we’re confident our customers will appreciate this seamless integration

Flow Online Accounting Global Accountant.jpgGoogle recently released a report showing that small to medium sized businesses that use cloud services are actually 21% more profitable than businesses who don’t incorporate the cloud. The report also found that organisations using the cloud grow 26% faster too.

So the cloud clearly holds great benefits for small businesses, and now the accounting industry is beginning to embracing how the cloud can actually help with your accounting needs too;


The beauty of the cloud software is that you no longer have to pay costly upfront fees, only smaller fixed monthly fees. You know exactly how much all your accounting needs will cost you in advance. As cloud software is all managed remotely, when there are any updates released you don’t need to buy them or spend time downloading them, you automatically get the benefit of the updates at no added charge.


Once you have signed up to the cloud you can literally access your accounts from anywhere, using any device that is connected to the internet. What’s more, you aren’t restricted to one user have access or being tied down to one desktop as you could be with other accounting packages. Giving you ultimate freedom and minimum restrictions.


You no longer have to stay late in the office if you want to check you books, you can literally do it within a matter of minutes from the comfort of your own home. Navigation through your accounts is straightforward and user friendly, simplifying your processes. Also software updates will all be done by your service provider automatically, so you don’t have to waste time waiting for the latest version to download.

Quick financial management reports

Managing your accounts has never been so easy. Cloud accounting software offers user friendly navigation and really allows you to drill into your business. Through the click of a few buttons you can easily generate new management reports, forecasts and graphs to demonstrate the health of your business.

Real Time Collaboration with your Accountant

Cloud accounting is the perfect tool to use in collaboration with an accountant, giving you full interaction and advice on a daily basis. To successfully run a business you should always know how strong the health of your cash flow is, or if your clients are taking too long to pay. Combining cloud accounting with a fully qualified accountant will give you access to up to date relevant information and from there you can plan other parts of your business accordingly – you can work together effortlessly to ensure your books are kept straight all the time.

At Flow, we use the industry leading software providers and combine them with fully qualified and experienced accountants to ensure each of our clients gets the most from the cloud. Cloud accounting is a great tool that will continue to grow and grow over in the coming years.

Flow Online Video (Double Click to Full Screen Viewing):

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), the UK’s professional membership body for tax advisers, and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), the professional body for those providing UK tax compliance services, have overhauled their approach to HR and payroll with the help of Cascade, an independent subsidiary of IRIS Software Group

The charities have invested in Cascade’s fully integrated and secure cloud-based HR and HMRC-recognised payroll software; a decision which marks CIOT/ATT’s desire to work ever-smarter and better tackle industry challenges. The solution – comprising core HRpayrollworkflow and self-service functionality – is being implemented this quarter, before it goes live and is gradually rolled out from January 2015.

Licensed for up to 200 employees, the software will help the CIOT/ATT with its somewhat complex payroll scenario. The Institute and Association must accurately remunerate 74 permanent members of staff, plus biannual invigilators and employees of affiliated organisations for which payroll bureau support is provided.

The more intuitive system will also ensure complete integration of the CIOT/ATT’s payroll and HR functionality, replacing the limiting payroll technology previously being used.

Managers and employees will be empowered to submit their own information, which the software will automatically feed to the right people, at the right time. This will avoid duplicate data entry, reduce the likelihood of error and free up the HR team’s time to concentrate on more value-adding personnel management activities. Proactive workflows will also encourage the adoption of best practice HR procedures throughout the organisation.

CIOT/ATT’s HR manager Lesley Hinchliffe said:

CIOT Tax Logo Global AccountantWe knew the time was right to invest in a user-friendly system that would improve our approach to HR and payroll, and heighten our ability to produce meaningful management reports. In 2015, we will be able to better analyse absences, measure the cost and frequency of joiners and leavers, and produce monetary-based projections for so many other facets of the organisations. We will also adopt electronic payslips, saving us time and money, and improving our environmental credentials.

Due to the nature of our organisations, we care a lot about professional development, compliance, metrics, and precision, and I think it is important that our HR strategy helps us uphold these same principles

Cascade’s Project Manager Katie Sykes added:

We demonstrated our proposed solution to a team of decision makers – including Lesley, her job share HR manager, the head of IT, head of finance and director of member services and operations. It gives us a real sense of achievement to know we satisfied all of their requirements, from a usability, technology and ROI point of view

John Coldicutt, IRIS Software Group’s Chief Marketing Officer added:

We’re proud that professional bodies like the CIOT and ATT are using Cascade Payroll for their own RTI tax submissions, it shows how trusted our compliance software is across the UK

Cloud Sage Global AccountantOnePoll survey reveals firms are missing out on real-time finance because they don’t think their business is big enough for the technology

Nearly half of UK SMBs are not making the leap to cloud accounting because they think their businesses are too small, a new poll has revealed.

The survey of 500 SMB owners conducted on behalf of Xero showed that 46% of spreadsheet users didn’t think their businesses were big enough to warrant switching to more efficient cloud accounting software.

Gary Turner, Managing Director at Xero said:

XERO Global Accountant It’s alarming that so many small firms still believe cloud software is expensive or only relevant for big businesses. In fact, the opposite is true. For less than the cost of your morning coffee, even the smallest startup can invoice on the go and take tighter control of their cashflow and financial performance

The poll also found that those who used manual records were also less likely to seek regular financial advice. Desktop software users were the most likely to frequently use an accountant (59%), followed by business owners using cloud or online solutions (44%). Those who stick with paper records were the most likely to struggle on alone (41%).

While over half (56%) of those who used a financial advisor said they had a ‘very good’ relationship, the survey showed that cloud accounting software users were by far the most enthusiastic (71%).

SMEs can now obtain finance directly through their accountancy software, as a new partnership with KashFlow and leading peer-to-peer lending platform MarketInvoice comes into force. The deal, which gives small and medium sized enterprises access to investors direct from their accountancy software, is the latest move to signify the importance of the accountancy world in the rapid rise of alternative finance.

The partnership aims to help SMEs access finance more quickly and more easily than ever before. More than half (52 per cent) of small businesses are reported to find the availability of credit to be “poor” or “very poor”

John Coldicutt, CMO of KashFlow said:

KashFlow Global AccountantSMEs are being squeezed for credit options as their pool of traditional lenders is shrinking and becoming more reluctant to provide loans

In the meantime, the UK’s alternative finance market has grown 140 per cent this year already. Unpaid invoices are the bane of many smaller businesses and can even dictate whether a company can continue. The combination of KashFlow and MarketInvoice now not only identifies where businesses are owed money but allows them to recoup finances on the same day

Anil Stocker, Co-founder and CEO of MarketInvoice, said:

Market Invoice Global AccountantAlternative finance is all about making life easier for business owners. With this partnership we can offer Kashflow users access to finance with just three-clicks of a mouse. With this kind of fast, flexible invoice finance, businesses have a genuine alternative to an overdraft facility, which banks have been scaling back in recent years

KashFlow’s online accounting software has long made bookkeeping and accounts easier for business owners and managers. The new partnership with MarketInvoice will provide a further boost to cash-flow, as by using MarketInvoice, businesses can upload and sell invoices on the peer-to-peer platform, giving same day access to funds otherwise tied up in unpaid invoices. Since launch in 2011, nearly £300m of invoices have been traded through MarketInvoice.

KashFlow users connect their accounts with the MarketInvoice application form in just three clicks. With all relevant data in one place, the application process is vastly improved and MarketInvoice can reach a lending decision in only 20 minutes. In addition, once businesses are approved to use MarketInvoice, they can continue to sell invoices online to their pool of investors through KashFlow.

UK companies admit they are considering turning to ex-hackers in a bid to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals, according to the latest research from KPMG.

ICAEW IT Computers Global AccountantKPMG surveyed 300 senior IT and HR professionals in organisations employing 500-plus staff to assess how the corporate world is ‘skilling-up’ to protect itself against cyber security breaches.  The survey revealed that many companies are becoming increasingly desperate as they struggle to get the right people on board.

Nearly three quarters (74 percent) say they are facing new cyber security challenges which demand new cyber skills.  For example, 70 percent admit their organisation ‘lacks data protection and privacy expertise’.  The same proportions are also wary about their organisation’s ability to assess incoming threats.

The majority are candid enough to admit that the shortfall exists because the skills needed to combat the cyber threat are different to those required for conventional IT security.  In particular 60 percent are worried about finding cyber experts who can effectively communicate with the business – vital to ensuring that cyber threat is well understood by corporate leaders outside the IT department.

While 60 percent claim to have a strategy to deal with any skills gaps, it is clear that there is a short supply of people with all the relevant skills. 57 percent agree it has become more difficult to retain staff in specialised cyber skills in the past two years.  The same number say the churn rate is higher in cyber than for IT skills and 52 percent agree there is aggressive headhunting in this field.

According to KPMG’s research, the skills gap is forcing many companies to consider turning to ‘poachers turned game-keepers’ to keep up to speed.  53 percent of respondents say they would consider using a hacker to bring inside information to their security teams.  Just over half ( 52 percent) would also consider recruiting an expert even if they had a previous criminal record.

Commenting on the findings Serena Gonsalves-Fersch, head of KPMG’s Cyber Security Academy, says:

KPMGThe increasing awareness of the cyber threat means the majority of UK companies are clear on their strategy for dealing with any skills gaps. However, they wouldn’t hire pickpockets to be security guards, so the fact that companies are considering former hackers as recruits clearly shows how desperate they are to stay ahead of the game.  With such an unwise choice on the menu, it’s encouraging to see other options on the table

Rather than relying on hackers to share their secrets, or throwing money at off the shelf programmes that quickly become out of date, UK companies need to take stock of their cyber defence capabilities and act on the gaps that are specific to their own security needs.  It is important to have the technical expertise, but it is just as important to translate that into the business environment in a language the senior management can understand and respond

The research comes as KPMG launches a new cyber awareness programme, offering cyber Learning content across the organisation, from C-suites to graduates.  It also includes a ‘bridging course’ designed to help IT and business departments understand the language and risks presented by cyber threats.