Technology

grant Thornton Global AccountantIn what is believed to be one of the first of its kind, thousands of Grant Thornton people from member firms in 127 countries gathered online earlier this month to take part in contributing ideas to the next corporate strategy for the fastest growing global accounting organisation.

Held over three days in September using IBM’s InnovationJam technology and generating more than 13,000 comments, findings are now being reviewed and will be presented at the Grant Thornton Annual Conference in Montreal in October, with live streaming to member firms around the world.

Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thronton said:

In 2009, the Grant Thornton global leadership team developed a go forward strategy that we called Ambition 2015, setting reach goals in growth, people development and thought leadership.

Five years later, Ambition 2015 has been a success and now Grant Thornton is looking beyond 2015, and we wanted to tap directly into the wisdom of the crowd for driving our future growth strategy.

Discussion forums were led by Nusbaum, his leadership team and CEOs of Grant Thornton member firms from the UK, US, China, Canada, Sweden and France.

The participation level by Grant Thornton people nearly doubled the average for previous online crowd-sourcing events at major global corporates (37%). More than 24,000 visits and over 13,000 comments were posted in what is believed to be one of the largest online collaborative events held by a global accounting and advisory services organisation.

This highly collaborative social networking exercise, open to everyone from Grant Thornton member firms around the world, was designed to encourage the exchange of ideas between senior management and staff across the organisation.

Ed Nusbaum added:

We wanted to give everyone in the organisation a voice and tap into the wisdom of the Grant Thornton crowd, and the Global JAM was the perfect way to do it.  Topics ranged from how to unlock potential for growth, delivering greater distinctive client service and disruptive technologies.

Participants spanned every age group from 18 to over 60, including all job levels from intern to CEO. Everyone in the Grant Thornton organisation will be able to watch the live stream of the Montreal presentation, followed by a real time questions and comments session.

Joel Waterfield, business consulting director in Grant Thornton’s US member firm, said:

Great experience! Never felt more a part of our global organisation.

Network_Global_Accountant

Unreliable and costly communication networks that limit flexible working are one of the biggest frustrations amongst accountancy businesses, new research has revealed.

A study by network support company Lifeline IT has revealed that despite IT being vital to 70% of businesses and nearly half regularly working remotely whilst ‘on the road’, 80% say access to reliable and fast public Wi-Fi is their biggest concern.

A further 57% cited poor mobile reception and ‘dropping calls’ as another problem, with 49% of those questioned being frustrated at having to pay for sub-standard Wi-Fi.

And with a third of finance businesses admitting they have been targeted by cyber criminals, the safety of remote working is also a key issue, with 78% concerned about the security of open networks used by themselves and their employees.

Commenting on the study, Daniel Mitchell of Lifeline IT said:

LifeLineITSadly, we weren’t at all surprised by these findings. We know from working with our own clients that businesses are becoming increasingly frustrated by poor network connections that are way below standard.

Although there have been huge developments in the range of devices now available so employees don’t have to be desk-bound, the infrastructure needed to service these state-of the-art smartphones and tablets does not always match-up.

It’s particularly frustrating for businesses when they see such vast improvements in other parts of Europe, where efficient, free public Wi-Fi is commonplace.

Now in its fourth year, Lifeline IT’s annual technology trends research polled businesses across finance and accountancy, in order to gain an understanding of the key IT issues they face.

Three-quarters called for improved, safer and free Wi-Fi to be widely available in the UK, and 44% want to see an increase in 4g coverage (fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology).

Last year’s study unearthed some worrying lapses in on-line security, with one in five businesses admitting they used ‘password’ as their password and 30% saying they had even left their password on a post-it note by their desk! However, this year companies are taking the issue of on-line safety more seriously.

Nearly two-thirds admit they are now more security conscious, partly due to the growth in on-line accounting and banking, with well over half (57%) saying they have an IT recovery plan in case they are hacked.

Four out of ten also want to see greater online and mobile security, with widespread use of biometric passwords, such as finger prints, palm prints and voice recognition.

Added Daniel, a founder and director of Lifeline IT:

It is re-assuring to see companies taking the threat of cyber-crime seriously and putting measures in place to safeguard themselves and their customers.

Overall, businesses are now placing more emphasis and importance on IT than they were two or three years ago, which is a positive step forward. Companies are realising that sound investment in the right systems and technology doesn’t have to cost the earth but the benefits can be invaluable.

Lifeline IT is a network support company which manages, sets up and develops IT systems for businesses across a variety of different sectors, including accountancy and finance.

Samsung BusinessNew research from Samsung UK released today suggests British businesses are not taking mobile security as seriously as they should. Trends from the study show that businesses are striving to encourage employees to work from the office or remotely with 75% confirming that mobile devices are connected to their corporate network. Yet with the rise of mobile and flexible working, security breaches are increasingly commonplace, and businesses are opening themselves up to unnecessary risk – over 10% (11%) of businesses have incurred costs of more than £25,000 due to security incidents in the last year.

The study on business mobile security from Samsung UK involved IT decision makers from across a range of UK businesses with key findings including:

  • Security breaches are increasingly common place – roughly one in two companies (47%) have had a company handset lost or stolen over the last 12 months; almost 10% (7%) have had over 200 handsets lost or stolen
  • These breaches are having a real impact – a quarter of businesses (25%) have incurred costs of more than £15,000 over the last year following mobile security incidents; over 10% (11%) have incurred costs of more than £25,000
  • Mobile security is not taken seriously –  Almost a third (30%) of CTOs do not know how many mobile handsets were lost or stolen last year; over a third (34%) do not know how many mobile security incidents in general their business suffered last year
  • Mobile is a growing trend for enterprise as they strive to encourage employees to work effectively and efficiently  – almost 20% (18%) of businesses report that up to five times as many devices connect to their corporate network compared with two years ago
  • Supporting flexible working is priority over mobile security – Less than 10% (9%) of chief technology officers believe improving mobile security is more important than facilitating flexible working and improving software

Graham Long, Vice President Enterprise Business Team, Samsung UK & Ireland, said:

Businesses need to make sure their security keeps up with the increasing use of mobile devices. With more and more employees using their own personal smartphones and tablets for work, neglecting security can be a very expensive mistake to make.

Samsung’s mobile security platform, KNOX is deployed across many businesses in the UK and Samsung recently announced that KNOX has been cleared for use by the UK Government. This approval means that UK public sector workers will be able to enjoy the enhanced performance and rich functionality of the latest Samsung KNOX enable smartphones and devices for the very first time too. This includes a KNOX container solution that separates business and personal use of a mobile device, biometric software and industry-leading mobile device management solutions.

Graham continued:

With flexible working on the rise and an increasing demand from people to be able to do more on one device – whether that’s to work remotely or spend time online shopping during their commute, there is a clear challenge for businesses to keep pace with evolving technology. The challenge for businesses and IT decision makers is to embrace new ways of working but ensure all devices are highly secure and efficient.

Thomson Reuters Global AccountantThomson Reuters, the world’s leading supplier of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced that the ONESOURCE Indirect Tax Research team is in the running to win one of the most coveted awards in tax. The team has been shortlisted for the VAT Team of the Year in the Taxation Awards 2014. These awards are highly thought of and considered the pinnacle of success for teams and individuals in all areas of tax.

The Thomson Reuters Indirect Tax Research team comprises worldwide tax experts whose responsibility it is to maintain the broadest coverage of tax content in over 14,500 taxing jurisdictions in 175 countries worldwide. With more than 350 tax rate updates in just one year alone for VAT, the work of the team is invaluable in saving companies that use the global ONESOURCE Indirect Tax solution significant time, money and critical resources, ensuring they comply with the law and calculate the correct amount of tax. The Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters is committed to provide global tax solutions that help small to medium-sized businesses, multinational corporations and tax practices to manage their compliance processes. It is hoped that shortlisted ONESOURCE customers, British Sky Broadcasting Group and Unilever will also be successful on the day along with shortlisted professional firms that use Digita tax solutions, including Francis Clark, Berg Kaprow Lewis, Watson Buckle, Princecroft Willis and Rickard Keen.

Mike Roberts, managing director, corporate market for the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters, said:

The global corporate tax landscape becomes more complex every day As a result, tax professionals are facing rapid change, increased scrutiny and enormous risk. It’s crucial for them to have technology they can rely on to ensure they are compliant everywhere they do business. It is a real honour for the Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE Indirect Tax team to receive recognition of their work in ensuring ONESOURCE Indirect Tax is a product that merits trust.

Intuit UK announces a major collaboration with PaySuite to provide the first free, fully integrated payroll solution to small businesses in the UK.

With over 500,000 new companies registered in the UK in 2013 alone today’s payroll integration announcement demonstrates Intuit’s commitment to provide 21st century solutions to Britain’s growing businesses.

Intuit Quickbooks Global Accountant

Intuit management said it is proud to be a part of building the UK success story with over 20 years in the marketplace, the recent re-launch of the core QuickBooks suite of products and its continued innovation, including the shift to anywhere, anytime, any device cloud management – enables the software to develop each day, with every small business.

This announcement with PaySuite underlines Intuit’s commitment to work with a number of key home-grown businesses to develop and deliver solutions, built from the ground up for the UK marketplace.

The fully integrated payroll solution, powered by PaySuite, offers QuickBooks Online small business customers a seamless experience when it comes to payday. This product innovation keeps small business operations compliant and accurate, as well as their accountant and employees happy.

In keeping with Intuit’s belief that all small businesses deserve support, the product will be free, to QuickBooks customers, with up to 5 employees, ensuring over 90% of all small businesses in the UK benefit.

Rich Preece, Managing Director, Intuit UK said:

We are committed to UK small businesses and what better way to demonstrate that than collaborating closely with one of the fastest growing payroll companies? With this collaboration we can offer the majority of small UK businesses owners free payroll for themselves and up to five employees; leaving them free to focus on what they love doing.

Stuart Hall, Managing Director, PaySuite added:

As a small business, growing rapidly we loved the opportunity to work with Intuit and integrate fully into their game-changing QuickBooks product. Their commitment to creating a wow customer experience, on both price and integration, shows they really understand their target audience and what small business needs to succeed in today’s world

Recent added product benefits

This latest development to QuickBooks Online will change how small businesses and their accountants manage and run payroll enabling them to:

  • Manage everything in one place – no need to leave QuickBooks Online or login to another system to run payroll
  • Stay compliant – Stay compliant with latest legislation. PaySuite is HMRC recognised and will complete Real Time (RTI) filing to HMRC
  • Easily run payroll  – Users only need to add hours worked by staff for PaySuite to instantly calculate PAYE and National Insurance contributions
  • Easily pay employees – Run payroll in just a few clicks, generate pay slips by email or simply print off
  • Improved Accuracy – Payroll data flows directly to the general ledger, eradicating the need for extra journal entries or double entry
  • Free Support – Same on-shore support received with QuickBooks Online subscriptions
  • Reduce administration – Spend less time recording data and more time on value add opportunities

World Cyber Global AccountantCompliance on the biggest change in reporting standards for a generation has started, and accountants are advised to start work on getting fully up to speed, says accounting software solution provider, Sage UK & Ireland.

With the accounting period start date less than one year away many practices have started to prepare for the transition. Accountants will need to start applying the new standards for client accounts starting on or after 1 January 2015.

One of the biggest changes will see the terminology that UK accountants have been familiar with for years change to match an international standard. Disclosure, measurement and recognition will be the key areas affected.

Sage UK & Ireland said the journey through compliance is complex, and accountants should start preparing for the changes as early as possible to minimise disruption to practices, and clients.

Paul Tooth, Managing Director of Sage Accountants’ Division (UK & Ireland), said:

Sage Global AccountantForward thinking accountants have already begun the process, but the fact is the countdown to full FRS103 compliance should now be well and truly underway. January was the first financial period affected by retrospective application.

It represents the biggest change in financial reporting standards for a generation, vastly impacting on the day-to-day running of practices. If they haven’t done so already, now is the time to prepare the ground for this shift.

Legislation is constantly changing, but during recent changes from RTI and Automatic Enrolment, accountants have proved they are well able to navigate the challenges before them. Sage is also on hand to help, be that through the built-in compliance in our software or the 24-hour support from our customer service team to explain how to handle the impact of legislative change on the business.

Cloud Sage Global AccountantIntuit UK the owner of the accounting software QuickBooks has announced the results of ‘The Changing Role of Accountancy’ study which reveals that 88% of UK small businesses expect their accountants to embrace cloud-based solutions and more than half (58%) are willing to pay more for the privilege.

The research conducted by Coleman Parkes in September and October 2013 on behalf of Intuit UK, highlighted that 40% of SMB’s believe their accountants are far too traditional to move to the cloud and almost two thirds (72%) believe their accountants should update their software to the cloud. This includes being able to service their clients anytime, anywhere and on any device from laptop, tablet and smartphone.

“Intuit’s ‘Changing Role of Accountancy Study’ is a clear message to British accountants to embrace new technology and offer new services. Their clients expect this and many are increasingly looking for their accountants to drop the ‘number cruncher’ label and offer a more “Business Partnership” service by enabling the use of cloud tools.

Mike Williams, Head of Business, Intuit said:

62% of accountants don’t recognise the additional revenue opportunities associated with providing business-consulting advice, despite 95% of their customers willing to pay more

According to the survey nearly two thirds (65%) of small business owners expect their accountants to operate as strategic business advisors with 82% expecting their accountants to be more proactive in developing value added services.

The findings, announced at Intuit’s quarterly meeting of accountants, include:

The Technology Divide

88% of the two hundred small businesses interviewed believe that it is important for their accountants to embrace cloud-based technology or will soon expect them to. Unfortunately, only 61% of the one hundred accountants think their clients would like cloud-based accounting solutions, and an even smaller proportion (37 %) are offering these services already.

Adding Value

Small businesses questioned 82% expect their accountants to be more proactive in developing value added services. This includes increasing their skills base (80%), modernising their brand (72%) and updating their accountancy software (69%). This would help them to move to the position of consultant or advisorEncouragingly half of accountants agree that they need to strategically change their position in the market and 42% see the cloud enabling them to do this.

Revenue opportunities

The good news for accountancy firms is that nearly all small businesses surveyed are prepared to pay for the additional services they demand including business consulting advice (65%), project financing and reporting (72%). More than half (58%) of those surveyed would pay for cloud-based accounting solutions. An opportunity that accountants aren’t capitalising on as just over a third (37%) recognized how this would help them increase profits.

Charlie Carne, Charlie Carne & Co commented:

Using a cloud-based system has enabled us to increase the range of services that we offer. It also allows us to respond more effectively to our clients’ needs. Intuit’s report, ‘The Changing Role of Accountancy’, indicates that our experience is very much part of a growing trend today. Clients increasingly expect their accountants to offer cloud based services and they are looking for a better, richer offering that will help them to focus less time and energy on accounting and more on growing their business.

Stephen Saw, Project Manager at Coleman Parkes:

The findings from ‘The Changing Role of Accountancy’ study highlight todays trend in services. Technology is a key enabler and SMBs can see a move to online and cloud based solutions are the way forward. It’s vital that accounting firms modernise in line with their clients’ requirements to stay at the forefront of the game, those who don’t will inevitably get left behind

intuit quickbooks Global AccountantThe purpose of Intuit’s ‘Changing Role of Accountancy’ study was to establish a comprehensive set of insights to determine how the accountancy profession is changing against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technological advancements and heightened client expectations, specifically related to  cloud based offerings.

The UK’s top companies are not considering cyber risks in their decision making, a new survey from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has revealed.

The survey of FTSE 350 firms showed only 14 per cent are regularly considering cyber threats, with a significant number not receiving any intelligence about cyber criminals.

However 62 per cent of companies think their board members are taking the cyber risk very seriously, and 60 per cent understand what their key information and data assets are.

David Willetts, Science Minister, said:

The cyber crime threat facing UK companies is increasing. Many are already taking this extremely seriously, but more still needs to be done.

We are working with businesses to encourage them to make cyber security a board-level responsibility.

To tackle the growing threat the government is working with industry to develop an official “cyber standard” which will help stimulate the adoption of good cyber practices among business.

Backed by industry, the kitemark-style standard will be launched early next year, as part of the £860 million cross-government National Cyber Security Programme.

Mr Willetts added:

The cyber standard will promote excellence in tackling cyber risks, help businesses better understand how to protect themselves, and ultimately increase the nation’s collective cyber security.

BIS’s cyber governance health check was sent to the chairs of the audit committee of the FTSE 350 companies in August via the six largest audit firms.

Each company which completed the survey will be offered follow-up advice from one of the firms, based on their responses.

The anonymous results, published today by BIS, also show:

  • 25% of companies considered cyber a top risk
  • 39% had used the government’s 10 Steps cyber security guidance
  • 56% have cyber on the risk register
  • 17% have clearly set what they see as an acceptable level of cyber risk

Sage Global Accountant

Accessed securely via the Sage Accountants Division Exchange website, accountants will find a full library of pre-loaded, personalised email marketing campaign templates that they can send to clients, prospects and local media with a few clicks of the mouse.

Accountants Business Cloud will also offer real-time reporting, print-ready graphs and powerful analytics.

Ryans Chartered Accountants, Jacobs Allen Chartered Accountants and Trax UK Sage software solutions provider tested a pilot scheme for the new solution earlier in the year.

Steve Porter, Channel Marketing Manager, Sage Accountants’ Division, said:

Accountants will be able to use Sage’s dedicated marketing team as if it were their own, including designers, data analysts and compliance experts. This represents another step in Sage’s ongoing commitment to partnering with UK accountants and giving them the confidence, tools and support to grow their practices. Already providing great accounting software, Sage is now able to streamline and optimise email marketing for accounting practices.

Subscribers will be able to create powerful communications to enable them to:

· Communicate compliance and legislation (e.g. Auto-Enrolment)
· Build brand awareness (lead generation and promoting the practice)
· Generate practice-branded newsletters for clients
· Recommend Sage software to clients

Access to Accountants Business Cloud is currently free for Sage Accountant Partners, with Accountants Club members able to access the service later this year.

ICAEW IT Audit Security Global AccountantAuditors working in IT reveal that every business will have their security compromised and must change their mind set around cyber security. In the ICAEW  Audit Insights: Cyber Security report issued today auditors say that businesses need to be able to tolerate a certain level of security breach and prioritise on protecting what information and data is important to them – their ‘crown jewels’.

For the first time auditors have shared insights and expertise gained from their audits of the UK’s businesses in a report that identifies critical issues for cyber security.

The report highlights four areas of concern that they believe are of most interest and relevance to senior management, non-executive directors, investors, policy-makers and other stakeholders.

As well as highlighting the extent of the breaches in businesses’ digital security and that the scale of the problem is such that decisions need to be made on what is vital to protect, businesses are urged to consider cyber risks in all their activities and see them as an integral part of all strategic planning.

The report also highlights that most businesses don’t implement basic good security practices which, if applied, could prevent up to 80% of security breaches.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Claire Reid, IT audit partner at PwC and ICAEW Audit Insights working group member said:

PwC_logoBusinesses need to expand the focus of their security activities in response to the changing environment. This report outlines a number of recommendations for boards to review their cyber strategy and improve security practices. Furthermore, governments are increasingly interested in the ability of businesses to protect themselves and their wider supply chains against cyber-attacks. Given the importance of the growing digital economy, the impact of continuing security failures on individual businesses may be significant. Government interest in this area is likely to grow, especially if breaches and losses continue to rise.

The Audit Insights: Cyber Security report identified four main issues of concern for business:

Flag 1: Businesses should consider ‘cyber’ in all their activities

Boards have become increasingly aware of cyber risks. However, cyber risks are frequently pigeon-holed as technical risks which are under the province of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). In order to manage these risks effectively, businesses need approach cyber risks as an integral part of business strategy and operations, not as a specialist technical topic.

Flag 2: Businesses need to accept that their security will be compromised

An assumed state of compromise calls for a new mind-set around security. For example, some degree of security breach has to be tolerated as an unavoidable part of doing business in a digital world. Businesses increasingly need to promote operational resilience and prioritise activities which deal with breaches. There also needs to be a change in security culture to emphasise collaboration and information sharing.

Flag 3: Businesses should focus on their critical information assets

Businesses cannot sustain an approach of protecting all their information at all times. Instead, businesses increasingly need to prioritise their information assets and focus their resources on their ‘crown jewels’.  This enables a more sophisticated risk-based approach to security which balances the benefits and costs of security measures.

Most organisations, however, struggle to identify their critical information assets. In order to prioritise and protect their key information assets appropriately, businesses will need to develop far greater discipline and rigour.

Flag 4: Most businesses don’t get the basics right

It is estimated that up to 80% of security breaches could be prevented by implementing basic good practices in cyber security. However, businesses of all sizes and across all industries still struggle to get the basics right. People continue to be the weakest link in implementing effective security and human failings are increasingly being exploited by attackers to gain access to confidential information.

Audit Insights:

Cyber Security is the fourth in the Audit Insights series, following reports into the retail, manufacturing and banking sectors. The Audit Insights series provides an opportunity for auditors to bring their knowledge of a particular sector or issue to the attention of the public, capturing more of the audit value for the public interest. Shared insights and observations have been brought together, in an environment that protects client confidentiality, to produce these reports.

A pdf of the report is attached or the full report can be downloaded http://goo.gl/GhKlM5