Technology

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

Companies House launches its Free Accounts Data Product.  For the first time the public will have access to statutory accounts in data format, allowing users greater opportunity and flexibility to manipulate accounts data.

xbrl Global Accountant

Releasing the data free of charge will demonstrate the UK’s commitment to leading the field in open data.   Making this information available free of charge in data format will open up financial data on companies, increasing transparency and making data analysis more efficient.

Dr Paul Booth Technical Manager at ICAEW’s IT Faculty said:

With this development XBRL moves from being a regulatory burden to a useful tool for businesses. Whilst many businesses now file accounts online it has, up until now, not been possible to download and search a company’s accounts. In the past all that was available for finance professionals was an electronic image of paper accounts, for a fee, which required re-keying in order to do any analysis.

We expect this development will also encourage further increase in the proportion of accounts that are filed digitally.

At present Companies House is holding a lot of company accounts in digital form, but this is being ‘wasted’ so long as users can only get hold of images. We expect that eventually (if not immediately) it will be possible to select a number of companies of interest according to the XBRL-tagged data in their accounts, and then to use the XBRL tags for analysis of the selected accounts, providing good information much more quickly and efficiently.

In addition this will be offered as a free service, which will lead to savings especially to organisations who buy company accounts in bulk, such as credit reference agencies.  Another advantage would be by reducing the need for users of accounts to re-key; there will be fewer opportunities for human error.

Cloud Sage Global AccountantNew research from Sage reveals Scottish and London based business leaders are pioneering cloud computing use and that businesses are ready for the new Sage One Accounts Extra.

When it comes to cloud business, London, Central and Eastern England firms are adventurous first adopters, demanding ‘always on’ connectivity to take advantage of cloud computing and gain a competitive edge. This new research comes as Sage launches Sage One Accounts Extra, an online accounting service for small businesses.

Accountants are pretty computer-savvy when it comes to managing clients online. Over a third (35%) are investing in online business software and offer remote or mobile services. With their feet firmly on the ground, they’re adopting a deft mix of traditional and hybrid online working practices to keep pace with changing business models. Yet with 73% of accountants relying mainly on purely desktop software, there is a huge opportunity given the scale and appetite revealed by businesses who have high hopes to be managing their accounts through cloud solutions in the near future.

New research from Sage UK of more than 400 business owners, directors and decision makers reveals that although business are happy to head online and are familiar with the cloud from Facebook and Twitter, when it comes to business software there is reluctance amongst their accountants to adopt online time and money-saving processes as rapidly as their clients.

London (39%), Central and Eastern England firms (39%) are the ‘pioneers’ looking to invest online in the next year but Glasgow is chasing close on their heels (33%) as an emerging online hub with decision makers initially driving payroll (65%) and CRM (58%) online.

The barriers preventing more businesses moving their processes online include security (41%), a lack of perceived technical experience within the business (20%), and simply not having had the time – 23% claimed to have just not gotten around to it yet – indicating that the cloud is on the horizon.

Business managers in the North and Scotland are more cautious when it comes to the bottom line – 61% in each area say they’d ‘sleep better at night’ when their processes and data are in the cloud. London’s Tech City is leading the business services revolution and is more au fait with cloud (81% understand it and 39% plan to invest more in the next twelve months) while Manchester is more of a science and innovation centre using and claiming less understanding of cloud services (74% understanding and 30% planning to invest).

Computer Sage Global AccountantGlasgow business leaders (33%) have their eye on the cloud and have higher expectations on its savings potential which they are keen to explore, while London is close behind. While one third of business owners in Central and Eastern England see a move to the cloud as a way of reducing office red tape (39% want to invest in the next twelve months), decision-makers in Manchester are happier with the status quo, sticking with desktop computing for now (32%).

The Sage research highlights that UK business is becoming more mobile and flexible than ever in a bid to secure a competitive advantage, with 62% of business responders requiring the ability to access their information and apps on-the-go over the internet at any time.

Paul Tooth, Managing Director, Sage Accountants’ Division said:

Technology is empowering us with new ways to work and making us infinitely more connected. Online software helps people work in more like they’ve always wanted to, and our research shows accountants are looking for new ways of working more securely, more closely and more productively with their clients, but may benefit from moving at the speed their clients are pushing for.

Sage One Accounts Extra enables customers with enhanced forecasting tools, cash flow management, better invoicing, bank integration, multi-currency support and payments integration, and importantly, support UK & Ireland VAT schemes.

Mr Michael Tolan, Director at Langcliffe Ltd. Accountants said of the new functionality:

The extended reach means I’ll deliver a faster, higher-quality service to clients whilst saving them time and cutting down on less strategic meetings and journeys. I care passionately about great client service and this will help me retain and move clients to the vendor whom I regard as leading the market.

Without major investment in ageing bank IT systems the banking industry could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks and operational breakdown according to bank auditors. The report Audit Insights: Banking, issued today by ICAEW,  highlights that banks have under-invested in renewing core systems and no UK bank of any scale that has been in business for many years has an integrated or fully modernised IT system.

The Audit Insights:

ICAEW IT Computers Global Accountant

Banking report, launched by ICAEW’s Financial Services Faculty at its Banking Conference on 18 October gives collective insights from bank auditors on a wide range of risks facing the banking sector, bringing these issues into the public domain.  It not only addresses the requirement for banks to make major investment in IT, but also challenges them to think differently about how their business is run, how staff are motivated and about the banks control and governance systems.  The four flags identified are the need for major IT investment, for cultural and behavioural change, for banks to review their business models to respond to the post crisis regulatory landscape and the challenge of compatibility and consistency of performance reporting.

Iain Coke, Head of Financial Services at ICAEW:

Bank core IT systems are an ageing patchwork of different systems, held together by complex interfaces. They generally work but are increasingly fragile, inflexible and in need of replacement. Replacing them will not be easy and will create the risk of system failures which could disrupt the payments system. No-one knows how much a full system upgrade will cost as major IT projects are notoriously hard to budget for. However, it is likely to cost the largest banks several billion pounds.

Kari Hale, chairman of the ICAEW Bank Auditors’ Working Party and Bank Audit Partner at Deloitte commented:

Banks face a number of evergreen risks that don’t change much over time. In the run-up to the financial crisis too much belief was placed in advances in risk management, and too many people forgot that the fundamentals had not really changed at all. It is important that, in the future, people do not once again fall into the trap of believing that things are different this time

The report also highlighted the inconsistency of banks’ internal models, “Bank capital ratios are a cornerstone of the regulatory system and are increasingly used by analysts to compare banks’ comparative riskiness.” Said Kari, “The larger and more complex banks typically use internal models to calculate their capital ratios, but the operation of these models is subject neither to regular inspection by regulators nor to audit. Recent work by regulators has highlighted inconsistencies between banks internal models. Given their importance, the reliability of these internal models is a major issue that needs to be addressed.”

Ian continued:

Banks currently face pressure from all sides to change their culture, become more financially secure and invest for the future while facing escalating regulatory penalties. Our report highlights the major issues that banks and their boards are working hard to address, but where there are no easy answers. Addressing them will require long term thinking at a time when there are many short term pressures affecting banks, including regulatory pressures to make them more stable and secure.

The increase in corporate fraud is a serious issue and the Companies House fully appreciates and wants to do all it can to help in resolving matters. Companies House has reported, there are approximately 50-100 cases of corporate identity theft every month in the UK.

Fraudulent activities such as;

  • Registered Office addresses changed without company approval
  • Individuals being appointed as an officer of company without their knowledge or consent
  • Company names being changed without permission
  • Invalid addresses being used for a company’s registered office and/or as an address for a company officer
  • Internal Disputes between company officers involving the filing of invalid documents.

The cost of time and reputation damage can be devastating to a business, which is medium-sized and trying to establish itself in such difficult economic times.

Professional accountancy practices, which provide Companies House filing services will know well that it is an enormous task to maintain and monitor all their clients detail and data accuracy. Furthermore, to be able to monitor any change to client data at Companies House prior to change and to be able to protect their clients from being a victim of fraudulent activity is essential.

It is essential that every client of a practice have trust in their accountants and that their data is filed in a timely manner, secure and monitored diligently.

Companies House in its 2013 / 2014 Business Plan have announced that it will continue to work with accountancy software providers to build on the significant increase achieved to date in the number of accounts being filed via software, as more of the software packages become iXBRL enabled.

Since 1997, one product that has already been put to the test by the market is Digita Company Secretarial software; today it is part of the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters.

Andrew Flanagan, managing director, Digita, Thomson Reuters Corporation explains:

Andrew Flanagan Digita Global AccountantDigita Company Secretarial is currently being used by a wide variety of accountants; from sole practitioners to big four firms. Accountants not only use Digita Company Secretarial to assist in monitoring changes to client data stored at Companies House in Wales, but also are able to maintain their client details without having to worry about fraudulent activities. The software is capable of monitoring any change request. It can securely file annual returns and iXBRL accounts through API (Application Programming Interface) integration with Companies House.

Our team at Digita believe all regulatory fillings will likely to be filed via the cloud in the near future. Our “Journey to the Cloud” is based on this motivation. We have a range of products that all can integrate with each other, which makes the professional accountants role much more aligned with the 21st century; leaving them to communicate and analyse data.

Thomson Reuters Digita Global Accountant

The integration ability of Digita Company Secretarial is a welcomed feature; it saves time and reduces the risk of input error by interfacing with software packages such as Autonomy and Virtual Cabinet.

The software in its new version 10 can be installed over a network of computers or a standalone PC. Enabling a team of accountants to update and monitor client details simultaneously.

Elizabeth Eyre, Partner, Elizabeth Eyre Limited said:

Security and maintaining our reputation is an important issue. The software allows us to file electronically with Companies House and adds an extra layer of security that clients like.

Kevin Lyons, Managing Director, The MKL Partnership commented:

We consider this to be a vital tool for our business and have been very satisfied with this latest version. The additional developments and integration with the remainder of the suite have streamlined many of the processes for us.

Companies House is planning for the coming years and is aware of the increasing rate of change in the accounting and business landscape. In improving its service, it is progressing further towards digital by default through increased uptake and enablement.