Insight Associates provide outsourced accounting and Finance Director services to ambitious and growing businesses. We work as your only resource or with existing staff to give you complete financial support including monthly management accounts, high level financial advice, robust controls and financial systems, funding and business planning, payroll & compliance, VAT returns and statutory compliance.

Successful business leaders have all the information they need to make good decisions…Do You?

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Chancellors Naughty and Nice List

After mulling over The Chancellors autumn statement with our good friends at McBrides we came to the conclusion that it contained a little ‘festive cheer’ without too much to ‘wine about’ but as expected there were no ‘great surprises’.  So, in true Christmas spirit we've put together a few of the things on the naughty and nice list...

Chancellors Nice List

  • Earlier this year GDP growth forecast was 0.6% this has now more than doubled to 1.4%.
  • Unemployment is lower than anticipated at 7.6%. We now have the lowest proportion of workless households for 17 years.
  • From 2015 businesses will be exempt from paying the 13.8% Employers National Insurance Contributions over the basic threshold of about £7500 for employees aged between 16 and 21.
  • Business rate increases are linked to inflation. They were due to increase by 3.2% but have been capped at 2% and small business rate relief has been extended for a further year.
  • There is a £1000 incentive support for retail businesses and a discount on business rates for occupancy of previously empty premises.

Chancellors Naughty List

  • Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney suggests he will consider raising interest rates when unemployment falls to 7% which is now predicted to be 2015.
  • Employers National Insurance Contribution savings for employees on minimum wage under the age of 21 could potentially be as little as a few hundred pounds per year.
  • There has been a big slap on the wrists for those naughty Limited Liability Partnerships who have been abusing their LLP status for tax planning purposes. Bringing people in as ‘self-employed’ LLP members (when they should in fact be employees) to avoid paying the 13.8% National Employers Insurance will not be tolerated. On 6th April 2014 three new ‘test’ criteria will be introduced to put a stop to this.

Download the full autumn statement here

Download the podcast of Garry Mumford's Autumn Statement Business Hub interview with Nick Paterno here

Monday, November 11, 2013

Script from the Crypt - A Scary, Wary Tip from our Business Hub Script

In the part time finance director role we fulfill for clients we frequently unearth ghoulish hidden costs that send shivers down our spines!

In a recent scary wary tip from Garry’s Business Hub Script he highlighted hidden insurance costs that are often found in Operating Leases for things such as photocopiers and office equipment.

The equipment is effectively rented to you, and as the owner (the leasing company) has no control over the equipment at your premises, they need to ensure the goods are insured.

To do this they add a clause to the lease agreement stating it must be insured by you.  However, this can be missed by the Lessor as it’s hidden away in the small print.  So, to overcome that, they add a further clause saying they will charge you for their own equipment insurance unless you prove to them in writing within say 30 days that the equipment is already insured (and verified by the insurer).

Whilst we agree that their equipment should be insured, the policies they impose are often very costly, and since the payments are taken by direct debit they often slip through unchallenged.

Are you paying twice to ensure your equipment? We'd like to hear your views.

You can listen to the audio podcast and access the full script from the link to our business hub page.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Common Accounting Mistakes Smaller Businesses Make - 2

When it comes to profound words of wisdom, 'ensure you keep all your paperwork', probably isn't going to make it to any Top 10 Literary List, but all the same, that shouldn't detract from its' importance to small businesses.

Not ensuring you keep all the paperwork is a common accounting mistake that many small businesses make, as outlined in Garry's recent radio interview.

Getting and keeping receipts and proper paperwork for all business transactions is key. It’s an absolute must if you are VAT registered, and still essential if you’re not.

It’s incredible how often we see business owner managers lose significant sums of money on legitimate businesses expenses they can’t prove!

Consider every spend in your business and ask 'can this be legitimately claimed as a business expense?' then ensure you get a suitable receipt to prove it.

Simple things like buying coffee for a business meeting, small items of stationery, travel and subsistence, the list goes on. It’s important you only claim for things that are wholly, necessarily and properly business expenses… so if you can claim, why wouldn’t you?  If you’re VAT registered you get tax relief on them and the VAT back as well! Just think, if you don't claim, you're paying these sums out of your own taxed income!

So good record keeping is critical … down to every last little bit of paper.

If you’re not well organised there are some good phone apps around that can help you by scanning items, or you can give all your receipts to an assistant or your accounts person, as quickly as you can before you lose them!

Whatever you do don’t miss the opportunity!"

On a lighter note... When visiting a remote village in the Gambia my husband and I were introduced to a tribal elder to pay our respects and receive words of wisdom - after surveying us for some time she held out a container and beckoned  us forward. The words of wisdom we received were...  'put money in bucket'... a clear and simple sales message!... I didn't ask for a receipt!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Common Accounting Mistakes Smaller Businesses Make - 1

Small businesses without access to an accounts department are guilty of some common mistakes and misconceptions when it comes to their financial management...

The first mistake is 'not keeping accurate records and not keeping them up to date'.

How often do you hear people say they're frantically pulling together a years' worth of receipts for their accountant/book keeper.  I'm sure you've encountered this 'supermarket carrier bag' mentality - the bundles of receipts shoved into a shoe box for someone to make sense of at the eleventh hour.

Most people venture into business to make money. Financial fear; through lack of understanding; makes them ignore it. So my advice to you is get help!  A 'once a year financial position' is asking for trouble.

If you aim to maximise financial returns for your business you need up to date, accurate information to understand how you're doing (good or bad) so you can take appropriate action.Those that are making an attempt to keep and maintain records tend to fall into the group that sees 'doing the books' as a 'chore'. Quite simply, they're not a chore! They can be the difference between failure and success and whilst I may argue that the owners time may be better spent driving the business forward this is an essential business discipline that must be carried out regularly and well.

we'll be posting more 'common accounting mistakes' soon... meanwhile you're welcome to share your thoughts on the subject with us.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Have You Seen Evidence of Economic Growth?

Economic growth in the UK for the second quarter of the year has been revised up to 0.7% by the Office of National Statistics as reported by the BBC today.

GDP in the three months to June is 1.5% higher than the same period last year and adds weight to the evidence of economic recovery gaining momentum after a four year stagnation period.

All four major sectors of the economy (services, industry, agriculture & construction) have seen growth.

Financial services, restaurants and hotels lead the pack in the service sector but services as a whole peformed best being 2.8% higher in June this year than last year.

If you've noticed improvements in your sector and have identified growth opportunities but are constrained by your financial skills then we'd like to work with you to develop your business to the next level.

Our Radio Show Podcasts have tips & advice on business finances - please help yourself.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Leaner, Meaner and Keener... but I wouldn't be without...?

On the BBC this week Business Correspondent Emma Simpson reported on a Foundry in Shropshire forced to lay off dozens of workers in 2009 that have now begun to see some evidence of recovery in their sector.

In its’ heyday the business generated £6m a year with 150 staff but this year they expect to make a £1m turnover with just 15 staff. 

To survive, the business has made dramatic changes in the way it operates.  The small workforce ‘mucks in’ and does everything, fighting for every order and keeping prices low. Company cars have long gone as have support staff and van drivers, but one area that raised an eyebrow for me was that they no longer have a bookkeeper.

I can only assume they must have access to someone with a good understanding of all things financial or how else would they know how to set their pricing, which of their products are financially viable, and where further savings can be made.

Which leads me to my question…  if you had to make savings in your business… what ‘essential’ would you really not be able to do without?

You can read the full BBC article here.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Paying for Payroll Errors

A mistake on the payroll is a sensitive area for employees and employers alike.

HMRC have recently forced some employers to pay lost tax and national insurance costs from payroll errors made several years ago.

Rather than seek unpaid tax from the individual HMRC have made the employer pick up the cost of the error.

So that’s even more reason for rigorous processing and compliance checks!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Beware Bogus Bank Details

Hands up if you’ve seen invoices with ‘please note the changes to our bank details’ stamped on them?

At Insight Associates we see them all the time and to keep suppliers happy most businesses action the changes immediately.

Unfortunately those naughty fraudsters have clocked this and are sending bogus bank detail changes to unsuspecting businesses.

Don’t fall foul of their devious tactics (even if you receive official looking documents on company headed paper!)

A quick call to your regular contact (using your usual telephone number) will keep you one step ahead of the fraudsters.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Accountants are boring! Not at Insight Associates!

Accountants are boring!

Well, that’s the usual perception of accountants anyway but here at Insight Associates we pride ourselves on being a bit different.

To raise funds for Comic Relief the Insight Team had a ‘wear your onesie to work’ day with costume styles ranging from cute, to cuddly, to colourful and crazy!

Well done to everyone who took part and everyone who supported this worthy cause.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Would you trust the US politicians to run your business?

It has been entertaining over the past month or so to see the US politicians again bickering and arguing over the management of the US economy much like they did a couple of years ago over raising the debt ceiling.

This time it is all about the so called “fiscal cliff”, which basically comes down to various spending cuts being imposed and tax relief's being removed if they don’t agree something else. This which will almost certainly drag the US back into recession and probably a lot of the rest of the world with it!

And every time - it is all so last minute!  Where would we be without the 11th hour?

These guys are charged with the task of running the world’s largest economy, yet they act like kids in charge of a candy stall. My question is, would you run your business like this?  Of course you wouldn't … or in fact do you?

We see it time and time again that often through ignorance or denial, business owners and managers do not ensure they have the facts in front of them and act accordingly and in good time. If things are going bad they bury their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and just hope the problems go away, or convince themselves that everything will be alright as something positive will happen. Running a business effectively is about having the right information at your fingertips, understanding and questioning it and acting on it. It is not about having Teflon coated underpants!

Why so many get it wrong is a subject for another day, but for now as we enter a new year – ask yourself do you REALLY understand what is happening in your business?  Or are you going to leave it to the 11th hour and then rush around trying to solve a crisis?

Let us know what you think?  Post a comment below.

Insight Associates, Insight House, Riverside Business Park, Stoney Common Road, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8PL, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1279 647447 Fax: +44 (0)1279 814512
Insight Associates is a trading name of Financial Catalysts Limited. Registered in England and Wales Number: 5670047. Registered Office as above. Disclaimer | Cookies