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?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kitty says watch out for fraudulent Purr-chase orders!

While delivering our Outsourced Finance Department service we’re often made aware of situations that all businesses can learn from.

One recent example is a Purchase Order fraud that could potentially incur thousands of pounds worth of costs to unsuspecting victims.

Fraudulent orders were raised purporting to be from a well-known organisation. Those orders were sent to existing and new suppliers (in some cases accompanied by fraudulent telegraphic transfer documents).

Fortunately most suppliers in this instance were quickly able to identify discrepancies in the order process and the National Crime Agency was notified.
If you’re suspicious of a purchase order you have received there are some simple checks you can make:
  • Find an independent contact point for the company and query the order with them. Don’t use email, telephone or website details provided on suspicious paperwork as these are often fake too.
  • Ensure the correct company name/subsidiary name is being used to place the order.
  • Ensure the format of the document is the same as official orders.
  • Be wary of company stamps being used to sign purchase orders rather than actual signatories. 
Do you have a warning story you’d like to share with us?  The lessons you learned could really benefit others.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Companies House Filings

The Department for Business Innovation recently published plans to reduce and simplify the requirements for companies to file information with Companies House.

Positive new measures will include increased flexibility to update basic information held at Companies House at any point throughout the year instead of waiting for the annual return submission. Other registered information will be checked at that time and no further changes will be required for 12 months.

In addition, the introduction of a joint filing tool will enable simultaneous data submission to both Companies House and HMRC.

Whilst these measures could potentially reduce the administrative burden on many companies we would still strongly recommend that a competent person takes responsibility for this… or better still let us take responsibility for all these changes as part of our Company Secretarial Service offering.

If you don’t know what that is then just drop us a line to find out more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HMRC Plans to recover Unpaid Tax from Bank Accounts

July of this year saw the end of the consultation period on the Governments controversial Direct Recovery of Debts (DRD) proposal.

The announcement unveiled at the 2014 Budget proposes to give HMRC powers to recover tax and tax credit debts of £1,000 or over, directly from firms or individuals bank, building society or ISA accounts.

Direct Recovery of Debts would only be used in circumstances when the timetable for appeal has passed and HMRC contact has been ignored on more than four occasions.

The proposed measures will also give HMRC power to put a hold on the debtors bank account whilst they are given 14 days to make arrangement to pay the outstanding tax. After 14 days HMRC are then able to recover the amount owed (but must leave at least £5000 in the bank account).

These proposals are quite controversial and whilst no-one believes debtors should ‘get away with it’, many business owners are concerned that an already under-staffed HMRC will have difficulty implementing DRD without making mistakes.  In fact a 2013/2014 Adjudicators report into complaints made against HMRC stated that 90% of complaints were either partly or wholly upheld!

Do you have any views on Direct Recovery or Debts or have you been pursued by HMRC for debts that have already been paid?  We’d love to hear your experiences – either positive or negative.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Running out of Water

With the average human adult made up of approximately 60% water it’s important to stay hydrated – and even more so when taking exercise - which is why it seems incredulous that the Sheffield half marathon event was cancelled recently due to a lack of drinking water along the route!

So how can such a critical element be overlooked?

It’s claimed the organisers placed an order that wasn’t fulfilled by the water company because they didn’t receive payment in advance (as per their contract terms).

The blame game at this stage doesn’t solve anything – but here’s some advice to prevent critical errors of this nature damaging your business:

  • Yes we know you’ve heard it before but…

    never ASSUME… it makes an ASS out of U and ME!

    Make a point of reading new contracts and fully understand the terms of them – it’s OK to ask questions if you don’t understand.
    If you can’t spare the time then delegate this to a competent employee who can ‘flag’ any unusual terms as and when they arise.
  • Good ‘Purchase Order’ controls are essential as this is the point at which your businesses cash is being committed. There must be a clear ‘authorisation’ process.
  • A diligent Finance Department/Finance Director will implement these types of procedures and controls and ensure the cash is available to make the purchase when required and that all supporting paperwork is processed in a timely manner.
As always, Insight Associates 'Outsourced Finance Department' is only a phone call away if you need someone to take responsibility for this element of your business.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Even Her Majesty Can't Make Ends Meet!

Here at Insight we’re always harping on about the importance of strong financial controls in your business which is why an article in this weeks’ Accounting Web made us raise our eyebrows in alarm!

It seems that during 2012-2013 even the Royal Household has struggled to balance the books under the control of former KPMG partner, Sir Alan Reid, Keeper of the Private Purse and treasurer to the Queen.

Grants and income gave Her Majesty a Gross Income of £42.6m but was exceeded by expenditure of £44.9m. Lucky for them they could draw down the £2.3m deficit from a reserve fund (which now stands at an all-time low).

The over-spend is partly down to the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations – but surely they should have been planning and budgeting for that a long time ago!

Perhaps she should start charging a small fee for the use of her image – which would literally get her cash working harder for her!

Any other useful suggestions anyone?

Register for Free with Accouting Web to view the full article by Rachael Power of Sift Media.

Insight Associates, Insight House, Riverside Business Park, Stoney Common Road, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8PL, UK
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