"Bookkeepers play an important role in making sure that Scotland's small and medium sized businesses prosper and that's no small undertaking as 93% of all Scottish businesses have fewer than ten employees."
Fergus Ewing MSP
addressing ICB Scottish Conference
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With the start of the 2012 Olympics dawning, all eyes have been on London. For ICB, however, 2012 will be remembered for different reasons as we headed north to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, to host the ICB's first Scottish Conference.
Blessed with warm sunshine and picturesque views of Arthurs Seat, the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel provided a perfect setting for the event which featured presentations from Companies House, the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, RBS, HMRC, the Society of Law Accountants Scotland and Sage.
Joined by members from across the country, the day began with a lively presentation by Neil Butler from Companies House who broke it to delegates that Scotland's online submissions are more likely to get rejected than those from the rest of the UK. All was recovered, however, when Mr Butler revealed that Scotland's paper submissions perform much better than those from the rest of the UK. As Companies House recommended that bookkeepers encourage and facilitate online submissions because rejection rates are generally lower, delegates were reminded that it's the simple things that often cause problems - forgetting to sign being the overall number one cause for a rejection.
Bookkeepers were encouraged to use the Companies House e-reminder service to receive email reminders when it is time to file accounts, however ICB would advise that the e-reminder service will stop the issuing of paper reminders. More information can be found here on the Companies House website.
Following his appearance at last year's Bookkeepers Summit, Adam Tyler CEO of the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB), was invited back to speak to members in Scotland about the commercial potential for ICB members working with NACFB brokers to secure funding for their small business clients. NACFB can also help with invoice factoring, something that 10% of ICB members are asked for help with by clients, according to ICB Annual Members Survey 2012 (HAVE YOU TAKEN PART YET?)
Norrie Cooke from RBS offered delegates further advice for business, in particular for those just starting up themselves or acquiring new start-up clients. ICB looks forward to hearing more from RBS and its work with SMARTA a new resource that could help ICB members who are running their own businesses.
As the day progressed, newly qualified and seasoned bookkeepers alike were treated to an information-packed presentation from HMRC's Barbara Wilson from the Agent Support Team. Pens scribbled hurriedly as Barbara discussed the completion of Self Assessment Tax Returns and offered valuable insights into both sides of the process, guiding members towards the useful manuals available on the HMRC website.
Representing the Society of Law Accountants Scotland (SOLAS) and her own firm Bowman, Elizabeth McGilivray discussed the role of the Legal Accountant and highlighted some important aspects of Scottish law that affect our profession. ICB is particularly delighted to have had the opportunity to be so well represented in Scotland and Ms McGilivray herself seemed quite astonished with the level of work being carried out by bookkeepers, praising ICB members for 'doing a lot more than the traditional idea of keeping the books'.
After lunch, members were treated to a 'Bookkeeper and Client roleplay' by two energetic young reperesntatives from Sage as they debuted the new online Sage package SageOne. As bookkeepers thought about the implications of their clients having full access to the software, Garry Carter reaffirmed his great faith in ICB members and the profession as a whole, congratulating them on their acheivements and showcasing the new online AML Software which has taken the world of anti-money laundering by storm.
Sarah Douglas, one of Scotland's three Regional Chairmen who had lobbied for the event to take place, concluded the conference with her mission statement for the future of Scottish events, and encouraged members to continue to use events and the forum to collaborate with and support each other. Indeed, all members are encouraged to consider applying to be a part of the Advisory Council as new members are voted in next month.
Members and students were then welcomed to the nearby Scottish Parliament for a buffet and drinks reception, hosted by Fiona Mcleod MSP. Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Energy Enterprise and Tourism Minister, who also attended praised the hard work of ICB and its bookkeepers and said, said 'I have a great deal of respect for the work bookkeepers do for Scottish businesses of all sizes'.
The Minister went on to discuss how the SNP is using the Scottish Government's own financial muscle to ensure that public procurement does its bit for the economy by encouraging innovation, ensuring SMEs compete effectively for contracts and providing training and apprenticeship opportunities with major projects.
"Bookkeepers play an important role in making sure that Scotland's small and medium sized businesses prosper and that's no small undertaking as 93 per cent of all Scottish businesses have fewer than ten employees.
"SME's are extremely important to our economy and I am delighted to meet members of the Institute of Bookkeepers at the Scottish Parliament to emphasise the Scottish Government's commitment to supporting small and micro businesses, through measures like the Small Business Bonus Scheme and a comprehensive relief package worth over £500 million in tax breaks each year. "
According to the ICB Annual Members Survey 2012 (HAVE YOU TAKEN PART YET?) 50% of salaried bookkeepers are employed by micro-businesses with fewer than 10 employees, and this size of company makes up 93% of Scottish business (Scottish Government Corporate Statistics 2010). ICB also supports more than two-hundred freelance bookkeepers in Scotland who help their varied small business and sole-trader client base to remain solvent by keeping good records, filing VAT returns on time and managing cashflow.
Fergus Ewing welcomed Certified Bookkeepers back to the Scottish Parliament for future events and expressed his eagerness to offer support to this stakeholder group.
Our delegates were then treated to a special tour of the Scottish Parliament, thanks to the efforts of Regional Chair, Sarah Douglas FICB.
Scottish Regional Chairmen pose next to the specialy-commissioned mace; the Queen's gift to the Scottish Parliament
Michelle Potter, Sarah Douglas, Fraser Reid
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