From the Chief Executive
Alternative interest for ICB members
On Thursday 21st I opened a presentation from the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) regarding the various alternative sources of funding that might be available to businesses even after their Banks have said no. The presentation took place at Portcullis House, House of Commons, hosted by Anne-Marie Morris MP, who was so well received when she opened the ICB Bookkeepers Summit last November.
Twenty lucky ICB members, who were the first to take up the offer of a free ticket to this unique event, joined almost one hundred representatives from business and the government to hear the presentations and take part in a question and answer session and debate.
NACFB is setting up a special programme for members of the ICB whose employers or clients want to borrow money to fund expansion, capital purchases or property. I shall announce the programme and a dedicated telephone number in the next issue of InVoice. This new programme will enable members to refer their employers or clients to the ICB programme, which will offer access to a range of borrowing opportunities and will also provide ICB members with commission opportunities.
IT head in the clouds
The ICB database has gone cloud. That is to say that our data is no longer stored in some heavily guarded facility somewhere in Slough but is now floating somewhere in the clouds, apparently even more accessible and, so I am assured, even more secure. Hence you might have noticed some changes to the website recently.
This was a mammoth task as ICB protects and maintains more than one million personal records from across the world that are accessed by individuals or members of the ICB Teams in any of our eight offices.
Director of IT, James Carter, sorted out the whole thing by himself, with a bit of assistance from the Microsoft Leading Edge team in Seattle. It was a real headache for him and took longer than he had calculated. Unfortunately this is still ground-breaking technology and nobody at Microsoft had much experience of migrating such a large system to the cloud.
When James's car was broken into outside his home in the early hours of the morning and the Police tried to contact him, he could not be found. Where was he? He had been working through the night and had fallen asleep at his desk. Not the best news to wake up to - but he was at least pleased that his system was up and working.
Well done James.
In last month's issue of InVoice under ‘The Taxman cometh', I mentioned that HMRC was sending a team to meet with us to discuss the proposed new legislation regarding Tax Agents.
The meeting was very informative. Basically, HMRC wants to ensure that fewer mistakes are made in tax work, including VAT, personal and business tax computations, and wants to introduce a Tax Agent register. HMRC will then encourage individuals and businesses to use Tax Agents. ICB is behind this all the way and has always been at the vanguard of moves to improve standards, hence the new Level IV examinations in Personal and Business Tax.
ICB is confident that those members who are qualified are competent and are able to provide accurate tax advice to clients. However, ICB Awards division is looking again at the syllabuses and will consider adding additional content if necessary.
The biggest problem HMRC has is in deciding what to do with all those Tax Agents who are working but who do not have any sort of qualification. A moratorium has been discussed, as has compulsory qualification, but nothing has yet been finalised.
They have also considered a monitoring system whereby Tax Agents may be contacted if it is found that they are making persistent errors. Professional Bodies, such as ICB, will be expected to show what action they will take against members whom HMRC identifies as not fully competent. Nothing to concern exemplary ICB bookkeepers, but this move towards back-door regulation has met with some resistance already.
An acronym by any other acronym.....
I think I might already have said this somewhere before, but ICB's Money Laundering Regulations programme (MLR), has become the Anti-Money Laundering programme or AML - which uses as its base the MLR. Understood?
Probably my fault that any misunderstanding has ever arisen, as I have always referred to the ICB ‘money laundering campaign', whereas it should, of course, be our anti-money laundering campaign.
So to recap: The ICB AML programme will be based on, and comply with, the MLR in establishing what members must do to comply and making clear what is, and is not, money laundering. Simple!
ICB's AML Online tool has been universally acclaimed as a major advance and yet another outstanding free service from ICB. Already more than four hundred practices have adopted the online Risk Assessment and Due Diligence programme and the system has been used for more than four thousand clients. Practices using AML Online do not need to complete an Annual MLR8 Return as this is completed automatically from information entered into the programme.
Ken not put off as old flame turns up in Bewdley
I was very pleased to be invited by Ken Bell to attend the latest member meeting of his ICB Worcestershire Area, which was held at the Mercure Hotel in Bewdley. It was a very hot evening and the hotel had for some unknown reason decided to put on the central heating. The meeting was also competing with the Olympic torch, which had earlier in the evening been carried through the picturesque streets of Bewdley. But there were no false starts and the meeting went the full distance.
Members enjoyed a presentation from a company specialising in assisting businesses to claim correct capital allowances. They work closely with bookkeepers and accountants in this specialist area that can result in clients being able to reclaim huge amounts.
Afterwards I was able to give everyone an update on events at ICB HQ and the many major advances that were being made on behalf of the members. It was good to see such a good turnout of students and the newly qualified, rubbing shoulders with members who had been there, done that and were very happy to be wearing the ICB T-shirt.
Building on the fantastic success of the first Scotland Conference (‘ScotCon') held in Edinburgh in March, the West Midlands Region is hoping to be the first Region in England to host a special one-day conference for members. This will probably take place in March of 2013. This ICB Region is one of the most active in the UK and the regular meetings held in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Birmingham City will combine for the central event. The conference will be advertised through InVoice and members from outside the Region will be encouraged to attend.
Don't forget that you will have the opportunity to meet up with local members on your region's table at the Members Dinner on 7th November in London.
ICB scores in Ukraine
ICBGlobal will hold an international conference in Kiev, Ukraine, from 11 - 13 July, under its Institute of Certified Financial Managers (ICFM) division. Head of ICB/ICFM Ukraine, Alena Khorikova, came to London last week to finalise plans for the conference which she is organising and which will be held in the Regency Hyatt Hotel in the centre of Kiev. The three-day conference will focus on International Accounting Standards and specifically on how the CIS countries can adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Alongside the main conference the IFRS Foundation will provide a three-day, intensive training course for trainers on how to teach the Standards in Universities and Colleges.
I shall have the honour of opening the conference and welcoming delegates to what promises to be a very important event and which will build on the successful conference that was held in Kiev in 2010. I am sure Alena and her team will once again do us proud.
European bookkeepers Hungary for news of UK
Sorry, it's getting close to deadline and I couldn't think of anything better.
At the beginning of the month I attended the first conference for Hungarian Bookkeepers. The conference was held in the beautiful city of Budapest, which proudly straddles the Danube. Originally two cities, Buda on the right of the river and Pest on the left, it is now one city but still with two distinct halves.
As part of the presentations, I provided attendees with an overview of the UK bookkeeping and accounting processes with particular emphasis, at their request, on our online filing facilities. Like many countries, in Hungary there is some confusion between the roles of the bookkeeper and the accountant. This conference provided useful discussion and grounds for future cooperation and I was able to tell them of the work of ICB across the world and also about the new European Federation of Bookkeepers (EFoB).
During the weekend, the conference was used as the venue for the latest meeting of the European Management Accountants Association (EMAA) of which I am Vice President. We discussed how ICB and EMAA can work more closely together and, following these discussions, it was decided that EMAA President, Uwe Juttner, and EMAA International Officer, Ulrich Neubauer, will visit ICB in London early next week to progress matters.
Hello Sir, got a new motor?
Earlier this month I attended a lunch at the House of Lords with ICB Royal Patron, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent. The lunch was hosted by ICB Senate member, Lord Harrison of Chester, and attended by around fifty business people, including ICB EU Adviser David Doyle.
These occasions provide a networking event for businesses and professionals to discuss small business growth and, on this occasion, guests included directors from the Alvis car company, which has recently been re-launched. The company now employs twenty-seven staff who hand-build the stylish sports car that was once a British icon and which they hope will now take its place once gain in the hearts of British motoring enthusiasts. His Royal Highness, well known for his love of fast cars and motorcycles, shared with the dinner guests his experiences many years ago of driving Alvis cars.
Guests at the lunch included representatives from a wide range of businesses and it provided a good opportunity to talk to new people about ICB members. I shall meet separately with a number of people whom I met there, including representatives from a large training company and a firm that wants to hire bookkeepers.
ICB team given sporting chance
I presume many, but not all of you, will be following the England team as it progresses through the European Cup. Here in London, the Olympics will be our next big challenge. At this point in time we anticipate a full staff in the office as normal. But we are being warned of huge disruption so we might have to make alternative arrangements for getting to work. Whatever happens we shall keep you informed.
I hope you all enjoy what is left of June and are as hopeful as I am that the weather will start to comply.