As 2017 draws to a close and ICB celebrates having been at the vanguard of the bookkeeping profession for an unbelievable twenty-one years, this should be a time to slow down and rest ready for the year ahead. I wish. As I’m sure do many of you who will be taking the time to catch up or continue with your studies and those members who have clients or employers to seem not to understand that bookkeepers have a life.
First and foremost, 2017 has been a fantastic year with increases in membership, student registrations and examinations. ICB was also delighted to be appointed as a Trailblazer End Point Assessor for the National Apprenticeship Scheme.
There are many people who do great and often unrecognised things to promote the bookkeeping profession in general or the ideals and principles of ICB in particular. The Board of ICB has therefore introduced a new designation; Companion. This very high accolade will not be awarded lightly. It will stand to reflect people who have gone above and beyond and who have made a difference. The recipients might not be members of ICB but could be people who work with ICB or have spent a lifetime promoting the work of the bookkeeper. The first Companions were announced at the Summit and included one non-member, Sally Lemonius, chair of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA) because of the work she has done with ICB to introduce proper AML standards to a largely sceptical audience of farm secretaries. The full list of recipients is:
Jacquie Mount CFICB
Paula Veysey-Smith CFICB
Christopher Brooks CFICB
Sarah Douglas CFICB
Dinah Scudder CFICB
Sian Arnold CFICB
ICB Branching out
The Branch network continues to thrive, thanks to the continued and very persistent hard work of Ken Bell and the entire team of Branch Chairs (and the South Wales Sofa). The annual Branch Chairs Meeting will take place next year in London on 9 February, when the chairs will share experiences, discuss best practice and discuss ways to reach an even bigger audience in 2018.
Nicola Payne and Janet Haines, ICB Cardiff Branch Sofa
ICB takes council
The ICB Council has been has a new chair, Paula Veysey-Smith CFICB, chair of ICB Kent Branch, who takes over from Stuart Morris. Stuart, ably assisted by his wife Shirley, was the founding chair of the Council but both he and Shirly retired at the beginning of the year. Paula will be visiting many of the branches to talk to ICB members and students and tell them how they can help shape the future of ICB.
Council is itself undergoing change. ICB has divided the UK into fourteen regions (see map). In the future, the members in each Region will elect one person from their Region to sit on Council. This means that every region of the UK will be represented at Council level and will give everyone a voice. Each Council member will be expected to engage with members and students in their area to ensure that this new regional structure delivers real support to the Executive Board. The good news is that most Regions already have a representative and we have already had volunteers willing to step in to fill the vacancies until such time as the normal rotational elections take place.
ICB showing off
I am delighted to report that due to huge popular demand, the very successful Inspire Tour is back for 2018 and this time will go to no fewer than fourteen centres (two more than last year). ICB’s Agatha Guarnaccia is busy finalising all ICB events for 2018 so look out for the announcement early in January. There is a lot being crammed in so be sure to get your ticket early as they will definitely be in great demand.
2017 saw a big boost in the number of events that ICB has either organised, partnered or attended. The Bookkeepers Summit was once again a huge success, with the new format of two half days of keynotes and two half days of workshops, proving a great hit. The breakfast at the House of Commons, kindly hosted by Chris Davies MP, was for fifty lucky members a very enjoyable start to day two. For the keynote sessions it seems that the addition of tables was universally welcomed but the biggest thumbs up came from ICB’s decision this year to amalgamate the Summit with the LUCA Awards. It was heralded as a fantastic evening that really brought the LUCAs to the members. LUCA Winners.
ICB once again exhibited at Accountex but was also highly visible a several other big events, including the Northern Accounting Show in Manchester and Accounting Live in Glasgow. Biggest new event for ICB this year was the Skills Show held at the Birmingham NEC. ICB joined forces with ACCA to promote Apprenticeships to the more than 80,000 students who walked through the door looking to make their first big career choice. 2018 will see ICB back at Accountex but also at the new Accountex North in Manchester in March. ICB will be taking major stands at business-to-business exhibitions to promote the use of bookkeepers to those small businesses that will be required to make digital tax submissions under MTDfB. The biggest of these will be the British Business Show, to be held at London’s Excel in May, which it is expected will be attended by more than 25,000 small business.
2018 pivotal for the profession
Things are really hotting up; new legislation, new products, new processes, machine learning, artificial intelligence and even robotics! 2017 was the year that the it became universally accepted that businesses need bookkeepers more than ever and I both thank and congratulate you for your continued commitment to the profession and to ICB. There are a lot of organisations jumping on the bookkeeper bandwagon, but it is vitally important that real bookkeepers, career bookkeepers, ICB Bookkeepers, get the support and encouragement that they need and are not distracted by organisations simply wanting to break into a new market whilst not really understanding or supporting it or the hardworking people in it.
Demand for bookkeepers expected to go through the roof
Hot topic at this year’s Summit was the introduction of MTDfB. HMRC’s head of MTDfB policy, Oliver Fisher, set the theme for Summit with his insight into HMRC’s plans; delayed but certainly not forgotten. Although government has now moved the main changes back to 2020, ICB bookkeepers and tax agents need to begin preparing now. What many have also overlooked, however, is that the new MTDfB platform will still be implemented for VAT returns from April 2018 and all ICB bookkeepers need to know what this will mean for them. It is also important that ICB bookkeepers understand everything and are able to explain it to their clients.
MTDfB is actually very positive for bookkeepers as well as being a huge challenge: In excess of 2 million businesses will for the first time by 2020 have to begin using accounting software to file their VAT and Tax returns. Some will purchase their own software and submit their own returns but having spoken extensively to small business owners it is obvious that that most have no idea, no time and no desire to ‘do the books’. They didn’t go into business to do books – but you did. This is just opportunity after opportunity for ICB Bookkeepers, so we all need to be ready to take on board these changes which, for ICB Bookkeepers, should be pretty everyday stuff but for many businesses will mean a complete change to the way they look after their books. Rabbits in the headlights! ICB Bookkeepers have to be ready to take on this fantastic new opportunity. Whether through automating more of the regular processes, or through taking on additional staff, ICB will be working with you to ensure that you have the latest, most up-to-date information and are properly equipped to seize this latest opportunity.
BOOM time ahead for practices
Under revised Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, Professional Body Supervisors, such as ICB, now come under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means that Supervisors and their supervised populations (you) will be subject to a much stricter level of scrutiny. This includes much more in depth Due Diligence now required of members to show that Supervisors are properly monitoring their supervised populations. With immediate effect, ICB must collect data on BOOMs – Business Owners, Officers and Managers. These are the people who basically run your practice or can make decisions that affect the practice.
For each BOOM, ICB must be provided with a Certificate of Criminality. Exactly how you do this and by what deadline will be announced in January. Meanwhile all new applicants for a Practice Licence are already required to do this.
FCA demands more information
AML Supervisors are being expected to get more information from their supervised populations in advance of the audit of the UK’s Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regime early in 2018 by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). FATF is the international body responsible for checking that all countries have in place sufficient checks, procedures and appropriate disciplinary actions to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering legislation, and the UK is obviously very keen to get a good report. Jolly good form
So 2018 is going to be a momentous year: And continuing its policy of providing members with as much information as possible, and to stop members all having to recreate their own set of policies, ICB is producing a range of new documents that members can use to meet their obligations. These will include a new Letter of Engagement, a Continuity of Practice Policy, guidance on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and a Lien Policy. Many others will follow but you will be informed every time anything is released.
On behalf of myself, my fellow directors, the whole ICB Team and the members of Council, I should like to wish you, your families, tutors and your employers and employees and clients all a very happy, peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and the very best New Year. If it does not bring you everything you want, I hope that at very least it brings you all that you need.
See you in 2018