I was wrong

It appears that I got it wrong:  I have for some time been saying that I thought the annual fee for HMRC’s Money Laundering Supervision Licence was about to be raised to £200.00 per annum and many of you told me I was scaremongering.  And indeed, it would appear that I was wrong.  It has actually gone up to £300.00 (from 1st May 2019)! The full set of fees can be found here. HMRC have for many years borne the brunt of my complaints that the playing field for Professional Body AML Supervisors is anything but level.  But I have to say that the last couple of years has seen a massive change in their approach and I very much welcome this. 

 OPBAS coming back for more

We were expecting any day now to receive an invoice from the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervisors, (OPBAS), for their proposed basic annual fee of £5,000.00.  Apparently, however, they’ve gone back to the drawing board – and it’s not looking good for us.  They are now proposing that every Supervisor should pay an across-the-board per capita fee of just over £20.00 for every BOOM they have authorised, which for ICB means an annual fee of around £80,000, or an additional £75,000 per annum above what we had been expecting!

There is a certain logic to having a common fee but, at its most ridiculous, this means that our newest ICB member in practice will be expected to pay the same fee as, say, the senior partner of PWC.  I know that ICAEW, in particular, has been very unhappy that, under the earlier proposal, they were being expected to bear the brunt of the cost of OPBAS because of their numbers but I shall suggest that OPBAS takes a leaf out of its own book and bases the fee on risk.   What are your thoughts?  Or is it inevitable and £20.00 not worth bothering about?

IT taking business’s eye off the ball

The other day I saw a man climb out of his van and start walking along the pavement whilst typing into his phone.  He walked straight into a lamppost. Now I do not want to make fun of his pain but surely there is a salutary lesson here: Technology is fantastic and is changing the world in which we all live – but not using it properly can be a painful lesson.

Business owners are being encouraged to adopt new and increasingly effortless, time-saving technology – but if they concentrate too much on their new toys and not enough on their business, they could be in for a shock. A recent survey by Intuit/QuickBooks suggested that in the US, 55% of small businesses were unhappy looking after their own finances.  So, it begs the question why are so many software companies trying to convince them to take it all back and do it themselves. Technology is at risk of putting bookkeeping into the hands of the willing amateur and, in doing so, ignoring the fact that a significant percentage of businesses owners still want someone else to do the work for them, even if it is on an app.

Accountex.  Wednesday, Thursday 1 and 2 May 2019.  London Excel.

Following on from last year’s great success for ICB at Accountex, the country’s biggest exhibition for the accounting and bookkeeping professions, ICB is this year back with an even bigger stand and even bigger presence.  If you can get along, we’d love to see you.  All the leading software and accountancy support companies together under one roof.  And before you visit the other stands, make a beeline to stand 1130 to meet Team ICB.  Then afterwards come back and take the weight off your feet.  We might even get you to talk to prospective new members and hand out some leaflets!

Whatever you do, don’t miss the two, thought-provoking ICB presentations:

1.      Technology – Bookkeepers’ best friend or Trojan horse

On Wednesday at 11.00, I shall be reprising my round-table session of last year’s Accountex when I posed the question; ‘Are software providers our biggest friend of a Trojan Horse?’.  The strongest possible message that came back from the assembled panel of thought leaders was a resounding no!  Software, they assured me, is merely a tool and that it is still people who are the most important link with business.

So now that another twelve months has passed:  Is the answer still the same today?  This year I shall be joined by an outstanding group of absolute thought leaders spanning the leading software providers whose global hold on the accountancy and bookkeeping professions is growing by the day. 

Damon Anderson, Director, Partner and Product, Xero

Damien Greathead, VP Global Accountants’ Programs, Receipt Bank

Kevin Lord, Practice Digital Enablement Manager, FreeAgent

Jennifer Warawa, Executive VP, Partners, Accountants and Alliances, Sage

Murray Wilson, UK Sales Manager, SmartVault

Brendan Woods, Founder and CEO, AutoEntry

I’m the only one on this list that I haven’t heard of!  I shall be asking blunt questions and hope to elicit some truthful answers and enlightening visions of the future. 

You can book your free tickets here

2.      Bookkeepers still the accountant’s best friend

At 12.00 following straight on from the Round Table, I shall be hot-footing it to my next presentation theatre to speak to firms of accountants about why they should be putting bookkeepers at the heart of their accounting practices.  This session last year was absolutely packed out and there is high interest again this year.  My message is simple:  Accountants need to improve their client focus and the best way to do this is to use bookkeepers.  Obviously not just any bookkeepers; ICB Bookkeepers.  It’s a win, win for both sides: Accountants can have confidence that their clients are receiving regular and informative contact with a professional bookkeeper, and the bookkeeper can concentrate on client care and the accounts, confident that they have a good relationship with the client’s accountant.

Inspiring times

The week after Accountex, Team ICB will be on the road again with the last five venues with this series of the extremely successful Inspire Tour.  If you haven’t yet managed to get to one, you really should try to get to Southampton, Crawley, London, Birmingham or Dublin.  The main focus is on the revised Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and the way in which they affect everyone, in practice, employed or still studying.  There are also presentations from FreeAgent, AutoEntry and SmartVault.  The whole day is jam-packed with news, views and information – you also get unlimited teas and coffee, a great lunch and chance to network with the best in the business.

There are a few tickets still available, but they are now limited. You can purchase them here - looking forward to seeing you.