Who is in charge?

Whatever their rhetoric, its not politicians who determine success, its folks like us, the hard working business owners and their employees attending to future plans in spite of the changes thrown in their way by “the powers that be”.

And we are about to witness a change in our economic circumstances that even the most ardent Brexiteers will admit is likely to create a downturn.

More change is on the way

If we assume that a no-deal outcome is on the cards, what will the Treasury dream up to present as the UK’s next budget? And how will the timing of the presentation be affected by a possible election (if we have one)?

One thing is certain, accountants will need to respond to all these challenges, and quickly, if we are to support clients through the Brexit upheaval and consequent legislative changes. Our hard-won practice client base will be diminished if we do not.

How should Professionals adapt to these challenges?

At a minimum, we should improve our communication of relevant changes, those that will affect our clients, and adapt our services to meet the new demands.

Certainly, Landmark will be creating various support packs for firms in the coming months. These will target sections of your client base with relevant updates and ideas to minimise the pain.

Change and opportunity

Change can sometimes be a painful process in business, but for advisers, it always opens the door to opportunity; for the chance to offer new and more supportive services. Firms that rise to these opportunities will find themselves in demand.

How Landmark can help right now

Two ideas that you could consider:

Autumn Budget 2019

Have you considered a video presentation of the next Budget announcements for your website? This would provide you with an entertaining, visual means to communicate the key points instead of the usual dry copy. You could use social media prompts to drive traffic to your website. Places are limited as we guarantee to have your branded video produced for the day following the Chancellor’s presentation to parliament.

Here’s an example of the Autumn Budget video for last year:

Read more about the Budget Box service here

No-deal Brexit – client alert

This really is a no-brainer, you can use our copy out of the tin and have updates with your clients next week. There is no excuse for failing to advise clients on the risks and planning required to get prepared for the October deadline.

And the activity you stir up, aside from keeping clients informed, will generate fees.

Read more about our no-deal support pack here

New release for next week

Next week we will be releasing details of a support pack that you can use to advise your VAT registered, CIS contractors and sub-contractors with a call to action regarding the adoption of the Domestic Reverse Charge process for the construction industry on 1 October 2019.

This is a disaster waiting to happen not least because the detailed planning required is so complex.

Again, you will be able to use the client facing material out of the tin, and should stimulate the uptake of advisory services to adapt contractors accounting software and VAT admin changes (to sales invoices etc).

More on this service next week.

If you have ideas for other topics to cover that would be of value to your clients let us know. Email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk



How HMRC judges gross profit rates

I came across the following text published in HMRC’s Enquiry Manual , makes for interesting reading. You might like to advise your staff to read this post as it may focus their minds on variations in clients’ gross profit returns and how these might be interpreted by HMRC.

The full text is:

Examining Accounts: Business Ratios: Gross Profit Rate

Gross profit rate (GPR) is the most commonly used business ratio in HMRC.

The relevance of GPR in the distributive trades is obvious but its significance will vary according to the conditions of the trade. A newsagent will have very little influence on either the buying or selling price of the commodities handled but will know what rate of gross profit can be expected within the constraints of current price structures. Therefore the newsagent will have some idea of the volume of trade needed to make a living. In other trades the trader may have a target rate (or rates) in mind and will have pricing policies based on them. The interpretation of gross profit rates is relevant to any discussion of the profits of a buying and selling business.

More detail is available under these headings.

Use of GPR

Although the concept is simple, skill is needed in using GPR. The limitations and possible pitfalls need to be understood. Initially, an unexpected or abnormally low rate of gross profit may raise legitimate doubts but an attempt to re-compute the true profits of a business by using the ‘mean’ or most common rates achieved by other apparently similar businesses should only be done where there is no co-operation from the trader.

As explained at EM3508, to reconstruct sales you will need to

  • discover the mix of goods bought and sold by the business and any operations carried out on them
  • to apply appropriate ‘mark-ups’ to specific categories
  • to make any necessary allowances for wastage, sub-standard goods, pilferage etc.

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Ultimately, the GPR should not be looked at in isolation.


When you are reviewing accounts for enquiry, you should think about possible comparisons.

  • How does the GPR compare with other businesses? The location of the business and any peculiarities of its trade should be borne in mind. However, if the business can realistically be compared with others, either nationally or locally, a lower than average GPR may be a risk indicator.
  • How does the gross profit rate compare with previous years? Is there a trend, and if so how does this compare with other changes in the business? A widely fluctuating GPR would give cause for concern if the trade is one in which the terms of trading do not vary greatly year by year. Similarly a substantial rise or fall in gross profit rate in any one year may be a risk indicator.

High GPR

You should not be blinkered and consider only low GPR. The GPR is only part of a bigger picture. Obviously that is a clear indication that margins are depressed for commercial or other reasons. However, you will be trying to obtain a picture of the business as a whole and understand how it works. What might an unusually high GPR indicate? Do other ratios and trends conform with high margins?

(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

Sensitivity of GPR

The sensitivity of GPR is greatest where the turnover is modest. Where it is large, say £200,000, the omission of £2,000 from sales will show a difference in the rate of gross profit of only 1% of sales. In such cases, it will usually be necessary to demonstrate and correct specific errors in the accounts or business records. However, the existence of a high turnover figure does not mean that GPR can be ignored. Gross discrepancies do come to light in some cases. Looked at from another point of view, the insensitivity of GPR in large cases means that a ‘good’ rate of gross profit should not deter you from opening enquiries if there are other risk indicators.

Use of Average GPR at tribunal

Average gross profit rates have very limited uses if the case goes to a tribunal hearing. Can the Tribunals Caseworker get details of other gross profit rates in as evidence and, if so what will those details prove? Firstly even an enquiry officer who has spent many years on enquiry work is most unlikely to be accepted by the tribunal as an expert on the trading patterns and operations of any particular type of business. Although he or she may be an expert investigator they do not become an expert on any particular type of business as it is most unlikely that enough examples of that particular type have passed through their hands to make him or her an expert. Their opinion on trade practices and likely results is therefore inadmissible as evidence.

The Tribunals Caseworker cannot simply try to put in a summary of gross profit rates showing what other businesses have achieved (and by inference casting doubts on the taxpayer’s results). There is the very real objection that this is probably a breach of confidentiality. Such information is hearsay evidence and it is unlikely to be directly relevant to the issues being considered by the tribunal. There may well be objection to its introduction.

Evidence about other businesses such as average profit rates or levels is not evidence about the taxpayer’s business. It can be a justification for selecting a case for enquiry. Equally, it may have assisted you in making a ‘best of judgement’ assessment, and it is quite in order to say so. What the tribunal needs is evidence to demonstrate that the taxpayer’s profits are inadequate.

Do you have farming clients?

A notification from gov.uk has just popped into my Inbox and I think it’s worth sharing on this forum.

Farm payments if there’s a no-deal Brexit

The notice explains how payments under the present EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) would be affected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. You may want to share this update with your farming clients who benefit from EU grants.

Those businesses affected will effectively continue to receive payments after 31 October from the UK government under the terms of the UK government’s funding guarantee. This UK funding is only guaranteed until the end of 2020.

The notice continues:

Defra, and the devolved administrations, are preparing domestic legislation (under the Withdrawal Act) to ensure the UK has the ability in law to continue operation of payments in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. This legislation preserves the EU law as it currently stands, and ‘fixes’ the legislation so that it is operable after the UK leaves the EU.

The domestic legislation will require beneficiaries to conform to the same standards as they do currently, to receive payments. This will include on-site inspections to UK farms receiving payments, which will continue as normal.

All of these rules and processes will remain the same until Defra and the devolved administrations introduce new agriculture policies, either through the Agriculture Bill, or an Agriculture Bill in one or more of the devolved parliaments.

The government has pledged to continue to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this parliament, expected in 2022. This includes all funding provided for farm support under both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the current CAP. This commitment applies to the whole UK.

Hopefully, if we have a change in government before the end of 2020, they will honour this pledge. Interestingly, this comment is followed by:

This notice is meant for guidance only. You should consider whether you need separate professional advice before making specific preparations.

It is worth noting that the guarantee referred to in this article would seem to apply to other, non-farming, EU funding in place before we leave the EU.

What to do next?

Clearly, we should be seen to be active in keeping clients up-to-date on these issues. If you missed my email yesterday, you may want to consider sending out the update I wrote for your clients, and which is available for download at the foot of yesterdays post. There is a small charge of £30 plus VAT to access the client update, but I have included ideas to make best use of the material including social media copy. If you want to order, and there are no copyright restrictions, simply complete this order form.


Preparing for a “no-deal” Brexit

There are two good reasons why you need to inform clients about the impending deadline, 31 October 2019, and its consequences for their business and personal financial circumstances.

  1. Clients need to know you are watching their back, and
  2. No advice is bad advice, you should be covering PI risks “You never told me about that…”

Our solution

Bob Edwards has written a two-page update that we suggest you send to all your clients and prospects. We have kept the text to the point and promoted what we consider to be the minimum action required in response to recent political changes.

The update covers the above issues by:

    • Demonstrating that you are responding to recent developments, and
    • Providing sensible advice.

If clients don’t respond at least you can evidence that you did provide heads-up commentary.

Read more and order online here >

Are you prepared to lose clients?

There are circumstances, usually beyond our control, that determine when a client ceases to be a client. The most obvious is an untimely visit by the grim reaper. This aside, the reasons for loss of business usually falls into two categories:

  1. Dissatisfaction with the service you provide or the price you charge, or
  2. Other issues.

In this post I’d like to consider the impact of one of these other issues.

Other issues for losing clients

How long is a piece of string? Retirement, sale of a business, moving out of area, insolvency, “had enough”, sickness, other family matters, and that old chestnut: deteriorating market conditions.

Regarding the last of these, are there any upcoming changes that might trigger a downturn in economic activity?

In passing, you may have noticed a lot of comment recently regarding the protracted debate about our exit from the EU. I will avoid the use of the “B” word as it’s now a bigger turn-off than “tax” and I would like you to finish reading this copy…

Contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party are both, seemingly, committed to the possibility of a no-deal outcome come 31 October, how might that impact your clients’ businesses? And whilst you may consider that talking down economic prospects is either politically or practically inadvisable, what if – regardless of our personal opinion – we really are on the verge of a dislocation (a slow-down) in economic activity?

Optimists will say any slow-down will be temporary and the upside, when it arrives, will more than compensate for any post-exit blues. Pessimists will lean towards an increasingly depressed and extended period of recession with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel, and certainly not in our lifetimes.

Are you prepared to lose clients?

When did you last survey your clients to see who has active trading links with the EU and has concerns about our withdrawal from the EU? More importantly, wouldn’t it be prudent to draw up a list of these clients and contact them to offer a business health check?

As far as I can see, this is a win-win outcome. Attending to structural weakness now (cash flow, solvency, profitability planning, risk assessments) has no downside. Left unattended, any downturn will tempt insolvency and loss of income, whereas assessing risk and strengthening the Balance Sheet, will not only assist clients to have a better chance of surviving bad-times, if the good-times roll they will be first out of the starting blocks. First come is best served.

I can help

I have added two resources to the Landmark site in recent months. They are:

  1. Brexit information packs (assuming a no-deal outcome), videos and risk assessment tool for your website: see here, and
  2. Fee Builder, includes promotional material for business and personal financial health checks: see here.

I suspect that those of us who are content to ride out this issue – it will just be a minor blip – will temp not only fate, but also the longevity of their active client list.

Nothing like a good blurt

As many of you will be aware I edit the news copy for Informanagement. As part of this brief I also contribute blog articles. Last week I wrote about the amount of advice we professionals tend to give-away. The post is reproduced below.

How much advice do you give away?

There is a difference between flagging up an issue that could be a problem and offering a solution.

Most professionals sell solutions and so offering advice without agreeing that you be paid for giving that advice seems to be counter intuitive, and yet most professionals seem to do this.

Why is that?

Would you willingly sanction a loss of earnings for your practice?

Perhaps advisers just surrender to age old desires to be liked or respected? It is likely that during a thirty year career, accountants let slip valuable advice, let’s say twice a week, forty-eight weeks a year. If we estimate the value of each slip at say £75, this would amount to a thirty year loss of income amounting to £216,000. If we factor in the possibility that staff are prone to the same largess, the lost revenue quickly becomes a sizeable retirement pot.

Take a step back

The key to closing this drain on fee income is partly to acknowledge that it happens and secondly to rethink exchanges with clients or prospects. There will always be a temptation to demonstrate that you are smarter than your competition and this is a sound way to impress prospects and retain your clients. So, if you are going to avoid blurting out the solution to problems in order to stand out from the crowd, how can you do this without giving advice away for free?

Give yourself time to consider

A possible strategy, apart from biting your tongue, may be convert the blurt into an acknowledgement that you may possibly have the answer required, but you need to check out a couple of issues, and you will get back to them the next day. When you subsequently respond, you could say that you can fix the presented problem, but you will need to invest “x” hours to do so and your fee would be £xx. Follow up quickly with a cost/benefit statement that will convince them your fee is worth paying.

The place to start is to consider how much advice you give away. By all means keep your clients informed, this is a brilliant way to stimulate interest in your services, but don’t be tempted to blurt out the solutions.

Food for thought.

And, if you are considering an alternative supplier for your practice news feed to clients or staff, take a look at Informanagement’s offerings on their website. Or contact Laurence Vogel, Laurence.Vogel@informanagement.co.uk.


Cash flow and insolvency

Last week I wrote a short blog post that was distributed to Landmark’s Online Copy subscribers; this service provides two draft blog/newsletter articles a week. The topic was insolvency and how small businesses can still find themselves technically insolvent if cash flow unexpectedly dries up, even if on paper their net asset position is positive.

The article is reproduced below. Feel free to use this. I recommend that you edit the copy slightly if you post to your website as this will avoid search engines treating the text as generic.

What exactly is insolvency?

The dictionary definition of insolvency is less than illuminating, it is:

The state of being insolvent…

Listed synonyms provide more detail:

bankruptcy · liquidation · failure · collapse · ruin · financial ruin · ruination · pennilessness · penury · impecuniousness · beggary · administration · receivership · folding · pauperdom

What these explanations do not provide is a definition of the state of insolvency. A simple definition could be the insolvency occurs when we are unable to meet our obligation to settle debts by the required due date.

In a business sense, a firm can be said to be insolvent its assets are less than its liabilities, but even this definition does not quite hit the spot.

Imagine that you use all your available cash reserves to purchase stock. To place this in a current context, you might consider this as a strategy to avoid supply line issues in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

You have no issue with doing this as you are owed a significant sum by your major customer that will restore your cash flow before bills and salaries are due at the end of the month.

But what happens if your customer is suffering cash flow issues and is unable to pay?

On paper, your business will be solvent. As long as your delayed payment from your customer does not become more serious, in time your cash flow will be restored, but how will you pay your bills at the end of the month?

Without private funds that you can introduce to see you through this impasse or the support of your bank, how will your staff and other creditors respond if you have to go cap in hand and explain there will be a delay in paying them?

Cash, liquidity, really is king, and lack of cash can actually place your business in the same position as an insolvent firm.

If you are concerned that you may be skating close to a cash flow crisis or a deeper insolvency, please call so that we can help you figure out your available options. For certain,  pretending that all will work out well in the end may not be the best strategy to apply.

Take a look at our Online Copy Service

If you would like to access more written material for your newsletters or website, take a look at the Landmark Online Copy service.


Who do you turn to?

In practice, we all have occasions when we need the support of other professionals to deal with a difficult client issue. We collect these support contacts and they provide a necessary backup when our own skill sets are challenged.

Would you be willing to share these contacts?

In an attempt to provide Landmark’s users with a fairly comprehensive directory of these contacts, I have created a Support Directory on the Landmark site.

Would you be willing to share your expert contacts and I will approach them to see if they would like to take a slot?

No-one is an island

We all need help from time to time, and for me personally, this was especially evident during my two extended periods as a sole practitioner.

Do you specialise?

Have you developed skills in specialist areas and would you be interested in helping other practitioners who need assistance in these areas? If yes, then perhaps we should discuss adding your firm to the support directory. Give me a call, or take a look at the Support Directory information page

How is MTD for VAT for you?

In the last couple of weeks I have registered the three businesses that I am responsible for, to HMRC’s MTD for VAT data links (via Xero that I use as my preferred accounts software).

I have to say that in the main it was a fairly straight forward process. Not sure I would go so far as to eulogise “what was all the fuss about”, but definitely, so far, so good.

What about the roll-out to include accounts data?

One item that I will be fishing for in HMRC’s pond is an indication when MTD will be expanded to include the upload of quarterly accounts data; presumably for income tax in the first instance and then corporation tax. The only date we have is no earlier than April 2020…

My guess is Brexit is going to scupper that deadline and it will be pushed forward to April 2021 at the earliest. Keep an eye open for early adopter requests from HMRC as this “beta” process now seems to be a feature of their development protocols.

Are you encouraging property landlords to digitise their record keeping?

One aspect of the next MTD roll-out will be the inclusion of buy-to-let and other landlords if their rental income exceeds £85,000.

My guess is many will be reluctant adopters of the digital need to record transactions. This has been my experience of talking with clients who would be affected.

In spite of the uncertainty, I am working on a standard chart of accounts that I can use in Xero for these clients, and there are significant advantages as I will use the software to collect capital payments (property acquisitions and improvements) as well as revenue transactions. Xero also has a useful “tracking” facility that I will use to provide clients with detailed results for each property; something that is not particularly easy when records are kept manually, or worse still, in a carrier bag.

What has been your experience?

I’m interested in canvassing the opinion of practitioners about their experience using the sign up process for clients.

If you are willing to share your experiences, good or bad, just add a comment to this blog post and I will make sure that the constructive comments are bundled (anonymously) and sent to HMRC for a reaction.

I have direct links to the department that has been responsible for developing the MTD API’s etc, and in the fullness of time I will post again with any interesting responses or developments.


I’ll eat my hat…

I am amazed by the willingness of many practitioners to leave money on the table.

And yet, looking back to my own time in full-time practice, I can see that I was as guilty of the same lack of foresight. Driven by the clock, by countless phone calls and numerous interruptions by staff. There was barely time to deal with what was in front of me let alone consider other options to increase client service levels and our fee income.

Low hanging fruit

Whether you are still in the heady days of initial growth, spurred by plentiful referrals, or on the downward slope of an ageing client base, pressure on fees from unqualified competitors, you are likely to be missing a trick or two to capitalise on your endeavours.

You have already met the cost of acquisition of your clients and are no doubt providing the services that met their needs when you were first engaged as their adviser, but what about other services you could be providing? These opportunities are your low hanging fruit: they are in easy reach and you will already have the ear of individuals who are willing to sit and listen to what you have to stay.

Cost benefit considerations

If you are selling additional services to clients, there is one aspect of your approach that you will need to take into account: the perceived benefits of the advice you want to provide must always exceed the cost of your time, and their co-operation, in taking the advice.

Often times this will be evidenced by a reduction in a present liability, a reduction in risk and associated anxiety or by creating some future benefit.

Do you have a cross-sales program for your practice?

If the answer to this question is no, or you have a nagging suspicion that you are leaving money on the table, then consider the following challenge.

I’ll eat my hat

Now we get to the nub of the OTT title of this post. I will, hypothetically, eat my hat if during a short phone call I cannot identify at least one campaign that you could use to increase cross-sales to your client base.

All it will take is lifting the phone, or email with a time when you are available to speak.

Bob Edwards: m 07879 896073; LL 01723 363133; email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk.



Always expect the unexpected

What are the challenges to our fee income 2019-20 and beyond?

Grudge purchases

For most business owners it is hard to place a value on costs that merely keep Her Majesty’s government off their backs: filing annual accounts and tax returns. This annual compliance chore is often completed well after the accounts period end date  and is a fait accompli.

Fait accompli is an interesting phrase. It is defined as “a thing accomplished and presumably (presumed) irreversible”. In other words, any advice we as advisers give – on these historic numbers – will be received as a “I told you so” remark. What clients need is something relevant what they are doing now.

As far as we can ascertain there are no upsides to after-date compliance work other than meeting filing deadlines and tax payment deadlines.

What percentage of your fee income is pure compliance?

This is an interesting question.

Most practices, especially smaller practices, will likely have a significant proportion of their fee income generated from the supply of pure compliance services.

If so, and if you accept that clients, by and large, see your fees as a grudge purchase, then it makes sense to take a fresh look at the services you offer and consider how to transform fees into services that have perceived value.

What are valued purchases?

The phrase “value added” has been bandied about in our profession for many years. It was sold by practice development pundits in the 1990’s and beyond as a way to increase fees by repackaging compliance work and representing to clients – for vastly increased fees – as “Business Builder” or specialist tax-mitigation services.

For the average, smaller business owner, being exhorted to buy tax planning or business development services is rather like selling leather seat options to a car owner that just wants a seat cover to hide the mess his kids have made – and will continue to make.

What is actually required is a strategy to transform ALL the services we offer, and that we are paid for, as offering the client value, and importantly, value that seem relevant and appropriate to their circumstances.

The way forward?

If you want to engage in this process, to transform grudge into valued, take a look at the ideas I have shared in my Fee Builder workbook and associated features. In my opinion if you stick with the “grudge” services, you will likely continue to leach fees to less qualified practitioners, and to accounting package software developers, who will soon be adding an annual accounts and tax return facility to their offerings.

The door is steadily closing on markets that we have traditionally considered to be our sole domain, and there is no future in relying on the past for inspiration.

Read more on this topic:

Add new income streams to your practice


What’s next? An optimistic outlook.

I would suggest that as advisers to the UK business community we can offer constructive advice that will impact clients ability to weather the expected fallout from our likely exit from the EU, or indeed to exploit any longer term advantages that may arise. But rather than focus on the will-it won’t-it happen unknowns, could we not prepare for either outcome?

Business fitness

We are ideally placed to promote business fitness, and there is no logical reason for not pursuing this course of action. The question is, are we?

Are you lobbying your business clients to engage in a constructive “business fitness” program, such that, whatever the Brexit outcome (or projected economic downturn), your clients will be in good shape to weather any turbulence?

I’m thinking common-sense issues, converting current assets into cash, utilisation of resources, etc, etc.

Fee building 2019-20

One likely spin-off if you promote business fitness is an increase in your recurring fees. Another is converting purely compliance activity into services that have perceived value.

In my recent Fee Builder publication, the promotion of Business Fitness programs with clients is just one of a number of service options that I believe you could introduce during 2019-20.

Eleven ideas to super-charge your recurring fees for 2019-20

If you are interested in taking a fresh look at your service offerings, and thus providing clients with more choice and value, then I have written up eleven suggestions for how you could develop new income streams this year.

Take a look at my Fee Builder options here>

Eleven strategies for leveraging existing and new services into recurring services for 2019-20



Where do we go from here?

Where do we go from here?

Here’s two ideas for you to consider

  1. Offer annual accounts prep and a business tax return for free, and
  2. Offer your management accounting skills to high net-worth individuals.

And before you reach for the delete button, consider these alternatives.

Downward pressure on compliance fees

This is no urban myth. Those of you who rely on compliance fees to bolster your fee income will be acutely aware that this is considered to be a “grudge” purchase by clients.

Accordingly, the only real value of these services is to ensure accounts are prepared and filed before filing deadlines and tax is paid on or before the due date.

And there seem to be an ever growing group of super-charged bookkeeping firms that are willing and able to do this work at ridiculous rates.

Last, but not least, is the emergence of AI, or more particularly, accounts software companies who will start to add annual accounts and tax compliance to their accounting products.

And so, if the value is dropping out of number-crunching, where are specialist, and highly qualified firms going to create their recurring income streams in years to come?

Back to the future

Any change process encourages the emergence of pathfinders, those individuals who can sense that the wind is changing and that sails need to be reset, and while the majority blissfully do what they have always done, these pathfinders gather in the low-hanging fruit.

By the time the rest of us have woken up to the new opportunities this low hanging fruit, and much else, will have disappeared. And the pathfinders will be moving on to exploit new opportunities.

Eleven ideas to super-charge your recurring fees for 2019-20

If you are interested in taking a fresh look at your service offerings, and thus providing clients with more choice and value, then I have written up eleven suggestions for how you could develop new income streams this year.

Take a look at my Fee Builder options here>

Eleven strategies for leveraging existing and new services into recurring services for 2019-20

Add new income streams to your practice

AI and the mechanisation of manual processes are likely to lead to downward pressure on the pricing of repetitive services.

No where is this more apparent than when considering the delivery of compliance services to clients. Your fees for preparing accounts and returns to meet HMRC and Companies House obligations are generally considered to be “grudge purchases” by your clients.

The demise of pure compliance services

Will this automation of compliance activity continue to drive down prices? In my opinion, yes it will. The solution is to side-line accounts preparation and tax return submission into a free service!

Fee Builder 2019-20

I have recently written a workbook that illustrates how this can be done.  The workbook includes eleven strategies for re-creating existing services, and creating a number of new recurring services.

One of the strategies promotes the repackaging of bookkeeping, compliance work and periodic reviews as a Business Fitness and Planning Review service. A description of the service would be something like this:

We can take over all your paper-work chores, produce regular management accounts, deal with any issues arising and handle your VAT and payroll filing requirements. And if you sign up for this service, we will produce and file your annual accounts and business tax return FREE OF CHARGE.

This places the value and cost on the benefits instead of just dealing with pure compliance obligations.

The workbook also promotes a new look at the following services that can be reviewed annually:


And the following “new” service delivery ideas:

    • BUSINESS SYSTEM CHECKS, and finally

Also included in the Fee Builder bundle

Fact sheets that highlight the above, that you can adopt and send to clients and prospects as part of your marketing campaigns, and an updated copy of my TAX PLANNING ROAD MAP for 2019-20. This latter publication has a wealth of check lists and draft emails that can be used to approach businesses, personal tax clients and property owners about tax planning opportunities.

I will also give all purchasers of Fee Builder 30 minutes of my time to settle on at least one application of the ideas shared that can be integrated into your service offerings for 2019-20.

Interested in Fee Builder?

Visit our Fee Builder page for more information about the product.

Obviously, I cannot disclose too much detail online otherwise the intellectual property that makes up this service would be compromised. If you are still uncertain if Fee Builder would be of value to your practice call me anytime on: 07879 896073.

Bob Edwards – April 2019

MTD for VAT video promotion

As part of the Landmark Tax Box service, our April 2019 video covers the MTD for VAT changes from 1 April 2019.

Do you offer an MTD for VAT service to clients?

If yes, and if you promote the service on your website, why not acquire the rights to have a branded copy of this video displayed on your website?

According to published research, video content is more likely to capture the attention of site visitors than text. Adding video content will also beef-up your profile with the search engines.

Do you have a YouTube channel?

Out Tax Box videos will help you build a useful series on your YouTube channel, and if you don’t have a channel as yet, use the MP4 files that we provide as part of the Tax Box service to create one for your practice.

You can link the videos to your Twitter, Face Book and other social media outlets.

Introductory offer – 50% discount

Each quarterly video costs £260 plus VAT for the branded version and £195 plus VAT for a generic version.

The Tax Box service is provided on an ongoing subscription basis, but you are free to cancel this subscription at any time.

If you are willing to try out this service, and if you sign up before 1 April 2019, we will discount your MTD for VAT video subscription by 50% – this offer is for new subscribers only.

This reduces the cost of the April 2019 video to £130 plus VAT for the branded version and £97.50 plus VAT for the generic version.

Watch video here

This is the pre-release version of the MTD for VAT video, your copy would be branded – your logo and contact details are added – if you select the TaxBox plus option prior to publication. The reference on the title bar to Tax Box would be removed.

Complete online order form to secure your 50% discount

Complete before 1 April 2019 to qualify for 50% discount

The order form will not display the discount, you will automatically receive the reduced price if you submit the order before 1 April 2019.

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