Category: Accountancy

pros assist
AccountancyArticles

Not Just Your Accountants, But an Extension to Your Business!

Not Just Your Accountants, But an Extension to Your Business!

Pros Assist consists of a gifted team of qualified practicing members of the Institute of Financial Accountants, notably headed by the Director and Senior Financial Accountant, Alom Rouf. We profiled the firm and Alom to discover more about the innovative services that they provide to their clients.

With over 15 years of experience in private practice, advising sole traders and partnership clients alike, Alom leads the Pros Assist team in offering clients expert advice on a diverse range of business support, including guidance on business planning and funding, advising on project viability, as well as all matters relating to taxation and profit.

With such a diverse team, it enables Pros Assist to provide their clients with selection of specialist services which include; SME business advice, personal & corporate tax planning, financial analysis, company incorporation, bookkeeping & accounting and company secretarial & treasury to name just a few.

Throughout the years, Alom has gained a vast amount of experience in evaluating sole trader and partnership clients, to assess whether they would be better off incorporating. In addition to this, he advises clients on how to extract profits in the most tax efficient way. Also, Alom provides clients with a diverse range of business support, advising on project viability, business planning and funding. As the face of Pros Assist, Alom is a very professional, friendly, and approachable accountant.

The team pride themselves in being dedicated to their clients, ensuring all professional needs are taken care of to the highest standard. All members of staff are highly qualified with up-to-date training, as well as regulated by the Institute of Financial Accountants; to ensure that clients can be rest assured that they are in good hands.

One of the USPs at Pros Assist, is the proactive approach which they take in making themselves available at the client’s convenience. The team understand that SME business owners often work round the clock, so they make themselves available with ease of communication via, emails,
texts, and even social media. The teams mobile contact details are made available to the clients ensuring the highest level of care 24/7.

As for the firm’s three core strengths, these are:

• Flexibility: We make ourselves available when you are available 

• Reliability: All our staff are qualified and professionally trained with several years of experience. 

• Affordability: We work on a Fixed Fee basis, so what we quote you in the beginning is exactly what we charge you in the end.

Pros Assist specialise in business start-ups and looking after owner managed businesses. The firm offers all levels of financial assistance – whether you are looking to form your own company and don’t know where to begin, or you have some experience and want to make some changes, or if you simply require an all-round accountant to deal with all your business affairs.

Looking ahead to what the future holds for the firm, Alom and the team at Pros Assist will continue to provide their award-winning excellent advice and guidance to their clients, helping them to get their business off the ground and established in the industry.

 

Contact: Alom Rouf

Company: Pros Assist Highstone House, 165 High Street Hertfordshire, Barnet, EN5 5SU, UK

Telephone: 020 3697 0878

Web Address: www.prosassist.com

3EAccounting
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A Sneak Peek into the Success Story of 3E Accounting

A Sneak Peek into the Success Story of 3E Accounting

3E Accounting Pte. Ltd. stands out as one of the leading service providers, especially in Singapore Companies Registration and Corporate Secretarial Services, with its one-stop solution that covers all of its client’s accounting and regulatory requirements. We spoke to Managing Director, Lawrence Chai, to gain an insight into the firm’s impressive success.

Throughout Singapore, many people are looking for a reliable services provider who can fulfil their accounting, taxation, secretarial, immigration, human resources, payroll, legal, marketing and other compliance need. Located in Novena, 3E Accounting makes the cut as one of the leaders in these cost-effective professional solutions for startups and small- to medium-sized firms with their principle: efficiency, effectiveness and economy.

The professional team at 3E Accounting, which comprises highly experienced and expert professionals in Singapore’s financial, tax, corporate and regulatory milieu, is one of the important reasons that factorised the success of the company.

The husband and wife team, who are also the founders of 3E Accounting, Lawrence Chai and Stephanie Chua are the driving force behind the continuous success that 3E Accounting achieves. Before starting up 3E Accounting, the pair worked for an audit firm where work-life balance was not an important part of the workplace culture. When they were expecting their first child in 2011, the thought of having more family time prompted them to start their accounting firm.

Another key factor was that they both noticed the discrepancy in services at some other firms in Singapore. Many accounting companies are offering overpriced financial services which not many people can afford. Drawing on their combined years of experience in the industry, both Lawrence and Stephanie were confident that they could start an accounting firm that offers financial services at affordable price.

“We started everything from scratch. I assumed the role of Managing Director, while Stephanie assumed the role of Director. It might sound incredible that a small firm started in 2011with two staff and limited clients would have penetrated the market (high, medium and low segment) at such an incredibly fast rate. Yet, we did it!”

“As of now, we are proud to say that 3E Accounting is currently one of the leading service providers in Singapore that supports entrepreneurs to start their business with our one-stop solutions.” said Lawrence. Having built the company from scratch, Lawrence clearly has a goal in mind and he outlines the vision of the firm, detailing what techniques will be used in order for staff to hit their targets and achieve the overall mission, something he is clearly excited about. 3E Accounting is not just a normal accounting firm, but a one-stop solution provider that offers all the services under one roof. The diversity in services shows that 3E Accounting is truly the one-stop solution services provider in Singapore.

In addition to this, expanding the geographic footprint of the business to the whole world has always been one of its core goal. 3E Accounting expanded into Malaysia in 2014, and it is currently the leading services provider in Malaysia. In 2016, 3E Accounting started its own international accounting network: 3E Accounting International network, which is managed by 3E Accounting International. It’s expanding and growing fast with 54 countries, 86 offices and 1,300 staff worldwide today. The “Best Home-grown Global Accounting Network” award was the important milestone as it endorsed the reputation of the international network.

Lawrence goes into a bit more detail about the accounting network.

“We are the Accounting Alliance that consists of top international accounting firms across the globe. 3E Accounting International accounting network only recognises accountancy companies or global corporate service providers with strong professional backgrounds and product knowledge. Our Accounting Alliance members will embrace a service culture that emphasises efficiency and effectiveness through personal touch, swift response times, reliability and innovative thinking. We work together within the global framework provided by the international alliance of global accounting firms, where most of our member firms can provide integrated one-stop solution services and international accounting services to our clients.”

Capitalising on its global success, 3E Accounting has also garnered a reputation for being a tech savvy accounting firm. It has also recently become the first accounting firm to implement the revolutionary double robotic technology. The adaptation of the emerging robotics technology in the workplace provides a flexible working environment for staff. Besides, this technology also enables the firm’s valuable workers to contribute and communicate with other team members, regardless of the geographical barriers.

Moreover, 3E Accounting is well aware of the urgency of employing software or online tools in today’s business world, and Lawrence and Stephanie understand how this can benefit all companies in the long run. Therefore, specialists in 3E Accounting will take the initiative to introduce suitable software or tool that suits their customer’s business. In relation to this, 3E Accounting is now a Xero Certified Advisor, providing Xero Cloud Accounting Software in Singapore on valuable business and tax advice that assists our client’s in setting up Xero software. Furthermore, 3E Accounting is also a QuickBooks ProAdvisors that provides QuickBooks Online Services in Singapore to our clients, as well as deep product knowledge and a stellar client service.

On top of that, 3E Accounting value talents more than anyone else does. They believe that solving the hardest problems requires the best people. “We think that the best people will be drawn to
the opportunity to work on the hardest problems and that’s where we build our firm around that belief.” The large pool of professionals in 3E Accounting is one of the notable reasons that the firm outperforms its peers. There is a right mix and number of accredited and experienced professionals in the team, such as a registered qualified accountant, qualified secretaries, a qualified tax agent and a qualified GST agent, along with a qualified HR personnel, and lastly a qualified immigration consultant. Besides, they have a strong network with professionals and specialists from different fields, who they can refer their client to for help, that consists of good lawyers, bankers, fintech companies, auditors, software vendors, property agents, insurance agents and many more. The strong network and resources are a kind of assurance to clients that they can get any required assistance when they come to 3E Accounting.

3E Accounting put client interests ahead of the firm’s. To ensure that clients are able to have an input into the firm’s operations, 3E Accounting uses its complaints system as a customer whistleblowing charter, because the firm believes that customers’ views count and should be acted upon. Their almost 100% customer satisfaction score vouches their reputation. Every complaint is personally handled by Lawrence and is taken with incredibly seriousness, and dealt with the utmost urgency. The team are committed to responding to clients within 24 hours, and the management are always monitoring the system to ensure all staff adhere to the principle.

As a leading player in the finance industry, Lawrence gives us his views on the state of the industry at present, and explains what major challenges the company and the industry face. He then goes on to describe how 3E Accounting stays ahead of emerging developments within the industry.

“Fundamentally, the major challenge that we are facing now is the adaptation of technology by accounting firms and how to transform the business to be future-ready. For 3E Accounting, we incorporate technology into our workplace and stay updated on all new developments. We adopt technology and get ourselves ready for the future, as we have migrated most of our services to the cloud as well as a hybrid IT environment with physical servers and cloud based servers.

“We have strong banking relationships with our banking counterpart – OCBC Bank. 3E Accounting has been recognised as an OCBC Platinum Partner in 2017 in Malaysia. This is not an ordinary recognition and we are one of the few companies to get it,” Internally, it is vital that all of Lawrence’s employees are working towards the same mission and heading the same direction.

He explains how he cultivates the good internal culture within the firm, ensuring that staff can provide the very best service to its clients. “Honestly, I am proud to say that we have a family-oriented working environment at 3E Accounting. We started 3E Accounting when we were expecting our first child, and that is the
main reason that we were inspired to be the best employers in a leading firm that promotes a good work-life balance in accounting industry. The company offers employees a flexible working arrangement, allowing employees to take leave at any time to take care of their family. With our family-oriented culture, we are able to attract majority of the staff force of more than 90% female for the past five years. At 3E Accounting, we wanted to make a difference.”

“Another thing worth mentioning is we have a low staff turnover rate and high staff retention rate. We do not find it difficult to get talent and we can attract talent to join us easily. Furthermore, we focus on staff professional growth. We provide opportunities and chances to our staff to grow and learn. For example, we trained our administration staff to become immigration consultant, human resource personnel as well as compliance officers. We focus on the capability and experiences rather than just certificate itself.” On 28 November 2016, the team was honoured to have the Senior Minister of State, Mrs Josephine Teo, to visit its headquarter office in Singapore. During the visit, Mrs Teo got to know the good employment practices that have been adopted by 3E Accounting, as well as the technology that the firm has used to enhance work productivity. This aspired the firm to continue to cultivate the work life balance culture.

3E Accounting’s efforts pay off with awards and recognitions. On 1 November 2017, 3E Accounting PLT and 3E Accounting Pte. Ltd were both honoured to be awarded separately, the Best Company Registration Specialist of the Year 2017/2018 in Malaysia and Singapore respectively. 3E Accounting was also listed as the Top 30 Accounting Firms in Singapore, as well as being featured in Singapore Business Review’s Magazine for January 2016 issue. This global growth, together with awards and recognition from some of the world’s leading industry experts, highlights 3E Accounting’s ongoing prosperity.

Ultimately, the current management and organisation of 3E Accounting demonstrates the future of accounting firm. The team always work hard to retain its position as the leading services provider. “Our mission is to help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their businesses. We believe we will be successful if our clients are successful. Also, we aim to be the world’s leading corporate service provider, offering services beyond excellence. Lastly, we strive to help SMEs, not because we want to make profits, but because we want to see the SMEs to grow with us”

 

Contact: Lawrence Chai

Address: 51 Goldhill Plaza #07-10/11 Singapore, 308900

Phone: +65 66909262

Website: www.3ecpa.com.sg

Compliant E-Invoicing Now Available in Brazil
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Compliant E-Invoicing Now Available in Brazil

 

OB10, the global e-Invoicing network that is part of Tungsten Corporation plc, now delivers compliant e-Invoicing in Brazil through its partnership with Comprova, an officially accredited Brazilian certification service provider and digital signature platform.

Brazil is a leader in e-Invoicing with a government mandate and market accustomed to automated invoice technology. In addition to complying with the complexity of tax and e-Invoicing regulations, companies are looking to streamline their invoice processing. The strategic alliance with Comprova enables OB10 to meet the demands of its customers, and deliver compliant e-Invoicing and straight-through processing to businesses operating in Brazil.

“We are delighted to add Brazil to our list of compliant countries and offer unparalleled e-Invoicing services to the biggest market in Latin America,” says Edmund Truell, Group CEO, Tungsten Corporation. “Brazil represents a huge and lucrative opportunity for our customers, many of whom are ready to start transacting with their Brazilian suppliers immediately. We are focused on giving our clients what they want to help them reduce costs and simplify their invoice processing.”

“As the first organisation to offer legal proof for electronic transactions in Brazil, Comprova is thrilled to partner with OB10, one of the world’s leading providers of invoice automation solutions,” says Marcos Nader, President at Comprova. “Combing our local expertise with OB10’s trading network and global customer base will enable even more companies to do business in Brazil and capitalise from the benefits of e-Invoicing.”

Qtrade Financial Group
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Qtrade Financial Group

Most Innovative Finance Team – Canada & Online Brokerage Firm of the Year – Qtrade Investor

At its core, the corporate accounting team at Qtrade is tasked with the responsibility of capturing and disseminating financial information arising from financial transactions. Beyond this is the opportunity to separate ourselves from the other accounting teams and become the best performing team!

The corporate accounting team has certainly evolved over the last several years and together with the reporting & analytics team, the finance department has embraced the choice to deliver outstanding service and be a top performer.
In order to deliver at that top-tier level, the work starts at the hiring stage, continues at the training and development stage and simply continues on after that. It simply never ends! The financial services industry is constantly changing, and technology continues to evolve and improve, becoming readily available to those equipped to quickly identify and put into use. Qtrade Finance attracts, hires and retains staff that can consistently deliver on these demands.

In total, Qtrade Financial Group is comprised of several operating entities offering comprehensive solutions all along the wealth continuum. As a result, a certain level of complexity arises requiring the corporate accounting team to focus on internal as well as external stakeholders or users of our services and output. These stakeholders or users include shareholders and management and department heads, our ever-growing list of partners, industry regulatory bodies and associations and external auditors.

Generally speaking, the corporate accounting team is organised in such a way to align a team member to one or more corporate entities while at the same time taking into consideration the aforementioned stakeholders and users. Functions which tend to permeate across all entities (for example – payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable) are, however, assigned to specific members of the team. Building a strong, cohesive and effective team requires improvements in workflow and processes and integrating financial information capture and reporting.

One of the most pivotal moments in our success today was the decision to invest in an ERP system in 2012, which paved the way for the capturing of financial information at broader and deeper levels. The initial vision of providing granular details for internal and external use forced us to build a framework around flexibility and scale. For example, the combining of all the Qtrade entities into a ‘singular entity’ within the ERP system proved to be the turning point for what was to come. Though not revolutionary, this multi-entity-management concept gave us the opportunity to introduce a shared-services model that quickly paid dividends.

With Qtrade having such a fully integrated suite of product offerings, the shared-services model became an obvious necessity. Building upon a stronger foundation, the focus quickly turned to the reporting of information. What good is the information captured if it is not used to achieve the ultimate goal of accelerating and maximising profit?
In tandem with the ERP system, the development of our proprietary finance database brought our financial reporting to a whole new level.

Expectations within the team and from elsewhere were raised. Senior management needed to understand the financial levers of the company and the key performance indicators in order to make informed decisions on resources. Partners also looked to us to report useful financial information in a timely manner.

As you can imagine, the financial services industry is laden with transactional information. Working with our IT department and reporting and analytics teams, we set out to define and organise all the information already captured within the core operational systems into usable data sets for populating the newly created finance database.
Integrating internal and external reporting was starting to come together.

For example, we utilise a 5 segment, 17-character alpha-numeric string in our general ledger account numbering to provide not only flexibility and scale but to offer the ability to bring reporting and analytics to the forefront. We have the ability to report and analyse by division, department, expense type, and even by partner or any other category. Bringing together the ERP setup with the data sets in the finance database, we were able to efficiently marry the requirements of internal users while also meeting the demands of external users. One early by-product of this integrated process was the ability to auto-generate a monthly journal entry comprising of 800 plus lines for seamless upload into the ERP system.

It soon became very clear very quickly that we needed to streamline processes, and where possible make use of technology to automate. As a result, we could spend less time keying in entries and more time on analysing information and communicating the findings.

Looking towards 2017 and beyond, the corporate accounting team at Qtrade is poised to take on greater challenges. We continue to work closely with our reporting and analytics team to further strengthen our department’s ability to meet and exceed expectations. Perhaps we will also reach out to our finance counterparts at the partner level and offer them a monthly automated set of journal entries, to go along with their existing reports. Regardless of what challenges may lie ahead, we have the infrastructure, we have the tools and more importantly we have the people to move towards even greater success

Name: Shayne Kong
Company: Qtrade Financial Group
Email: [email protected]

Financial Conduct Authority Chief Executive Appointed
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Financial Conduct Authority Chief Executive Appointed

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP, commented:

“Andrew Bailey is the outstanding candidate to be the next Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, and I am delighted that he has agreed to lead it.

“We have cast the net far and wide for this crucial appointment and, having led the Bank of England’s response to the financial crisis, Andrew is simply the most respected, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to do the job.

“His appointment is an important next step in the establishment of the FCA as a strong regulator, independent of government and industry.

“The government is determined that the financial sector operates to the highest standards. Anyone who has dealt with Andrew knows he will be tough but fair, and understands the flaws and merits of the sector better than anyone.

“Simply, I am confident that he will ensure that our financial services industry is the best regulated in the world.

“He has already done a superb job at the Prudential Regulation Authority; where he has shown how effective he is as a leader, able to build strong relationships and use his fine judgment to steer the PRA through its formative years.

“I would also like to thank Tracey McDermott for the excellent job she has done in leading the FCA in this interim period. Her experience, dedication and professionalism have been greatly appreciated.”
Chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, John Griffiths-Jones added:

“I am delighted that Andrew has been appointed as the new Chief Executive. He brings unrivalled regulatory experience, a proven track record and an excellent reputation in the UK and internationally. Having been an FCA Board member since 2013 he has been fully engaged with all the regulatory issues that we have faced in recent years and in setting our strategy for the future.

“I look forward to working with Andrew. He has done a great job at the PRA and he will build on the work the FCA has done over the last three years as a strong, independent regulator.

“I would also like to thank Tracey McDermott for the excellent job she has been doing as the Acting CEO and for agreeing to remain in post until Andrew starts.”

The government has also announced the appointments of Ruth Kelly, Bradley Fried, Baroness Hogg, and Tom Wright as Non-Executive Directors of the FCA today.

UK Economy Trapping Working Capital
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UK Economy Trapping Working Capital

Newresearch commissioned by American International Group, Inc. and PrimeRevenue indicates thatlimited access to working capital finance and inflexible payment terms are having an adverse impact on UK business.

The YouGov poll of UK businesses that provide goods or services to large organisations found that 17% of their revenue is currently tied up in invoices with non-standard payment terms, suggesting that around £29bn is being withheld from UK plc. Over three quarters (77%) of companies have been asked to accept longer payment terms, with 28% saying the issue has increased in the past year.

Businesses reported that on average 20% of their customers insist on terms longer than the norm. This can have a significant impact on business operations with respondents saying extended payments affect cash flow (55%), require additional administration (33%) and strain client relationships (29%).

And the risk of not providing extended payment terms can be costly. One in five respondents (20%) report
that they have lost business after denying customers longer payment terms.

With these business risks in mind AIG and Prime Revenue today launched a new supply chain finance offering for mid-market, non-investment grade companies that could free up significant funding for UK businesses.

Supply Chain Finance from PrimeRevenue and AIG is the product of a partnership between a leading global insurer and the largest working capital finance platform in the world. The solution provides funds that enable suppliers to take early payment less a small discount, while enabling buyers to standardise and potentially lengthen their payment terms. This provides low cost access to working capital on both sides of the transaction.

Until now, supply chain finance platforms have been limited to supporting the largest, investment grade businesses. Supply Chain Finance from PrimeRevenue and AIG is able to cater to the thousands of mid-market, non-investment grade companies, by providing financing with the credit risk insured by AIG’s market-leading trade credit insurance.

“The inability to get access to low cost working capital can affect our clients and is holding back thousands of very well run businesses. Ultimately, it can have a significant impact on the economy as a whole,” commented Neil Ross, Regional Manager EMEA Trade Credit, AIG.

Ross continued, “Leading publicly-rated companies can borrow quickly and with favourable terms to take advantage of
emergent market opportunities. Now, by combining PrimeRevenue’s market-leading platform with AIG’s Trade Credit underwriting experience we’re able to extend this advantage to many more businesses.”

The ongoing financing requirement will be organised by PrimeRevenue Capital Management, by providing investment access to banks as well as non-bank entities such as insurance companies, pension funds, hedge funds and capital market investors looking for stable returns. The offering will be rolled out to other European countries and the United States in coming months.

Rob Barnes, Founder, PrimeRevenue, said: “PrimeRevenue has been serving the supply chain finance market for over a decade, with over $120bn flowing through our system in the last 12 months. We have seen first-hand the benefits that this approach can bring to businesses through unlocking cash flow and working capital to fund day-to-day operations and investment for the future. Our partnership with AIG means that these benefits are now available to a broader market of buyers and their suppliers.”

 

 

A Positive Budget for the Energy Sector
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A Positive Budget for the Energy Sector

What a difference four years has made. The windfall tax introduced at 2011’s budget was widely criticised by industry and commentators who suggested it would stifle investment and add cost to an already high cost basin. After four years the Chancellor has reversed the windfall tax (after a slight reduction at the Autumn Statement), reduced the petroleum revenue tax on older fields, introduced an investment allowance and put money aside for seismic surveys to boost exploration. These measures are welcome and come at a time when government support is essential if we are to fully maximise the potential of the UK continental shelf (UKCS).

While the fall the oil price helped push the issue of UKCS taxation and the future of the basin up the political agenda it is not the reason why action on the fiscal regime last week was essential. The 2011 windfall tax was justified because oil prices were around £120 per barrel. However the assessment that these high oil prices meant the industry could bear a higher tax rate – a marginal rate of more than 80% in some fields – was incorrect.

The UKCS is a mature basin and operators are facing ever higher costs as infrastructure ages and fields become more difficult to develop. Add to this the global nature of the oil and gas sector and the finite capital available to the sector to invest and it’s easy to see how the windfall tax could damage confidence and drive much needed investment abroad. Even with a high oil price the CBI was critical of the UKCS tax regime. In our paper Fuelling Growth in 2013 we said “in seeking to understand how best to enhance recovery in the North Sea the CBI believes taxation is crucial and identifying further opportunities to improve the competitiveness of the tax framework is essential.” As a global commodity the price of oil is consistent across the globe but the costs associated with exploration, development and production are specific to each basin. Government must do all it can to help reduce these costs if we are to attract the private sector investment needed.

We need a stable and competitive fiscal regime that prioritises consistency and whose ultimate goal must be the economic maximisation of resources. The price of oil is volatile and that is a lesson global commodity markets have reminded us of in recent months. Future governments should always think about the UKCS both in terms of the costs associated with operating there and its competitiveness with other regions. Budget 2015 is a good start but the next government, and all future governments, will need to take a long-term view of the UKCS and think hard about how to provide further support to avoid causing unnecessary damage.

Elsewhere in the budget

The Budget also outlined the government’s intention to bring forward the small-scale Feed-In Tariff component of the compensation package for energy-intensive industries to the earliest point at which State Aid approval is received in 2015-16. This fell short of the CBI’s calls to bring forward the full compensation package (covering FITs and the Renewables Obligation), but will provide some relief to these industries. We will continue to press the importance of competitiveness with a new government, and look to ensure a more strategic approach to supporting these industries is taken.

The Chancellor announced that the government has decided to enter in to the first phase of negotiations on a Contract for Difference for Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

ASEAN Development
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ASEAN Development

The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015 is a “very ambitious project”, one which will need thousands of skilled finance professionals who can work across borders, agreed a panel of experts at an ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) session at the recent Malaysian Institute of Accountants conference held in Kuala Lumpur.

When asked “what is the one thing accountants need to do to ensure they are ready for the AEC?” PwC’s Mr Soo Hoo Khoon Yean said: “The obvious one is to upscale skills, but more importantly to have a change in mindset. Instead of looking at it as a glass half empty, we should be looking at the AEC as a glass half full. Today, it’s about our readiness to prepare to be mobile because your company or clients will move towards regionalisation. And we must be able to rise up to the challenge to contribute in tandem with their progress.”

Steve Heathcote, ACCA’s executive director of markets, said: “The ten member countries of the AEC have a total population of 626 million and a combined GDP of USD 2.4 trillion. The GDP for the region is expected to double by 2020, according to the Boston Consulting Group. As such, this large-scale economic plan depends on capacity building. ACCA, with its partners across this wide region, all work to ensure the talent pipeline for accountants remains strong and well supplied.

“ACCA’s presence across the ASEAN region, with offices in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam, and with students and members in all other markets – Brunei, Laos, Philippines and Thailand – means that we can ensure this economic programme has the finance professionals it needs to make it a success.”

Heathcote also emphasised that partnerships and joint working are important, adding: “ACCA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and has a close working relationship with national accounting bodies and regulators across ASEAN. This enables us not just to meet the intense demand for qualified finance professionals in this region, but also to anticipate it and deliver it with our partners. ACCA regularly participates in the ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) council meetings to strategise how to build capacity and strengthen the finance profession across ASEAN to meet the demands of the AEC, and to achieve the wider economic ambitions and social development goals of the region.”

FTSE Business Leaders Targeted for Pay Reforms
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FTSE Business Leaders Targeted for Pay Reforms

Courtesy of Shutterstock

The council, which administers financial reporting rules in the UK, has said that the salaries of top staff at firms in the country should be geared towards the long term – to better support future growth and prosperity of their companies and staff.

Updated Governance Code

In practice that would mean longer periods of deferral before they received their full remuneration. The FRC also see the proposals as instigating a shift from cash bonuses to shares and stocks, further contributing to a long-term vision.

The new rules were issued on Wednesday by the FRC under its UK Corporate Governance Code. The updated code said:

“Boards of listed companies will need to ensure that executive remuneration is aligned to the long-term success of the company and demonstrate this more clearly to shareholders,

“Executive directors’ remuneration should be designed to promote the long-term success of the company. Performance-related elements should be transparent, stretching and rigorously applied,”

The code is enforced through a ‘comply or explain’ process, whereby companies not complying with the rules have to provide supporting evidence of how they ensure good governance instead.

The updated rules, which has also asked firms to introduce processes allowing for pay to be recovered if deemed necessary, apply to all 916 ‘premium-listed’ UK companies.

Pension Providers Withdrawing from AE Should Be Fined: Defaqto
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Pension Providers Withdrawing from AE Should Be Fined: Defaqto

With a number of traditional providers expected to pull out of the AE process as SMEs come on board, due to lack of cost-effectiveness, wealth analyst Richard Hulbert for the financial research firm said:


“We’ve had some discussion here about ways to get around that and one of the things which has come up a couple of times is if there should be a levy on those providers that exit the market before auto-enrolment is completed.

“That way the money could be used to support those smaller providers that are meeting the need because creaming the profits off and leaving is somewhat selfish really.”


According to figures from the company, 20% of workplace schemes through traditional providers have a minimum contribution per month of £80 or higher. Another 30% or so were demanding minimum contributions of £20.

Defaqto also found that 18% of the schemes had a minimum of 11 enrolled employees and the majority, 82%, demanded a minimum age for members.

These restrictions are, according to Hulbert, acting as a barrier to smaller companies too.

However, the director of group savings and investments for LEBC, Glynn Jones, said that this was simply about traditional providers targeting employers wanting quality schemes for their staff.

He explained that it was for the government-backed NEST scheme and schemes such as The People’s Pension to fulfil the requirements of those firms only wanting to comply with the AE basics.

 

Whitehall "Lacking Finance Skills"
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Whitehall “Lacking Finance Skills”

The world’s largest accountancy body, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has warned that urgent up-skilling in financial management across Whitehall was needed if the civil service was going to make long-term savings and improved service delivery.

ACCA says that while there is strong expertise in the finance function of the UK’s public sector, there is a need for Whitehall to invest in skills development in areas such as data analysis, procurement, project as well as financial management if savings in government are going to be made over the long term.

Gillian Fawcett, head of public sector at ACCA, said: “Spending cuts and the need to make savings in central government and other public sector bodies is set to increase in the coming years, so it is vital that there are improvements in public financial management for the taxpayer. There has been much trumpeting of the Treasury’s decision to appoint Whitehall’s first chief financial officer earlier this year, but a more root and branch reform of the public sector’s finance function is needed to garner genuine change. Like the private sector, public sector finance professionals need to see the bigger picture to be more effective, which is why skills linked to data analysis and procurement, as just two examples, are more relevant now than historically.

“There has been some recognition in Whitehall that there is a need to up-skill but there is a failure to acknowledge the biggest obstacle – building an effective finance profession in central government which is perceived positively and valued by their colleagues in an organisation which is largely made up of generalists. We believe that a culture change is necessary whereby economists and generalists value the potential contribution that financial management can make to government decision-making.”

ACCA points that a running theme that continues to crop up within the public sector is that the trend of the civil service finance professionals in government either leaving or changing roles could be hindering good governance and is in urgent need of attention.

Fawcett said: “The revolving door nature of the senior service is well-known, but it poses significant problems when it comes to delivery of good governance and corporate memory. It inhibits the ability to learn from mistakes and stifles the dissemination of best practice. This is also not helped by the skills gaps relating to procurement, project and financial management that still persist across Whitehall.”

Unqualified Accountants a Risk for UK Small Businesses
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Unqualified Accountants a Risk for UK Small Businesses

UK small businesses could be inadvertently damaging their growth prospects by paying accountants who aren’t even qualified, warns the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

The warning comes after research from cloud accounting software provider ClearBooks showed just 8% of small businesses considered an accountant’s qualifications when choosing one. ACCA points out that there is no law preventing anyone from calling themselves an accountant, and that as a result small businesses could be unknowingly paying someone without the necessary skills to handle their finances and help their business grow, who isn’t regulated or insured against risk.

Sarah Hathaway, head of ACCA UK, said: “Unlike solicitors and some other professional roles, the term accountant is not protected by law, so absolutely anyone can call themselves one, even without any training. Even those with minimal training in book-keeping or just one aspect of accountancy, will not always have the same rigorous qualifications and insurance as a chartered certified accountant. They will also be limited in helping the business grow.

“The ClearBooksPro survey showed that 32% of small businesses, when asked what they wanted help with from their accountant, identified business strategy – the largest response to that question. A successful small business accountant, whether it is an external practitioner or an in-house person, has to perform multiple roles and be able to provide strategic and operational input – it is impossible to get this from an unqualified person who has trained for book-keeping or tax only, because their skill-set is too narrow.

“Equally, any business with serious growth potential needs a person who can adapt quickly to their changing management accounting needs, and ideally be able to build and manage a professional finance function. Business growth is never even and rarely goes according to plan, so it’s vital to have the right skills in place early.

“If you were employing someone for a job, you would check their qualifications. You should be even more thorough when you are hiring the services of someone who will be at the helm of your business strategy,” said Hathaway. “To be sure you have the right kind of finance professional for your small business, who has a wide skill-set – the enterprise needs to grow – check they are fully qualified.”

Capgemini to Deliver Finance and Accounting Services to NBCUI
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Capgemini to Deliver Finance and Accounting Services to NBCUI

Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, has announced that Capgemini America Inc., its North American subsidiary, has been selected by NBCUniversal International (NBCUI), the international arm of one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies, to deliver business process outsourcing (BPO) services to help standardise and optimise its finance and accounting operations. With this newly signed contract, Capgemini now provides BPO services to four of the top five companies in the media and entertainment industry.

As part of the project, Capgemini aims to provide NBCUI with services in general accounting, accounts payable and accounts receivable via Capgemini Global Delivery Centres, while partnering with NBCUI’s finance team across its international divisions. Using Capgemini’s Global Enterprise Model1, NBCUI will benefit from the accelerated adoption of global finance standards, streamlined processes and the enhanced performance of its transactional finance activities, driving working capital and cash flow improvements, as well as better customer and partner insights.

“Capgemini has a strong track record of working with many of the world’s largest media and entertainment companies, and we’re excited to support an integral part of NBCUI’s key operations,” said Brenda Heath, Head of Capgemini BPO’s Media and Entertainment business unit. “The combination of our people, integrated solutions and Global Enterprise Model approach will help drive best-in-class operating performance for NBCUI’s finance and accounting functions.”

Key finance and accounting services that Capgemini intends to provide to NBCUI include Procure-to-Pay (P2P), Order-to-Cash (O2C) and Record-to-Analyse (R2A). In addition, the implementation of new command centre capabilities will help provide NBCUI with clear insights into its finance and accounting activities.

Carter Backer Winter Launches New Corporate Finance Team
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Carter Backer Winter Launches New Corporate Finance Team

Mid-tier accountancy firm Carter Backer Winter LLP has appointed Odhran Dodd, formerly a Partner at UHY Hacker Young LLP to head its new Corporate Finance department.

Dodd has 15 years’ experience in investment banking, having completed over 60 deals in a wide variety of sectors from recruitment, manufacturing, financial services, transportation, oil and gas, mining and renewables.
His expertise is focused on disposal of owner managed businesses, MBOs/MBIs and fundraising. He brings to CBW a wealth of connections with lending banks and alternative capital providers as well as Nomads, brokers, trading houses, financial PR companies and lawyers.

“I relish the challenge of heading and establishing a brand new Corporate Finance department at CBW,” said Dodd. “I believe that the post-recessionary market is fast gaining momentum and creating new opportunities for both established companies and those ready to test new waters. I expect the CBW Corporate Finance team to grow fast since there is a lot of funding available for deals and the environment is very positive for corporate expansion. We will have the expertise to help our clients harness this growth.”

Peter Winter, Managing Partner at CBW, said: “Our ambition has always been for CBW to be a full service firm but for a long time the sluggish nature of the market meant adding a Corporate Finance team to our practice was not practical. Now, however, with the economy on an upward turn and businesses feeling more bullish about their future, we are delighted to be able to appoint Odhran who will be responsible for helping CBW’s existing clients as well as drawing new projects from elsewhere in the market.”

British Accountants to Develop Expertise in Africa and Asia
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British Accountants to Develop Expertise in Africa and Asia

Teams of British accountants will help transform accounting standards and develop professional accountancy institutes in Africa and Asia, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced.

The UK will deploy staff from chartered accountancy institutes to developing countries such as Zambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia to improve their financial management and investment climates by sharing British expertise and international best practice.

Announced following a round-table meeting at DFID today, the Department also committed £4.5 million to the International Federation of Accountants to help up to 10 partner countries in Africa and Asia, develop international-standard professional accountancy institutes of their own.

Justine Greening, International Development Secretary said: “The UK’s financial sector is second to none and its skills and experience can boost development across the world.

“By helping developing countries to manage their own resources better and attract investment we can create the jobs and growth needed to lift people out of poverty.”

The first deployments of chartered accountants through DFID’s Investment Facility for Utilising Specialist Expertise will begin in May 2014. They will include teams from:

– The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) who will train the Ethiopian Ministry of Education in accountancy practice. Overtime, this training will ensure more officials are trained in international professional standards.

– The Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW) who will review Zambia’s audit regulation to ensure it complies with latest international accounting systems; and

– The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) who will train several government bodies in Nigeria to stop corruption in government procurement.

On request from DFID partner countries, teams are deployed on short term assignments to support efforts to improve financial management in both the public and private sector.

Fayez Choudhury, Chief Executive of IFAC said: “IFAC has a long history of working to build capacity and strengthen PAOs as part of our public interest mission, and we are delighted about this significant next step in that journey.

“Well-functioning PAOs ensure a sustainable supply of professional accountants that support high-quality accounting practices and financial information in both the public and private sectors. They support enhanced confidence in business and transparency in use of public funds, giving rise to increased foreign investment and donor funding and improved government accountability and transparency – and therefore are essential to economic growth and stability.”

Traditional Broker/Dealers Adding Direct Platforms
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Traditional Broker/Dealers Adding Direct Platforms

 

New research from global analytics firm Cerulli Associates finds that traditional broker/dealers are considering a direct model.

“Firms within traditional advisory channels are beginning to consider direct broker/dealers as legitimate competitors and adapting their business models accordingly,” states Patrick Newcomb, senior analyst at Cerulli. “There are several benefits to launching a direct platform at a traditional broker/dealer, including creating a funnel for younger advisors that need help prospecting new clients, and to help advisors cultivate younger clients with small account balances.”

The first quarter issue of The Cerulli Edge-Managed Accounts Edition analyzes direct providers and eRIAs including the impact of the direct channel on traditional broker/dealers.

“Many traditional firms already maintain a packaged mutual fund advisory (MFA) program,” Newcomb explains. “MFAs make up the largest assets within the direct channel, and many broker/dealers have an existing MFA program.”

Cerulli warns that firms outside of the direct channel need to tread carefully when entering the direct space. If positioned incorrectly, it could appear that the home office is trying to compete with its advisors, instead of offering them an additional service.