Auto Enrolment – 7 Steps to Staging

by Blogadmin 17. July 2015 09:16

A common belief is that Automatic Enrolment is Workplace Pension Reform, but this is not the case. Workplace Pension Reform is the wider legislation that states employees need to be automatically enrolled onto a nominated pension scheme, when they meet certain criteria. Automatic Enrolment is the mechanism behind this process and is being introduced to encourage private sector savings.  Please read on for our tips on handling Auto Enrolment via our 7 steps to staging.


1. Know your staging date
First of all, it is important to find out your staging date, find out by visiting The Pensions Regulator (TPR) website  using your PAYE reference. 

2. Assess your workforce 
Assess who in your workforce is an eligible jobholder and automatically enrol them into a qualifying pension scheme.  An eligible jobholder is: 
- Aged between 22 and state pension age 
- Working or ordinarily working in the UK 
- Earning above £10,000* 
Workers who are not eligible jobholders will still have a right to opt into or join a pension scheme.

3. Review your pension arrangements 
If you would like to enrol eligible jobholders into your existing pension arrangement, then please check it qualifies as an automatic enrolment scheme. A qualifying scheme, must have minimum contributions or it must provide a minimum rate at which benefits will build up. A scheme suitable for automatic enrolment must not:
- Impose barriers to joining, such as probationary periods or age limits
- Require employees to make an active choice to join or take other action prior to joining
- Require the provision of extra information in order to stay in the scheme

4. Communicate the changes to your workers
Inform your workers in writing of the changes detailing how they will be affected. The communication must be specific to the individual. The responsibility is on you, the employer to provide the correct information to the correct individual, at the correct time. 

5. Automatically enrol your eligible job holders 
Make all eligible jobholders a member of an automatic enrolment pension scheme and provide the relevant information to your pension provider about your eligible jobholders.

6. Register with The Pensions Regulator
Shortly after your staging date, you need to register online to inform The Pension Regulator as to how you have fulfilled your new automatic enrolment duties. On an ongoing basis you will be required to maintain records about enrolled workers, their status within the scheme, the payment of contributions and the qualifying scheme itself. 

7. Contribute to your workers’ pensions
On your staging date, you must start to contribute to your chosen pension scheme on behalf of your workers. The minimum contribution rates that an employer must pay into their workers’ pension scheme will be introduced gradually over a 6 year period (from 2012 to 2018). This is known as ‘phasing’. The minimum overall contribution will be 2% rising to 8%. Where the employee doesn’t contribute towards the pension, the employer will be expected to contribute the full minimum amount. Phasing will apply to most but not all, your scheme provider will be able to tell you if phasing applies to you.

Handy Hint
Use TPR's online auto enrolment action planner to produce a calendar of what to do at each stage of the process. It will also provide letter templates and guidance notes.



 *Automatic Enrolment earning threshold for 2015/2016. These figures are expected to change each tax year.

Advanced Exchequer can help with Auto Enrolment!
Call on 01202 298008 or email info@exchequer.com


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Accounting Software | Topical

The paperless office

by Blogadmin 23. June 2015 15:23

Why electronic document management (EDM) is one of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing costs

50% of professionals spend time looking for files1 and worryingly, 7.5% of all documents are lost2. In today’s busy working environment, organisations cannot afford such levels of unproductive time. Unreliable paper-based processes are not acceptable when today’s technology could clearly have a positive impact on the bottom line.

The good news is that Electronic Document Management (EDM) has the potential to deliver a good return on investment, as well as being relatively affordable.

If your organisation has not already adopted a document management system, have you considered how it could help your business to centralise, digitise and streamline your existing document processes to reduce paper usage and increase efficiency?

Users are able to turn their office into a paperless environment, do more work with less resource and collaborate more effectively with their colleagues. While all these benefits sound great, many professionals are left asking “what actually is a document management system and how can it help improve my organisation’s processes?”

By storing documents into one centralised, efficient and secure environment, an effective document management system will save your business money by cutting down on unnecessary storage space, help to rationalise headcount whilst improving productivity and save time by making document retrieval a smooth and fast process.

To learn more, take a few minutes to read our quick guide ‘Document Management Uncovered’.

 Get my guide here >

1 Gartner Group Consultancy

2 ImageNetConsulting

 

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Accounting Software | Topical

New Government bill launched to help businesses tackle late payments

by Greg Ford 28. May 2015 11:58

Businesses, particularly SMEs, have long known the frustration and pain of tackling late payments. Not only does chasing these payments eat up valuable time, it can also affect a company’s bottom line by forcing them to use external finance to cover gaps in cash flow, often leading to interest charges and incurring debts.

The Government’s new Business Minister Sajid Javid has put the spotlight on the issue by introducing a new enterprise bill, which will establish a small business conciliation service to help settle late payment disputes between small and large businesses. The bill was formally announced in the Queen’s speech at the state opening of parliament on 27th May 2015.

Announcing the bill in in his first speech as the new Minister, Mr Javid said that this year the average amount owed to a small business is more than £30,000. The problem is also getting worse, as he revealed that late payments are set to cost British businesses more than £40bn in 2015, up from £19bn in 2008*.

This is not just a concern for individual businesses. Without strong cash flow SMEs can be reluctant to invest in growing the company, which can in turn affect the wider economy

A new bill to support businesses in dealing with this growing problem will be music to many peoples’ ears, but there are also steps a company can take to make sure they are as well protected as possible from the damage late payments can cause. These include running credit checks on all new customers, creating a structured day-by-day credit control strategy and agreeing clear payment terms that give no room for dispute.

Invoicing quickly and accurately is also key. It sounds simple but it is something that many businesses fail to do. E-invoicing can speed up the invoice issuing process as well as provide a record that it has been sent, which can be vital if the problem should escalate.

Using technology, such as quality credit control software, to automate manual processes can also enable a pre-emptive approach to payment delays, which protects cash flow and saves time. A government paper** revealed that small businesses spend on average 130 hours a week chasing late payments, which equates to an average cost of £1,500 per business.

The new bill should support businesses in fighting this problem and help the UK economy. However companies also need to look at their own credit control strategies, processes and systems, and ask if they are up to scratch, and if not can they really afford not to take action?

Exchequer has developed an online calculator that allows businesses to work out their debtor days and how they can be reduced. To use the calculator click here.

*http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/may/19/sajid-javid-announces-plans-tackle-late-payments 

**https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273436/bis-13-1234-building-a-responsible-payment-culture.pdf 

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Accounting Software | Topical

Top Apps for Finance Professionals

by Blogadmin 8. April 2015 16:27

Today’s professionals are facing increasing pressure to work both faster and smarter. With this in mind, our latest guide ‘Top Apps for Finance Professionals’ explores the most popular mobile apps which are helping finance professionals to work more efficiently on the move.

Read on for a preview or download the complete guide here.

Evernote: helps businesses work more efficiently by storing almost anything you could possibly imagine from a receipt, invoice, a ‘to do’ list to an article you want to read. Evernote also enables you to data in a variety of formats including audio, text, and image, Twitter or even a web page. It can recognise writing in images and capture it. Evernote will never let you forget a thing and importantly, it backs up all the data and synchronises all of your files between your smartphone, computer or tablet so no matter what happens to your device, data will never be lost. www.evernote.com

Doodle: a great time saver for organising meetings and appointments. This app will let you send a poll specifying your availability, and then recipients can then let you know whether they’re busy, free or available. No more needing to find diary space across multiple calendars. www.doodle.com

PaybyPhone/RingGo PaybyPhone – be on time for your next meeting and pay for parking quickly and easily. These apps enables user to securely and remotely pay for parking. Don’t worry about getting fined if your meeting over runs, simply extend your parking via your mobile. If it’s been a long day it can even remind you where you parked your car! www.paybyphone.co.uk www.ringgo.co.uk

Dropbox: storing, sharing and syncing in the cloud. This app will save time and transform your workflow by allowing you to access your files anywhere and eradicating the need to email files back and forth. With a simple to use interface, files are easy to upload and synchronise. If you’re a culprit for having files on multiple devices, this app is for you. www.dropbox.com 

 

eXchequer365:  check a customer’s balance; establish available stock; authorise an order or simply email a copy of an invoice to a contact. You can also gain access to key business information, view account and ledger details remotely and have access to tailored management reports and authorise transactions. The perfect tool to keep you in control. www.eXchequer365.co.uk

 

For further information and to see more of the most popular business apps available, download ‘Top apps for Finance Professionals’ here

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Mobile

Six signs you’ve outgrown your accounting software

by Blogadmin 17. March 2015 15:46

Is your business growing and putting more demands on your IT system? If so have a read of our tell-tale signs that your accounting software is no longer fit for purpose and may need upgrading.

    1. Increased manual activities
Are your employees resorting to manual activities such as entering data twice in order to fulfill your business needs?

If the answer is yes, you may benefit from investing in a new solution that is more aligned with the size of your business and has the ability to provide more efficient data entry will stop time wasting on duplicating procedures. 

2.    Reporting challenges
Are you wasting time trying to find data, rather than analysing it?

As your business grows, you need the ability to see and analyse accurate data quickly and easily. Upgrading your software could help by streamlining and automating reporting processes, ensuring you can clearly and easily identify the lucrative and unprofitable parts of your business.

3.    There isn’t an app for that
Can employees access your accounting software whilst out of the office?

Whether it’s giving sales the ability to check a customer’s balance or availability of stock, or giving managers the chance to access tailored management reports, a mobile app will allow employees to work more efficiently wherever they are.

4.    Lack of data integration
Is your data stored in a range of locations?
If you answered yes, then you are currently hindering your ability to collect, analyse and report on important financial information in a timely manner. A system that stores data in a single location  will  increase productivity and efficiency, leading to more opportunities throughout your business.

5.    Performance issues
Are you having to sacrifice transaction history or other records because your data volume is increasing?

If you’re exceeding the limits of your current solution then you need to consider new software that will eliminate the risk of  having inadequate historic records. It will also stop employees wasting time on tasks such as moving data to make room for new.

6.    Insufficient control
Are you creating workarounds to join up processes and fill in the gaps?

If you are creating workarounds then life is harder than it needs to be. A seemingly small change in how your accounting software operates can have a big impact for you and your colleagues, placing you firmly in control of your organisation.

Choosing to invest in new software is a commitment of both money and time and the thought of dedicating more resource to a new project can be overwhelming. But consider the impact of not taking action – how much is time wasting and lack of analysis costing your teams and hindering further business growth?

For more information on how Exchequer can help growing businesses, check out our on-demand webinar.

 

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Accounting Software

Timeline to getting paid [infographic]

by Blogadmin 30. January 2015 11:37

Late payment can be frustrating and costly for any business with poor cash flow being the single biggest reason that businesses cease trading.

Although it can seem daunting at first, implementing a simple credit control process needn’t be complicated – check out our infographic for seven steps to making sure you get paid every time!

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Accounting Software | Infographic

Top 10 tips to avoid payment delays

by Paul Sparkes 23. January 2015 09:30
It’s not breaking news that managing a healthy cashflow is an absolute necessity for any business to succeed and grow.
At Exchequer we are frequently talking to businesses who are persistently frustrated (and paying the price!) of having late paying customers. Just imagine what could be achieved if customers paid on time and cash flowed freely within your business.
Having an efficient and effective credit control procedure in place to protect your business is vital. So to help in your fight against late payment here are our top 10 tips to avoid payment delays:
1. Have a clear credit control strategy in place
Although it can seem a little daunting at first, implementing a simple credit control process needn’t be complicated and can ensure you get paid every time. Start by clearly setting out a day-by-day strategy your accounts team can adopt. Take a look at our 'Timeline to getting paid' infographic which shows how a structured approach could help reduce the threat of late payment.
2. Know your customers
With 60% of SME’s having to overcome the challenges posed by late payments, it’s becoming increasingly important to run credit checks on all new customers before offering credit terms. Simple credit checks can be run online in a matter of minutes and could save you valuable time and money in the future. 
This tip shouldn’t be isolated to new customers, it should be an ongoing process to monitor credit scores as even the most reliable payers can have a change in circumstances.
3. Agree clear payment terms
Make sure your payment terms are clear and consistent, and be upfront with your customers about any late payment charges to save disputes further down the line. Think about including your payment terms on your statements, invoices and in your T&Cs of business.
4. Invoice quickly and accurately
Make sure you send your invoices on time. This sounds simple enough, but many businesses fail to do this. Equally as important is making sure that the invoice is addressed to the right person, and that the information it contains is 100% accurate. Any holdup or mistake can just delay payment coming in. Speed the process up even further by emailing the invoice rather than sending it through the post. 
5. Make it easy for people to pay
Everyone prefers a simple and straightforward process, so ensure that customer payments can be made easily, and preferably online or by Direct Debit. Where possible avoid the use of cheques given the delay in processing.
6. Build positive relationships
A friendly and positive relationship with your customer can have several advantages. Not only will it encourage them to purchase more from your business, it will also improve your chances of getting paid on time.
Consider making a courtesy call or sending an email a few days before the payment is due to ensure the invoice has been received and there is no query. This is good customer service and will remind the customer of their outstanding invoice with actually chasing the debt.
Also, why not thank all your customers that pay on time?! Not only does it show you’re grateful for their punctuality, it is good for customer relations and can lead to repeat business.
7. Start chasing payment immediately 
The early bird catches the worm! Don’t delay in chasing late payment from the day after it was due. It’s better to start as you mean to go on and the longer you leave it before you make contact, the further down the queue your invoice will get. Consider having set dates when debtors are chased by telephone, email and in writing.
8. Be flexible
Businesses can ensure good cashflow by offering flexible payment packages or terms to their regular customers. On large, outstanding amounts this could mean regular installments or simply splitting the bill into two manageable amounts and in some circumstances it may be your best chance of getting payment.
By providing these packages both you and your customers can both plan ahead, with the ability to confidently predict cashflow.
9. Use technology to help
Automating manual processes could help you to take a pre-emptive approach to payment delays, protect cashflow and save time. Exchequer’s Credit Pursuit solution manages all aged debtor information within a single system and has proven results. One of our customers saved two working days a month and reduced outstanding debt by £200K, all in the first three months of implementation.
Calculate your debtor days and see how you could take control of your cashflow with our online calculator at exchequer.com/creditpursuit
10. Don’t let the problem escalate
If you haven’t received payment, stop supplying the customer immediately. Make them aware of your decision and inform them that they will no longer be supplied until all outstanding invoices have been settled. If the customer needs your product or service in order to run their own business this should provide enough leverage to ensure prompt payment. 
Compiling a stop list can help you identify persistently late payers, and you could consider asking repeat offenders for a deposit or payment in full when they are placing future orders.
For more information on credit control and to see Exchequer in action, sign up to our upcoming webinar '3 tips to transform your credit control' on 26th February 2015.

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Accounting Software | Infographic

CFO appetite for risk at a seven year high one month on from Scottish referendum

by Greg Ford 13. October 2014 10:12

Nearly a month on from the Scottish independence referendum and the “will they/won’t they” hype has died down but what impact has the result had on UK business? 

While Scotland’s independence is no longer front page news, a recent report from Deloitte reveals that political risk and its outcome on business confidence is having little bearing on holding back growth. 

According to Deloitte’s latest research, which surveyed 118 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) last month (September, 2014), perceptions of economic and financial uncertainty increased in the third quarter for the first time in two years. With many unanswered questions surrounding the campaign - currency, tax, regulations, oil - to name a few, it’s no surprise that the prospect of an independent Scotland is thought to have played a dominant role in this change.  

While Deloitte’s research points out that political developments can create uncertainty for businesses, its overriding message focuses on growth. Expansion is high on the agenda for many CFOs with risk appetite reaching a seven-year high. Furthermore, 35% of CFOs surveyed rated the introduction of new products or expanding into new markets a strong priority and 19% are looking to increase capital expenditure. 

Regardless of your current size, the prospect of growth can bring with it many challenges. The ability to remain agile with quick and easy access to real-time information provides a firm foundation for decision making and business success.


Resources

We’re working with many growing businesses and organisations to streamline processes, save time and reduce costs. If you are growing or are looking to do so, visit our resource centre for more information.    

You can download the full Deloitte report here.  

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How charities can improve efficiency and cut costs by embracing BYOD

by Greg Ford 11. September 2014 14:58

Charities and not-for-profit organisations have been eager to embrace the potential of mobile technology and those that have are well placed to capitalise on the benefits.

A report published in November 2013 by mobile network company Three found that donations through websites, social media and apps now account for £26 in every £100 donated in the UK, with an annual figure of £2.4 billion now being donated online and by mobile.

As advances in mobile technologies accelerate, charities face the challenge of how to exploit new ways of working while continuing to wrestle with limited budgets. This quandary has prompted a growing number of charitable organisations to consider adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes.

BYOD schemes allow employees and volunteers to use their own mobile devices (laptops, tables, smartphones etc) for work purposes and offer improved flexibility and productivity. For charities in particular, the appeal of BYOD is obvious.

Dwindling budgets mean that many organisations have insufficient funds to invest in updating IT hardware and corporate mobile plans. This comes at a time when charities are facing greater demands from staff to use smartphones and tablets to do their job by accommodating flexible working. With more employees and volunteers showing a willingness to use their own personal devices for work purposes BYOD has become a tempting proposition.

Mobile technology significantly increases productivity for field workers as staff can record information ‘on the move’ during visits and deal with queries as they arise. Essential transactional information, such as expenses and time spent on projects, can be entered and authorised remotely using a mobile device. This eliminates the need to return to the office and trawl through mountains of paperwork.

The rise of mobile is also enabling charities to better engage with stakeholders, supporters and younger audiences to boost responses from their fundraising campaigns to drive donations. Trustees are also using mobile devices to gain easier access to financial information and can drill down to the detail in order to offer meaningful advice on the allocation of scarce resources. 

To meet this soaring demand Exchequer is continually developing mobile applications to provide organisations with remote access to key information via the Exchequer finance system using smartphones.

While allowing staff and volunteers to use their own devices may provide significant cost savings, it is essential that charities create a consistent and coherent BYOD strategy to prevent data security breaches and the inevitable loss of supporter trust.

By doing so organisations can mitigate the threat of security vulnerabilities and empower employees and volunteers to use mobile technologies to help generate vital funds, without placing donor relationships at risk

To access the white paper “Why every charity and not-for-profit needs a BYOD strategy”, click here.

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Accounting Software

Outlook for 2014 - Thriving in uncertain times

by Greg Ford 20. February 2014 11:54

Even just a few years ago many business owners were contemplating their future with a weary sigh; there were fears about double dips and consumers hoarding their cash, unwilling to spend.

But the good news is we seem to be over the worst - Britain’s economy grew last year at its fastest rate since the financial crisis. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that most major sectors of Britain’s economy expanded in the final three months of 2013, concluding its best showing since 2007.

The economy grew 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter from October through December. Growth for the full year rose to 1.9 percent, which bodes well for the coming 12 months.

A word of caution, however: while confidence has increased, this hasn’t translated into increased investment in business.
Despite positive predictions, UK organisations are far from certain about their future. According to the Baker Tilly annual SME Distress Monitor, 96% of business owners said they were happy achieving their current level of success, 74% expect their workforce to stay the same, and only 23% plan to increase their sales and marketing spend. A large majority, 84%, are not willing to take on any more debt in 2014.

In short, it looks like businesses are holding steady and seeing where this positive momentum gets them before they make any capital commitments.
MDs that wish to make sure that their organisation remains resilient to the uncertainty surrounding the direction that the economy may take, need to ensure that their processes are structured and every operational parameter is managed, monitored, controlled, measured, reported and benchmarked to achieve optimum operational productivity and profitability.

In 2014 now, more than ever, secure, strong and resilient management is critical and instant access to key performance indicators (KPIs) and the status of the business operation is key to thriving.

Why not download the whitepaper in full ‘Thriving in uncertain times – 7 top tips for 2014’
 

 

Original article http://startups.co.uk/outlook-for-2014-and-what-businesses-need-to-watch-out-for/

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Accounting Software | News | Topical


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