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Exclusive: Accountancy with the human touch: 5 highlights from Accountex 2022

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Accountancy with the human touch: 5 highlights from Accountex 2022

#Accountancy #human #touch #highlights #Accountex

It was great to see accountants and bookkeepers back together in London to share all things accounting for Accountex 2022.

As you might expect at the event, Making Tax Digital (MTD) was a big focus, as we’re only two years away from a massive change when it comes to MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment.

Sure, MTD may be a challenge, but Accountex 2022 showed that digital transformation could herald enormous opportunities for transforming accountancy and bookkeeping practices for the better.

Here are five big takeaways from the event for accountants and bookkeepers.

Here’s what we cover:

1. The relationship between accountant and client has room for improvement

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) still trust you as the accountant to give them business advice.

And Accountex 2022 showed you’re in an excellent position to benefit from the right services powered by tech.

Sage research says 84% of SMEs consider accountants to be critical for them, while 49% go to accountants for advice (53% of SMEs said they were even more reliant on accountants due to the pandemic).

Are you working well enough with your clients?

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Well, 99% of accountants use some form of digital accounting, so clients certainly accept digitalisation as part and parcel of working with you.

However, there’s still much you can do to improve your digital connection with your clients, as 60% of accountancy firms say they’re not confident in using their accounting software.

Why should clients trust you if you’re not confident in the software you’ll need to use to manage their tax returns?

Having an accounting product is all well and good.

But without deep trust, it may well be that connected and frictionless relationships between accountant and client where you feel comfortable as partners is a long way off.

2. Making Tax Digital is an opportunity

A human connection between accountant and client may also be missing.

One problem is that 64% of accountants feel SMEs under-appreciate their work, especially in compliance, tax efficiency, and business planning.

One opportunity to build a better relationship with clients, whether through technology or as humans, is MTD.

We’re off and away with MTD for VAT, and a big focus of Accountex was MTD for Income Tax Self Assessment (ITSA), which we’re very likely to see in April 2024.

MTD for ITSA is the most significant change to your industry since Self Assessment hit the UK in the 1990s. It will impact 4.2 million businesses and demands a new approach for your accountancy or bookkeeping practice.

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Accountex made it clear that you should see MTD as a once in a lifetime event that can make your practice particularly valuable to small businesses.

By owning the MTD process, you can make your team more efficient, make more money by supporting clients at a higher level, and deliver a customer experience that clients will highly value.

3. Make use of MTD advice

In the big scheme of things, 2024 is not far away, and a lot of messaging from Accountex 2022 was around making the proper preparations for MTD for ITSA and ensuring the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

As an accountant or bookkeeper, you should:

Choose to act now

As you may have already experienced MTD for VAT, there is a lot to work to do if you want to meet the MTD for ITSA requirements, whether you’re working with sole traders or landlords.

Commit to seeing MTD through

MTD is here, and it’s certainly not going away. What you want to do is deliver your MTD for ITSA plan (Not got one yet? See point three below – Sage can support you with this), as your future success might depend on it.

Remember, don’t think it’s all on you

You’re not on your own—there’s help with MTD for ITSA available.

For example, with Sage for Accountants, you’ll automatically receive an exclusive 4-Step Practice Success Plan, a masterclass programme presented by industry experts.

It’ll give you the skills and confidence to build and deliver a clear, confident, and profitable plan for the practice and your clients, helping you get ready for MTD for ITSA.

Sage’s MTD for ITSA 4-Step Practice Success Plan consists of:

  • Plan and Prepare—create an action plan
  • Practice Readiness—examine processes and workflow
  • Client Readiness—create client behaviours for success
  • Deliver and Succeed—maximise the positive impact and reach your goals

Learn more about the 4-Step Practice Success Plan and how to sign up on the Sage for Accountants website page.

MTD, digital networks and automation were high on the agenda at Accountex 2022

4. Embrace using a digital network

Of course, Accountex 2022 wasn’t just about MTD.

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There was also a lot of future gazing and conversation about where the accountancy profession will go next.

One technological change that you may want to think about as an accountant is the idea of using a ‘digital network’.

Digital networks are a new enabling architecture in Software as a Service (SaaS). The idea is that while digital usually ‘records’ the business, in a network digital ‘conducts’ the business.

While SaaS is designed for everyone in the business, digital networks are designed for everyone in a business ecosystem.

In SaaS, people share computing resources, while in digital networks, people share data and activity.

An example of a digital network in the consumer world is the one built by food delivery app Deliveroo, which doesn’t just cater for restaurant employees but everybody in its business ecosystem—such as restaurants, drivers, and customers.

Evolving from simply using SaaS software to using a digital network matters to accountants because digital networks allow customers, software vendors, banks, and governments to create a business ecosystem with each other.

Like open banking has revolutionised finance for consumers, the same can be done with businesses, as you can establish trust between all the parties involved.

5. Use the power of automation

Accountex 2022 showed that automation will continue to improve the way accountants work.

With financial management software, it’s impossible to program a computer to recognise every conceivable invoice format.

If you apply machine learning to recognising invoices, the best you can hope is to achieve 80-90% accuracy.

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The real power is its scale.

A human may achieve much greater accuracy but can’t hope to match a computer’s productivity when automation is in action.

As an accountant, you can have confidence in software automation that can review hundreds of thousands of transactions a month, which humans can’t do manually.

Final thoughts: The human touch is key

Much discussion at Accountex 2022 was around how the accountancy profession evolves as technology develops.

In the short term, it’s MTD that has the potential to transform your relationships with clients for the better.

However, be aware that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation hold the potential for accountants to elevate the human work they do for SME clients and become trusted partners central to their success.

The technology you use needs that human touch for you to reach your full potential.

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Exclusive: Spirit delays shareholder vote on merger hours before meeting to continue deal talks with Frontier, JetBlue – TalkOfNews.com

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Spirit Airlines says it will decide on competing JetBlue, Frontier bids before the end of June

#Spirit #delays #shareholder #vote #merger #hours #meeting #continue #deal #talks #Frontier #JetBlue

A Spirit Airlines plane on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 07, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines on Wednesday delayed shareholder vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines until July 8, hours before a meeting scheduled for Thursday so it can further discuss options with Frontier and rival suitor JetBlue Airways.

It is the second time Spirit has delayed a vote on its planned combination with Frontier and extends the most contentious battle for a U.S. airline in years.

Spirit originally scheduled Thursday’s vote for June 10 but had delayed that for the same reasons.

Both Frontier and JetBlue have upped their offers in the week before the scheduled vote approached.

“Spirit would not have postponed tomorrow’s meeting if they felt they had the votes,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry consultant and president of Atmosphere Research Group. Spirit didn’t comment on whether that is the case.

“We compliment the Spirit Board for listening to their shareholders, who clearly were not supportive of the Frontier transaction, and adjourning the Special Meeting,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement later Wednesday.

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“It’s clear that Spirit shareholders have now handed the Spirit Board an undeniable mandate to reach an agreement with JetBlue.”

“This is like the end of a soap opera episode,” Harteveldt added.

Frontier and Spirit first announced their intent to merge in February. In April, JetBlue made an all-cash, surprise bid for Spirit, but Spirit’s board has repeatedly rejected JetBlue’s offers, arguing a JetBlue takeover wouldn’t pass muster with regulators.

Either combination would create the United States’ fifth-largest carrier.

JetBlue has fired back at Spirit, saying it did not negotiate in good faith, setting off a war of words between the airlines as they competed for shareholder support ahead of the vote.

Frontier didn’t immediately comment about the postponed vote.

Spirit shares were up about 2% in afterhours trading, while Frontier was up more than 1% and JetBlue was down 1%.

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Exclusive: Get hype for the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – TalkOfNews.com

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Get hype for the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

#hype #images #NASAs #James #Webb #Space #Telescope

Very soon, humanity will get to view the deepest images of the universe that have ever been captured. In two weeks, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — NASA’s super expensive, super powerful deep space optical imager — will release its first full-color images, and agency officials today suggested that they could just be the beginning.

“This is farther than humanity has ever looked before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a media briefing Wednesday (he was calling in, as he had tested positive for COVID-19 the night before). “We’re only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.”

NASA launched James Webb last December; ever since, it’s been conducting a specialized startup process that involves delicately tuning all 18 of its huge mirror segments. A few months ago, NASA shared a “selfie” marking the successful operations of the IR camera and primary mirrors. Earlier this month, the agency said the telescope’s first images will be ready for public debut at 10:30 AM ET on July 12.

One aspect of the universe that JWST will unveil is exoplanets, or planets outside our Solar System — specifically, their atmospheres. This is key to understanding whether there are other planets similar to ours in the universe, or if life can be found on planets under atmospheric conditions that differ from those found on Earth. And Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, confirmed that images of an exoplanet’s atmospheric spectrum will be shared with the public on July 12.

Essentially, James Webb’s extraordinary capacity to capture the infrared spectrum means that it will be able to detect small molecules like carbon dioxide. This will enable scientists to actually examine whether and how atmospheric compositions shape the capacity for life to emerge and develop on a planet.

NASA officials also shared more good news: The agency’s estimates of the excess fuel capability of the telescope were spot on, and JWST will be able to capture images of space for around 20 years.

“Not only will those 20 years allow us to go deeper into history and time, but we will go deeper into science because we will have the opportunity to learn and grow and make new observations,” NASA deputy administrator Pam Melroy said.

JWST has not had an easy ride to deep space. The entire project came very close to not happening at all, Nelson said, after it started running out of money and Congress considered canceling it entirely. It also faced numerous delays due to technical issues. Then, when it reached space, it was promptly pinged by a micrometeoroid, an event that surely made every NASA official shudder.

But overall, “it’s been an amazing six months,” Webb project manager Bill Ochs confirmed.

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Exclusive: Fight for Spirit Airlines goes down to the wire with competing bids from Frontier and JetBlue – TalkOfNews.com

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Fight for Spirit Airlines goes down to the wire with competing bids from Frontier and JetBlue

#Fight #Spirit #Airlines #wire #competing #bids #Frontier #JetBlue

The most heated airline battle in recent years comes to a head on Thursday when Spirit Airlines’ shareholders vote on a proposed tie-up with fellow discount carrier Frontier Airlines while rival suitor JetBlue Airways circles with increasingly sweetened takeover bids.

Spirit has repeatedly rebuffed sweetened, all-cash bids from JetBlue, arguing that such a takeover wouldn’t pass muster with regulators, and has stuck with its plan to combine in an also-sweetened cash-and-stock deal to combine with Frontier, first announced in February.

JetBlue’s surprise all-cash bid in April set off a fight over Spirit that last month turned hostile.

If Spirit shareholders vote in favor of the tie-up with Frontier, it would put the carriers on the path to creating a budget airline behemoth. The two carriers share a similar business model based on low fares and fees for almost everything else from seat selection to carry-on bags.

A Frontier Airlines plane near a Spirit Airlines plane at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on May 16, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

If shareholders vote against the deal it opens the door for a takeover by JetBlue, which would retrofit Spirit’s yellow planes to look like JetBlue’s, including cabins with seatback screens and more legroom.

“JetBlue does not have many options to achieve a step-change in growth, and that explains why JetBlue has pursued this deal so doggedly,” said Samuel Engel, aviation consultant at ICF.

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JetBlue and Frontier have each argued their proposed transactions are key to their future growth, helping them better compete with large U.S. carriers and get fast access to Airbus narrow-body planes and pilots.

Either deal would create the fifth-largest U.S. airline.

Late Monday, JetBlue said it would raise the reverse breakup fee if regulators don’t approve a JetBlue takeover of Spirit to $400 million from $350 million. It also raised the amount it would pay up in advance to $2.50 a share, from $1.50 and added a 10 cent-a-share monthly payment to shareholders starting next year until the deal is consummated or terminated.

JetBlue previously offered to divest some assets in crowded markets to calm antitrust fears, but hasn’t said it would give up its alliance with American Airlines in the Northeast U.S., which Spirit has called out as a sticking point in that deal.

JetBlue’s latest offer came after Frontier late Friday raised the cash portion of its offer by $2 per share to $4.13 and increased the reverse breakup fee to $350 million to match JetBlue’s then-offer.

Spirit has stuck with the Frontier deal. CEO Ted Christie on Tuesday called the Frontier offer “very compelling” and told CNBC the airline wants to “focus our efforts on convincing the shareholders it’s the right thing to do.”

Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services on Tuesday said that “the enhancements by JetBlue may be enough to offset the potential upside of the proposed merger with Frontier” but said it didn’t want to change its recommendation in favor of the deal with so little time before the vote.

Spirit postponed the vote from June 10 to continue deal talks with Frontier and JetBlue.

War of words

For weeks, JetBlue has argued that Spirit’s board hasn’t negotiated in good faith or fully considered its offer. It has repeatedly urged the budget airline’s shareholders to vote against the Frontier deal.

“The Spirit Board consistently ignored or refused to engage with JetBlue until faced with certain defeat on the original shareholder meeting date and then, in an attempt to avoid the widespread perception of its poor corporate governance, pretended to engage with JetBlue,” JetBlue said in a letter Wednesday again urging Spirit shareholders to vote against the Frontier deal.

Spirit has repeatedly denied claims that it hasn’t engaged with JetBlue in good faith.

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“Our board believes [the Frontier merger] is the most financially and strategically compelling path forward for Spirit with a greater likelihood of closing,” Christie said in a video message addressing shareholders on Wednesday.

All three carriers have traded heated words as they try to win over Spirit shareholders before the shareholder vote.

JetBlue late Monday wrote a letter to Spirit shareholders detailing its latest sweetened bid and accusing Spirit of making “misleading statements” regarding its antitrust doubts.

Frontier fired back in a lengthy news release Tuesday saying that “a Spirit acquisition by JetBlue would lead to a dead end — a fact that no amount of money, bluster, or misdirection will change.”

The high drama is coming from an already-consolidated industry that hasn’t seen a major airline deal since 2016, when JetBlue lost out to Alaska Airlines for Virgin America.

“This is as much as a potboiler for the summer than any trashy novel,” said Henry Harteveldt, a former airline manager and president of of Atmosphere Research Group.

High regulatory bar

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