Our new financial year starts on the first of April and like all new years it is good to plan forward as well as to reflect back on what has been achieved. However, it always brings with it a number of reporting requirements which are hardly the most uplifting of activities. Instead of procrastinating I always just get on with the job and when started it’s just amazing how the momentum builds.
My first task was our annual return for Companies House and while this is an easy job it took a little longer this year because of their additional reporting requirements. Next came the Retail Mediation Activities Return (RMAR) for the FCA and this took a couple of intensive days but I was very pleased that it was submitted on the fourth of April well ahead of the 11th of May deadline. Sarah Challenor had done a great job of monitoring all income received and categorising it to the FCA requirements – the amount of detail required would drive most to drink! We became directly authorised by the FSA in March 2005 and our first RMAR was 30 pages but the reporting requirements have grown so that the latest one was 53 pages. I ticked off as ‘job done’ and I diarised the next half yearly RMAR for the 1st of October.
Getting into the swing the next job was preparing our annual accounts and while we have 9 months to get them done before the 31st December deadline I like to get them submitted and out of the way as soon as possible. We use Free Agent to automatically download and reconcile transactions on a daily basis so in theory all that was needed was a quick check over by our accountant – if only! Two meetings and several sessions later and the accounts were submitted to Companies House and to HMRC on the 20th of April. Our accountant Rob Holden was appointed by us in November 1991 and he did another superb job. This time he had to submit according to new accountancy reporting requirements which came into place on the 1st of April (rather him than me!) I am grateful to Rob for his 25 years’ service – he is now an essential part of the furniture.
Drawing up the accounts gave us the opportunity to write off some capital equipment. In order to reduce costs, I took the plunge last summer and changed from PCs to Macs. I have used PCS since 1991 and changing to Macs is not for the faint hearted – there was a lot of work to do so that the new operating system was in place and understood. I have often heard it said that Macs are too expensive and yes, the initial cost is much higher than a PC however after a lot of careful thought and analysis I am now totally convinced that when you look at the total cost of ownership Macs are without any doubt the cheaper option. I am already saving money and saving time and I am a firm member of the Mac club – ‘when you get a Mac you never go back’ may sound like a glib phrase but I would rather go back to a slide rule than go back to a PC. My PCs were switched off and disposed of and all I can say is good riddance.
Client service is always our focus and I am always prepared to spend money to improve service however reducing costs is part of our monthly accounts analysis and there have been several ways that costs have been reduced during the year. With that in mind you may find it interesting that it takes £8000 a month to cover costs and break even before I take any income myself or we make any profit. You might ask where does the money go? and you could look for yourself by viewing our accounts from the Companies House website however the next administrative task is a good example: –
On April 1st our Professional Indemnity and Office / Liability insurances were due for renewal. After another half a day of administration £5000 left the bank account. The FCA / FOS / FSCS regulatory fees took a similar amount.
The last end of year task involved our CPD reporting: every year we have to submit detailed continuous professional development records to: The CII, The CISI, and to SOLLA and they all have their individual requirements. By now you might be thinking that with another two days spent on that task I didn’t have a lot of time to see clients and you would be right. I am hoping that next month I am going to have more time to do the job that I love – seeing and helping clients.
Some of you have made wonderfully complimentary remarks about my support team and in particular, Nicola and Sarah. They provide me with wonderful help and they do all that they can to help you and provide great client service. They were so very appreciative when I passed on your kind remarks and thank you once again.
It often amazes me when most other adviser firms have an ISA campaign at the end of the financial year in March. By leaving it until the end of the year clients have missed out on about ten months of tax free status on their investments. This week Sarah completed our ‘bed and Isa’ service and £20,000 has been moved from client’s GIA (general investment account) to their ISA account so that they benefit from almost a full year’s tax free status. We complete this process for them at no charge because this is part of our service. One client asked why “Bed and ISA” and the process has this name because the HMRC rules state that money can’t be taken out and re-invested on the same day. Hence, we aim to take the money from your GIA at 11.59 p.m. and reinvest it 2 minutes later on the following day though in practice it probably takes a couple of hours or so instead of two minutes. Please note that the ISA allowance increased to £20,000 on the 6th of April so if you have cash earning about 1% interest (or less) it may be the time to discuss whether it is appropriate for you to invest it and use your ISA allocation – you don’t get many tax breaks so don’t throw away this one.
The power of the internet makes this a small world: This afternoon I have a Skype call to Lark Ismail who lives and works in California. Lark does some brilliant work with our website design and social media and she has helped us to build up quite a reputation. Going around the world the other way, this week I have been engaged by another client from Australia (this one near Perth). With clients now in China, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Croatia, Pakistan, and elsewhere, Interface Financial Planning is becoming truly global.
Please keep in touch and let us know if you need any help – after all, despite the administration, that is the real reason why we are here.