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1 financial jan/feb accountant 12 The recognition issue Achievements & ambitions Progress & possibilities

2 WHATEVER YOUR CLIENTS NEED THE CAPITAL FOR WE LL get IT WORkINg FOR THEM. For REFINANCE If your clients require further funding to realise their ambitions and growth plans, then Venture Finance can help you guide them towards their desired goals. We ll work in close partnership with you to ensure your clients business opportunities come to fruition through our range of progressive refinance services. And because we re part of the ABN AMro group we believe in forging long-term relationships, which means we ll be on hand to support your clients in the months and years ahead as they continue to enhance and expand their businesses. To get your clients capital working talk to Venture Finance today on or visit venture-finance.co.uk INVOICE DISCOUNTING FACTorING ASSET BASED LENDING

3 1 COMMENT Upwards and onwards President Robin Liddell Patron The Right Honourable Earl of Westmeath Chief executive David Woodgate Chairman of council Eric Anstee Head office Burford House, 44 London Road, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 IAS Telephone: Fax: Website: Produced by CCH for the Institute of Financial Accountants Editor Lesley Meall Classified advertising manager Elly Kiss Display sales executive Nick Pye Production Editor Andy Price Circulation management Circulation Data Services Ltd Head of CCH content Douglas Broom Happy New Year and welcome to The recognition issue of Financial Accountant. As we look ahead into 2012 and beyond, the future of the IFA and its members has an increasingly rosy glow, so in this issue the balance is tilted towards the positive microeconomic picture rather than the not-so positive macroeconomic picture. The world s economic problems cannot be ignored, of course. There is coverage in Opinion on page 6, and in the news round up on pages 4 and 5; whilst technical update (page 19), will help you to prepare for some of the professional hurdles you may need to jump in the months ahead. But elsewhere the focus is on the IFA. You can read about IFA successes during the past year and its plans for more of the same in the year ahead, from myself (on pages 8 & 9), and the new marketing and communications manager William Archer (on page 15). You can also learn more about the IFA becoming a full member of the International Federation of Accountants, and why this matters to members. Some of the IFA news in this issue is more of a mixed blessing. On 31 December Professor David Hunt will retire as our president, and we will all be very sad to see him go. Fortunately, this also presents us with an opportunity to celebrate the appointment of a new IFA president: Robin Liddell (learn more on pages 10 & 11). This issue of Financial Accountant demonstrates how far the IFA has progressed. Council, members, and staff have all worked very hard to attain our current achievements, and it is only right that these are recognised both inside the IFA and outside it. So read on, and take pride in our progress. Financial Accountant is a bi-monthly publication for members and students of the Institute of Financial Accountants. Subscription enquiries to: Financial Accountant Customer Services, CCH, FREEPOST, 145 London Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 6SR. Tel: (0844) UK subscription rate for 6 issues 0/S subscription rate 2010 on request. Editorial enquiries to: Lesley Meall, Financial Accountant, CCH Magazines, 145 London Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT2 6SR. The institute accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of contributed articles or statements appearing in this publication. Opinions expressed in this issue should not be regarded as the official view of the institute, except where stated. The articles and content within this magazine have been prepared as general information on matters of interest only, and do not constitute professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this magazine, and, to the extent permitted by law, the authors, IFA, and Wolters Kluwer (UK) Ltd accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining from acting, in reliance on the information contained in this magazine or for any decision based on it. Printed by Wyndeham Grange. David Woodgate IFA chief executive I am always interested in the opinions and experiences of members, so if you have something to share, please don t hesitate to and don t hold back. Inside this issue Branch activities Developments at local IFA branches. International issues Learn more about IFAC and its members. Professional development Following the new CPD rules. financial accountant I january/february 2012

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5 3 CONTENTS BRIEFING 04 News round-up 06 Opinion 6 Export is essential FEATURES 08 Spotlight on the future The IFA chief executive on ambitions and achievements. 10 Travelling man Professor David Hunt prepares for a busy retirement. 11 Going for growth Meet the new IFA president Robin Liddell. John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, on why businesses must look overseas for their future successes. 12 Going global The IFA and IFAC a world of possibilities. 15 Grand plans Marketing and communications from THE KNOWLEDGE 16 Facts & figures 17 The CCAB The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies and its role in the accountancy profession in the United Kingdom and beyond. 19 Technical update SA 252 letters, new VAT notices, online PAYE coding notices, sailaway scheme, and Revenue schemes to target tax dodgers. MEMBERS ONLY Official material from the Institute of Financial Accountants 20 Music by numbers Wilfred Smith reminisces on his accountancy career and the important role the IFA has played. 21 IFA Privileges 22 IFA examination timetable June Planning CPD 23 President s column 24 Inside IFA 8 19 Spotlight on the future 12 Technical update From VAT changes and notices to tax dodgers and tax exemptions. Growing recognition for the IFA, its members and its qualifications in the UK and internationally, creates challenges and opportunities. Insights from the IFA chief executive. Going global The IFA is now a full member of the International Federation of Accountants. Göran Tidström, its president has words of welcome, whilst the IFA and its members and staff, celebrate the achievement. financial accountant I january/february 2012

6 4 NEWS ROUND-UP BRIEFS US delay on IFRS The United States (US) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed its decision on the future of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the US. A decision on whether or not to incorporate IFRS into the US financial reporting system, had been expected by the end of But the decision on convergence will take a measure of a few additional months according to James Kroeker, SEC chief accountant, as there are numerous conceptual operational and practical questions still to consider. Cuts hit Christmas More than one third of small and medium businesses in the UK cancelled their traditional celebrations so that they could work longer hours over the festive season, according to research by Close Invoice Finance. One in ten businesses also closed down for a shorter period than usual, because they could not afford to do so for any longer than necessary. Revenue targets online traders HM Revenue & Customs will be increasing its focus on online traders who attempt to evade tax, with a New Year campaign targeting e-marketplaces. Gregory Allnutt was recently sentenced to 20 months in prison after the Revenue proved that he had sought to evade over 420,000 in VAT due on goods sold online, through ebay. Allnutt used a VAT registration number to obtain zero-rated goods from suppliers within the European Union and then sold them on through another online company, without declaring and paying the tax to HMRC. Chris Martin, HMRC s assistant director of criminal investigation said: Our successful investigation and this sentencing send a clear message to others involved in such crime that our investigators will identify and pursue you. Digital crime wave Cybercrime is on the increase and the finance sector is the main target. A quarter of frauds involving UK organisations in 2011 were digital crimes, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Global Economic Crime survey, which also found that half of reports of online crime were from the financial industry. This is alarming, said Tony Parton, forensics partner, PwC. A tax break for the British film industry has been extended until the end of The industry makes a vital contribution to the economy and cultural landscape and the government is committed to supporting it, said David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury. The film tax relief scheme supports culturally British films, such as recent productions Brighton Rock, Gnomeo & Juliet, Clash of the Titans, Horrid Henry 3D, Coriolanus and Harry Potter Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 and 2). This scheme, along with the quality of the UK s infrastructure and high levels of skills, has led to the UK being recognised around the world as an attractive destination for film production, said Gauke. Crimes where a computer and the internet play a central role were the third most common type of economic crime reported by businesses and public sector bodies last year. Parton said that as well as the direct financial costs of digital crime, other commercial consequences include damage to reputation and brand, poor employee morale and service disruption. Film tax relief extended Practice consolidations big and small Exploiting economies of scale may be the only way for some accountancy firms to survive or thrive the flatlining economy. After Target Chartered Accountants called in insolvency practitioners at PwC to administer the company s operations in locations across the South West, the Bath office was acquired by Bishop Flemming. Matthew Lee, Bishop Flemming managing partner said: This deal preserves the superb operations of Target s professional audit and corporate tax services, but excludes Target s financial advice operation, which caused the failure of the business. Consolidation is also afoot higher up the marketplace. Smith & Williamson recently acquired the tax arm of Begbies Traynor. Kevin Stopps, managing director of tax and business services at Smith & Williamson, said: There is an excellent strategic fit in terms of geography and service provision between the new team and Smith & Williamson, which could increase its fees by as much as 7m following the deal, which will result in no redundancies. january/february 2012 I financial accountant

7 5 NEWS ROUND-UP Clients could do better Paying fees on time, providing the correct information when it is needed and reducing the blame culture were the top three items on accountants wish lists when they were asked what their clients could do better, according to a snapshot poll by E-conomic, a provider of online accounting software. Late payment of fees was the biggest issue (cited by 39% of respondents). While many clients will tell us that late payment and managing debtors is a major issue, they don t seem to think that applies to us small firms of accountants it s a real problem getting clients to pay up on time, said one respondent from a small three partner firm. Another respondent echoed the experiences of many small practitioners when he cited unrealistic expectations and a culture of blame as the things he would most like to see change. Some clients expect me to be available with no notice, he said, and they seem to think that I can magically reduce their tax bill. Accountancy apprenticeships from 2015 The government backed apprenticeship scheme will include the accountancy sector from 2015, business secretary Vince Cable has announced. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop a higher apprenticeship programme focussing on tax, audit and consultancy management. The government launched the accountancy apprenticeship scheme as part of a wider announcement of an 18.7m Higher Apprenticeship Fund, supporting 19,000 new apprenticeships in the construction, advanced engineering, insurance and financial services industries. There will be1,500 accountancy apprenticeships. Ian Powell, PwC chairman and senior partner said: This is a fantastic opportunity to make professional services more accessible and offers people who want to earn while they learn an exciting, recognised and accredited way to develop highly skilled careers in professional services. Technology trends in 2012 Accountants in business and in practice will make greater use of cloud computing and mobile data during 2012, according to predictions from the researcher IDC. Global spending on tablets and mobile phones will surpass that of PCs in 2012, whilst mobile app downloads will hit an all time high of 85 billion during the year ahead. The next issue of Financial Accountant will look at the potential of both of these trends in more detail. It will also explore the ways in which accountants are already exploiting cloud computing and mobile data: from firms creating their own mobile phone apps to those using online software for accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, practice management and more. Invoice finance increase More and more British businesses are managing their cash flow planning with the support of non-bank finance. During 2011, the value of invoice finance increased to 16bn, the highest level since 2008, and a 9% rise on 2010, according to figures from the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA). According to Edward Rimmer, Bibby Financial Services UK chief executive, there is 7.2bn of available invoice finance funding. It is vital that small to medium-sized businesses do not fail because cash flow dries up, when there are facilities available which bridge the gap between invoices raised and their payment. Knowledge is power Experian has seen an increase in insolvencies across most sizes of business. Because of this, more businesses are aware of the importance of having a good understanding about the companies they deal with, said Experian s Max Firth, who suggests using commercial information to make better decisions by gaining insight into the financial health of customers, partners and suppliers. Glyn Mummery, partner at FRP Advisory LLP, added: Credit rating data is often the first visible red flag of a business in trouble. However it should be considered within the broader context of the business performance and operating environment. A poor credit rating report may demonstrate ongoing cash flow problems, but equally it could be a one-off event that has been resolved. financial accountant I january/february 2012

8 6 OPINION export is essential Steve Wood is a partner with Barnes Roffe LLP. Gaaaaaaaaaaaaar!!! When the report from Graham Aaronson QC on a general anti avoidance rule (GAAR) was published recently it was broadly welcomed, but many question whether it has been worth the wait and I am one of them. The exercise was well-intentioned. At the moment, a plethora of poorly drafted and highly prescriptive legislation gives aggressive tax planners the opportunity for wholly artificial and unacceptable tax avoidance schemes; whilst Tax Tribunal and High Court efforts to counter them with judgements have resulted in the law being applied in an inconsistent and even capricious manner. So an initiative that might be a catalyst for better legislation and better court judgements could be a good thing. It isn t. It pains me to say this, but in my view, it s a waste of time, effort and money. The report indicates that a moderate rule aimed at abusive arrangements would be a good thing but for whom? A GAAR will be good for lawyers on both sides of the tax-avoidance divide, but it will not provide simplification or eliminate uncertainty, and the distinction between abusive and non-abusive tax planning arrangements will become even harder to recognise. Instead of adding another layer of complexity and subjectivity to an area that is already, in some regards, almost unintelligible, the government should radically simplify the tax system and ensure that the law on fiscal matters is fit for purpose. HM Revenue & Customs abhors the loopholes that poor drafting creates. But it also enjoys the benefit of pitfalls that seem to be woven into the taxing legislation deliberately to catch and tax the ill-informed. Both these issues are opposite sides of the same coin. The regulators seem to believe that tax avoiders currently have the upper hand, despite: tax legislation with hundreds of targeted anti-avoidance rules, early disclosure of tax avoidance schemes (DOTAS) rules, and the significant information gathering and inspection powers of HMRC which make the need for a GAAR difficult to discern. I would loudly applaud a genuine effort to reform the UK s over-complex tax system and produce clear and comprehensible legislation. But I fear I might grow very old before this happens. The UK has a proud history as a great trading nation, but in recent years our performance has been lacklustre. Export success will be one of the key drivers of growth, but for too long we have been over-dependent on advanced economies for our trade, and the Eurozone crisis underlines how important it is for the UK to diversify its export efforts to high-growth countries. Given that we re already playing catch-up with many of our competitors, we must act now to target high-growth economies, leapfrog the competition and deliver our growth potential. We need to capitalise on the booming success of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), and look beyond the curve to future high-growth markets such as Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey. The new middle classes in emerging economies will have needs that our niche, high-end producers are more than able to fulfil. The government must aim to increase net exports as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product, and support the growth of small and medium companies. At the moment only one in five export, whilst the EU average is one in four. Too often businesses are finding that the government s public rhetoric does not match with the reality of their experience on the ground, so the CBI is calling on the government to set out a credible exports strategy with achievable performance targets. The government should apply an export-enabling test on all new legislation, skills policy should be used to help businesses remain innovative and internationally competitive, UK Trade & Investment must increase its commercial focus, access to export finance must be made easier for the small and mid-sized companies which have so much potential to export and grow, the need for more hub and regional airport capacity should be resolved, and a single online portal should be introduced through which businesses can access all government export services. The CBI will develop regional exports clubs to share knowledge and experience, help to shape trade missions to maximise business outcomes, and establish an export finance taskforce to explore ways of removing barriers to finance, reducing risk, and the viability of incentivising exploratory export activity with an export tax credit. But businesses must play their part too. We need to hard-wire exporting into our DNA like many of our competitors, and firms need to share expertise more effectively and shout about their successes. John Cridland is director-general of the CBI. january/february 2012 I financial accountant

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10 8 AMBITIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS spotlight on the future David Woodgate, IFA chief executive, shares his plans for the future, and explains why members have much to look forward to. Not many professional accountancy bodies can look back on 100 years of history, so when the Institute of Financial Accountants reaches this milestone, in 2016, it will be in illustrious company. Just this achievement would be cause enough for celebration, but when we look back from our centenary year, we will have many more achievements to be proud of. When I became IFA chief executive at the end of 2007, the accountancy profession was going through one of its many periods of adjustment, and this was reflected in the modernising agenda. So over the past few years, Council and the staff team have focussed on developing the long-term strategy for the IFA, and on strengthening the governance of the IFA and its members and students. This has already delivered significant benefits. The IFA was approved for monitoring status for the purposes of the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR) in Strong internal governance and structures were also significant in achieving Recognised Awarding Body status from Ofqual and will be important in our forthcoming acceptance into the Qualifications and Credit Framework, the UK system for recognising skills and qualifications (on which more, later), and the IFA s recent ascent to full membership of the International Federation of Accountants (see pages 12 & 13). I cannot over-emphasise the significance of these developments for the IFA and its members and students, today and tomorrow. If the IFA did not have recognition as a supervisory body for MLR, many of you would be forced to register for supervision with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or apply for membership of another professional body. Whilst IFA regulation of its members is no less rigorous than regulation by HMRC or any of the other supervisory bodies, the transition would be costly, inconvenient and time-consuming not least because of the Revenue s fit and proper test, which can affect multiple employees. Ofqual recognition and acceptance into the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) are vital to the IFA s future success as a provider of qualifications, in the United Kingdom (UK) and internationally. The regulators Ofqual in England, DCELLS in Wales, SQA in Scotland and CCEA in Northern Ireland recognise only organisations that meet very high standards. Without this recognition, IFA would not be able to progress and gain accreditation for the IFA Financial Accountant Diploma and the IFA Professional Financial Accountant qualification, and the qualifications would be less appealing to training providers and students. None of you will be IFA members forever; even if the oldest IFA member, who is almost 100 (see page 20), demonstrates that many of you may be with us for a long time to come. If the IFA is to thrive in the future, as well as changing to reflect changes in the profession and the wider business community, it needs to grow. When I come to look back from our centenary year in 2016, I want to see a river of IFA students turning into an ocean of members, from the UK and across the world. The IFA has historically been more successful than many other professional bodies at providing crossborder qualifications and attracting international members and students, and it is in all of our best interests for this to continue. Strength in numbers This is one of the many reasons why it is such good news that the IFA is now a full member of the International Federation of Accountants january/february 2012 I financial accountant

11 AMBITIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS 9 (IFAC). Membership was granted only after thorough due diligence by a sponsoring body (on behalf of IFAC), had confirmed the financial and operational viability of the IFA, and assured that its governance, regulatory frameworks and support for members, all meet IFAC s high expectations. Membership also requires a commitment to compliance with IFAC policies and its ethics code (see page 23). IFAC membership also means that the IFA and its members gain access to a wealth of technical and institutional expertise; so you can look forward to seeing an increase in both the amount and the quality of the professional information and guidance available to you, during the years ahead. Being an associate member of IFAC was itself an achievement, but full membership consolidates our position on the global stage, and secures a place for the IFA at the profession s top table, alongside leading accountancy bodies from across the world though growing recognition among our fellow-professionals means we will not feel out of place. During my four years with the IFA, it has slowly but surely developed the sort of professional profile that I believe it should always have had. I can t claim all of the credit for this: Council, the executive, staff, members and students, have all worked tirelessly to promote the IFA, but a great deal of the credit must go to our retiring president Professor David Hunt. When I became IFA chief executive, it was his faith in the IFA and its members that helped, in turn, to give me faith in the IFA and its members; he has sung your praises far and wide, high and low, and I have tried to follow this lead. Together, and with the blessing and support of Council, we have worked tirelessly to build relationships with the many organisations and individuals that populate the ecosystem of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small and medium practices (SMPs) in the UK and internationally. We have developed and reinforced recognition of the IFA as the professional body for finance professionals who work with and for SMEs and SMPs at a time when others (including IFAC) have also become increasingly aware of just how vital they are to the economic success of nations across the world. The IFA has become more actively involved with regulators such as HMRC and politicians, lobbying on behalf of the IFA and its members and formally responding to government consultations. The IFA has also developed relationships with large accountancy firms, technical publishers, recruiters, and providers of specialist services to the profession, which helps us to provide you with more and improved member services: from online courses and regional seminars, to the expanding range of services offered by IFA Privileges. Standing on the shoulders of giants Gaining peer recognition has also been a vital component in our recent successes and increased recognition, even if this isn t always evident to members. For many of you, direct experience of the strong relationship between the IFA and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) may go no further than your access to its impressive Library & Information Service (see page 21). But there is more to it than this. The IFA s associate membership of IFAC was sponsored by the ICAEW, and having its ex-chief executive Eric Anstee as chairman of our Council has helped to enhance our status with other professional bodies and their members full membership of IFAC was sponsored by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). All of which has had a knock-on effect in many areas. Wider recognition has touched the IFA Achievement Awards, the Business Barometer, and the President s Dinner too. The Achievement Awards attracted support from Accountancy Age, Belmont International, CCH Wolters Kluwer, FRP Advisory, LexisNexis, PQ magazine, and Royal Bank of Scotland; the Business Barometer has been described as a premier indicator of what small businesses think ; whilst Baroness Hogg, chair of the Financial Reporting Council and speaker at the last President s Dinner described it as an opportunity for those from the world of financial regulation and development to learn from each other. All of this proactivity is going to continue during 2012, and beyond. The IFA will be developing its tax faculty, which it created with its acquisition of the Federation of Tax Advisers; more and enhanced member services are in the pipeline; likewise improvements to the website, and many other developments that will be of benefit to members and students. I can t go into the details of some aspects of the future strategy we are planning for the IFA, because of commercial sensitivities. But on the basis of what we have achieved during the past few years, I hope that I can rely on your acceptance and trust when I tell you that there are even more exciting times ahead. financial accountant I january/february 2012

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