January is usually the busiest time of year for accountants due to the impending annual self-assessment deadline of 31 January.
Unfortunately, for many accounting firms, it’s still a race to the finishing line, with the last few days of the month being a frenzied working period chasing clients for data and making submissions.
An extra complication for this year is likely to be the cost of living crisis, making it more challenging for self-assessment clients to meet their tax liabilities.
However, help is at hand. Accountants can free up precious resources by using technology to automate many time-consuming tasks. This enables accountants to tend more to their self-assessment clients during the busy season, with an additional benefit being the opportunity for them to become embedded in their clients’ businesses to provide virtual FD services.
Cut the time you spend on payroll
Payroll can be incredibly time-consuming and time-sensitive.
Information to run monthly payroll (i.e. bonuses, new starters, leavers, student loan details, pensions etc.) tends to only become available around a week before month end. This results in a small window to run payroll, review it and set up and execute payments in time.
Features include automatically taking care of PAYE and NIC updates, student loans, pensions and calculating mid-month pay rises. Moving away from a desktop-based spreadsheet approach to cloud will also make collaborating and reviewing payroll effortless too.
Vendors connect directly to leading accounting providers and make it easy to map accounting entries for the production of payroll journals.
Payroll becomes even more flexible by turning to an embedded payments provider, such as Modulr, to make payments to employees and HMRC. Functionality includes connecting directly to accounting and payroll software providers to provide a single workflow that pulls across payee data to secure e-money accounts, removing the need to enter data manually.
Take the pain out of payments with automation
Similarly to payroll, supplier payment runs tend to be manual, slow and error-prone, with the possibility of transactions being sent to the wrong suppliers or having incorrect values inputted.
Complications can also arise due to the slow nature of BACs, with payments taking three working days to clear. This creates additional work for accountants due to having post journals for cash in transit and the possibility of being chased by client suppliers about late payments.
These pain points can also be solved by using a payments automation tool, such as Modulr, to speed up clearing and remove the risk of incorrectly entered transactions.
With Modulr, transactions clear in 90 seconds via the Faster Payments network. Unlike BACs, there are no restrictions around when Faster Payments can take place, even on bank holidays and weekends. This means accountants won’t be chased for payments that have occurred but have not cleared. And it also means that payment details can be changed at the last minute.
Additionally, within the Modulr platform, multi-layer approvals allow junior team members to set up payments to be approved by line managers. Final approvals can be requested by email to clients, who just have to eyeball the list and click a button to confirm.
Incorporate practice management software
Keeping on top of filing deadlines can take up significant resources that can be better used on more value-adding tasks.
Additionally, monitoring deadlines through non-automated methods creates the risk of the odd one slipping through the net. This includes self-assessment deadlines, VAT filings, annual accounts and corporation tax.
Accounting firms can manage deadlines more efficiently by adopting practice management software. The likes of Accountancy Manager and Senta connect directly to the APIs of Companies and HMRC to give visibility of forthcoming client filing deadlines. This will become even more important after January 31 when HMRC introduces a new penalties regime for VAT.
Practice management tools make managing and resourcing jobs easier by being able to allocate staff to jobs and monitor progress through direct integrations with core cloud accounting software.
These tools can be a lifesaver during self-assessment season as they can send out automated emails to chase for documents and data requests before filings.
Get ahead of the virtual finance movement
Alongside making tax season painless, efficiencies from the automation of workflows also create the opportunity for accountants to deliver services that go beyond bookkeeping and compliance filings.
Saved resources and a clean real-time data set can be used to deliver a virtual FD service to clients, covering a range of new service lines such as cashflow forecasting, credit control, access to funding and input into strategy.
There’s no one size fits all approach, but the cost of living crisis means that cashflow forecasting and access to funding are both good places to start.
If you complete self-assessment filings months in advance of the January 31 deadline, you’ll be able to advise clients on tax liabilities in advance and feed this into their forward-looking cash flows.
Doing so will enable them to plan better how to pay on time, and if cash values are readily available in advance, there’s also the opportunity to provide insights on how to best generate a return before making payment.
Modulr’s Payments Dashboard is a single online portal that brings all your workflows and payments together and automates them. Best of all, the dashboard integrates with you’re the accounting software you already use, such as Sage, BrightPay and IRIS, because we love them as much as you do! Which means you won't even have to consider an awkward breakup just to benefit.
Why Modulr? Well, Modulr is authorised and regulated by the FCA and we’re plugged into the same major payment schemes as UK banks, including Faster Payments, so your payments will clear within seconds, even on a weekend or bank holiday. The Modulr dashboard is secure and gives you and your clients full control and, because you'll be speeding through your payments within minutes, you'll have scope to start pushing your business in whatever direction you want to go.
Speak to an expert today.