Boldly Building

Tax and Profit tips from an unfiltered, opinionated accountant.

5 February 2024

Understanding the CIS Reverse Charge in Construction

Explore the CIS Reverse Charge, transforming VAT accounting in UK construction since March 1st, 2021. Learn its purpose, conditions, exceptions, and invoicing rules. Whether you’re a contractor or subcontractor, gain essential insights for VAT compliance.

What is the CIS Reverse Charge?

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) Reverse Charge is a significant alteration in VAT accounting within the UK construction sector. Initiated on 1st March 2021, this procedure changes the usual VAT accounting process, where now, in specific transactions within the construction industry, the buyer (contractor) is responsible for the VAT instead of the supplier (subcontractor).

The Aim of CIS Reverse Charge?

The primary objective of the CIS reverse charge is to combat VAT fraud in the construction sector. It aims to reduce tax evasion and improve compliance within the construction industry by shifting the VAT payment responsibility from subcontractors to contractors.

This method prevents fraudulent activities, such as missing trader fraud, ensuring that VAT is correctly accounted for and paid to HMRC.

Key Conditions

The reverse charge should be applied when the following conditions are met:

  1. The supply is made for VAT of construction services and materials.
  2. The transaction is at a standard or reduced VAT rate.
  3. Both supplier and customer are UK VAT registered.
  4. Both parties are registered under the CIS.
  5. The customer plans to make an ongoing supply of construction services.
  6. The supplier and customer are not connected entities.
  7. The supplier is not an employment business, and the customer is not an end-user.

The Charge Does Not Apply To

The CIS reverse charge does not apply to:

  • VAT-exempt building and construction services.
  • Supplies outside the scope of CIS.
  • Purely staffing or worker supplies.
  • Supplies consisting only of materials.
  • Transactions made to non-VAT registered customers or end-users.

Included/Excluded Services

Included Services

Excluded Services

Construction, alteration, repair, extension, and demolition of buildings/structures. Drilling for or extracting oil or natural gas.
Work on land that forms part of the landscape, including infrastructure projects like roadworks, railways, and waterways. Mineral extraction and related underground construction activities.
Installation of essential systems (heating, lighting, air-conditioning, etc.) in buildings/structures. Manufacturing and delivery of building/engineering components or machinery.
Internal cleaning as part of construction or renovation projects. Professional services (architects, surveyors, interior/exterior design consultants).
Preparation or completion services like site clearance, excavation, foundation work, and landscaping. Artistic work installations (sculptures, murals) unrelated to construction.
Signwriting, signboard erection, and related advertising installations.
Installing non-essential fixtures (seating, blinds, shutters, security systems).

Invoices

When issuing invoices under the CIS reverse charge, it’s crucial to adhere to the following guidelines:

Standard VAT Invoice Details 

Ensure each invoice includes all the standard VAT invoice information.

Clear Indication of Reverse Charge

Make it crystal clear that the CIS reverse charge is in play. This means that the customer, not the supplier, takes responsibility for VAT accounting to HMRC.

VAT Amount or Rate

Specify the VAT amount or rate applicable under the reverse charge. Importantly, this doesn’t get added to the total charge to the customer.

Suggested Wording

Your invoices must feature specific wording to signal the application of the reverse charge. Here are some examples:

“Reverse charge: VAT Act 1994 Section 55A applies.”

“Reverse charge: Customer to pay VAT to HMRC.”

“Reverse charge: S55 VATA 94 applies.”

These words are your ticket to ensuring both parties understand their VAT responsibilities and deliver a clear advantage in compliance.

Example of CIS reverse charge

Participants:

  • Contractor (Company A): Building the new office.
  • Subcontractor (Company B): Specialised in electrical work.

Scenario:

Company A hires Company B for electrical work.

Company B invoices Company A for £10,000, stating the CIS reverse charge applies.

Company A, the contractor, records the £10,000 invoice as both input and output VAT.

Company A pays £10,000 to Company B, deducting £2,000 (20%) for CIS.

Company A remits the £2,000 CIS deduction to HMRC.

Company B reports the payment from Company A but doesn’t charge VAT.

This demonstrates how the CIS reverse charge shifts VAT responsibility to the contractor, ensuring proper tax compliance in construction projects.

How to Account for the Domestic Reverse Charge on Your VAT Return

The introduction of the domestic reverse charge necessitates specific adjustments in your VAT return filing:

Sales Invoices

When applying the domestic reverse charge to your sales, these should be recorded in box 6 of your VAT Return, indicating the value of the sales excluding VAT. There’s no need to enter anything in box 1 for these sales, as VAT accounting for them is the buyer’s responsibility.

Purchases Invoices

If you are purchasing services under the reverse charge as a contractor, you need to account for the VAT differently:

  • Output Tax in Box 1: Record the VAT due on these services as output tax in box 1.
  • Input Tax in Box 4: Similarly, claim the VAT on these purchases as input tax in box 4, which you normally do for standard VAT transactions.
  • VAT-Exclusive Value in Box 7: Enter the net value of these purchases in box 7, as you would with standard transactions.

As always, seeking guidance from a qualified accountant or tax professional is advisable. They can provide tailored advice and ensure your VAT Returns comply with HMRC regulations.

Need help with this? Contact us at Cloud Accountancy for expert advice on how to file your VAT return.



8 January 2024

Understanding and Mastering the Construction Industry Scheme

The UK’s Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is more than just tax stuff. It’s the lifeline of your construction gig. Born in 1971 to outsmart the tax dodgers, CIS has become this big, complex beast that every contractor and subcontractor needs to tame.

Think of this guide as your handy map through the CIS jungle, helping you sidestep pitfalls, dodge hefty fines, and stay cool under HMRC’s watchful eye. We’re here to break down the tricky bits and show you how the right tech can make CIS a walk in the park.

What is the Construction Industry Scheme?

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a tax deduction scheme involving payments made by contractors to subcontractors in the UK construction industry.

Originating in 1971 to combat tax evasion, CIS has undergone various transformations, the most significant in 2007, to include more stringent requirements for contractors and subcontractors.

Under CIS, contractors deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HMRC, counting as advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? In reality, CIS is complicated. Get it wrong, and you could be in for a big bill. Or even worse HMRC poking their nose into your business and having a big dig around. From experience you don’t want HMRC having a rifle through your business affairs!

The Complications of CIS

I’m going to get real with you for a moment. When new construction clients come to us, sorting out CIS mistakes and problems is probably our biggest money spinner. You could also say we are rather good at unpicking CIS problems…

CIS, while essential for tax compliance, presents numerous challenges:

Identifying CIS

Navigating CIS in the UK construction sector is crucial for tax compliance, but pinpointing which activities fall under its umbrella can be tricky, especially for property investors and developers. Sometimes us accountants even need to take advice on this.

For instance, property investment typically stays outside CIS unless construction spending surpasses £3 million within 12 months.

This means that careful monitoring of expenditures is essential to ensure compliance and avoid unexpected tax obligations. Yes, it’s the boring accountant in me coming out again. Good record keeping is not optional. It’s crucial to help you save money and make sure you keep your accountant happy.

Understanding Contractual Nuances

The contract’s nature significantly influences CIS applicability. Mixed contracts, blending CIS and non-CIS work, necessitate a thorough analysis. I’m giving my age away here, but I’ve been in the building trade for 30-odd years. Yes, I did start in the working world when I was very young. It’s fair to say ‘it’s grim up north’. Anyway, I digress, contracts in the construction industry are always changing and evolving. This a long way of saying, get advice! (Hint: we can help)

Understanding each contract’s intricacies is crucial to avoid non-compliance risks and financial consequences.

Defining Scope

In our experience, determining whether an activity is subject to CIS is a common hurdle for many in the construction and property sectors. Assumptions often lead to issues. Then issues often leads to large unexpected tax bills or, once again HMRC starting to poke their nose into your affairs. The only nose you want poking into your affairs is your accountants to help you run your business and keep your financial processes running smoothly!

One of the classic mistakes I see construction company owners make is win a contract and then just get started with it; rather than considering whether the lad (or person) you are taking on to support you with the contract is an employee or CIS contractor. For example, if you keep your best plasterer busy for a whole year and don’t work for someone else, HMRC could decide that they are an employee. There are legal ways to get around this problem, but get in touch for how we can help.

It’s vital to get expert advice to ensure your business aligns with CIS regulations, translating into smoother operations and a lower risk of penalties.

Registration and Compliance

Failure to register with HMRC can lead to significant fines. Non-registered contractors and subcontractors face steeper tax deduction rates and additional penalties. For example, if you are a cleaning company, then your cleaners actually come under the CIS scheme. Funny fact, not many accountants know this. And yes, I can be a real bore at parties…

Staying up-to-date with the latest CIS rules is not just good practice; it’s a critical defence against non-compliance’s financial and operational impacts.

Monthly Reporting

All payments to subcontractors, including those with gross payment status, must be meticulously reported in monthly CIS returns. Investing in robust record-keeping systems is advantageous, ensuring accuracy and compliance.

This means staying organised simplifies reporting and protects against potential discrepancies and penalties.

The revenue love fining construction companies. Failure to get your CIS scheme right and the revenue will happily fine you £100 a month per return that isn’t filed. The evil people they are is that if you fail to file your CIS return each month for 12 months, they will fine you £1200 up to a maximum of (at time of writing) of £7800. This really can kick you in your ‘backside’ if you get this wrong. I have successfully got these penalties cancelled. But don’t chance it; it needs strong mitigating evidence to cancel penalties. If I had a pound for every time I saw construction companies filing to get their CIS reporting done on time and correctly, I’d now be on a beach in Marbella sipping a cold beer.

Employment Status Verification

Correctly identifying the employment status of subcontractors is a crucial task for contractors. Errors in classification can lead to unexpected tax and National Insurance liabilities.

Diligent evaluation of each subcontractor’s status isn’t just about meeting CIS requirements; it’s a key aspect of maintaining financial health and regulatory compliance.

What Work is Subject to CIS, and What Work is Exempt?

Understanding what falls under CIS is vital. Generally, CIS covers most construction work, including site preparation, alterations, dismantling, construction, repairs, decorating, and demolition.

Exemptions include:

Professional Services: Roles like architects, surveyors, and some engineers and consultants.

Material Manufacture and Delivery: These are outside the CIS scope.

Non-Construction Site Services: Like canteen or facilities management.

Specific Exemptions: Work paid for by charities, educational bodies, or on the subcontractor’s own property under certain conditions.

Please find the list of exceptions on the HMRC website here.

A plea for you, don’t guess with this stuff. Take advice from an accountant who knows their way around the CIS scheme. The one short phone call to your accountant could save you lots of money in the future.

Reverse charge CIS

If you are in the middle of a chain of contractors, subcontractors and subcontractors, CIS gets a little more complicated. Very simply, don’t guess, give us a call and we will sort you out.

CIS and Gross Payment Status

Gross Payment Status enables subcontractors to receive full payment without initial deductions. Qualification requires passing business, turnover, and compliance tests.

Benefits for subcontractors include improved cash flow and simplified tax management, though rigorous adherence to tax obligations is necessary to maintain this status. As I have mentioned a few times penalties for getting this wrong can be onerous. I don’t care if I am repeating myself again (sorry, not sorry), but using Gross Payment status means contractors don’t get penalised if you get it wrong.

How Can CIS-Compatible Accounting Software Solve the Problem?

Modern CIS-compatible software addresses various CIS challenges:

Automated Verification and Tax Calculations

CIS-compatible software automates the verification of subcontractors with HMRC, ensuring they are registered and eligible for work under CIS.

This automation extends to the accurate calculation of tax deductions, significantly reducing the likelihood of errors.

This means contractors can focus more on their core business activities, knowing their tax compliance is accurately managed.

Efficient Record Keeping and Monthly Returns

These tools simplify the administrative workload by maintaining detailed transactions and subcontractor payment records.

They facilitate generating and submitting accurate monthly returns, ensuring they meet HMRC’s deadlines and requirements.

Efficient record-keeping is crucial, as it streamlines submissions and provides a reliable audit trail in inquiries or inspections.

Compliance Monitoring and Access to Real-Time Data

CIS software actively monitors compliance, providing timely alerts for upcoming deadlines and notifying users of legislative changes that might affect their operations.

This proactive approach ensures that businesses remain compliant and are not caught off-guard by new regulations or reporting requirements.

It also offers real-time access to data, allowing businesses to closely monitor their payments and compliance status, which is essential for effective financial management and planning.

Integration with Broader Accounting Functions

Integrating CIS operations with other financial aspects like VAT and payroll is another key feature of modern software.

This integration streamlines overall financial management, reducing the effort and time required to reconcile different accounting areas.

By aligning CIS with broader financial operations, businesses can achieve more cohesive and efficient financial management, leading to better-informed decision-making and a more comprehensive view of the company’s financial health.

We offer as a service for our clients to do CIS payroll, CIS filing and verifications to help take one of the headaches off your long to-do list. After all, why guess when we can help keep you and your business on the right side of HMRC. We also have a cost-effective service for your CIS contractors to help them legally keep their records, maximise their tax refund, and file their tax returns each year.

Should You Register for CIS? Act Now!

As a contractor in the construction industry, CIS registration is crucial for compliance and smooth business operations. Register today to avoid penalties and streamline your subcontractor payments.

Subcontractors, while not mandated to register, can benefit from lower tax deductions by registering. Don’t miss out on this financial advantage.

Need guidance? Reach out to us at Cloud Accountancy for expert advice on CIS and its impact on your business. 

Register now and ensure your business is compliant and efficient.

1 January 2024

Navigating UK Cryptocurrency Tax

Cryptocurrencies have rapidly evolved from niche assets to mainstream investments, capturing the attention of investors and regulators alike. As the popularity of crypto grows, so does the need for a clear understanding of the tax implications associated with these digital assets.

The 2022/23 tax return is the first one that HMRC has properly recognised income from Crypto. Just goes to show that Crypto is now mainstream and something that HMRC are starting to get very interested in.

Are you looking to get involved in the ‘world of crypto’ but don’t know where to start with how to stay tax-efficient, and what you actually owe taxes on.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricacies of cryptocurrency taxation in the UK, shedding light on key guidelines and considerations.

HMRC Guidelines and Reporting

HMRC does not view cryptocurrencies as ‘currency’ or ‘money’. Instead, they are treated as property, making them subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) upon disposal, which includes selling, trading, or gifting them.

Taxable events also include using crypto to pay for goods or services, exchanging them for a different type of crypto asset, and giving them away, with some exemptions like gifts to spouses or civil partners.

Key points to consider:

  • Disposal of crypto assets may necessitate paying CGT, especially when gains exceed the tax-free allowance.
  • Various transactions, including selling tokens, exchanging them for a different type of crypto asset, using tokens for purchases, and gifting, can trigger CGT liabilities.
  • To calculate CGT, you must determine your gain for each transaction. The gain is usually the difference between what you paid for an asset and what you sold it for. Specific rules apply if you sell tokens within 30 days of buying them.

In previous years, you may have had a defence that there was no box on your tax return for explicit cryptocurrency gains or losses, and you have muddled up your CGT return. Now there is a box on your tax return for crypto gains or losses. This means that in slightly boring accountancy speak, you need to have ‘supporting schedules’ for your crypto gains or losses.

Taking off my accounting/tax hat for a moment, this means you have a document which shows every trade (see definitions below for what this could be) of cryptocurrency that you have done.

My sources tell me that the HMRC will be asking the organisations behind the major cryptocurrencies for reports on who has traded what and when, just as they are doing this for Amazon, Etsy and the big online buying and selling platforms. How will this happen? Who knows? But the revenue has mighty computers that love analysing data and comparing it against the returns that have been submitted.

The bottom line is cryptocurrencies are a minefield for tax purposes. (Do you like my pun?) You may only be dabbling in them, but I can’t state this more strongly: you will need the help of an accountant. That’s to file your tax return both for you personally and any investment or trading business that you have. Not just any accountant. Given my 30 years of wrangling with HMRC, I can see that they are gearing up to start poking around in crypto investors affairs. A ‘cloud accountant’ or a ‘digital accountant’ or an accountant specialising in small business owners isn’t good enough. You need an accountant who truly understands tax and crypto. (Hint: We do) If your accountant charges you under £500 for your tax return, if you have dealings with Crypto, then run away very quickly…

Tax Considerations for Crypto Investors

Crypto investors engage in various activities, including trading, mining, and staking. Each activity comes with its own set of tax implications.

Trading

This is where you buy crypto assets using ‘normal’ currency and sell them on for a profit. These profits from buying and selling cryptocurrencies could be subject to CGT if they exceed the tax-free allowance. In exceptional circumstances, where trading is frequent and sophisticated, it might be treated as income and subject to Income Tax. Once again, ask your accountant to deem whether your trading can be treated as income. The likelihood is it wouldn’t be.

Mining

For certain types of crypto assets, such as Bitcoin, you can earn rewards by ‘mining’. Income from mining is treated as trading income or miscellaneous income, depending on the nature of the activity. In either case, the income is taxable if it exceeds the trading allowance of £1,000 in a tax year.

Staking

Staking is a form of a reward that you can earn from your crypto assets and is typically taxable as trading or miscellaneous income. Individuals may treat it as savings income and claim a personal savings allowance, but CGT rules may apply if disposed of later.

Airdrops

This is nothing to do with Apple products! This could be a ‘free’ crypto asset received from someone else in return for a service or simply because you own another type of crypto asset. The tax treatment of airdrops depends heavily on the reason for receiving the crypto asset.

For all of the above, Income Tax and National Insurance contributions apply to crypto received as income. The tax rate depends on total income, with specific bands determining the applicable percentage.

Calculating and Reporting Gains

Calculating CGT involves determining the gain for each transaction, typically the difference between the purchase price and the sale price. Allowable costs, such as transaction fees, advertising, contract preparation, and valuation fees, can be deducted. Crypto assets must be grouped into pools by type for cost calculation, with specific rules applying to tokens bought and sold within 30 days.

Reporting and paying CGT can be done through a Self Assessment tax return. Accurate record-keeping, including transaction types, dates, quantities, values in pound sterling, and bank statements, is essential. This is not me being a boring accountant, this is me saving you time, money and angst in the future.

Beyond investment, cryptocurrencies are increasingly used as a form of income. If used for forms of income, such as payments for employment duties, these could be subject to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions.

How much tax do I need to pay on my crypto assets?

For CGT from crypto over the £12,300 tax-free allowance, you’ll pay either 10% or 20% tax, depending on which band you fall under. The amount depends on transactions made, the tax that applies and the Income Tax band that you fall into.

The bill can be reduced by unused capital losses brought forward. This means it is SO important for your tax returns to be done promptly and any capital losses clearly identified. These capital losses could be more than just Crypto, such as selling shares at a loss, or making a loss on a property deal. You get the picture! I’m going to get boring again, but record-keeping here is vital again…

How should I get started?

The crypto landscape is ever-changing, and staying ahead of emerging trends is vital for taxpayers. We’ll provide updates on regulatory shifts but staying informed about these changes is essential for anticipating their impact on cryptocurrency taxation.

To ensure that you’re staying compliant, involve a professional in your tax planning. Get in touch here.

16 August 2022

Financial Planning to Ensure Financial Independence for Women

Financial independence is an important goal for many people. It means you have the ability to support yourself financially, without relying on others for assistance. It also means you control your finances because you make your own financial decisions, rather than someone else making them for you.

Regardless of who you are, financial independence makes it easier for you to achieve your dreams. It also gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you have the finances to live the life you want to live.

For women, financial independence can be more elusive, as women typically face financial hurdles such as lower pay, career gaps while they care for their families, and other financial barriers. Additionally, women generally live longer than men, so they must plan financially for longer periods, and they must have enough financial knowledge to make decisions on their own in the event their spouse dies before they do.

Here are ways women can effectively manage their finances and plan for the future.

Find an advisor you trust

Too many well-intentioned advice columns offer advice designed to “fix” women, focusing on what they do wrong with their money. This advice is outdated. You don’t need to be fixed, but you may need some guidance on what the best strategies are for you.

Find an advisor who is willing to guide you by respecting where you are, where you want to go, how you want to spend your money, and what your unique financial needs are. Choose an advisor who works with your personality, your goals, and your concerns, and takes your insights seriously.

Follow age-old advice

Regardless of your gender, there are some important steps that can help you obtain financial independence. These include:

  • Deciding what you want
  • Creating a budget
  • Setting aside a certain amount of savings
  • Having an emergency fund
  • Paying down debt.

Think of your retirement

Part of taking charge of your financial future is thinking about your retirement. If you work for a company that offers a retirement plan, take advantage of it. If you don’t, consider opening your own retirement savings accounts. The earlier you do it, the longer you have to save for your retirement, which is important because you could live well into your 90s.

Invest your money

You need money in savings but you also need your money working for you. That means investing. You don’t have to invest in risky stocks if that doesn’t suit your personality or meet your needs. But investing can bring you back a higher return than savings accounts will. A diversified portfolio will limit your exposure to losses and give you more potential for growth.

Have a comprehensive financial plan

A budget will help you with your monthly spending, but a comprehensive financial plan takes into account your entire situation, including your income, expenses, assets, investments, retirement needs, estate planning needs, income taxes, and how they work together to help you achieve your goals.

Financial independence involves you having the money you need to live the lifestyle you want, but it also means being confident in making your own financial decisions. It’s about having control over your money and making sure your money is working towards your goals.

26 July 2022

5 ways outsourcing payroll can help you

When you start a business, you’re typically your only employee and payroll is about as simple as it gets. But as you grow, you hopefully find yourself in the position of needing to take on more employees. Before you know it, what was once a very straightforward task becomes a giant undertaking that’s sucking up most of your time.

This is when it makes sense to outsource your payroll. While this is yet another cost to consider, it’s actually a great idea that easily pays for itself. Here are the ways outsourcing your payroll can help you:

1. Free up your time

In any small business, there is a lot of legwork that comes with running payroll. The percentage of time spent on it is quite large compared to the other aspects of your business. This is because it’s a complex task that needs to be done every single week – forever. You may feel that payroll is never done and that’s because it truly never is.

Outsourcing your payroll is one of the easiest ways to free up more of your time, which can then be put into other tasks that actually help your business thrive. Once you reclaim this huge chunk of time, you’ll wish you made the switch sooner.

2. Reduce errors

Yes, there are the actual hours worked that you need to account for. That’s complicated enough. But add in sick days, holiday pay, other types of leave, employees leaving early or arriving late, and other complications, and suddenly your payroll has become a daunting task that you would probably rather just ignore.

This is where the beauty of outsourced payroll comes in. Because you are paying a professional to worry about all of these little things, you no longer have to worry about all of the potential areas where you could make a mistake.

And the thing about a payroll mistake is that it typically takes even more time and energy to fix. Not to mention, you likely now have to assuage a disgruntled employee.

With outsourced payroll, this mammoth task is simply done for you, and done correctly. Every single time. And that’s good for you and good for your employees.

3. Reduce costs

While you may initially balk at the cost of outsourcing your payroll, it’s actually a money-saver. When you put a dollar amount on all of the time you spend struggling through, this is often enough in itself to pay for a pro to take it off your hands.

Not to mention, the cost of fines and penalties that can arise from mistakes. If you find yourself having to cough up money in these circumstances, you’ll wish you outsourced your payroll sooner.

4. Maintain compliance

We can’t all be tax or finance professionals. Chances are, if you’re running a business, you have an entirely different industry on your mind most of the time. So, it makes sense to hire someone who’s in the business of payroll to look after this for you.

Maintaining compliance with your region’s tax authorities is a challenge that has to be met every year. And tax laws and codes are always changing. The average person can’t be expected to stay on top of all of this information, so why not get someone who knows the ropes to take care of it for you? It could save you a lot of money come tax time.

5. Eliminate headaches

There is nothing more valuable than the feeling of being stress-free. When you hire a payroll professional, you can relax knowing that your business is in good hands, that your employees are getting paid correctly and on time, and that you’re doing everything right.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of reasons why outsourcing your payroll just makes sense. By letting go of this time-consuming, finicky task, you will likely find that you’re enjoying your business more. Not only that, but you’ll be able to put your energies into other things, meaning your business is likely to grow.

18 July 2022

What is lifestyle planning and how does it affect my finances?

When you think of financial planning, you probably imagine ways to increase your wealth, such as making a budget, reviewing what’s coming in and going out, and creating a plan for how to make the most of your money.

You may think of investing in stocks or bonds, or of starting a retirement fund. Perhaps you think of saving for a major expense, like a home or education for your children.

And that all counts as financial planning. But lately, the concept of lifestyle planning is giving financial planning a run for its money.

What is lifestyle planning?

Lifestyle planning is the idea of using your money to get the most enjoyment out of your life.

It means maybe foregoing the maximum financial return in exchange for something you value more. You choose to budget your money in a way that makes you truly happy. In other words…

You plan to use your money in the ways that bring you the most joy.

If the idea seems scary to you, you’re not alone. Most of us were raised with the idea that you should always save for a rainy day, put away as much money as you can, and invest instead of spend.

But lifestyle planning doesn’t mean that you frivolously blow through your life savings.

It means taking the time to consider how you want to live the one life you get. And then, working off of that vision by creating a financial plan that makes those dreams come true.

Get started with your lifestyle plan

Sit down and do some soul searching. Write down exactly what you want your life to look like.

Where do you want to live? Who do you want to live with, if anyone? What kind of car do you want to drive? Where do you want to go to school? What clothes do you want to wear? How do you want to eat? Do you want to travel? If so, how often?

Get as specific and as detailed as possible. Sketch out your perfect life in your mind.

Think about the things that are most important to you.

Once you’re satisfied with your vision, take stock of where you stand today.

How much money do you earn now? What’s your future earning potential? Are you spending money on things that aren’t actually important to you?

When you start matching up your reality with the way that you want to live your life, the gaps will become obvious. You will then be able to make adjustments. Maybe it’s not as important to drive a luxury car or any car at all. Maybe a change in career is necessary.

It’s okay if expensive items actually are more important to you than you initially thought. You can now plan for that. Or maybe it has become clear that you actually need more freedom of mobility in your career if travel is a priority.
Whatever it is that you come up with, you can start making a roadmap for how to get there.

And that’s how lifestyle planning affects your financial planning. You can’t reach your goals if you don’t give yourself the means to do it.

Once you know what you want, you can make a specific plan for how to make it a reality. When you’re ready, enlisting the help of a professional accountant will allow you to make the best financial decisions.

Get in touch if you would like to learn more about how we can help you get started with a personal lifestyle plan. With a bit of strategy, you can start living the way you envision sooner.

13 July 2022

How to use your website to attract quality staff

Most companies need a website to conduct their business, but it’s also a critical piece of the puzzle in attracting amazing team members. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your website is always making a great impression, so you can attract great people to join your team.

1. Think of your website as your storefront

These days, your website is the online face of your business. It can be even more important than your physical office. Potential employees are going to check it out first to decide if you’re a good fit for them. They will decide whether a job is worth applying for solely based on the website of the company who posted it.

Consider your social media presence as well, which is important to younger workers. Folks want to get an idea of the general feeling that your company evokes — and to see if your values align with theirs. It’s critical to make this first impression count.

Check that everything links up, works well, and looks good. If you impress them with your online presence, especially your website, they’ll take the next step.

2. Define who you’re trying to attract

It’s difficult to show off what you have to offer if you’re not clear on exactly who you’re trying to impress. Take some time to think about what skill set, attitude, and qualifications you desire. Once you know who you’re looking for, it will be easier to figure out what sort of perks or features they would find appealing. Make sure to display these on your website.

3. Showcase what makes you different from the rest

Put yourself in the shoes of a career-hunter. When you’re looking around online for a prolonged amount of time, companies often start to blur together. This is why it’s so important to make yourself stand out.

When you’re sifting through a big stack of resumes, you need something to catch your eye to call that person for an interview. By the same token, job-seekers are also looking for something that makes them stop and take a longer look.

If you offer great benefits, say so. If you have a great volunteer program, show it off. If your office celebrates the end of every work week with drinks, mention it. Things that make you unique will help you to stand out in the mind of someone great.

4. Show your personality

It’s critical that you display your true personality on your website. If you’re giving off the impression of a stuffy, old-fashioned office… chances are you will attract candidates that feel stuffy or old-fashioned. Likewise, if your presence is too casual, you might attract staff that are also just a little bit too casual.

Your About page is the best place to do this. If you “hire and fire” based on your company values, it’s a good idea to showcase what they are. This way you can find great people who share them.

5. Show off your team

People want to get an idea of what their day-to-day life would feel like if they worked for you. If you have a team, showcase them. Be sure to include a bio with more information and insight into each person and their role.

If you’re performing regular employee feedback surveys, see if you have any shining testimonials to showcase on your careers page. Talented people are smart. They’re going to find out what your team (past and present) has to say about you one way or another. Why not show them the great things they have to say right up front?

6. Use video

Great photos are non-negotiable on any website, but another way to stand out is by using video. It’s a memorable way to give more insight into what your company is like. You can use it to showcase your office space or locations, or you can use it to drive home your values by including testimonials from clients or staff. Feel free to get creative, but make sure to hire a professional to help you make the best impression.

Final thoughts

Gone are the days of setting up a static website with your phone number and address. Today’s websites have to be beautiful, impressive, and dynamic. Fresh content is key. If you want to attract top talent, make sure your website is always ready to give a stellar first impression.

11 July 2022

How to respond effectively to complaints

Complaints are an unfortunate part of running a business, but they do happen. No matter how hard you work to please your clients, eventually someone will have something negative to say. However, with the right approach, you can turn complaints into a useful tool to strengthen your business.

Here are 6 tips to effectively responding to complaints:

1. Remember that this is not an argument

The reason that a client complains is disappointment. It’s a symptom of a need that wasn’t met. They are not looking to fight with you. In fact, taking the time to complain signals that they wish to continue the relationship. Don’t muck it up by getting into a defensive, back and forth argument. Nobody wins in that scenario.

Your customer is actually giving you an opportunity to continue working together. It’s tough to keep cool when someone comes in hot with a complaint, but remember: feedback is a gift. It just may not feel like it in the moment.

2. Listen

The key here is to put explanations aside. Listen until the client has said everything on their mind. Don’t start thinking of how to respond while they are still speaking – they’ll see your eyes glaze over the moment you do, and that will make matters worse. If it’s a written complaint, read it over a few times to make sure you’re not inserting a tone or accusation that may not actually be there.

You want and need to understand the complaint. Without this information, you can’t move forward in any meaningful way. The moment for explanations and solutions will come. Take this time to really set everything else aside and just listen.

3. Repeat what you heard

It’s important to give the information back to the customer to make sure you’re on the same page. A lot can get lost in translation, so to let them know that you hear them. Make sure that you understand the complaint by saying it back in your own words.

This lets both of you know that you hear and understand the problem. Once they acknowledge that you’ve got it right, you’ll be able to get to a solution.

4. Acknowledge

Forget for a moment that you’re defending your business or firm. Try to imagine how it would feel to be the one making the complaint. You should be able to identify what need wasn’t met, or how you disappointed them.

When you put yourself in their shoes, it becomes clear what solution you would expect. You will also be able to see where you fell short, and how you can avoid doing that to others going forward.

5. Offer a solution

After the work you’ve done to understand the problem, finding a solution will be the easiest part. You know what you’d expect as a customer, and you know what you’re able to offer as a business. Putting this information together will create a solution that makes both parties feel good.

Let them know sincerely that you want to make it right. This is your business after all, and reviews spread a lot faster and further when they’re negative. But, when a business goes out of their way to fix a problem, people let others know about it with enthusiasm.

6. Follow up

This may be the most critical step, and it’s also often overlooked. After some time, follow up personally. This shows your client that you care about the ultimate outcome, and that you want to make sure that they’re doing well with the solution.

It doesn’t take long, but the effort goes a long way. They will remember the time and attention you put into making sure they were satisfied. They will also be likely to come back with more business and refer you to others.

Nobody likes to see a complaint come in at their business. We all work so hard to make sure we’re providing a valuable service that is truly helpful, and knowing that we let someone down can be hard. However, take it as an opportunity to become even better, and you’ll find that your business continues to grow.

7 July 2022

4 signs you’ve found the right financial advisor for you

Most people need some help when it comes to financial planning and investing. That’s when we turn to financial advisors. With many options available, it’s important to ensure you choose a financial advisor that you can trust and feel comfortable with.

So what are some signs that a financial advisor is a good fit for you? Here are some things to look for when deciding who is best for you to work with.

1.They have clients that are similar to you

Every client has their own unique needs, goals, and circumstances. But there are some commonalities among clients. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other professionals have different pension and retirement plans that affect how much they need to put away themselves. Their careers also alter the resources available to them.

The stage you’re at in your career affects your resources and needs as well. A younger person with a long investment horizon ahead of them may have a greater risk tolerance than someone a year or two away from retirement.

When looking for a financial advisor, find someone who helps clients in situations that are similar to yours. While they won’t be in an identical position, their needs will be similar enough that you can get an idea of how well that financial advisor can help you.

2.They come with a network of advisors

Just as your general practitioner will send you to a specialist to deal with specific healthcare concerns, a financial advisor will have a network of professionals they can refer you to for your financial needs. For example, they may have an estate lawyer who can help with drafting wills, an accountant for tax returns, and a bookkeeper for business dealings.

A strong financial advisor knows that they can’t take care of everything for you, and they will have cultivated a team of experts who can help you manage your finances.

3.They keep you focused on your goals

Financial advisors know that investing is stressful, and novice investors can become overwhelmed by dips in the market. This leads to impulsive decisions with disastrous consequences. Your advisor is a coach, who keeps you on track when investment issues arise.

They can show you the bigger picture–how a dip in the market doesn’t mean it’s time to cash everything in–and how the long-term trends affect your investments. Because they’re there to help you, they can take the emotion out of your investments and bring it back to the information available to you, so you can make smart decisions.

4.They take the time to get to know you

As mentioned before, every client is different. Even where there are similarities, your unique circumstances mean your goals, resources, and needs are different from other clients. The best financial advisors take the time to get to know and understand their clients. They ask about risk tolerance, future goals, what those goals look like, and how comfortable you are asking questions.

They take the time to explain everything to you, so you feel confident and comfortable with the decisions being made. They make it clear that they’re working with your best interests in mind, based on your circumstances. And they are available to talk through your concerns.

It’s in your best interests to work with a financial advisor who works well with you. That’s how you get access to the best, most knowledgeable, and most relevant advice. Talk to people to find out who they go to for their financial advice. Look up reviews and testimonials and don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s how you get to know the people who will be helping you.