Posts by Cain & Beer

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What is GDPR and does it affect you?

You have probably caught wind of it already, but just in case you haven’t new legislation comes into force in May regarding data compliance. The General Data Protection Regulation, better known as GDPR, comes from the European Union and is designed to give people control over how organisations use their data.

What exactly is it?

The GDPR will replace the Data Protection Act that has been in force in the UK since 1998 and takes effect from the 25th of May 2018. The reasoning behind this new regulation is two-fold:

  • To give individuals more control over how their data are used given it is relatively easy for organisations to abuse it. The Cambridge Analytica scandal recently in the news is a prime example of this and this regulation will go a long way towards avoiding similar situations in the future.
  • To give organisations greater clarity over what they can and cannot use people’s data for.

Who is affected?

Anyone who controls or processes data will have to comply with the new regulations. What does this mean? A controller is someone who determines how and for what purpose data is processed, while a processor is someone processing the data. In other words, any organisation – such as a business, charity, not-for-profit – which asks for information on personal data is a controller. Organisations such as IT firms who would process data on their behalf would therefore be the processors. It is worth noting that any organisation that does business with the EU is affected, so if you have an office or branch overseas – say, the USA – which deals with data belonging to EU residents, they will also have to comply.

What does this mean for my business?  

If you control or process data, you must ensure that it is done in a lawful manner. This means that you must gain consent for data to be used in the way(s) in which you wish to use it. For example, you can no longer use someone’s data to add them to a newsletter mailing list, you must seek their consent to use it for that purpose. That consent must be explicit and affirmative – so people will have to actively tick a box rather than passively agree by accepting a pre-ticked box. Controllers must also keep a record of that consent, including how and when it was given; individuals have the right to withdraw that consent at any time.

Individuals also have a right to ask to see what data an organisation holds for them at ‘reasonable intervals’. They can also seek rectification of any errors or gaps and they can ask for details on how their data are stored, how they are processed, how long they are being kept for, and who has access to them.

If data are used for a specific, one-off purpose, then they must be deleted as soon as that has been completed and the data are no longer required.

Full details of the new regulations can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office website or you can talk to anyone in our team at Cain and Beer about how it may affect your business. We’re on the phone on 020 3633 1340 or on email at when you need us.

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The benefits of bookkeeping and online software training

We have talked a lot about online accounting systems and their benefits. They are no longer something that will ‘come in the future’ or something that only other businesses do, they are a very valuable tool that everyone will be using – if they are not already doing so. For a quick recap on what those benefits are, take a look at our previous article on the topic.

There is little use in moving to an online accounting system though if you don’t know how to use it or if you are not getting the full benefits from it for your business.  We take a look at how one-off and regular training can help you and your staff realise the full potential of such systems and keep your business running smoothly.

Why train your employees in accounting?

Particularly useful for small businesses, online accounting tools are easy to use as well as accessible and useful for all staff to be able to access. Instead of relying on a single person to manage all billing, ordering, and purchase order raising creating potential bottlenecks, what if anyone in the team or company could do that themselves? Even better, with easy-to-use online accounting tools, the process need not be complex or difficult. This frees up more specialised staff to manage the more complex processes, such as reconciling invoices with payments, making payments, and organising payroll.

Cross-training staff in other areas of the business also helps you to improve efficiency during busy times, holiday periods, or instances of staff illness. Things can continue to run smoothly during such times as staff pitch in to help without running the risk of doing things incorrectly, potentially creating more work down the road, or letting them pile up and risking taking much longer to catch up. By using the existing skills they have and taking into consideration any particular areas of interest they may have in terms of personal and professional development, you could be creating a team of people who can help each other out and ultimately benefit the business by keeping things on track during busy or difficult periods.

Many businesses run on a just-in-time basis or have to deal with numerous last minute orders. With trained staff able to handle any queries at any given time, the potential for lost business is minimised, while at the same time you are creating a reputation for a business that is responsive, agile, and able to deal with anything that comes its way.

Types of training

You need not fully train all staff in accounting or bookkeeping to reap the benefits. Consider the size of team you have and the likely demands on their time as the business develops or grows and determine whether it is best to offer training in particular areas – such as raising purchase orders or taking payments – or wider training for a smaller number of people in more specialised areas. This way you can also target your budget and training more effectively.

For more information on the benefits of cloud accounting and training options to develop your staff and business, why not talk to us at Cain and Beer? You can either give us a call on 020 3633 1340 or drop us a line at .

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Cloud Computing and Nature Concept

Cloud Accounting Software a Must for Making Tax Digital

The government’s vision of being one of the most digitally advanced tax systems in the world relies on modernising the tax system and making it easy for businesses to work with and therefore comply with their tax obligations and requirements. Making Tax Digital is being rolled out and the first step comes into force in April 2019 for business that have a turnover which is above the VAT threshold. This does not preclude smaller businesses from using the system, but they are not yet required to do so. So how does it work and what part does cloud accounting software have to play in making it happen?

Making Tax Digital is underpinned by four elements:

  • Using information more effectively
  • Real-time tax
  • A single financial account
  • Digital interaction between HMRC and businesses

Cloud-based accounting systems can help achieve all these in the following ways:

  • Real-time data. By being stored on the cloud, digital accounting systems offer the flexibility of storage and access of data from anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection and a device to access it from – e.g. a tablet, laptop, or even a mobile phone.
  • Onestop access. Cloud-based accounting systems will reconcile your invoices, payments, and orders and can even manage payroll for you. This automatic reconciliation means you do not have to go through your paperwork every so often and do it manually; this way the most up-to-date information is at your fingertips and can be submitted to HMRC at the push of a button. With quarterly accounting becoming part of Making Tax Digital, what could have introduced additional work without cloud-based accounting packages will actually make your, and your accountant’s life, much easier and with a lower margin of error.
  • Effective use of information. Whereas you now have to submit much of the same information year-on-year to HMRC when you file your tax return, using cloud-based accounting software this will not only be automatically submitted the first time, but will not need to be re-submitted unless something changes. An online HMRC account also allows you to keep an eye on what information they hold for your business and only update it when things change. Using systems that will ‘talk’ to each other – including banking details, other government departments, and employers – HMRC can access what they need without regular re-submission of the same data.
  • Digital interaction. You will be able to interact with HMRC whenever you want. No longer tied down to a set time each year, the link between your online accounting software and your HMRC account means that at the press of a button you can send or receive whatever information is required whenever you choose.
  • A single account. As the roll-out of Making Tax Digital takes effect businesses will be able to see all their liabilities and entitlements in one place – as they currently do with a bank account – saving everyone time and money.

If you would like more information on Making Tax Digital and how cloud-based accounting software can help your business meet its obligations, our tax specialists at Cain and Beer can help and advise. We are on 020 3633 1340 or at whenever you need us.

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Setting up an auto-enrolment pension

Setting up an auto-enrolment pension

If you are an employer, then you are required by law to provide a workplace pension scheme for all your eligible staff. If you became an employer after the 1st of October 2017 then you must automatically enrol staff into a scheme, whereas if you were an existing employer at this time then you should have been notified of the applicable start date (known as the staging date) for your business.

Setting up a pension scheme can be a daunting task if you have never had to do it before. Pensions can be a complex area to navigate if you have no experience and it can be particularly tricky for a small business given all the other requirements on you as an employer, not to mention the actual day-to-day running of your business. It can be beneficial to get a specialist involved in managing it all for you so you can focus on everything else you need to do.

A few things you need to know about auto-enrolment:

You must determine what is included in employees’ earnings

There are three types of earnings that are classed as pensionable salary and you need to decide which definition you will use. They include:

  • Total pay: this includes salary, bonuses, overtime pay, and any benefits (such as health insurance)
  • Basic pay: this covers the base salary only, excluding bonuses and benefits
  • Qualifying earnings: this calculates the pensionable salary based on the top and bottom limits of National Insurance

You must select a pension provider

There is a large number of pension providers on the market offering a range of options and services to clients. As well as understanding the basics of what is involved in setting up a pension scheme you also need to be able to understand what each pension provider offers and what their charges are before deciding which one is right for you. With the new rules coming into force pension providers will become quite busy and some may even reach capacity and be unable to take on new business.

Communicate the changes to your staff

Once you have determined what constitutes earnings and which pension provider you are going to go for you need to let you staff know what changes are being introduced and how they will be affected. Although you are only legally required to send out a single communication to staff, the reality is that you will be faced with questions and uncertainty so it is worth considering an engagement strategy. This could include a variety of channels as well as follow-ups to ensure that all affected staff have been informed and understand what it means for them.

Do you need help?

Consider early on whether this is something you want to manage yourself, or if you want to get help from a specialist. An expert working in this field will be up to speed on all the details and requirements that will affect you and be able to advise on the right providers who can meet those needs. They can also help you communicate changes to your staff and answer any questions they may have, allowing you to focus on running the business.

For advice and guidance on auto-enrolment or for details on how we can assist, just ask our team at Cain and Beer by calling us on 020 3633 1340 or emailing us at .

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Keeping Accurate Bookkeeping Records

Keeping Accurate Bookkeeping Records

When you run your own business it is so easy to get bogged down with all the paperwork that arrives through your door. Keeping on top of your paperwork can potentially take up a lot of your time, time that should be spent running your business or with your family.

However, you can’t ignore it, hoping it’ll go away because it won’t and it’s definitely not a good idea of just putting it into a shoe box for your accountant at the end of the year.

There are a couple of options to ensure your bookkeeping doesn’t pile up out of control and they are either, keep simple spreadsheets yourself or use a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping is an essential and integral part of running a business no matter what you do.

There are a number of factsheets to help you on our website and what’s more they are completely FREE to download by clicking here.

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Bank charges need not cause you grief

Do sights like this cause you worry? Then read about some of our handy hints below

It is so important to always know where you are with your bank account and keep regular tabs on incomings and outgoings. It is all too easy to bury your head in the sand and leave your bookkeeping to chance but that comes at a premium.

Things can be a lot easier if you use accounting software like Sage; providing you keep it up to date that is; you will know when certain payments are due out of your account.

Have you any idea how much your bank charged you in the last 12 months for going overdrawn without an overdraft or for unpaid transactions and unauthorised overdraft interest? If it is high that should be enough of a wake-up call to ensure you don’t get hit like that again in the next 12 months.

By taking a few simple steps you can drastically reduce your bank charges: –

  • Write a list of all your regular payments in date order on a spreadsheet showing payees and amounts payable. If the amount varies each month then make an educated guess based on previous months.
  • Add this list to your calendar as events, showing payee and amount for each direct debit and set a reminder for a few days before to check your bank account.
  • Do just that! Check your bank account to see if there will be enough cleared funds.
  • If there is enough money, great do nothing! If there isn’t, you need to take action right NOW! You either have to cancel the payment or pay money into your account.

This may cause a bit of inconvenience to cancel payments but generally your payees will understand especially if they only have to wait a few days to be paid. It could improve your relationship with your bank and possibly have a positive bearing on your credit rating.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Really Good Bookkeepers Are Few And Far Between

When you decide the time is right to hire the services of a bookkeeper; where do you start? It is such an important decision to make and there are a lot people out there claiming to be bookkeepers. Also, will they work at your premises or remotely and what software is best? So many decisions to make and all you really want to do is grow their business.  Bookkeeping is such an integral part of your infrastructure so it’s essential that an expert looks after your financial affairs no matter how big or small your company is.

Although price is always important it shouldn’t be the main factor; quite often the cheapest option becomes the dearest. It is also worth considering that a really good bookkeeper will take less time to complete an amount of work than someone else who is cheaper.

It is wise to ask around and speak to local business owners, accountants, banks and solicitors to see if they know of a reliable and efficient bookkeeping service.

Here are some pointers when deciding on the right bookkeeper for you: –

  • Check that they are registered with a professional body such as the (ICB) Institute of Certified Bookkeepers or the (IAB) International Associate of Bookkeepers.
  • They should also be compliant with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules and regulations so ask to see their certificate of compliance.
  • Always, always ask them for at least two but preferably three references.
  • A bookkeeper will post sales invoices and receipts, supplier invoices and payments, bank transactions and reconcile the bank account(s) and produce the usual monthly financial reports.
  • An experienced bookkeeper should also be able to produce detailed management accounts which are an essential tool when needing to make financial business decisions.
  • They should, where possible, be able to offer support when a business owner needs to ask accounting questions.
  • A monthly or quarterly one to one review of the financials is also a very important rather than having to wait until the end of the financial year.
  • Good bookkeepers should also be able to process your payroll too which will quite often save you money.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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The Top 5 Things To Consider When Hiring A Bookkeeper!

Ask for Referrals

Ask your peer group if they can recommend a good bookkeeper to you; think of all the people you know in business; fellow business owners, accountants, bank managers and solicitors; the list is endless. Referrals are a great place to start when hiring a bookkeeper but make sure you consider the following points before making your decision.

Do they have Qualifications?

Did you know that anyone can call themselves a bookkeeper? True! but does that make them good? You know the answer to that question so check them out and ask to see their credentials; they should be members of the ICB (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers) or the IAB (International Association of Bookkeepers). They should also have certificates for passing bookkeeping exams and by law they have to be compliant with the AML (Anti-Money Laundering) rules and regulations so check they have a certificate of compliance.

Ask for at least 2 References

A decent bookkeeper should be able to provide you with at least 5 references; so ask for the names and contact details and actually make contact with them. Bookkeeping is a very important part of running a business so it is key that you do your homework and check their references before making a decision.

The Duties they should perform as standard

Your bookkeeper should be able to raise or post sales invoices and receipts, post supplier invoices and payments, enter bank transactions and reconcile your bank account(s) and produce month end reports. On top of this a good bookkeeper will also be able to produce detailed management accounts to assist you to make financial decisions. You should also ask for a review of your figures at least once a quarter but preferably monthly so that you understand how your business is performing.

Don’t base your decision on price

Deliberately left for last because this is often the main criteria a business owner uses when taking on a bookkeeper!! By all means ask you wife, husband, sister, brother or next door’s cat to do your bookkeeping but please, please consider the above points first; the cheapest option will almost certainly turn into the dearest. You should expect to pay around £15 to £30 an hour based on a number of criteria including experience, qualifications and the level of tasks needed to be performed. A fixed fee is also an option which is usually based on the number of transactions being processed each month, quarter or year.

Hopefully, this has helped you but if you need any further help please feel free to call us on .

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Working From Home Tax Benefits

If you have an office in your home you could be missing out on tax savings and reducing the amount you actually pay to HMRC.

Generally speaking if you work from home in a dedicated office then you can offset a proportion of your household bills against your tax bill. This applies whether you are a sole-trader, part of a partnership or a Limited company and the bookkeeping for these costs is relatively simple.

Typically you can claim a percentage of your heating bills, landline, broadband, mortgage interest, rent, council tax and water rates. The amount you can claim depends on the number of rooms you have in your home excluding your kitchen, bathroom and toilet.

Let’s say you have 2 bedrooms and 2 reception rooms and you use one of these as an office; you can offset 25% of your household bills mentioned above. If you pay £1000.00 a month on these bills, that’s £250.00 that you can offset against your tax bill and a massive £3000.00 a year. If you use a bookkeeper they should not only be aware of this but they should be keeping records for you.

If you work from home and would like further details please download our FREE factsheet on our website by clicking here.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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Five Reasons To Choose A Certified Bookkeeper

Keeping on top of your bookkeeping is essential when running a business and knowing where you stand financially is key to your ongoing success. When considering whether to hire a certified bookkeeper or not the following 5 reasons may make your decision easier: –

  1. Saving Time

Running a business is time consuming and it can be quite hard fitting in everything that needs to be done including the bookkeeping. When business owners do their own bookkeeping it is probably left to the last minute, done late at night or at the weekend. The bookkeeping is also probably not up to a standard that an accountant can easily work with. Hiring a certified bookkeeper should ensure that the books are kept up to date and give the business owner time back.

  1. Saving Money

If a business owner lets their bookkeeping pile up and left to the last minute, they could incur late filing penalties. A certified bookkeeper can help a business owner stay up to date which in the long term could save them money. Systemised and accurate bookkeeping could also save money in accountant’s bills at the end of the year.

  1. Helping with Financial Management

A qualified bookkeeper should support a business owner throughout the year by not only keeping accurate records but also providing decent management reports. Management reports are a valuable tool for a business owner to stay in touch with their cash flow, identify areas where overheads could be reduced and make informed financial decisions.

  1. Organised Records

A qualified bookkeeper should organise the piles of paperwork into a structured and organised system. A business should always have a decent filing system with its sales and supplier invoices filed away in chronological and alphabetical order. The bank statements, month end reports and other business records including VAT, staff and payroll records should also be filed efficiently.

  1. Processing Expenses Claims

Quite often company owners and Directors will use their own cash or personal debit and credit cards to pay for business expenses. In a lot of instances these expenses get forgotten and don’t get claimed back through the business. A qualified bookkeeper will make sure that this doesn’t happen and will set up procedures to ensure that all claimable expenses are accounted for.

Not only is it a legal requirement for a business to keep accurate records but quite often it can be the difference between trading or going out of business.

If you need help with your bookkeeping, accounting staff training or just want some professional financial business advice then Cain & Beer would be delighted to hear from you.

To find out more about our bookkeeping services, workshops and training, please call Cain & Beer on , or email us at

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