Accountants Costing Clients Billions

As someone who is looking to work with his first accountant in the near future and founder of a new Tax Blog, I came across some interesting reading the other day:

A report published a few days ago indicates that beleaguered small businesses are facing further woes due to inept accounting. 

The report is called “Your blueprint for a better accountancy practice” and it’s published by The Accountants Club, an association of over 700 UK based accountants -it found that this ineptitude is losing UK businesses a staggering £1.8billion.

The report will make very uncomfortable reading for the profession, its clients and regulators highlighting that accountants are making mistakes on almost half of their clients’ affairs.  

Alarmingly, many of the errors constituted “major” mistakes – for example, allocation of illegal dividends, lack of inheritance tax planning, not reviewing tax credit eligibility, not considering incorporation, capital allowances not claimed properly and not claiming R&D tax credits.

At a time when small businesses are struggling to get funding from banks, poor advice from their accountants in these areas could mean businesses having to close.

According to one of the reports’ authors, Mark Wickersham FCA:

“Large parts of the accountancy profession are costing clients a huge £1.8 billion in poor advice. The entire profession has to sit up and do something about this as a matter of urgency.”

Thankfully, some accountancy firms are already giving a much better service to their clients. The report reveals that the UK has a ‘two track accountancy profession’, where 27% of practicing firms are ‘Stars’ and 73% are ‘Laggards’. Explaining the findings, another of the report’s authors Steve Pipe FCA said:

“Our research indicated that the ‘Stars’ grow at 20% or more a year. But, for the ‘Laggard’ firms and their clients, the picture is very different and very much worse, with widespread under-performance and under-achievement. The good news, though, is that by identifying what makes the Stars so successful, the research provides a blueprint for other firms that want to replicate their success.”

Another key finding is that Star firms also seem to be much better at spotting the mistakes made by other accountants. Therefore, the research suggests that if all accountants followed in the proven footsteps of the Stars, clients would no longer have to suffer the £1.8 billion of unnecessary losses and costs that appear to be inflicted on over 40% of businesses as a result of the mistakes made by their accountants.

An overview of the report’s findings and the full report itself are available from the Accountants Club at

7 Gift-Giving Trends That Don’t Break the Bank

Were you there during the Beanie Baby Outbreak of ’95? How about the Great Furby Epidemic of ’98? If so, you have some experience when it comes to holiday gift-giving hysteria.

With the economy still in the doldrums, seasonal madness is subsiding. Consumers aren’t breaking down doors to pay a premium for the latest and greatest gadget. This year, shoppers are shifting toward more affordable and thoughtful presents. As you start to plan your Christmas list, consider some of these gift-giving trends.

1. The Latest Craze

Would you believe the hottest holiday item out there is a rectangular piece of plastic? According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, 57.7 percent of consumers want gift cards as holiday presents, putting their demand at an all-time high. Happily, you can find cheap gift cards at sites like GiftCardGranny, which sells them at less than face value. If you’re recipient isn’t totally satisfied, they can always sell the card for cash on Gift Card Exchange Day, the one-day event scheduled for Dec. 26 when gift card resellers typically offer maximum value for unwanted cards.

2. An Experience

A close relative of the gift card, the daily deal voucher is making its own name this year. Vouchers allow you to pamper someone with a massage or provide an experience like skydiving without going over budget. If this kind of gift doesn’t seem personal enough, take some time to gather important details, like expiration dates and restrictions. This shows you put in more effort than simply clicking your mouse a few times.

3. What Goes Around Comes Around

Once taboo, re-gifting is now all the rage. It’s a great way to pass on presents you’ll never use to someone who’ll actually appreciate them. Re-gifting can be a risky venture, though. Make sure you haven’t lamented to the recipient how much you hate it or, worse yet, forgot they were the kind person who gave it to you in the first place. For some re-gifting tips and hilarious horror stories, check out

4. The Gift of Gifts

The true spirit of the season — kindness, generosity, caring — is slowly fading with each years’ Black Friday, door-busting stampede. Break the cycle this year and extend your generosity to those in need. Sites like sell charity gift cards, where the recipient can donate their card’s balance to any of 1.8 million charities. Plus, when you give a charity gift card, you can write it off on your taxes.

5. Learn to Accessorise

The iPad 2 and Kindle are hot holiday items, but they’re gifts reserved for those with money to blow. When you can’t afford to give someone the gadget itself, you can still make their user experience more enjoyable. If you know someone is going all-in on an iPod, give them essential accessories like a case and headphones. They’re going to need them anyway, and it still shows you pay attention to things they value.

6. A Festivus for the Rest of Us

With so much attention focused on bank account balances, many are choosing to turn away from material goods. Instead of giving individual presents, host a holiday party. Just ask everyone to contribute something easy and affordable, like cookies or dip. This relieves the pressure of gift giving and provides quality time with the people you care about most. To make it a memorable celebration, try one of these Christmas theme party ideas.

7. The Easiest Gift of All

Though it sounds cliche, there’s no better present than the gift of time. Take a step back from indulgent gift giving and do something thoughtful. Rent a favorite movie of everyone in the family and then have an at-home movie marathon together. If you have a family full of foodies, plan a gourmet meal and enjoy each other’s company while it’s being cooked. Options are really only limited by your imagination.


Ideas are from Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert and has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

UK Debt

There’s a lot of talk about UK debt at the moment.

As the UK economy continues to decline, research into the shocking extent of the debt problem in the UK has been compiled into a video that’s worth a watch.

Source: Payplan – IVA and Free Debt Management Plan provider.

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