Like it or not, Making Tax Digital (MTD) is coming in April 2019. And it’s going to have an impact on your firm. Follow these five practical rules to get you prepared.
1. Communicate with clients
If your clients don’t know about MTD, then you need to tell them, right now.
We asked Lorraine Ellison of Simply Additions accountants how her practice has been informing clients about the change. “Clients have heard nothing about MTD so far from HMRC and they have no idea what it means. So we’ve been talking a lot about it when we move people over to QuickBooks.”
Lorraine and her team have used the opportunity to explain the benefits MTD will bring to their clients – such as having a real-time view of their finances and a clearer view of the tax they owe. But she’s also been very clear that the clock is ticking and the switch to a new system will need to be made in time for MTD. “I just tell them it’s happening and they’ll have to do it. They don’t have a choice.”
Some tips for effective communication:
- Make MTD a part of every conversation your staff have with clients.
- Add an MTD reminder to the bottom of every email and letter you send to clients including the April 2019 deadline.
- Customise QuickBooks resources such as those in our Making Tax Digital Marketing Kit and send them to your clients.
- Consider sending newsletters, blogs or email updates to your clients on this topic.
"Resist the urge to leave everything until the last minute"Click to tweet
2. Do the maths to understand the challenge
Do you have a firm grasp of what’s involved in preparing your clients for MTD? If not, then start with this simple calculation:
- First, work out how many of your clients above the £85,000 VAT threshold aren’t using software such as QuickBooks to do their books.
- Next, find out how many weeks there are between now and April 2019.
- Take away about four weeks to allow for Christmas and the manic January rush of Self Assessment.
- Finally, divide the number of weeks by the number of clients you originally calculated.
The figure you’re left with will tell you how many clients you need to be on-boarding every week. Of course there is some flexibility, depending on when year-ends fall, but resist the urge to leave everything until the last minute. If possible, don’t let your clients pass their year-end without making the move.
"Don’t leave the entire on-boarding process to one person on your team"Click to tweet
3. Scale up for success
A personal approach can be very effective in encouraging a client to change, but it’s impractical if you need to on-board clients in large numbers. Think about how you could swap the one-to-one approach for a one-to-many approach.
Don’t leave the entire on-boarding process to one person on your team. That approach works when you have lots of time, but MTD is approaching fast so it’s too risky. It only takes a few days of sick leave and the firm will be playing catch up for weeks. And, by including everyone you’ll increase the reach of your message.
To help you scale up QuickBooks can:
- Offer advice about running successful seminars with your clients.
- Supply training materials and documents.
- Provide access to bi-weekly webinars and how-to videos to share with clients
"MTD will free up time to let you do more advisory, higher-value work"Click to tweet
4. Get support from experts
It’s not just your clients who’ll need reassurance in the run up to MTD. At QuickBooks we recognise the pressure that some accountants are under. So as well as making sure our software will be MTD-ready and as user friendly as possible, we’re helping firms with the on-boarding process and beyond.
Our range of support resources includes a digital marketing kit, an on-boarding guide and a range of printable PDFs explaining everything from the benefits of cloud accounting to how MTD will affect small businesses. Our account managers can also offer expert, practical advice and help you build a landing page with links to videos and technical support.
5. Look to the future
The next few months, particularly February and March, will be a hectic time for accountants. However streamlined your on-boarding process is, some clients will be reluctant to move to digital record keeping until the last minute. But once clients and staff are familiar with a new way of working, MTD will free up time to let you do more advisory, higher-value work.
Firms who are confident about meeting the deadlines, like Lorraine at Simply Additions, are positive about the changes. “I think it’s brilliant. It takes away all the manual entry and means we have time to look at how our clients are doing and give them advice.”
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