Financial Therapy - Three Minute session with David Grunberg
“The Times They Are Changin” – Bob Dylan, or should that now be Robert Zimmerman.

And in homage to Bob and the New Independent Group at Parliament, I have slightly changed the lyrics of the third verse of his eponymous 1964 song:

Come Members of Parliament
Please heed the call
Don’t “cross over the floor”
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a Brexit outside
and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your business
and rattle your bills
For the times they are a-changin’

So during these uncertain times, I hope my Financial Therapy newsletter provides some clarity.

David Grunberg

Go Get Them…

Attending an interview can be a nerve-wracking experience for any job applicant and things can, and sometimes do, go disastrously wrong.

However, as the recently publicised story about 22-year-old graduate, Olivia Bland shows, sometimes it is the potential employer who gets it wrong.

Olivia’s letter that was shared via Twitter covered her experience at the interview, in which she outlined how she had been called an underachiever and how the potential employer had acted to “intimidate and assert power over a young woman”.

With this topic so hot, I thought I would set out some of my key interviewing techniques, gained over many years:

  1. Make sure your job description is both accurate and complete
  2. Check the candidate’s history and understand what they can offer ahead of the meeting
  3. Plan the interview and set an agenda
  4. Prepare your questions, but make sure you aren’t treading on the wrong side of the law
  5. Be open and honest about expectations
  6. Say thank you at the end of an interview – it never hurts.

Finding the best candidate is not an easy task, but taking a considered approach to recruitment will pay dividends.

Now Keep Them…

With Brexit on the horizon and fears over a flight of talent from the UK after 29 March, it is important that businesses retain skilled members of staff.

In order to do this, they could consider the tax-efficient share option and similar incentives, currently available.  These could provide staff with a stake in the business, or offer additional professional training to advance their careers internally.

Our tax team are more than happy to discuss these matters with you and should you like some advice on recruitment, please give me a call and we can have a chat.

Shaken and Stirred

I was very fortunate to recently hear a talk from a former spy and counter-terrorism expert, Neil Sinclair, who is National Cyber Lead at London Digital Security Centre.

With so much of our time now revolving around online digital accounting, I thought it would be a good opportunity to work with the former MI6 Intelligence Officer and Metropolitan Police cybercrime specialist.

To give you a flavour of the type of advice he can offer, here is a link to one of the London Digital Security Centre’s latest blogs.

During our talk, he discussed how sophisticated criminals were becoming in accessing people’s data and online banking.   As an example, he described a case in which a number of popular coffee shops were being used by a gang to piggyback off the popularity of their free WiFi offer.

They would wait outside these shops, in an unassuming white van, and create their own WiFi network for the establishment, but with a stronger signal, so that customers would select their network first. Once connected they were free to steal customers’ data – which they did with catastrophic results.

As Neil is an expert in both cybersecurity, and also following the GDPR regime introduced last year, we are considering hosting an event, similar to our ongoing online accounting workshops, to give you the chance to get up to date on the latest changes. If you would be interested in attending such a talk please get in contact with me, so that I can formulate such an event.

We are staying put

Much of the news about Brexit of late has been about businesses preparing to move their offices out of the UK and overseas, to lessen the impact of Brexit.

The latest of these businesses is Honda, which is to close its Swindon plant, despite it being home to some of its key production capacity in Europe. Instead, it will move its operations back to Japan, where it will continue to enjoy free trade with the EU, thanks to that nation’s recent agreement with the bloc.

However, it is not just foreign enterprises that are moving production and services overseas, as one of the Big Four accountants, Ernst and Young, have announced that it is moving its European headquarters to Brussels.

Of course, not all brands are withdrawing from the UK, but many have announced that they will be increasing their prices, including Porsche.  Fortunately, my fellow partners and many of you, are not Porsche drivers, but the generic price rise trend is worrying.

At Grunberg & Co we have no plans of moving away from the UK, despite our growing international influence, and neither do we have any immediate plans to push up our prices as a result of Brexit – we are very much here to stay and support you.

Don’t get stung by tax late payment penalties

You now only have until the end of February to pay your income tax due for the 2017/2018 tax year. Failure to pay this outstanding tax by 1 March 2019 will result in a 5 per cent charge on the tax owing on that day – an amount that will increase throughout the year, if the amount still remains unpaid over six or 12 months.

Unfortunately, not only will you face this cost, but interest will also be charged on the tax owing at a rate of 3 per cent pa, which means that you could quickly find your overall tax bill rising painfully.

It is imperative that if you think you will still owe tax to the Revenue by the end of February, you contact us immediately. 

We can help you assess your situation and provide you with a number of options, including negotiating with the Revenue to give you time to pay, without being too significantly penalised.

Please speak to either me or my team as soon as you can, if you are concerned about unpaid tax.

Sage Line 50 struggles with Making Tax Digital compatibility

We appreciate that many of our clients and businesses rely upon Sage Line 50 to report their affairs to the Revenue.  However, we have been notified that the current desktop version of Sage Line 50, will not be compatible with the requirements for Making Tax Digital, as it currently stands.

Sage is offering a one year term to existing customers, costing £400, which will ensure that the desktop version is compatible, and this is something that users of Line 50 will need to carefully consider.

Alternatively, users could consider switching their operations onto a different package either with Sage, or another online accountancy provider, such as Xero.

If you are a VAT registered business that is required to comply with Making Tax Digital on 1 April 2019 and you are still using Line 50, then I would strongly recommend that you speak to us so that we can discuss these various options with you, and find a solution that meets your requirements.

As the deadline for Making Tax Digital is now just a month away, it is imperative that you do this at the earliest opportunity.