The ICPA and Coconut have joined forces to offer members an efficient, seamless way of accounting for small clients
Entrepreneurship is the biggest demographic shift in the UK workforce for a generation, as more people are choosing the flexibility of being their own boss.
The growth in small businesses will inevitably create opportunities for accountants to work with more clients, particularly as the Making Tax Digital agenda unfolds and the new IR35 regime kicks in for our contractor clients.
Whether your client operates as a sole trader or via an owner-managed limited company, the tax consequences and accounting rules must be met and our research shows that while many businesses use accountants already, there are many that do not.
The data suggests that there is a £1bn revenue opportunity for accountants that’s not currently being harnessed, with more than one million small, non-employing businesses in the UK that are interested in accounting services but aren’t yet using them.
Given that these businesses are small and relatively simple, technology products like Coconut are going to play a big role in letting accountants service them more profitably and make the most of this huge growth opportunity.
A recent survey revealed that sharing records with accountants is a big challenge for these businesses. And we know that accountants feel the pain too, gathering accounting information from clients before they can even start doing the real work for them.
What’s more, some of these small businesses are operating via a personal current account, not only creating work, but also meaning their personal lives are up for scrutiny by HMRC. This can mean enquiries that are stressful and invasive for the client.
This is why we created Coconut, a business current account with a difference. Firstly, it can be opened by the client in minutes from the app, so they’re setup and ready to do business quickly. And, secondly, it provides you, the accountant, with all the accounting information you need via our dedicated Accountant Portal, saving lots of time chasing information down as it’s ready when you need it.
Your larger businesses are likely to have dedicated in-house accountants or financial specialists who know how to handle the company’s finances efficiently. And the cloud-accounting software packages out there are purpose-built for these bigger businesses with more established financial processes.
But there are 5.7m small businesses in the UK, five million of which are managed by the business owner. They have similar amounts of accounting and tax admin as larger businesses, but with far fewer resources to depend on. As a former accountant myself, I set out to build a company that understood how these problems impact accountants as much as the small businesses they’re enlisted to support.
Our aim is to remove as much manual bookkeeping as possible. We believe that by freeing up accountants to focus on the services that their clients value the most, we can make it easier and more profitable for accountants to manage their small clients.
With invoicing, transaction coding, receipt capture and VAT management all in one, all bookkeeping is done within a few seconds of any transaction. There’s also no need to spend time reconciling transactions between various different systems, or paying for them, either. Access to the banking transactions in the Accountant Portal is free. And it’s easy to export and import the transaction information into any accounts prep and tax return software.
We’ve been working directly with accountants to get feedback to keep developing the portal in a way that really works for them, and so far the response has been very encouraging.
“The Coconut Accountant Portal is perfect because we can just take a look at our client’s transactions and make changes to the categories or VAT rates as and when. It makes it much more efficient for us,” said Suzy Kerton of Zyla Accountants. “We really enjoy working with small businesses and startups – it’s great to work with people who are ambitious and watch them grow. But it’s been tricky to make it work for us in the past. We were introduced to Coconut through one of our clients a few months back and it’s really changed how we work with them.”
• Sam O’Connor, CEO, Coconut. Visit getcoconut.com/accountants for more information
Great offer for ICPA members!
Sam O’Connor says: “We’re really excited to be working with Tony and his team from the ICPA and we’re offering all ICPA members six months free on the Coconut Grow plan for sole traders and small limited company clients. Check our website, check the ICPA website and together we can help you make small business accounting so much easier.”
Accounting Practice Online is part of the ICPA, which is an organisation designed to provide support and guidance for accountants in practice. With 35+ practice specific benefits there has never been a better time to join. Take a look at the routes to membership today.