Another year has kicked off and now more than ever, accountants and bookkeepers are best placed to be “trusted advisors”. So there is a lot of change to keep on top of. There’s legislative changes like AIM, and GDPR, and also technology changes like Xero updates, new cloud apps, cybersecurity etc.
Accountants and bookkeepers are not the only ones faced with change. Businesses need proactive advice on using technology to improve productivity, help choosing cloud industry specific apps, tips for online security and streamlined processes to input transactional data accurately and keep it up to date. This is your opportunity to provide assistance. Below, I’ve summarised a few key points that are top of mind.
AIM, the Accounting Income Method, is a new option for for managing provisional tax for businesses with turnover of less than $5 million a year. This is ideal for businesses that are really busy at some times of the year and not at others. It’s also great for businesses that struggle to forecast their income accurately. Businesses that are growing, or have irregular cashflow, can also utilise AIM because there’s less chance of them over or under-estimating the amount of tax they have to pay. AIM returns are much like mini IR10s and can be filed directly through Xero by advisors. To understand the process, check out our videos AIM for Partners using Xero Tax and AIM for Partners NOT currently using Xero Tax
Inland Revenue has collated feedback and is making some changes to workspaces. Later this month the GST tab in myIR is being replaced with a new Business tab. You’ll go there to file and amend FBT, GST and Gaming Machine Duty, and to pay by direct debit. One thing that hasn’t changed is where Employer Monthly Schedules are filed. These will still be done through ir-File as it is now. The proposal that was before Parliament requiring employers to report employee information every payday, rather than once or twice a month, passed Royal Asset on 29th March. The payday reporting is voluntary from April 2018 and will be compulsory from April 2019, replacing the EMS. IR will keep us up to date with the changes and what you and your clients will need to do.
For any of your clients, who provide goods and services to businesses in the EU, make sure that you ask them about what they’ve done to prepare for the new “General Data Protection Regulations” (GDPR). They kick in on 25 May 2018. The new regulations are designed to provide better protection for individuals. They will affect anyone who collects, holds or processes personal data of EU residents. Any data breaches that pose a risk to individuals must be reported within 72 hours to data protection authorities, and can be liable for a fine up to 20 million Euros. Check out more details on our Xero GDPR Centre.
Hopefully you don’t have shared logins or passwords in your practice. If you do, it’s time to rethink your process. Cybersecurity threats are on the rise and you don’t want to be responsible for putting your clients’ data at risk. Would you consider one single key, used to access your car, home and office, to be secure? Make sure that every single member of your team is using unique, confidential logins (not shared passwords) and using different passwords for different apps. You can use a password manager so you only need to remember one (very strong) master password.
Xero Single sign on and two-step authentication (2SA)
You can now use your Xero credentials to log into Xero Practice Manager and WorkflowMax. This also means you can keep your account secure by turning on 2SA. In March we introduced mandatory 2SA across our partner products (including Xero HQ) for all Australian practices and global practices with access to Australian organisations, in order to comply with the Australian Taxation Office’s new security framework. 2SA adds another layer of security, and we encourage everyone to use it wherever it is available. This is particularly important for your email account, which is usually the means to hackers being able to reset your passwords for other sites.
If you haven’t already, allocate some time to look at XeroHQ. Consider what alerts are useful and customise these. Make sure all your staff are listed and your administrator is up to speed with how to invite staff into orgs on mass and how to use Xero Ask. Check out this Xero HQ overview on XeroU
Keep up to date with Xero changes
There’s always something to up-skill on. In today’s continuous learning culture, it’s best to have a plan. Diarise 15 minutes a week to spend time finding out something new about your browser, shortcut keys, Xero – it’s always time well spent – and will save you time in the long run. Encourage sharing of tips across the office. Check out our product updates. These are released monthly at the moment, changing to quarterly mid year. It’s a one stop shop for all of your team to keep up-to-date with changes and time saving features we release. Save the link as a bookmark in your browser so you don’t have to search for it each time.
There’s always more to cover, but for now, it’s time to breathe and reset for this new financial year. Take some time out of your practice to reflect on the last 12 months – I like to ponder while walking on the beach. Think about what worked, what didn’t and what would you like to change? What does success look like for your clients? What does success look like for your team? Write these things down, make a plan, and communicate your plan to someone who will keep you honest. Use these tips, so that by FY20 you’ve taken steps to action some of these things and you’re not simply on remote control, trying to keep up, wondering where the last year went.