OPINION: Simpler reporting – What do you consider?
What the united kingdom Government defines as micro and small company communities (significantly less than £440,000 turnover and 10 or fewer employees) constitute approximately 60 % of most companies registered at Companies House, plus you can find the thousands of sole traders and partnerships in Britain. So, it really is no surprise – and even it is very good news – that the federal government is considering how it can benefit smaller businesses play their part in steering the country from an economic abyss.
A good example of that is Simpler Reporting for the tiniest Businesses, a couple of outline proposals instigated by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) that, if these just do it, would bring about large-scale changes in the manner small businesses in the united kingdom are obliged to control their financial reporting. Areas it talks about include:
- The question of deregulating financial reporting
- The potential replacement of the total amount sheet with a statement of position
- Using reporting information to file taxes
- Annual returns
The thought of simplifying the quantity and complexity of financial reporting on the facial skin of it could sound appealing. I am certain I could hear some companies raising a cheer. And sure, a number of the ideas set forward do involve some merit, but we have been not by yourself in having some concerns about these proposals.
Needless to say you can find reporting and operational issues impeding growth, but we think these issues are qualitative, not quantitative. UK businesses need better reporting, not less. So, the proposals skip the real point, and I really believe could possibly be detrimental.
Accountancy profession views
Laurence Moore, Director of Prime Chartered Accountants
“The outline suggestions lay out in the document are an over-simplification. For example, the suggestion of a ‘statement of position’ wouldn’t normally have the information necessary to reconcile with the profit & loss account or trading statement, & therefore are of limited use to HMRC, for trading partners and banks to assess risk, or even to micro businesses themselves.”
Simon Clark, Partner, Kingston Smith LLP
“THE TOTAL AMOUNT Sheet is definitely paramount to a micro-business to get a knowledge of performance, also to put the trading of the business enterprise into context. Micro-businesses should, and can, continue steadily to record their transactions in the standard way, but beneath the proposed regime they might need to convert their underlying records from the traditional accruals basis to a cash basis, which seems an unnecessary, and costly, task.
For example, by changing the foundation which businesses prepare their accounts you could end up misleading information being supplied to customers and trading partners. As UK businesses increasingly operate within an environment where you want to be certain suppliers and customers are solvent, this can be a worry.
Also, the proposals would ensure it is even more complicated for banks to utilize annual reports to assess lending risk. Taking into consideration the quantity of talk around helping banks to possess more confidence in smaller businesses, this might be an own goal.
The expense of transition should also be studied into consideration for an evergrowing business. They’ll begin as a micro-business but as time passes will mature and need to change their accounting basis – they have no useable historic information from their time reporting beneath the proposed simplified solution to provide to new trading partners.”
The Institute of Chartered Accountants England & Wales (ICAEW) in addition has published its views on the BIS’s proposals and I love this particular excerpt, that i think is a very good summing up of what’s needed: The ICAEW’s Reporting Faculty has published its draft response which you are able to read completely here, but here’s the excerpt which appears to chime with this view that better operational reporting is key.
“We think that the info requirements of management ought to be the primary driver of business record keeping. To be able to effectively run a small business, to maximise the profits on return and to make sure that adequate funds become available as required, management have to have an awareness of the total amount and timing of outstanding debtors and creditors and of the worthiness of capital tangled up in stock.”
It might be wrong of me to state what I believe is wrong with the proposals without suggesting a remedy. As someone owning a technology business I possibly could be accused of bias, but I must say i do believe that usage of accurate and real-time information – irrespective of which vendor you obtain it from – is increasingly very important to managing cashflow and improving visibility of the precise financial position of your small business at anybody time. Share these details with your accountant plus they might help you make more timely, informed decisions that will help prevent problems developing. Present these details to your bank and you’ll be fortunate to convince them that you will be a safe bet for a protracted credit line.
Of course, all of this does need a far more collaborative approach. No party can be held accountable to make it work. That’s why I really believe that the federal government, accountancy bodies, banks, small company organisations and yes, the technology vendors who’ve the various tools to underpin everything, have to put our heads together and think of a workable solution. And when we are to greatly help smaller businesses to lead the charge from the recession, then we have to think larger than just simpler reporting.