Archive: AVN Insights

HMRC to issue 400,000 auto-completed tax returns!


Why does such a statement fill me with dread? While I can see the appeal for HMRC to gather data from different sources to validate it and make the life of the taxpayer easier, there are three things I am sure of:

  1. There will be an unacceptable number that are incorrect, inaccurate or just completely wrong returns.
  2. Taxpayers will be confused and unsure- or worse, still convinced HMRC must be right.
  3. Accountants and business advisors will be left trying to pick up the pieces for their clients who will not want to pay for this work.

So where do you start? Education. Your clients need to be aware what could be dropping through the letter box and that you still need to see them and validate the information. Plus give you plenty of time to be able to assess the data correctly.

You need to enquire whether new clients have received them.

This is also an ideal time to reinforce the value of the work that you can do, and by having the information early it gives you the greatest opportunity to help.

HMRC say, “Millions will benefit”. In theory, they will read, comprehend and agree the figures…. oh and then pay the bill!

How many clients look at tax calculations, let alone comprehend the workings? This will lead to mistakes and misunderstandings that then have to be sorted out.

The initial group is limited to two relatively small groups, which is a good thing!

  1. New state pensioners whose income is about £11,500.
  2. PAYE Taxpayers who have underpaid by a relatively small amount.

But the net is widening and this type of data gathering is going to increase- meaning that it really starts to impact on some of your clients. In theory it will only be where HMRC has all the taxpayers income information. But, how can they truly know what a self-employed person will have earned? Plus, situations do change.

Let’s see how this develops and remember that clients only have 60 days to challenge the simple assessment.


Article Source: James Miller

Times are changing!


For centuries accountants have been seen as the trusted advisor and held in high regard. A source of incredibly valuable financial information and insight. Essential to helping businesses make sound financial decisions so they can plan ahead.

But now the rate of change in the world is far too rapid for a set of year end accounts to serve any meaningful purpose other than for the requirements of HMRC or Companies House. Business owners now view the cost of production of their year end accounts as a quasi tax, not something of benefit to their business, but a legal requirement to produce. They are therefore questioning value and looking for the cheapest solution, this in turn is putting the fees accountants can charge for compliance under pressure.

Businesses are now operating in an environment where they need to adapt to change and serve their customers instantly. Questions can be answered in an instant with Google, you can make a purchase with a fingerprint and everything is happening in real time. As such this is how Business Owners need their financial information and their accountant to support them.

For accountants who focus on compliance fees alone you are now at a crossroads. Stick with compliance services and struggle with the increased competition from other accountants, and technology devaluing what you deliver or step into the role business owners are looking for and willing to pay for.

Accountants have an incredibly important part to play as they step into the business advisory role. Embrace change not only within how you produce a set of accounts, but proactively work with your clients so they can embrace these changes as well. Where you can make such a difference to a business that clients are more than willing to pay your fees.

Help clients to navigate through the vast array of overwhelming information. Allow them to focus on the real indicators that will make a difference to their businesses. Complement this by giving recommendations and strategies that will help to improve these numbers.

This change in focus will not only allow accountants to maintain their profitability, but allow it to grow and the status of a “trusted advisor” will become a necessity for every business who wants to be a success.

But is this a role that comes easily to accountants?

Our research suggests that this is not an easy role to just move into. It is one that accountants have not traditionally been trained for. As such you require the systems and solutions that make it easy and give you the answers before you are put in awkward situations.

If you want to grasp this opportunity and make your future a bright one join Shane Lukas MD of AVN, Author and Speaker and Martin Bissett Founder of the Upward Spiral Partnership and International Adviser to the Accountancy Profession as they explore the challenges that lay ahead for 2017 and beyond. Giving practical tips on how you can transform into a truly outstanding advisory practice and develop this into a steady pipeline of business.

If your an Accountant in Practice register for their FREE webinar “A Changing Profession: Maximise Your Success” by the 28th February at 10:30a.m by clicking the following link


Article Source: James Miller

What makes a great accountancy practice?


The things that really successful practices do and what they have in common was the subject of a three year research project by Steve Pipe for AVN.

With remarkable candour and generosity of spirit, the firms we studied revealed in precise detail exactly what they do to generate extraordinary results for themselves and their clients.

Based on what those firms told us, we were able to identify the 15 primary drivers of excellence for the profession and work with them to construct a step-by-step action plan for transforming the results of any practice.

Now, we want to pay their generosity forward by sharing with you the 15 drivers of excellence the research identified. We also want to explain the arguments that some firms use for why the findings don’t apply to them and reveal them for what they really are… excuses.

Background to the research

The firms we studied came from just about every corner of the United Kingdom, from village greens to city centres. They ranged from start-ups to long established practices who can trace their roots back to the 19th century. They represented independent accountancy firms of all sizes, from sole practitioners to multi partner firms (although it is important to stress that the vast majority were 1-3 partner firms, only five firms had six or more partners, and the very largest was a 16 partner firm). We didn’t, however, study any of the Top 50 firm’s since we wanted to discover what works for “normal” accountants.

The 15 drivers of excellence

  1. Intent
  2. Decision Making
  3. Measurement Systems
  4. Action
  5. Measurement for Clients
  6. Improvement Solutions for Clients
  7. Alliances
  8. Client Meetings
  9. Proactivity
  10. Service
  11. Clients
  12. Pricing and Cash Management
  13. Teamwork
  14. Systems
  15. Marketing

To find out a little more detail behind these drivers, look for our forthcoming blog posts where we will get into the detail and analyse them further. If you like this article please like it for others to find.

I hope you find this article useful.




Article Source: James Miller

C is for Clarity


Our research has shown that Accountancy Practices suffer from the similar issues and their ability to deal with them effectively is often governed by their own understanding.

Therefore the first step is to get Clarity on what you as an Accountancy Practice owner is looking to achieve from your business and develop a plan around that.

This may be to earn more, work less, develop your team, retire or something else. This is a personal journey to achieve your aspirations.

Sometimes in multiple partner firms the goals of each partner can be different and maybe focus in different directions. This can cause some conflict but to be able to move your practice forward, they need to be addressed and resolved.

AVN has developed its Clarity Workbook to do just this. It is part of a personal action plan helping you develop the way forward for your business. Based on a telephone session with one of our Practice Growth Experts we create a personalised action plan, which sets out where you are now and where you want to get to and by when. It identifies potential areas of weakness and strengths and then allows you focus on these areas and make great leaps forward in developing your practice.

Already 50% of our membership has started on their personal journey and it has been extremely well received. If you are an AVN Member then contact one of the team to book your Clarity call. If you are not an AVN Member then give us a ring on 01246 571191 or email us at and to find out more about AVN and how we can help you drive change in your practice.

Clarity is just the starting point of our workbook series, leading you through various steps to AVNExcellence in your practice.

Article Source: James Miller

Disney is every companies competitor

I was listening to a great webinar today and one of the key points that hit home to me was that Disney is every companies competitor! Why? Well Disney delivers exceptional customer service. They don’t just perform above what you expect they go above and beyond that. They create an experience that lasts for years, they create memories that you look back on. If you or your company could just harness some of that remarkable customer service and your clients/customers talk about you, enthuse about you. They start to create power in that people want to work with you, you are not constantly searching for new clients they are searching for you. So how do you start to make this happen? Well the first step is to engage your team. If your team are engaged and understand why you are going above and beyond they will know within which boundaries they can work to make a great experience for your clients. Once you have a way in which to deliver great service you want to ensure that time after time it happens, it happens without having to think about it. Whilst some people can pull this off the better way is to systemise your approach and allow your team to understand it in detail. How to WOW your customers? This is something that creates an experience for them, something that sticks in their memory. This could be sending them a bar of chocolate as a gift or something bigger for passing you work or for no reason at all. So turn your interactions with clients into a remarkable experience that compels them to talk about you in a positive way that drives people to want to work with you. Hope this inspires you to think about your customer service. Thanks James james_miller Article Source: James Miller

Time for an out of body experience


Shane Lukas, AVN

Shane Lukas's article: Time for an out of body experience. shane lukas lucasWhen was the last time you walked in to your office and assessed it as a potential customer?

What do your prospects see and think when they walk in to your office?

You walk in there every single day; you may have become blind to the things that a fresh pair of eyes might see.

  • Does it look old or modern?
  • Is it colourful or bland?
  • What personality does it reflect?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Do the walls need a fresh coat of paint?
  • What does it smell like?
  • How well are prospects and customers greeted?
  • What’s the overall impression they get when they walk in.

What about before they enter the office,  was parking easy and obvious?  Is customer parking reserved nearest to the door or is that reserved for the directors.  If I were a prospect or customer and it was raining I’d draw a pretty…

View original post 146 more words

Article Source: James Miller

How to win business without losing it in life


Recently I have been considering what is it that drives me. What equates to success and what drives me.

When you ask what is success, you often think of earning money, profit or some other monetary gain. But when you actually really think, this is all irrelevant what really matters is family, health, love, understanding and recognition.

Money is just a mechanism to allow you to do some of these things.

So some golden rules to live by:

  • Live for today
  • Live by your values,what are the values your want to live by? Do you know?
  • Treat the most important thing as the most important
  • Buy yourself some time
  • See the future and create it
  • Dare to dream

When you start to think you really start to question your true drivers in life and what you need to focus on.

Good luck in getting some focus and start enjoying life.







Article Source: James Miller

A Magical Guide To Selling through Presentations and Webinars


Following on from a great webinar I watched last week, the presenter Shane Lukas shared with me his magical guide to a successful presentation or webinar:-

  • Pre Party – get rapport going with audience. Say hello and talk to people, this shows it is live and allows the audience to connect with you.
  • At the start set out the BIG THING that they are going to be able to take away, the value for them.
  • Tell a personal story about yourself, the challenges you have faced and overcome and how this relates to their situation.
  • Have an agenda of what is going to be covered, and tell them so they can see what is coming and going to be covered.
  • Get permission to do a sales pitch – how you can work together.
  • Bonuses – if you are giving away a gift then let them know about it early and that you’ll come back to it later.
  • Stop reading ahead  – don’t reveal all your slides in one go otherwise you will lose people as they read ahead.
  • The proposition – only have one option – choices lead to inaction.
  • Get some feedback – ask a question to get feedback from your audience, and their participation.
  • Once you reveal the price, let them know what guarantees they’ll be getting.
  • Scarcity – introduce this, it’s a powerful concept to get your audience to take action.
  • Contrast – before you reveal the price create some contrast. How much could they earn or save…the price is less that the benefit.
  • Create a sense of urgency – Include bonuses for attending that are time dependent.
  • Bonuses should be worth more than the price.
  • Q & A – engage with the audience and answer any questions.
  • Always end on value and not on the sales pitch. Leave with a lasting memory of value.

Getting a presentation right it all about practice, you will be able to refine the process with your own style.

Hope you can get some value from this and create some exceptional presentations and webinars.





Article Source: James Miller

B is for Benchmarking


Often just by understanding where you are against that of your competitors you can identify where you are just giving away money.

Are you really performing as well as you think?

If you own a business ask your accountant if they can Benchmark your firm against others in the same industry or area. With a Benchmark report you can target areas to work on your business.

If they cannot offer you Benchmarking then send them to where they can access to a leading edge piece of software. Or contact AVN and they can put you in touch with an accountant that can help.

Not only should they be able to help you identify difference, they should also be able to come up with industry specific tips that will give you a head start.

One of the key things to be aware of is that in a lot of benchmarking software, information is taken from companies house data. Whilst this is a start, figures can be skewed by how proprietors and directors take their remuneration out of company and adjustments should be made for this.

Use your accountant to work with you on your business and develop it strategically.

Good luck




Article Source: James Miller



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