& client success
Skilled and successful client communications help accountancy firm join top 100 list
MPH Accountancy & Business Advisors has been named in the top 100 South-East Business Awards by NatWest, gaining recognition for helping clients achieve their dreams and ambitions. And of the firm's clients, Pretty Petal Cake Co, was also recongised in the list, following support from the accountancy practice.
TaxAid: helping people and businesses struggling through the pandemic with critical financial advice
Has there been a more overwhelmingly tough time for individuals and businesses than the COVID pandemic in living memory?
In terms of one affecting such a vast number and array of firms and workers, probably not. But TaxAid has been on hand with its team of expert volunteers to support anyone without critical knowledge on tax and finance.
So, what kind of problems has TaxAid been helping people with? Very suddenly, a huge range of financial support schemes were on offer to those suffering the fall out of the COVID pandemic and lockdowns in the early part of 2020.
TaxAid was there to provide critical advice to many people who had never had to deal with such challenges.
Gail Mackie, Advice Manager at TaxAid, told Your Accountancy Life: “When the lockdown was first announced in March last year, the chancellor revealed the various support schemes would be available, particularly for the self-employed (SEISS grants). We recognised that a lot of people we would usually see as our beneficiaries would struggle to access their SEISS grants.”
COVID phone line
So, TaxAid set up a dedicated helpline to support those trying to access the grant. They reached 6,000 people in the first eight weeks. The charity’s volunteers helped people to file tax returns in order to be eligible, including lots of work filing returns. There was “a lot of confusion” about how the grant would be calculated and its criteria, so the team provided significant support helping people apply for a grant.
Stories and challenges
So, what kind of stories did people have? Among the circumstances they’ve been seeing regularly are people: - recently made redundant and needing advice to move to self-employment - looking for help with tax refunds and HMRC paperwork
A future with no income
One person who stands out, Gail said, was a labourer who specialised in tiling. His work suddenly ceased with the ban on going into other people’s homes. If he didn’t fill out his tax return by 23 April, he would have been unable to get any money from the Government via the SEISS grants. And he faced a future with no income.
When he rang, with barely a day to go before the deadline expired, he explained he had tried doing it himself but couldn’t understand it. TaxAid helped him to prepare a return and get it in by the deadline. His application was successful, and he got the money.
“The next morning we had a lovely comment on Twitter from the gentleman saying how grateful he was for our help, that he never could have done it without us, and he’d pretty much given up all hope before calling us,” Gail explains.
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Accountants overwhelm charity with offers to provide tax advice for free
"We’ve been overwhelmed by responses from individuals who are accountants, tax advisers, and large tax practices who have wanted to enable their staff to help us in supporting taxpayers.”
Valerie Boggs, CEO TaxAid
Accountants have inundated TaxAid with offers to help others struggling with tax problems during the pandemic, the charity has told Your Accountancy Life.
Valerie Boggs, the charity’s CEO, told Your Accountancy Life it has received huge numbers of offers of support since COVID struck: “We’ve been overwhelmed by responses from individuals who are accountants, tax advisers, and large tax practices who have wanted to enable their staff to help us in supporting taxpayers.
“It’s terrific and wonderful because it means we can help more people and deliver our service to those who need it. We certainly have been delighted to be able to support as many volunteers as we have during the last six months.
“We’ve been very busy indeed - training and supporting volunteers to come into our volunteering programmes to help our clients. So much so we are at capacity in terms of bringing new volunteers at the moment.”
The charity hopes before the end of 2021 to recruit more volunteers.
“Demand is on the rise so we will need more,” Valerie said.
Fast Facts Who are TaxAid?
TaxAid is a charity that helps people on low incomes when they get into difficulties with their tax affairs. TaxAid was set up by tax professionals who were concerned that people on low incomes were suffering significantly because they could not afford tax advice. There was evidence that people were being made bankrupt unnecessarily on tax demands based on estimated figures; that people had been overpaying tax for years because they didn’t understand the rules; and that unrepresented people did not know how to access their rights of appeal.
- TaxAid currently has 129 tax-qualified volunteers.
- The charity reached 6,000 people in the first eight weeks of its dedicated Coronavirus Service through a helpline, social media, and online materials, helping to claim self-employment support or with furlough queries.
- In 2020/21 the charity also helped 4,113 people. That included 7,259 interactions involving self-assessment.
- It addressed 2,598 PAYE issues, particularly incorrect coding, and National Insurance issues.
- In January 2021 TaxAid received 607 calls to our helpline and 1261 interactions with those callers.
FInd out all about TaxAid at www.taxaid.org.uk.
Azets reveals major Scottish expansion with new Aberdeen and Glasgow offices
"Office life is changing rapidly and forever, as is the support needed by our clients. Our new offices will provide our staff with the space they need to deliver outstanding client service.”
Peter Gallanagh, CEO for Scotland and the North
Global accountancy success story, Azets, has announced major plans for its Scottish business, which will see it expand by 50% in the next five years, boosting turnover to more than £60 million, and creating hundreds of new jobs in the process.
Azets is to build on its Scottish success so far, creating new bases in Aberdeen and Glasgow. It also means a multi-million-pound makeover for its eight existing Scottish offices to better support increasingly flexible and digital ways of working.
With a finger on the pulse, the business is investing in technology to support its Scottish workforce, which includes around 500 partners.
Chief Executive for Scotland and the North, Peter Gallanagh says, “Office life is changing rapidly and forever, as is the support needed by our clients. Our new offices will provide our staff with the space they need to deliver outstanding client service.”
Established just five years ago, the rapid growth of Azets puts it among the UK’s largest regional accountancy and business adviser to SMEs – and its ascent continues. Azets also has a strong presence across Europe, employs over 6,500 people, and supports more than 120,000 clients.
Peter Gallanagh was previously regional managing partner for Azets in Glasgow, where he helped expand and develop the business before being appointed into the Chief Executive role.
Mr Gallanagh adds: “We are also looking at further acquisitions, in particular niche firms that could bring an expertise or specialisation that will add value to our extensive public and private sector client base."
Niche areas are key to this booming accountancy business, which covers 15 different sectors and every conceivable size of business. No stranger to securing the right skills at the right time, in recent years Azets acquired Scottish accountancy firms Campbell Dallas and Scott-Moncrieff.
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Infinity Partnership in new Foreign Exchange partnership for clients
Pictured: Greg Houston, Associate Partner at Infinity
Aberdeen-based accountancy firm Infinity Partnership is broadening its offering to clients with a new treasury management and foreign exchange (FX) service.
The Scottish business, a five-time winner at the British Accountancy Awards, has teamed up with Aston Currency Management to provide the additional offering.
Infinity also recently linked up with mobile banking service provider Starling to extend its digital accountancy capabilities for its UK-wide client base.
Finding the right partners
Greg Houston, Associate Partner at Infinity, pictured above, said of the currency collaboration: “This represents yet another example of Infinity finding the right partner for our clients with international operations. Proactive, transparent and streamlined support is what our clients require for these types of transactions, and we look forward to working with Aston Currency Management.”
This is Aston’s first official collaboration with a Scottish accountancy firm.
Client service at the core
Liam Alexander, Partner at Aston CM, said: “The two firms share a similar ethos: client service is at the core of everything we do. Clients now demand a technology-driven approach to their foreign exchange management in addition to a relationship manager. We’re delighted to partner with Infinity to enhance its already outstanding client offering and to further increase the Aston CM presence in Scotland.”
London-based Aston CM supports clients of all sizes – from SMEs to multinationals – with the delivery of services including multi-currency accounts, spot FX, forward contracts, and FX strategy.
Reducing currency risk
Companies with an international focus are open to the risk of adverse currency movements, Infinity said, explaining that by implementing an FX strategy and improving their rates of exchange, companies can reduce currency risk and ultimately improve their balance sheet position.
Infinity is recognised for its accountancy, research and development tax relief, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance expertise, with more than 80% of its clients in the energy sector.
The firm was founded in 2011 by managing partner Simon Cowie, a two-time Scottish Dealmaker of the Year winner. Aston CM also has an office in Dubai.
To find out more about the partnership, visit this page