by Lauren Wise, content writer for The Accountancy Partnership.
There has been a lot of news surrounding the Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative recently, the biggest being the significant delay, pushing back the scheme to April 2019. Even then only businesses over the VAT threshold will be required to use the system and only for VAT purposes.
The delay to MTD may have made your firm take a backseat in implementing the correct systems and getting ready for the switch, but this is not the stance you should be taking.
It’s much better to be organised – especially when you’ll be advising your clients on how to manage the system. Keep yourself ready for any changes that could occur and always be one step ahead with these tips on preparing.
The best way to help clients get ahead with MTD is to provide a helpful guide that will provide them with all the information they need to know.
While some clients may have more specific questions, it’s good to have a go-to resource that will provide basic information on the initiative and what the next steps are for clients.
This will also save your administration department time as there will be less correspondence between them and clients who are concerned about the switch; instead they’ll simply need to refer them to a guide.
Along with your own guide, you should collect a number of reliable resources that your clients can refer to when looking for information on MTD.
While your own guide will be an important source of information, as well as a way for you to increase brand awareness, it will also need to gather information from other resources to be valid and reliable.
Look to the Gov websites along with HMRC and other trustworthy bodies who provide information on MTD. You can list these in an appendix on your own guide as well as in a resource page on your website.
Speak to clients
One of the simplest and most effective ways of making your clients aware of the MTD initiative is to speak to them. If an email marketing campaign doesn’t do the trick, give a handful of your more concerned clients a call.
Ask them what they know about the initiative and what they would like to know. You can then use this information when it comes to creating the guide mentioned above.
It may be necessary for firms to hire freelancers or temporary staff to help with the bigger workload that will arrive when MTD eventually does come into effect. This will help accountants keep their time free to continuing to manage their workload.
Find the right software
While the majority of CPA firms will be well versed with the accounting software they use, it should really be considered if this will be adequate when MTD becomes mandatory for their clients.
Not only should you consider if it is adequate, but also if it meets the needs of clients. If you cater mostly to small businesses and sole traders, you won’t need a cloud accounting solution that’s aimed at accountants. This will be too overwhelming for your clients, and with the switch to digital, could do nothing other than cause more distress.
Instead, you may need to reconsider the software you’re using and invest in a more suitable option. Make sure you do this well ahead of the implementation of MTD – otherwise you’ll cause you, your clients and your employees more stress.
Set up support systems
There’s no doubt that once MTD comes into effect your clients will need help getting set up. While you’ll do what you can to encourage clients to get ready in advance, there will undoubtedly be many who have left it to the last minute.
In preparation for this, your firm should look ahead at what’s to come and get organised in advance. This will mean having support systems already in place for when clients begin to panic and wonder what MTD will have in store for them.
Give your advisors adequate training in how to support clients so they know where they need to be referred to for their problem. For example, if they are having trouble managing the cloud software, you can refer them to the software’s own site, which should be equipped with adequate support guides, tutorials and blogs.