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Archive for the ‘Finance Systems’ Category

xero certified advisor

Transform Accounting  – the accountants for small business, are now offering the option of cloud based on line accounting systems to our existing and future clients.

Transform Accounting have a wide variety of clients who require different things from their accountants;
– A sole trader or an individual with rental properties may require once a year assistance with tax planning, tax return preparation and HMRC filing.
– A contractor or consultant with a vat registered limited company in addition to the requirements of a sole trader will also usually require book keeping, payroll, quarterly vat returns, statutory accounts filing and advice regarding dividend payments and keeping tax bills to a minimum.
– Other clients require Transform Accounting to take over their back office functions entirely to provide services including invoicing, credit control, accounts payable and cashbook management in addition to those services provided for contractor/consultant limited companies.
– Small business owners of all types will often also require regular management accounts, tax position updates and profitability analyses.

In order to satisfy these clients, Transform Accounting have assessed the various cloud based accounting systems available in the UK and after a successful pilot have chosen Xero accounting as their preferred cloud accounting partner.

Transform Accounting will now be offering the option of cloud based on line accounting systems to our existing and future clients.Both partners of Transform Accounting have recently earned Certified Advisor status from Xero accounting.

We will publish more details in later posts, but if the idea of being able to share access to your company accounts by either a web browser, ipad, iphone or android phone app appeals then this could be ideal for you.

Other great benefits can include ;

– using your phone or tablet to take a photograph of invoices/receipts and have it immediately sent to your accountant for processing
– raising expense claims on your phone or tablet,
– raising invoices on your phone or tablet
– having access to your most up to date accounts allowing you to immediately see how your business is performing.

As a measure of confidence in Xero, Transform Accounting Ltd have already moved their own company accounts to this platform and have started to migrate existing customers and new clients alike and all have been delighted with the results.

If you would like to know any more about how cloud based accounting could help your business, or if your old accountant does not offer this option, please get in touch with Transform Accounting.

Transform Accounting are Chartered Management Accountants and Tax Technicians able to assist with personal tax returns, sole traders and company payroll whilst specialising in limited companies, consultants, contractors and business start-ups. Fixed fee packages are available as are free initial consultations. Customer references are available on request.

See www.transformaccounting.co.uk or contact by telephone on 01277 365447 or by e mail at info@transformaccounting.co.uk

Epping Accountant – Transform Accounting – Essex Accountant

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Qr Codes

Ever since the invention of computers, cybercrime has never been far behind. As the technology world changes, so do the methods of the criminals, but their motivation always remains the same – to steal your money by any method open to them.

In recent years internet shopping and on line banking has now become the norm. Even the purchase of music, software, movies and video games has now often become an on line transaction. This potentially exposes our personal details and electronic banking to those who are up to no good.

The latest wide scale change in our consuming habits has been to migrate from on line purchases and banking using a PC to the use of mobile smartphones. Recently released statistics show this type of activity has increased by 221% year on year, and is anticipated to continue to increase at that rate. Mobile devices are increasingly being used to pay for routine items such as train or bus tickets and this use of technology is anticipated to increase.

The increased use of mobile phones means that criminals are increasingly turning their attention to these devices. So far, cybercrimes involving mobile devices are still relatively rare buts it is considered to be only a matter of time before these increase to be a significant risk.

Most mobile users are unaware of how these threats will manifest themselves.
Here is the second in a series of posts about the trends in mobile crime (also referred to as m-cybercrime) and how they might impact you.

QR Codes

A QR (or Quick Response) code is a type of bar code formed by a series of black dots on a white background arranged in a square pattern.  QR codes have now become popular in consumer advertising and can be read by most smartphones which interpret the pattern as a URL, load a web browser and take the user to a specified web page, usually to give more information about the service or product. QR codes are common in both newspapers and magazines and increasingly appearing in shop price labels next to the product.

The problem with QR codes is that they are not always safe. Mobile phone users can never be 100% sure where the QR code will lead them once they read them into their device. There have been a growing number of instances where the QR code leads the user to inadvertently download a virus onto their mobile device and IT security experts expect these instances to increase significantly in the future.

Transform Accounting are Chartered Management Accountants and Tax Technicians able to assist with personal tax returns, sole traders and company payroll whilst specialising in limited companies, consultants, contractors and business start-ups. Fixed fee packages are available as are free initial consultations. Customer references are available on request.

See www.transformaccounting.co.uk or contact by telephone on 01277 365447 or by e mail at info@transformaccounting.co.uk

Accountant BrentwoodTransform AccountingEssex Accountant

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Mobile Phone Crime

Ever since the invention of computers, cybercrime has never been far behind. As the technology world changes, so do the methods of the criminals, but their motivation always remains the same – to steal your money by any method open to them.

In recent years internet shopping and on line banking has now become the norm. Even the purchase of music, software, movies and video games has now often become an on line transaction. This potentially exposes our personal details and electronic banking to those who are up to no good.

The latest wide scale change in our consuming habits has been to migrate from on line purchases and banking using a PC to the use of mobile smartphones. Recently released statistics show this type of activity has increased by 221% year on year, and is anticipated to continue to increase at that rate. Mobile devices are increasingly being used to pay for routine items such as train or bus tickets and this use of technology is anticipated to increase.

The increased use of mobile phones means that criminals are increasingly turning their attention to these devices. So far, cybercrimes involving mobile devices are still relatively rare buts it is considered to be only a matter of time before these increase to be a significant risk.

Most mobile users are unaware of how these threats will manifest themselves.
Here is a first in a series of posts about the trends in mobile crime (also referred to as m-cybercrime) and how they might impact you.

1.       Smishing

You may already be familiar with the term “phishing” which is commonly defined as attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details by falsely masquerading as a trustworthy entity such as a bank or credit card provider.

Phishing is usually carried out by e mails trying to tempt an unsuspecting user to go to a fake web site, or give away sensitive information.

The term Smishing is relatively new and is derived from “SMS phiSHING” where SMS (Short Message Service) is the technology used on mobile phones for text messages.  Smishing will use mobile phone text messages to get your attention, and then persuade you to click on a web link contained in the message. Tactics could include telling you that you have been signed up for a service costing £10 a day until you click the link to cancel, or alternatively telling you about a tempting offer such as an iPAD for £150. Normally, when you go to the linked web site, you will then be required to enter your credit card or personal details. Alternatively, if the hook is a phone number, then the number is highly likely to be a premium rate number or alternatively will lead you to an automated system that again asks for your personal information.

Another common ploy is to disguise the message as being from a commonly used bank or credit card company. The desired reaction from the criminals is to worry the recipient – eg – if you receive a credit card bill appearing to be from HSBC and you don’t bank with HSBC, a consumer may be tempted to contact the bank to dispute the bill. Equally, if you do bank with HSBC, you might be even more alarmed and wish to contact the bank.

The action for any unsolicited text messages is the same as for any unsolicited e mails. Delete the message immediately and do not click either on the links or ring the phone numbers.

If you are really concerned, do not ring the phone number in the message or use the link provided. Instead, ring the bank using a phone number that you know is correct – eg – the banks fraud department printed on the back of your credit card or on your monthly statements.

Transform Accounting are Chartered Management Accountants and Tax Technicians able to assist with personal tax returns, sole traders and company payroll whilst specialising in limited companies, consultants, contractors and business start-ups. Fixed fee packages are available as are free initial consultations. Customer references are available on request.

See www.transformaccounting.co.uk or contact by telephone on 01277 365447 or by e mail at info@transformaccounting.co.uk

Accountant HarlowTransform AccountingEssex Accountant

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cogs

Finance functions in the UK have always had a strong focus on costs and cost reduction. Most CFO’s like to set a good example by constantly looking at their own Finance department for cost efficiencies.

Traditional productivity levers like workforce reduction and automation for most organisations finance departments have been used extensively over the last two decades.

This focus has increased in its intensity over the last 4 years since the global recession began.

For most companies in the UK, this is a well trodden path however most are now experiencing diminishing returns as they attempt to repeatedly “transform” their finance functions in this way for cost reduction.

The days of easy simple staff reductions and automations are now behind most finance functions.

Treading this same path over again just results in a choice of either consciously taking decisions to do less with less resources and choosing which activities to stop, or the more common and far worse situation of attempting to do the same activities but with less resource. As many have found out, this path only leads to increases in risk, compliance and business support issues.

So, given the diminishing returns, what is the CFO under pressure to reduce costs to do?

The finance function is mainly made up of four key processes.

A good place to start is a benchmark exercise to consider the current in house processes against best practice and consider how these processes can be improved and streamlined where necessary.

Business Planning – The entire planning cycle.

Source to Pay (S2P) – The entire process from purchase requisitioning, supplier and product selection, order processing and payment.

Order to Cash – The process from sales order processing through to cash collection.

Consolidation To Report – The process of reporting at low local level, through to financial consolidation and subsequent management and statutory reporting.

For each of the above processes, the cost conscious CFO needs to look carefully at the three main areas of cost generation – staffing, consulting and systems costs.

The streamlining of a process may involve investment in systems and consulting, but the key is to take a bottom line cash view to any review.

Benchmarking of these key processes is always the right place to start, but is one that is so often overlooked by finance departments. It is only when current practices are carefully reviewed and compared to best practice that  a lack of investment in modernisation of techniques and systems can become apparent.  Comparison then of “as is now” with the best of breed should point the way to running a finance department that is as efficient and cost effective as the best can be achieved.

Accountant LoughtonTransform AccountingAccountant Essex

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cookies

There are two types of cookie rules in place today.

The first is a local set of rules involving the kids in my house and their repeated attempts to eat every biscuit that is within their reach and not locked away.

The second was introduced to the UK on May 26th 2012 relating to website cookies. Web site owners that used cookies had been given a years notice of these changes that required their web sites being amended to give users the option of consenting or not to the use of cookies on their site.

A cookie is a simple ‘text file’ used to store small bits of information which is generally used to track events or actions within a website and enhance or customise the site to your preferences.

The concern around cookies is that some people believe using cookies is a sneaky way of using your computer to store personal bit of information which could be used to build up a picture of your browsing habits. This information could then be used to target marketing campaigns at your preferences.

The UK information office has now written to more than 50 organisations running some of the most popular websites , asking if they have achieved compliance with the new regulations.  These letters are asking the web site owners who have not achieved this compliance, just why not and what are their timescales for achieving this compliance.

It also goes on to point out that fines of up to £ ½ million can be levied for non compliance.

Organisations that have received the letter have included Apple, the BBC, John Lewis, Network Rail, Microsoft, eBay and BskyB.

Chelmsford AccountantTransform AccountingEssex Accountant

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apple imac

Apple Mac and Viruses – Should you be worried?

For those of us used to working on personal computers running any of the windows operating systems, anti-virus software has been a normal part of our computing experience.

I’m a PC … I’m a MAC

A trip to PC World or similar to purchase a new PC will always involve the discussion about which antivirus software you are going to employ – be in Norton, Symantec or Kapersky.
Once you have the software installed, there are the regular updates to the software and routine scans to make sure all is as it should be and to protect you from the hundreds of thousands of potential viruses out there.

But for those of us who have made the switch to Macs, viruses for the last 10 years have seemed like a thing of the past, that are only relevant for windows users.

You may have seen the “I’m a PC”, “I’m a Mac” television adverts where the PC is portrayed as suffering from a flu like virus, whilst the Mac is a picture of health – giving us the impression of invulnerability for Apple.

 

Why are there more viruses for PC than Mac?

There has been much debate regarding why there have been so few viruses for Macs whilst there have been so many for PC and these reasons can be grouped into three main areas.

Efficiency

The OSX Apple operating system is inherently much more efficient and has fewer weaknesses that can be exploited by computer viruses when compared to the windows operating systems.
However, the introduction of Windows 7 has resulted in a Microsoft operating system that is enormously improved from the previous versions and far harder to exploit.

Numbers

The number of machines – It is only recently that Apple have gained approx. 10% of the market share for PC’s and laptops.
In the past, this share has been much smaller.
For the writers of viruses, if you are writing a virus to attempt to make financial gain, then there is much more sense to write if for the machines that most people are using rather than that used by a minority..

Malicious

Many of the most malicious computer hackers and authors of computer viruses have always carried on a vendetta against the big dominant companies in the computer world.
Number one in their list has always been Microsoft whilst Apple was the “cool” alternative company. Now that Apple has overtaken Microsoft to be the dominant computer and electronics manufacturer, they could be targeted equally.

You can get a virus on your Mac

In recent times, the first few successful viruses for Apple Macs have started to increase in scale and impact. 
A vulnerability in Java was exploited in 2012 to infect 650,000 Apple Mac computers with a virus called “Trojan”.
Apple were quick to plug the flaw in their OSX operating system but this was a wake up call to users of Apple computers.

The future looks like it will involve Apple Mac users requiring the use of anti-virus software in the same way as for PC.

To put this into perspective, the risk of virus infection for Apple Mac users is considerably less than that for PC users ( not running anti-virus software ), but the risk is not zero as many believe.


How can I protect my Mac?

If the contents of your Apple Mac is precious to you, or you store personal or sensitive business data on your Mac, then now may be the time to invest in anti-virus software for you Mac.

Transform Accounting recommend Kapersky for either PC or Mac. Here is the link to their Mac anti-virus software.

http://www.kaspersky.co.uk/kaspersky-anti-virus-for-mac/

Brentwood AccountantsTransform AccountingEssex Accountants

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IT Security

It may come as no surprise that “password” came top in the 2011’s worst passwords league table as published by SplashData – a leading provider of password software. But those who switch the “o” to a zero to make it “passw0rd” didn’t fare much better at 18th in the table.

There have been many well publicised security breaches in recent years and in many cases the hackers have published the stolen data on line. Splash data have analysed this information to compile its league table. Hackers can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords. Many people continue to ignore advice to use secure, strong passwords and continue to use weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft.

Weak passwords could include simple numerical choices like “12345”or simple letter and number combinations such as “abc123”.
Other weak password choices include patterns based on the keyboard such as “qwerty” or popular names such as “michael” or “bailey”. A few of the most common cracked passwords such as “monkey”, “dragon” or “sunshine” were more of a surprise.

Do you use any of the following easy to crack passwords?

1. password
2. 123456
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. monkey
7. 1234567
8. letmein
9. trustno1
10. dragon
11. baseball
12. 111111
13. iloveyou
14. master
15. sunshine
16. ashley
17. bailey
18. passw0rd
19. shadow
20. 123123
21. 654321
22. superman
23. qazwsx
24. michael
25. football

Splash Data Logo

SplashData suggests making passwords more secure with these tips:

Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, “eat cake at 8!” or “car_park_city?” Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for. Having trouble remembering all those different passwords? Try using a password manager application that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites.

Transform Accounting recommend the use of a company with a strong track record of reliability and security like SplashID Safe, which has a 10 year history and over 1 million users. SplashID Safe has versions available for Windows and Mac as well as smartphones and tablet devices.

It’s easy to start making your passwords better – Start now; make it a resolution to keep it up and your whole life online will safer and more secure. Transform Accounting are able to offer support and advice on all aspects of financial systems.

Romford Accountants Transform AccountingEssex Accountants

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