Nicholsons welcomes Craig Griffiths to the team

Nicholsons Chartered Accountants is delighted to welcome Craig Griffiths to the team based at the firm’s Lincoln office. Craig has joined the Audit Team as a Semi Senior Accountant. 

After finishing sixth form at William Farr, Craig joined the Lincs FM Group in 2012 as an Apprentice Accountant.  He stayed with the firm for six years and during this time he also attended Lincoln College in the evenings to study for his AAT qualification.  

Craig is a Liverpool supporter, not only does he enjoy watching the game, he also enjoys playing in the local Sunday league. As well as football Craig plays badminton once a week and enjoys eating out and going away with his girlfriend. 

 

 

 


Padawan Learner

        

Left to right – Alex Cass and Billy Toulson – Standing Aimee Harrison and Imogen Flower   – Sitting Lucy Christopher and Ieuan Thomas-Cousins

For those not Star Wars fans a Padawan Learner is a Force sensitive adolescent who trains as a Jedi. In the real world they are known as apprentices.

Over the last couple of years, we have invested into the apprentice scheme and recruited Lucy, Alex, Billy, Aimee and Imogen into our admin and accountancy teams. After my initial shock at how young they looked I was delighted at how mature they all seemed but as the years have moved on, I grew to really appreciate what they had brought to the business. They have been so keen to learn picking up everything we asked of them, but they also brought with them enthusiasm and a freshness that blew through the firm.

“having an apprenticeship isn’t just about getting great skills and great training; it can be the stepping stone to a fantastic career ” David Cameron (link https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/apprenticeship-speech-delivered-by-prime-minister-david-cameron-in-milton-keynes)

As Lucy, Alex, Billy, Aimee and Imogen move on through the business and now enter their fourth year with us all have been rewarded for their development; Lucy has now completed her business administration studies and is one of our senior secretaries, Alex passed his Chartered Accountancy exams on the AAT fast track route and has taken on an audit and accounts role, Aimee has been rewarded for her hard work and was appointed to a semi senior position, Billy has completed his apprenticeship and is a junior accountant studying for his ACCA qualifications, and finally Imogen has taken up an apprentice role in our financial services department working alongside head of the department, Gail Paton. For me though one of the most significant achievements for all our apprentices to have been nominated over the last two years at the Lincoln Business Awards.  With an outstanding achievement by Aimee in 2017 as she went on to win her category. They’ve all got another important task, to mentor our two newest apprentices; Ieuan and Josh!

In addition to the freshness and enthusiastic attitude, the scheme provides structured training, third party tutoring, monitoring and appraisal and grant funding to contribute to their development.

The apprenticeship scheme has been a real success for us, and I want to encourage every business to consider taking on their own Padawan Learners!

As Yoda would say “Great job, Lucy, Alex, Aimee, Billy and Imogen, the good work, keep up hum keep up”

More info:

https://www.gov.uk/take-on-an-apprentice/overview

http://www.lincolncollege.ac.uk/apprenticeships

https://www.aat.org.uk/accounting-apprenticeships

Richard Hallsworth Lincoln Accountant and Business Adviser LinkedIn


Are you ready for the retirement fast lane?

Research shows people about to retire spend more time buying a car than planning their retirement.

Retiring is seen as a care-free, relaxing period in life – where you can wave goodbye to the hassles of working and put yourself first. But if you don’t make the most suitable financial plans, unfortunately, retiring could actually prove a struggle.

It’s not just about how much you save towards your retirement, but the decisions you make around using your pensions, and other pots of money, to fund your lifestyle. A bad choice can have long-lasting repercussions. The 2015 pension freedoms give you more flexibility, but also puts more onus on you to get it right.

A time for planning

In your final decade of working life, you realistically need to increase your focus on your retirement financial plans. Yet September 2018 research by Legal & General suggests that’s not really happening.*

Amongst their survey of over 55’s, 32% are spending less than a week, collectively, on making a decision arranging an income from their pension. This includes researching their options and understanding which products represent good value. Yet 40% admit they would spend more than a week planning and making a car purchase.

Almost one in four were unable to say what rate would represent good value for money on their investments or savings. 18% aren’t confident their pension savings will last them.

The last point is crucial. Life expectancy from birth has significantly risen over several decades. If you reach 65, you can on average expect to live to 83.6 (men) and 85.9 (women).**

Whereas previous generations would realistically only get to experience a relatively short retirement, yours could last for two decades if not longer. Your retirement could be defined by the decisions you make just before, and at the point of, finishing working. It needs much, much greater thought than planning your next car purchase.

What do you need to consider?

In your final decade of working, you especially need to focus on planning your retirement. As a starting point you might want to consider if you can afford to pay into your pension. And, crucially, check if you’ve invested in a way that’s appropriate for you – for example the level of risk you’re taking.

To help decide this, you need to develop concrete thoughts on what you want to achieve in retirement, and the type of lifestyle you hope to fulfil. Knowing this could help you to think about how you will use your pension to fund retirement, and the options available to you.

As a starting point you might want to consider if you can afford to pay into your pension.

Ultimately, your money needs to last you throughout retirement – and should take into account the possibility your circumstances could change. That’s difficult to forecast. But by speaking to a financial adviser, you can benefit from an expert working with you to plan your future. They can support you in devising a strategy that aims to set you up for the retirement you deserve.

*https://www.legalandgeneralgroup.com/media/2693/24092018-over-55s-spend-more-time-on-car-than-pension.pdf ** https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/ birthsdeathsandmarriages/lifeexpectancies/bulletins/ nationallifetablesunitedkingdom/2015to2017

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount invested. Investments do not include the same security of capital which is afforded with a deposit account.                           Accessing pension benefits early may impact on levels of retirement income and your entitlement to certain means tested benefits.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Accessing pension benefits is not suitable for everyone. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.

 


SBC19 – Health and wellbeing in the workplace

Rachel Linstead will be attending Nicholsons Small Business Conference and will be talking about Health and Wellbeing in the workplace and what impact this can have on a business focusing on the food eaten by employees during the working day and how their choices can impact their mood, productivity & team working!!

What you eat on a daily basis may have an impact on how you show up to the world. The food you eat (fuel) may affect all aspects of your life, how you feel both mentally and physically, how productive you are, how well you sleep. However, it’s not just about what you eat; it’s also about how & when you eat it!

You might not see yourself as an athlete but in fact you are, you are an athlete in the business world so why not fuel your body in a way that may help you perform at your best each day.

Being an athlete in the business world doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favourite foods, its more about understanding what food works for you and which don’t.

Here are Firecracker we work on some loose principles to work too which is all about celebrating all the amazing food you can eat that ultimately gives you live and energy.

Beige food = beige mood

  • Include protein with every meal.  Protein helps you stay fuller for longer and slows down the release of sugar into the blood so you are less likely to get a sugar high and low – protein includes: meat, fish, dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, eggs, beans & pulses, nuts & seeds.
  • Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables every day – 7 portions (a portion is 80g) ideally five vegetable and 2 fruit. Fruit and vegetables not only contain vitamins and minerals essential for health but also contain fibre and antioxidant which support the body in working well. 50% of each meal should be fruit and vegetables (this doesn’t include potatoes).
  • Try to eat food away from your desk/workspace and make time to have a lunch break in a non-stressed environment.  When our bodies are stressed, digestion stops so taking time out to eat may help your body to digest the food better and therefore give you better energy when you return to your desk. Research has shown that when we focus on the food we eat, we get more enjoyment out of it and often eat less as we feel more satisfied from it.
  • Resist eating foods that will stimulate you in the short term such as caffeinated drinks or high sugar foods as these may give you a boost of energy initially but at some point you may get a “come down” from them which may hinder performance, concentration and mood.
  • If you know you get “hangry” then ensure you have healthy snacks around you to keep you going to your next main meal. – A handful or nuts or some homous with veg sticks is ideal.Making small changes over time may have a big impact long term on your overall health and wellbeing.

Book your place at Nicholsons Small Business Conference today – Eventbrite


SBC19 – Your greatest asset are the people within your business

Michael Squirrell and Oliver Tasker from Wilkin Chapman LLP will talk about People are your great asset, so how do you ensure the very best stand and grow with you.

THE ability to attract and retain talented individuals is a challenge faced by industries across the world.

With global opportunities available to those who prove to be the best, businesses will always want to employ people who display drive, personality and skill. But they also risk losing that key team member.

Whilst retention is difficult enough for businesses in the larger cities, those running organisations based in smaller towns or more rural areas, can find it even more of a challenge, despite ‘quality of life’ being a big selling point.

Of course, there will always be factors that you are unable to compete against. However, there are ways in which you can become an ‘employer of choice’ and if the very best is out there, they will look at your business as a desirable one in which to work and progress in the longer-term.

For example, have you ever considered offering share schemes to your employees? Issuing shares can be an excellent way of demonstrating your company’s commitment to key individuals and giving them a tangible stake in the company’s success.

Shares and share options can be tax advantageous (and cash saving) mechanisms to seek to retain staff. Attached to them can be stipulations that reward length of service, high performance and commitment.

Of course, even if you decide to offer such a scheme, there will be employees who say yes, who then decide their future is not with you – or the tables may be turned, and you may have cause to let that individual go. If that is the case, you must be clear on how you best manage those situations.

Share schemes are growing in popularity but will not be for everyone (and will not be possible for businesses operated other than as a limited company); it is therefore important that all businesses are aware of other measures they can adopt to keep their best people.

Managing your teams through clearly defined HR processes, with robust retention strategies in place, will demonstrate that you have a well-run and professional business with transparent methods of retention and recognition across the entire workforce.

However large or small your business, setting your people off on the correct foot, will ensure you walk in the right direction. 

Action points

  • Review your skilled and talented workforce; can they be rewarded in different ways?
  • Are you struggling to recruit a skilled workforce? Could shares or share options enable you to be an employer of choice?
  • If you have an existing share incentive arrangements in place, do they need reviewing?

Book your place at Nicholsons Small Business Conference today – Eventbrite


SBC19 – Why budgeting is a vital skill for today’s business owner

For some the mere mention of the term “budgeting”can be enough to turn them off, “something big companies do but not me … I’m just a small business”. We hear this a lot when we speak to small business owners but see it as a challenge!

Here are three reasons why having a budget is important.

  1. It sets a yardstick against which you can monitor how your business is performing.
  2. It helps you control your costs.
  3.  It helps you predict how much cash you’ll generate.

A performance yardstick

Sitting down each year and sketching out how you’d like your business to perform the following year is a great way of starting a business planning process. Find a copy of last years profit and loss account and then write over it what you’d like next year’s numbers to look like. Reflecting on last years numbers is a great starting point and always leads to more searching questions that can then be investigated, researched and built upon.

Control costs

Marginal gains is something not just for cycling teams. Small incremental improvements across a lot of areas can result in larger gains overall. You can use this approach with your overheads. By looking through your accounts, and the detail behind them, you can identify laziness, costs that just increase year on year because you don’t have the time to review them and spot that 5% increase that wasn’t agreed. A business with overheads of £100,000 that identifies a 3% overall saving generates £250 per month more cash.

Cash predictions

Businesses fail because they ultimately run out of cash. Therefore, understanding how much cash you have now, how much you expect to generate, and therefore how much you might have in the future, is a vital skill for today’s business owner. For small businesses that don’t have complex flows of cash through their systems a budget can provide a great guide as to what cash might be generated. This then provides a guide as to what can be invested in new equipment, that new marketing campaign or how much you can spend on next year’s holiday.

OK, you’re convinced so where do you start? Here are two tips to get you going.

  1. The first stage is to dust off a copy of last year’s set of accounts or, if you have reliable management accounts from your accounts system, this year’s current data. Find the profit and loss account and start to think about what might change. What are your plans for the business and what extra costs might be incurred, or how many more sales might you make?
  2.  Focus on your key expenses, the big ones, and look through the detail behind the numbers. This might involve reviewing a summary in your accounts app or looking through invoices. Make a list of the changes you want to make and then update your summary so you can see the cumulative impact on overall profits. Then start to work through them to make the budget come alive.

We hope you’ve found this introduction to budgeting interesting. Creating a budget can really help you understand your business through the numbers in your accounts.

Book your place at Nicholsons Small Business Conference today – Eventbrite


SBC19 – Optimising your cashflow

Glen Foster from XERO will  be our first speaker at this year's Small Business Conference

Cash flow is one of the leading reasons behind business failure. In this day and age, there are plenty of tools and ways to ensure small businesses can stay on top of their cash flow. Using Xero allows small business owners to keep on top of their incomings and outgoings, thus making them aware of any upcoming issues. For businesses that want even more visibility, couple Xero with one of the cash flow apps to give greater insights and even more powerful tools for collecting payments. 

Xero's "Small Business Insights" (https://www.xero.com/uk/resources/small-business-insights/) tell us that nearly 50% of businesses are not cash flow positive and 37.8 days is the average duration to get paid. Worrying stats as we head into an era of uncertainty with Brexit looming.  

Using payment apps such as Go Cardless or Stripe allow small businesses to get paid quicker. When a business invoices using one of the online payment tools such as Stripe, our research tells us they get paid up to 21 days faster, 3 whole weeks sooner than if they use traditional methods. This also removes a lot of the administration around collecting fees as they're fed into Xero to be reconciled and enabling better visibility of a businesses cash flow position. 

The key component to cash flow management is done within Xero though. Bank feeds, the process of setting up a feed so bank transactions are regularly fed into the system and reconciled on a regular basis. With bank feeds, the traditional once per month or per quarter task of trying to get on top of your bookkeeping can go away. Typically most small businesses have less than 10 transactions per day and that becomes a 5 minute job each day to keep up to date, on top of your finances and ahead of any cash flow challenges. Couple bank feeds with the powerful invoicing tools in Xero, such as repeat or group invoicing and also invoice reminders and you've got a powerful end to end solution for billing revenue and collecting it. 

Cash flow management doesn't have to be a chore and it's surprising how many business owners get more interested in the finances behind their business when the numbers are up to date and simple to understand.

 

Book your place at Nicholsons Small Business Conference today – Eventbrite


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