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Accounting & Payroll

Auditing a Thing of the Past?

Companies should consider both sides of the coin when looking at the revisions to the Companies Act and deciding on whether to audit, review or do neither.

Nylde Hoffman

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Recent news to South Africa’s owner-managed companies has proffered relaxed rulings on audits. After a decade of redrafts, the latest Companies Act announces the audit exemption despite an outcry by accountants, auditors and tax authorities.

The nitty gritty

As covered in the Companies Act 71 of 2008 and its Regulations, it is stated that: ‘Every company must calculate its ‘public interest score’ at the end of each financial year, calculated as; (a) a number of points equal to the average number of employees of the company during the financial year; (b) one point for every R1million (or portion thereof) in third party liability of the company, at the financial year end; (c) one point for every R 1 million (or portion thereof) in turnover during the financial year; and (d) one point for every individual who, at the end of the financial year, is known by the company— (i) in the case of a profit company, to directly or indirectly have a beneficial interest in any of the company’s issued securities; or (ii) in the case of a non-profit company, to be a member of the company, or a member of an association that is a member of the company.

It goes on to state: ‘An independent review of a company’s annual financial statements must be carried out (a) in the case of a company whose public interest score for the particular financial year was at least 100, by a registered auditor, or a member in good standing of a professional body … or (b) in the case of a company whose public interest score for the particular financial year was less than 100, by a registered auditor, or a member of a professional body or a person who is qualified to be appointed as an accounting officer of a close corporation  (c) in the case of a company whose public interest score is > 350 and <100 if its annual financial statements for the year were externally compiled by an independent person.

Relax and rejoice?

The collective sigh comes from companies looking to celebrate being able to sidestep the meticulous process of an audit, the costs associated with it, the time that needs to be committed in order to comply with all associated requirements, and the in-depth detail necessary to meet the process and its criteria.

Small companies are celebrating because now it is free driven and for small businesses, the hassle may outweigh their priorities – as may the financial implications of running an audit. When cash flow is a concern, setting aside R20 000 for an audit may not be seen as commercial business sense at the time.

Why are the number-crunchers protesting? With merit, I assure you. These rejoicing business owners and their stakeholders alike should consider both sides of the coin. As a medium-sized company, the dynamic nature of your business, its cash-flow and how you choose to sustain or leverage your business dealings will almost certainly guarantee the need for a sound, thorough and professionally drafted set of financials which was at least reviewed or audited by a professional. The delay or complete avoidance of an audit or review is almost guaranteed to pose bigger problems down the line.

Think twice

Straight off, the most immediate benefit is to have a solid understanding of what your business’ financial status is – at a glance – at any given time. An annual review (at the very least) guarantees your shareholders an authentic appraisal of how your annual figures have behaved – which may be used to leverage how you make internal strategic and operational decisions for the following financial year.

Furthermore, you may need finance to sustain or grow your business needs. To get the ball rolling, a bank will want to see your latest financials – an authentic assurance of the status of your business’ wellbeing. Using an auditing firm to compile these financials and perform an independent review will cost you nowhere near what an audit would.

Consider the big picture

It is important for companies looking to take advantage of the alleviations in the Companies Act not to see it solely as a headache they no longer need to suffer or a bill they no longer need to pay. Accounting professionals should be cognisant of educating their clients on the importance calculating their annual score, and that should they try to side-step or delay the audit and/or review, the time and costs invested in catching up are likely to exceed the initial industry-related costs suggested here.

In truth, the benefits attached to being able to confront your numbers on an annual basis speak for themselves. You may be surprised by realities you hadn’t yet considered, but with enough information to preempt any serious or long-term damage. Rather be afforded the opportunity to iron out small creases than face a potentially damaging likelihood when it is too late. A detailed review or an audit by experienced practitioners will mitigate risk while highlighting problem or questionable areas.  Audited numbers could also lower your tax risk, as incorrect tax calculations could result in penalties much higher than your auditor’s bill

1: sections 26, 28 and 29 of the Companies Regulations, 2011 (GNR 351 of 26 April 2011) to the Companies Act 71 of 2008.

Nylde Hoffman joined FinFive as a director early 2011. FinFive is an established firm of chartered accountants, business consultants, auditors and tax specialists, with extensive experience in providing financial consulting and assurance services to listed multi-national companies as well as local SMEs.

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Accounting & Payroll

The Importance of Outsourcing Your Payroll

One of an organisation’s biggest overheads is that of salaries and wages. And yet, if these are not processed on time, it can negatively impact staff morale and create the impression that the company is not financially stable.

CRS HR And Payroll Solutions

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For a small business, payroll is normally the responsibility of an accountant or bookkeeper, but even administrators can sometimes be roped in to do the job, even though they have no expertise in the matter. This is where the value of outsourcing your payroll comes in.

When should you outsource?

  • If you want to grow your business but are not aware of ongoing legislative changes that could pose a risk to your company, then it is better to get professionals to assist.
  • Accountants and bookkeepers are not specialists and do not keep up with the compliance environment. If you outsource your payroll, you enable them to focus their core duties and not get bogged down by legislative complexities.

How to choose an outsourced service provider

Understandably, payroll is a sensitive subject dealing with highly confidential information.

This is often the last thing a small business owner wants to outsource. It is therefore vital that the company does its homework and researches the potential outsourcing partner thoroughly.

Instead of going with the first available service provider or the cheapest one, here are some questions to ask:

  • Is the service provider a one-man band and, if so, what backup resources are available?
  • Is the service provider a recognised payroll provider belonging to a professional body?
  • Do they have the necessary training and skills on payroll?
  • What does the service provider do to ensure it stays up to date with legislation?
  • How secure is the payroll data and can the service provider take on historic data?
  • How easy is it to recover your payroll data in the event of a disaster?
  • What value-adds can the service provider offer? These can include anything from leave management and third-party payments, to employee self-service, time and attendance management, and any other related human resource service.
  • Can they process salaries and/or wages hourly, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly?
  • Can the service provider accommodate your growth requirements if you open new branches?
  • Is the service provider able to assist with payrolls in other African countries, manage their currencies, and deal with their regulatory environments?
  • What processes are in place to ensure the timeous processing of payrolls?

The advantages of outsourcing your payroll

One of the most obvious benefits of going the outsourcing route is freeing up your resources to focus on your core strategic objectives. This ensures you provide quality of service and control costs while an experienced partner takes care of your payroll.

Here are a few other benefits:

  • Reduce operating costs.
  • Statutory compliance and consistent service delivery.
  • Access to the latest technology, as well as skilled and dedicated payroll resources.
  • Access to a secure, risk-free and confidential payroll environment.
  • Increased flexibility and responsiveness.
  • Streamlined internal processes and procedures.

This article was originally posted on Entrepreneur.com/sa.

Related: Thinking of Immigrating to America from SA? Now Is The Time

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Accounting & Payroll

Wilting Away – How To Boost Your Financial Management Team After The Big Financial Year-End

Is your finance team wilting after a gruelling financial year end? Here are some great ideas to help them bounce back.

Revel Africa

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Your finance team has put in long, back-breaking hours lately to ensure your business could close off the financial year. Aside from saying ‘thanks a lot’ here are some great ideas to breathe some fresh life into them, reconnect them with each other and with the business, and let them have some much-needed fun in the process.

Before we start, let’s clear up some misconceptions around team building events. When you think of team building, you probably think of awkwardly passing an orange squeezed between your chin and your neck at school, or awkwardly falling backwards into the arms of an embarrassed colleague at work.

This is why most people shy away at the thought of doing team building, because they fear embarrassment, or even worse, wasting their time. The source of the problem is that most HR departments and management view team building days as an activity-based agenda that will have a productivity-based ROI. Almost like a once-off fix – play games equals 12% increased productivity. However, they are mistaken.

According to the University of California: Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but trust and support one another, and respect one another’s individual differences.

So, we understand now that team building is:

  • A regularly recurring thing, not just a once-off activity
  • A combination of work, leisure, collaboration, problem solving and projects
  • Can be anything from a small picnic at work, to a weekend retreat.

When done well, team building is shown to make employees more co-operative, collaborative and, generally, more engaged in their work. According to Gallup’s findings on employee engagement in America, only 34.1% were engaged – which means a shockingly high percentage (nearly 70%) just couldn’t care less about their work.

us-employees-engagement

While team building has its flaws, it is still one of the best ways to drive employee engagement. With that in mind, here are some great ideas to improve your finance team’s engagement for the remainder of 2019.

1. Accounting game show

Use a popular game show format to share and quizz information in an engaging format.

1. Split the department into teams.
2. Use questions that the team can use in their everyday work. You can even throw in interesting facts about employees (with their permission of course), particularly positive stories about their finance careers or accomplishments.

2. Idea-sharing lunches

Dial it down a notch and take the team out to a restaurant of their choice, or – if you are choosing – to a place that serves good food, for a casual staff lunch.

Use this time as a general catch-up session as well as a platform for creative conversation. You can also use this time to have a SME (subject matter expert) share some insights into relevant topics that will empower the team, but this should not be the sole purpose of what is meant to be a relaxing lunch.

3. Shape it up

In this fun exercise team members need to arrange themselves to form shapes as they are called out.

  1. Divide the team into groups of 10 members.
  2. A game coordinator shouts out a shape (for example, a diamond) and the teams must form the shape quickly within a limited time frame (eg 5 seconds).

Begin with simple shapes get everyone comfortable, then start calling for more complex shapes like “an oval on top of a rectangle” or “square inside a triangle.” Communication and cooperation are vital here to successfully form the shapes.

Ofcourse, the team that forms the shape first wins. The larger the group the more challenging the game is.

4. Guess the word

This tried and trusted game is where team members must guess a word that is pinned on a hat that they are wearing and cannot see, while the other members of the team try to explain it to them without saying the word.

  1. Bring a hat or cap, slips of paper, tape, marker.
  2. Write several mystery words on slips of paper, each word big enough to be read from two meters away.
  3. Split the teams into two.
  4. Start with the first team. One member wears the cap with the word taped onto the front.
  5. The one wearing the cap must guess the word by asking a series of questions within a minute.

The ones who know the word can only answer yes, no or maybe.The one wearing the cap must be able to deduce the word within the allotted time.

The team that gets to answer a mystery word fastest wins. Mystery words can be related to the company’s business, staff or completely random items.

5. Game of possibilities

Laughter, bonding and problem solving are all part of the team building experience. This game is ideal for both.

But first, it’s the rules of this game that make it fun! They are:

  • The person may not speak while making his or her demonstration
  • The person must stand while demonstrating
  • The demonstration must be original

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give a paperclip to groups of 5 to 10 participants.
  2. A person from each group takes turns to demonstrate a novel way to use the paperclip that has nothing to do with its intended purpose.

As you can see, this game can be used with other office items as well, instead of a paperclip (e.g., pen, water bottle, telephone, etc). Hopefully, your team will think up new and unusual uses for everyday objects and translate this experience to creating new ways to solve problems, use resources or motivate a team.

6. Campfire stories

This classic activity inspires storytelling and improves team bonding. Storytelling is at the heart of the community experience, and can get a large group to loosen up and share their experiences, and know each other a little better. Here’s how:

  1. Gather teams of 6 – 20 participants into a circle.
  2. Use a set of trigger words to kickstart a storytelling session, words like “first day”, “work travel”, “partnership”, “side project”, etc. Add these to sticky notes.
  3. Divide a whiteboard into two sections and stick all the sticky notes from above on one side of the whiteboard.
  4. Invite a participant to choose one trigger word from the sticky notes and use it to share an experience. They then stick their sticky note on the other side of the whiteboard.
  5. As the participant is sharing his/her story, ask the others to note words that remind them of similar work-related stories. Add these words to sticky notes and paste them on the whiteboard.
  6. Repeat this process until you have a “wall of words” with interconnected stories.

Always have a clear ‘why’

Whether you take your team away for a retreat, or simply do an on-site breakaway, be sure to have a clear understanding as to why you are doing this, and what goals you want to achieve through these activities. Otherwise you might fall into the ‘doing activities simply for the sake of activities’ trap. Remember, it’s always about making your team feel more connected to each other, and to the business.

You could consider involving some team members in the planning process, and over time, you’ll find which strategies are the best fit with your team. Schedule team-building exercises on a regular basis to maintain a more content and productive team. These activities will become a part of your office culture, and can help to promote retention.

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Accounting & Payroll

How To Strategically Minimise Accounting Costs As A Start-up

“Financial Compliance can be a costly exercise when approached carelessly”.

Kenlin Stride

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As a practicing accountant one of the most common phrases uttered by clients is that “I will get to my accountant when I can afford one”. The reality is your accountant costs can be minimised when you applying some simple tricks to avoid being charged an arm and a leg.

I have compiled a few areas where you can streamline your business to minimise your businesses accounting fees. Please bear in mind these are guidelines and a consultation with your accountant will still serve you best.

1. The ‘Shoe Box’ strategy is dead and gone

The shoe box is a box filled with all your company and supplier invoices jumbled into one box. As an accountant when faced with the shoe box we smile because now we get to charge our hourly rate doing admin that could have been done by either you the business owner or one of your employees. Accountants make a large portion of their turnover from doing admin that could have been avoided if business owners had more foresight.

2. Separate personal from business transactions

Nothing is more time consuming for an accountant then having to comb through a business income and expenses only to realise through consultation with the client that personal items were accounted for as business income or expenditure.  As a rule of thumb remove all personal income and expenditure from your business in totality.

Related: Financial Management and Accounting Support for SMEs

3. Record keeping! Record keeping! Record keeping!

Simple record keeping can be your best friend in reducing costs. Here are a few guidelines to live by:

  • As pointed out in Number 3 have a separate bank account for business and another for personal
  • Date and Number your invoices, sounds simple but very few start-ups put emphasis on this administrative function.
  • Provide complete statements for the period requested by your accountant for your credit card and bank statements.
  • Keep supplier statements as this will aid your accountant especially during the financial year end of your business.
  • When submitting your debit/ card receipts and there is no accompanying invoice list on those receipts what was purchased.

4. Ask your accountant for a Retainer Agreement

A retainer agreement is a great way to ensure your monthly accounting costs do not fluctuate. With a traditional agreement your fees may spike when it is your company’s financial year end or when your taxes are due. With a retainer agreement your able to budget for a set figure payable monthly. This also translates to an attractive for your accountant who can now rely on a guaranteed cash flow injection monthly.

The bases for an accountants pricing will involve what their hourly rate is , the longer they spend on doing record keeping and deciphering what activities took place in your business the more you will be charged. Remember regardless of how close you are with your accountant or how simple you feel your business structure is your accountant will need as much information as possible to represent your business activities accurately on your financial records.

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