Our Managing Director Jane Braithwaite has written her top tips to help you prepare those all-important end-of-year accounts.
All businesses must prepare end-of-year accounts, but the exact requirements vary depending on the business’s legal structure.
Sole traders and partnerships will need to prepare year-end accounts, often referred to as Trading accounts, to assess how much tax must be paid, but it is also good business practice to review your accounts throughout the year to assess opportunities for financial improvements to be made.
A private limited company must prepare full (‘statutory’) annual accounts and a company tax return, sometimes known as a Corporation Tax Computation. These accounts must be submitted within the deadlines specified by Companies House and HMRC.
Here are our top tips for helping you to prepare your year-end accounts.
Sole Trader accounts
You are required, by law, to prepare your accounts and submit your tax return by 31st January each year.
Specifically, you must keep your income and expenditure records and maintain these records for five years from each 31st January tax submission date. HMRC could request your records, and they must be ready if required.
The records you must keep are as follows: –
Business Income – all your income for the services you provide as a sole trader
Personal income – income you receive from other sources, for example, investments, dividends, Share disposals , pension payments and draw downs and buy-to-let properties. This income must also be declared and will affect the amount of tax you pay.
Expenditure – All payments you made during the year to run your business including any gift aid donations made
Payroll – If you employ staff, you will need a record of wages paid through the HMRC’s PAYE scheme.
VAT – In private healthcare, you are unlikely to need to worry about VAT, but this is important for businesses in other industry sectors.
As a sole trader, there are three main forms of taxes as listed: –
Income tax on your net profit
Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions
VAT (if appropriate and if your turnover is more than the threshold for the tax year)
More about expenditure
Your expenditure has a significant impact on your profits which in turn affects the amount of tax you pay, and so it is very important to include all appropriate expenses. There is a very clear list of the allowable expenses on the HMRC website titled “Expenses if you are self-employed”.
You are permitted to claim a proportion of expenditure on items that relate to both personal and business, with the best example being your mobile phone costs. You can calculate the proportion of your usage which is business rather than personal and make a claim for the business-related amount.
If you work from home, you can also make a claim for associated expenses.
For any expenses that you claim, you must have receipts and you must maintain these for five years as proof for HMRC in case they request to see your accounts and evidence of expenditure.
There is no requirement for a sole trader to have a separate bank account for their business transactions, but it is wise to do so for practical reasons. It is much easier to track your income and expenditure if it is all managed via a separate bank account. Sorting out your business expenses from your personal expenses is very time consuming if they are all mixed into one bank account.
At some point, you might also use a finance system such as Xero for managing your bookkeeping. These systems allow you to set up an automatic bank feed so that all your transactions are uploaded into the system, reducing manual data entry. This works well if you have a separate account for your business.
If you are running a private limited company, at the end of each financial year, you must prepare full ‘statutory’ accounts and your Company Tax Return. Financial year-end reporting is a legal requirement to ensure your company pays the right amount of tax. But there is additional value as it shares vital information about your company with interested parties such as shareholders and banks. Producing your statutory accounts is also an invaluable way for you as a business owner to understand your day-to-day operational costs and all the other key aspects of your business’s finances.
Most businesses employ an accountant to prepare their yearend accounts and company tax return. However, it is still vital that the business owner and other key stakeholders have a very clear understanding of the accounts and the implications for the business.
Your financial year can run at any time in the year and for most businesses, this will be set by the date your first launched your business. The UK tax year runs from April and many businesses adhere to this for ease, but there is no requirement to do so. Your financial year is usually the same as your accounting period for corporation tax. This is the period on which you need to report, these dates can be changed at Companies House if required
Statutory Annual Accounts
The purpose of your statutory accounts is to clearly describe your company’s financial activity in the year for tax purposes and to provide accurate information about your company’s financial performance. Your Statutory Accounts are the documents you send to Companies House.
The accounts will provide a summary, describing overall outgoings and income rather than detailing individual transactions. There are different types of accounts that can be submitted depending on turnover and balance sheet value but an example of the data required is shown in the following sections and it is important to note that the Statement of financial position and the Footnotes will be available publicly at Companies House for all to view.
• Income Statement – Profit or loss
• Statement of financial position – The value of your company, determined by your assets and liabilities.
• Director’s report – A statement from the board of directors
• Footnotes – Points for clarification
Company Tax Return
Your Company Tax Return (form CT600) is the document you send to HMRC. It contains details of your turnover, expenses, tax allowances, and profit in the form of the company’s Statutory Accounts. HMRC uses this information to calculate how much you owe in corporation tax, although if you have engaged an accountant, they will have given you an estimate already.
Timescales and deadlines
You must produce your accounts and tax return to meet the filing deadlines set by Companies House and HMRC. Your first set of accounts must be produced within 21 months of registering your business with Companies House. You may need to submit an additional tax return in year one. After year one you must produce your accounts and pay your tax due within 9 months of your financial year-end.
Both HMRC and Companies House will charge you penalties if you are late submitting your accounts and tax returns and the penalties range from £ 150 to £ 15000 depending on how many months late you are. In the worst-case scenario, your company can be struck off so the deadlines must be taken seriously.
Other reporting responsibilities
There are other reporting responsibilities and whilst they are not technically part of year-end reporting, they can be done at the same time for convenience. These include your VAT returns (if the company is VAT-registered) and your Annual Confirmation Statement.
Most doctors working in private practice are not VAT registered, but VAT does apply to some companies working in the healthcare sector. If relevant, your VAT return will be due every quarter, this must be filed and paid by the 7th of the month following the end of the period ie: VAT quarter ends 31st January, submission and payment due 7th March
By law, each year you must confirm your company information with Companies House. You must file the statement within 14 days of its due date, which is a year after your incorporation date, and then each year from now on. You must do this even for a dormant company, and failure to do this may be deemed a criminal offence.
Our top tips
Whether you established your practice as a sole trader or limited company, the key to making your year end accounts a simple task is by maintaining good records during the year. If you are using a good Practice Management System (PMS) you will have good records of income, payments received and aged debt. Make it a habit to do a monthly review of these figures so that you can identify any anomalies at the earliest stage. Keep a very close eye on aged debt and take action if it starts to build up.
To ensure you have an accurate record of your expenditure you must take bookkeeping seriously. To help motivate you, expenses reduce your profits which in turn reduces your tax liability so don’t miss anything out. Make it a habit to record all expenditure at the time the expense is incurred and keep copies of invoices and receipts. If you fail to do this, you will spend hours wading through bank statements and credit card statements at year end trying to remember what each payment was for and you will undoubtedly miss some expenses. Either use an excel spreadsheet or invest in a professional system such as Xero. To avoid building up paper files, that need to be stored in your office, scan your invoices and receipts into a folder and back this up.
Set up a separate bank account for your business transactions on day one.
If you employ staff, then you must maintain accurate payroll records. Failing to do so can lead to mistakes in tax and national insurance so check these records regularly. If your staff claim expenses, ensure they provide you with receipts for you to store securely.
As your business grows, look at ways to automate your bookkeeping as much as possible. Using Xero and automated bank feeds you can eliminate manual uploads which saves time and reduces error.
It is worth investing in expert help, by engaging an accountant to produce your year-end account, particularly if your practice is a limited company, but of course, there is a cost involved. Providing your accountant with good records will definitely save you money as their work will be so much easier and faster. Dumping a box full of receipts and invoices on your accountants desk will definitely cost you dearly. The professional advice your accountant provides you regarding tax will be valuable and give you piece of mind that you are going to avoid any problems with HMRC. And of course, you can claim the cost as an expense in your accounts!
Within Designated Medical we have a team of bookkeepers and accountants who manage billing, bookkeeping and accountancy on behalf of our clients. If you need any advice, please contact Vicky Garbett who heads up our accountancy team.
Our Managing Director Jane Braithwaite has been tackling difficult questions arising from discussions in the digital issues of Independent Practitioner Today. This month she responds to a consultant’s ‘bombshell’.
‘I work in a group with two other partners who have both dropped the bombshell that they are aiming to retire next April. I want to keep my practice going for some years. How do I manage this situation?’
Hearing that the other partners in your group are about to retire with relatively little warning can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least.
You might think that your business is about to disappear or that your income is going to significantly decrease. But with a little planning and careful discussions with your partners, this does not have to be the case.
I can also tell you how to manage partners leaving your group through retirement, with ways to facilitate the transition, and how the group could continue to thrive after they have left.
Look to the start of the group
When the group was formed, hopefully contracts and agreements were drawn up. Buried deep in there should be the mechanism for a partner to voluntarily leave the group.
The contract should spell out how much notice the partner should give, what rights they have to any profit in the group at the time of leaving and any obligations of the group to the partner after they have left.
Of prime importance from a clinical standpoint is deciding who is going to look after the exiting partner’s patients and how to facilitate a clear and comprehensive handover.
Financial obligations can be difficult to disentangle, with the issue of ongoing profits derived from patients that the leaving partner acquired being particularly thorny. Hopefully, this should all be spelled out in the agreement signed on formation of the group.
Things become much trickier if there was no founding agreement, or the agreement does not cover the retirement of partners.
This situation can only be resolved by careful negotiation between the remaining partner and those who are leaving.
What should this plan involve?
It is very unlikely that you would be able to convince your partners not to retire, and you probably shouldn’t try. What is important is that you come to a plan that works for you, for them and for the group and its patients.
In the meetings that you need to call to sort this out, it is important that everyone is open and honest about what they want to get from the process, with their objectives and priorities clearly stated.
You may think that your partners want to ensure that they get the maximum value for their ‘share’ of the group, but they may be more interested in an orderly transition and the stability of the group than maximising their personal profit.
The outcome that you need to get from your meetings is a written agreement on how your partners will exit the group. This will protect both your interest and theirs and allow an orderly process for their retirement.
You do not need to shut the group down, but it is unlikely that it will be able to continue in exactly the same way with only one third of the partners left.
Having a plan in place will allow you to prepare for the transition and allow you to make changes to the form and function of the group as you see fit.
What options are there to change the practice?
Before leaping to a decision, it is worth thinking about what form you would like the group to have. Consider how the group was before the partners retired. Were you happy with the structure?
One option might be for you to take over the entire practice by yourself. The advantages of this are that you would have sole control over the direction of the practice and all the rewards of this hard work would be yours.
On the other hand, if the workload was previously shared between three colleagues, you may find that it is not manageable by yourself.
If you do decide to take over your partner’s shares of the group, you will need to decide how you ‘inherit’ their patients.
It is important from a clinical standpoint that the patients experience continuity of care as they transition from one clinician to another.
Your partners may want some form of compensation for passing their patients to you. This could take the form of a one-off payment or an on-going reward dependent on the revenue that the patient brings to the group.
The nature of this financial return should hopefully be spelled out in the contracts that you signed when the group was formed. If this is not covered in any agreement, then it will need to be negotiated as part of the exit process of your partners.
If you feel that the workload is not manageable alone and you wish to keep the current number of patients, then you will have to look for other partners to join the group.
While the complexities of recruitment to join a group practice are beyond the scope of this article, there are a few things that are important.
Rather than just co-opting the first consultant that you can find, consider what skills and knowledge would complement your own. Is there particular training or background that may help the group expand revenues and offer new services in the future?
Take time to make sure that all the legal work is completed correctly, with the help of an expert. Ensure that those who join sign a contract, so that everyone is aware of their new responsibilities to the group.
If you feel that some of the workload could be managed without the direct input of a consultant, you may be able to employ staff such as nurses to undertake clinical tasks on your behalf. This can help make sure that your limited time is used for activities that only you can perform.
If you do not currently employ clinical staff, careful advice is needed to ensure that you are providing a service that is safe and well-supervised, with on-going training and professional development.
If your partners announce they are going to retire, it is important not to panic. While it may feel like you are about to lose the business that you worked so hard for, this is not the case.
There are a number of ways that a group could continue, either in its current form or by altering its structure.
Change can be uncomfortable, but it is inevitable. This may give you the opportunity to push the group in new directions, with great personal and professional rewards.
How does any business owner decide how much money to invest in marketing? Should the marketing budget be based on a percentage of income? Or is it best to identify the projects for the year and the cost of each one to build up the overall budget? Originally published in Independent Practitioner Today, Jane Braithwaite gives her views.
If a business invests £1 in marketing and generates £5 of income there is an argument to spend as much as possible on marketing to generate the highest income. Most businesses need to be more mindful of cash flow and are not able to deliver exponential growth to justify that level of marketing spend.
When making any business decision it is wise to look at what other companies are doing to learn from their experience. The Gartner report titled ‘The state of the marketing budget 2021’ provides some insights into post-covid trends about marketing expenditure.
Gartner reports that marketing spending as a percentage of income is at the lowest point in history. In 2020, marketing spending as a percentage of income was reported to be an average of 11%. In 2021 this reduced drastically to 6.4%. Before 2020 the percentage had typically sat between 10% to 12%.
We can assume that in the coming years, as business confidence returns, we will see this percentage increase again to pre-covid levels.
In many small to medium businesses, decisions on marketing budgets are made on a project-by-project basis. This creates a short-term approach and stunts the creativity of the marketing manager or team.
I am totally against micromanagement, as I firmly believe individuals can contribute more when they are given responsibility and accountability and allocating the marketing budget in this way does not encourage either.
Setting a budget, ideally for the next 12-month period allows you to work with your marketing team to make sensible, long-term decisions.
If you are new to the concept of marketing your business, then setting a budget for the whole year may seem too large a step. In that case, start with a budget you feel comfortable with and invest wisely. Measure the success of your campaigns and invest more in those that are most successful.
Before allocating any of your budget, you must set out your objectives for your marketing activities. What do you want to achieve, when do you want to achieve it, and how will you measure success? Success can be so subjective in marketing, so it is critical in any plan to define your SMART objectives. So your business goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Work with your team
The subjective and individual nature of your objectives means that there is no boilerplate plan for marketing your business. This is why you must work with your team to set out how your marketing will help achieve your vision for the business.
Your marketing budget is not going to be infinite, so it must be carefully allocated to projects and campaigns that are likely to bring revenue to your business. There may be larger projects, for example, a new website or a large event, which will take up a large proportion of your overall budget.
Allocation of budget to these ‘big-ticket’ items needs to be done with care to avoid using all your resources up too early in your financial cycle.
One of the decisions you will need to make is how often to review your marketing results. The risk from checking too often is that you may feel the effects are taking too long.
On the other hand, if you only look at the outcome of your efforts once a year, you will be unable to make adjustments to projects that are underperforming or to double down on your successes.
One possible approach is to sit down with your marketing team and have a full review of your activities and results every quarter. This way you can start to see which of your activities are having the right effect, and which are having no effect at all. This will allow you to make alterations to your approach if required, or to cut projects when needed.
The essence of good marketing is measuring the outcome of your campaigns so that you can calculate your return on investment; in essence, how much ‘bang for your buck’ you are getting.
Tied to this is the concept of ‘lifetime value’ (LTV), which is the average revenue you will earn from a patient throughout the entire time they are with your practice.
This figure will vary hugely between clinicians. Those that usually see a patient to treat a one-off problem will derive a very different lifetime value than those who treat patients with lifelong conditions.
Your marketing team will help you review the data for your practice to work out the average LTV for your patients. If the amount you spend to acquire a patient is less than the LTV that the patient will bring, then you can begin to generate a profit.
Return on investment
If you spend £100 on marketing to attract two new patients to your practice and the lifetime value of each patient to your practice is £1,000, then your return on investment is excellent.
There would be a strong argument that you should invest £1,000 in the same form of marketing and generate 20 new patients. You could invest more, of course, and soon the limiting factors will be your time and how many patients you can see each week.
Marketing has the power to bring greater success to your business if done properly. With the help of your marketing team, you should set a sensible budget with specific goals, and a reasonable time span to take effect. Your success, or otherwise, should be measured against specific targets.
Marketing is an investment in the future success of your business and should be viewed as a worthwhile expenditure to achieve your goals.
If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in upcoming editions, please do feel free to get in touch
Talk to us about how we can help with your marketing. We have a team dedicated to marketing private medical practice and have a wealth of experience for you to tap into. Call us today 020 7952 1008 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to December’s edition of Stay Connected. With Christmas upon us, we would like to wish all our clients a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you all for your loyalty this year and we look forward to working with you in 2023.
In this month’s newsletter, we are looking at Accountancy and self-assessment, breaking down how to fill in your self-assessment tax return.
Following on from that, if your tax forms are something you would rather outsource, we are looking at our top tips for choosing a new accountant.
And finally, we are delving into the world of new patients and the best practice on how to attract new patients.
Attracting patients is a key concern for doctors starting out in private practice and for those with established practices who want to increase the frequency of their practice sessions.
How are you attracting patients?
Marketing is essential to the success of any business, including private medicine. While unfamiliar to many doctors, it does not have to be complex or time-consuming. So here are some effective strategies to help promote your business.
The most effective way to expand your practice is through word of mouth and via existing patients, friends and family. Are your patients familiar with the full range of services you offer? Are they aware you are actively aiming to expand your practice?
Contented patients will automatically act as ambassadors and refer you to their friends and colleagues. It is also a good strategy to maximise communication with your colleagues – including GPs and specialist consultants.
Traditional marketing methods
With current focus firmly on the innovative world of digital marketing, it is easy to overlook tried and tested methods of promoting your practice.
A brochure or simple flyer is a cost-effective marketing tool, which can be handed directly to patients and potential referees or simply displayed in your waiting room.
Articles in relevant publications will enhance your reputation.
Paper newsletters are another potent tool for marketing your practice; there are many available options once you start thinking creatively.
Check your online profile
Google your name and see what you find. Prospective patients will do this before they book their first appointment. It is vital to take control of your online presence.
Ideally, your website should be prioritised within any list of results. It is not necessary to pay for listings – there are numerous free directories featuring private doctors in London.
You should ensure your details are listed accurately and updated on each one of them. You may get mentioned on websites such as Mumsnet. While you cannot control this, you can engage with the process positively.
A website is an integral aspect of digital marketing and a powerful communication tool – allowing you to monitor, amend and update content as your practice develops. It is often the first port of call for potential patients and a vital component in promoting your unique expertise and services.
Fundamental technical components include:
24-hour email contact which is highly visible.
well-designed, user-friendly interface.
fully compatible with mobile device access.
Make it easy for potential patients visiting your site. Ensure your phone number and email are highly visible and facilitate this with a one-click appointment process.
Blogs are a vital tool in promoting your business and communicating positively with patients. Frequent blogging is a highly effective way of reassuring prospective and existing patients and letting them know what to expect when they book an appointment. By citing existing patients’ positive experiences, using real examples, you can ensure readers will have highly positive expectations.
Use social media to your advantage as part of your digital marketing strategy. It is a highly-effective way of driving patients to your website prior to booking an appointment.
By posting content related to your personality and practice, you can strategically attract more patients. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all relevant in this field.
LinkedIn is primarily used to network with colleagues and patients;
Facebook to interact with patients and to perfect and control your public profile.
Speaking at conferences
Good speakers are continually in demand both nationally and globally. This could be an excellent opportunity to impart your expertise and expand your network.
Speaking commitments require careful planning, both leading up and afterwards.
Focused research to establish the right event, location and correspondence procedures would be logical first steps.
Allow plenty of time for this process.
With careful planning, a successful event can yield productive results and, ultimately, bring you more patients. It does not have to be ambitious in scale; a well-planned social gathering can be very relevant – if you get the initial focus right.
Think about your guest list, whether a small-scale occasion or a focused educational event with the aim of referring doctors.
Allow plenty of time to choose the right venue and location, appropriate catering and, crucially, allow sufficient notice for your guests to plan their attendance.
To summarise: authenticity is always a good strategy – use the marketing tools you feel most comfortable with – but do not be afraid to branch out. Good luck.
Talk to us about how we can help attract new patients. We have a team dedicated to marketing private medical practice and have a wealth of experience for you to tap into. Call us today 020 7952 1008 or via send us an email at email@example.com.
Managing Director Jane Braithwaite regularly writes for the Independent Practitioner Today and her latest series entitled Private Practice Growth Guide is a must read for anyone looking to attract more patients and increase the frequency of practice sessions.
10 things to look for when choosing an accountant.
It is important to take your time when choosing an accountant. Now that so many people are working remotely, location isn’t so much of an issue – meaning you can look to hire the best talent to suit you and your practice, wherever they are located.
Designated has been able to recruit a team of dedicated accountants that will best suit our clients, here are some of the qualities that we looked for:
Accountants have a very busy role, with several deadlines throughout the month or quarter, they need to be aware of what is coming up when and who needs to be informed within the organisation. Any data or information must be collected in good time to avoid any last-minute scrambles.
Excellent Time Management
Going hand in hand with being highly organised, one of the top qualities needed by your accountant is excellent time management skills. With so many tasks that will quickly pile up if they are not seen to, your accountant must be able to assess how much time is needed to complete each task. For a senior accountant, there may also be elements of team management and meetings with the company’s leadership that can take up a lot of their valuable time.
Highly Experienced (within your sector)
Being able to offer a wide range of skills can only come with many years of experience. Your new accountant should be able to offer a selection of testimonials and references backing up their work. Your accountant’s knowledge and experience need to extend to your particular area of business. While ideally, a prospective accountant may have dealt with many different types of industries it is recommendable that they have worked with yours so that they can hit the ground running.
Attention to detail
Your accountant should be analytical, paying close attention to detail with the ability to spot errors quickly and efficiently. Your accountant should have the skills to be able to review and identify inconsistencies in large amounts of data or information. Attention to detail is necessary to ensure consistency and accuracy in financial reporting. This information can be used to help make crucial business decisions so it must be correct.
Honest and trustworthy
Your accountant needs to have a strong sense of ethics. Integrity is a valued characteristic within an accountant, they must know right from wrong and always display integrity in their accounting and bookkeeping work. You need to be able to trust your accountant, you also need to know that if something goes wrong and if they make an error, they will be confident and honest enough to discuss this with you so that the mistake can be rectified.
Your accountant may be analytical and structured but it is also important that they have a sense of flexibility in their work. Not everything is going to go to plan and they’re not going to always be able to gather the information that they need from a business owner or senior leader when they need it. Another reason why time management is important for this role. A high level of agility is also necessary for quick response to regulatory changes in the industry only then can they provide quality service to the business.
Up to date with the latest technology
If you’re searching for an accountant, you need to know and understand the latest technology that your prospective accountant can use. Designated is a Xero bronze partner and our finance team are all zero certified advisors trained by Xero to deliver you the best financial support. Xero is the perfect finance solution for most businesses providing a fully integrated suite of services, for example, Xero integrates with your bank account to enable easy reconciliations.
Up to date with ongoing training and certifications
If you’re searching for an accountant you must ensure they have maintained the proper certifications and are continuing their training and development within the industry. Thanks to the digital age, things are changing all the time, though it may not affect their workload right away, over time technology trends will continue to transform the accountancy industry.
Your accountant needs to possess excellent communication skills. They must be able to inform senior leadership of updates and changes in clear and easy to understand language. Accountants can impact critical business decision making, so they must be heard and understood. They may also need to collaborate with employees in different departments, with perhaps little financial experience, so explaining things in a way that will be understood. This leads us nicely onto our next point.
A good accountant can recognise their place within an organisation, make the most of networking and getting to know their colleagues. Accountants are team players and provide support to different departments in the organisation – that’s why they should be able to efficiently communicate the knowledge of their expertise to clients and decision-makers.
At Designated, we believe that a good accountant is needed throughout the year and not just at year-end to prepare your annual accounts and self-assessment. Your dedicated Designated accountant will do this and so much more.
Monthly management reports
Strategic financial support
If you would like to know more about working with Designated’s accountancy team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Michelle for a friendly chat: firstname.lastname@example.org