The big benefits of banding together

The big benefits of banding together

Consultants’ groups may be an increasingly attractive option for those in private practice in the current financial climate. Our Managing Director Jane Braithwaite has written an article for Independent Practitioner Today which tackles a question on the lips of many.

I have been happy as a solo independent practitioner, but with pressure on costs and other factors, I am thinking of setting up a group. What advice would you give me?

A lot of doctors in private practice choose to form groups with like-minded colleagues. Some decide to go down this path soon after starting independent work, while others transition into it with a large amount of private practice experience. 

There are myriad reasons to form a group, ranging from personal to financial. Let’s look at why you might want to form a private practice group and examine some of the important issues you might want to consider.

There are a number of benefits to group formation, which I explain more fully below:

Income benefits

As a solo practitioner, you only have so many hours in a day. You might find that the number of tasks you have to complete seems overwhelming.

Not only do you have to undertake all the clinical tasks that caring for your patients involves, but you are responsible for all the necessary, but not always exciting, activities that a thriving business throws up.

When working by yourself, your income is directly related to the number of patients that you can see and treat. If you want to increase your income, generally speaking, you have to work more. 

The number of hours can add up quickly, risking burnout and making it difficult to provide the same high-quality care to each patient.

Additional complications include the expense or lost income related to taking holidays and how to find clinical cover in the event of your absence.

Working as part of a group can negate some of these problems. Clinical work can be evenly distributed and, overall, you can see more patients. You might even be able to take a holiday or two.

Personal and professional benefits

Being a solo practitioner has the potential to be a lonely experience. 

Those working in the NHS may be used to large departments with many peers and juniors. Getting a second opinion before making a decision, asking for help or even just socialising with colleagues can be rewarding.

For some, working alone may be isolating. Forming a group has the potential to negate some of these problems and maybe a positive experience.

Having peers who are working towards the same collaborative goal as you can provide a support system. 

This can be valuable when things are going well, but essential when there are difficulties. Having a sense of community can be really important when dealing with the trials and tribulations of modern clinical practice.

A group can allow collaboration when working on specific projects that will benefit your clinical service. Together you might be able to provide investigations or treatments that would not be viable, either practically or financially as a solo practitioner.

The colleagues that you bring together to form your group may well have different, but complementary, skill sets. This ability to offer a wider range of treatments will ensure that the pool of patients that you can manage is greatly expanded and that a greater part of each patient’s treatment journey can be spent with the group.

Financial benefits

It is no secret that the costs of practice are increasing. The bills for rooms and premises, secretarial support, indemnity cover, marketing and accountancy are all steadily going up. 

The fees paid by medical insurers, like Bupa, are not increasing in step with the rising costs of medical practice. 

The self-pay market is becoming more prominent, but patients without insurance are likely to be much more price-sensitive than those using other payment methods.

A group can help offset some of these cost increases by allowing much greater efficiency in the business side of your practice. This can include money invested in advertising your practice, accountancy and book-keeping and medical secretarial costs.

Some insurers may have a preference for dealing with groups rather than solo practitioners, and you might find this reflected in increased patient referrals or ease of dealing with re-imbursement.

The realities of setting up a group

Setting up a group is a significant commitment. As the one who is initiating this, you may find that, naturally, you will act as the leader and manager of your peers.

Running a group requires a different set of skills than managing a solo practice and there can be a steep learning curve.

Before starting, you will need to be prepared for the extra time required to run the group practice, both due to increased administration and also from managing the other people involved in your endeavour.

When starting this new business, it is easy to get carried away with thoughts of all the possibilities, from more patients to better treatments and perhaps even greater profits. 

It is easy to focus on the excitement and not to have the difficult but essential conversations and agreements that have to happen right at the beginning.

Everyone needs to be clear about what expectations they have going into this enterprise, both of themselves and of each other. Will everyone commit the same amount of time to the group? How will profits be distributed? Does everyone have an equal say in the running of the group?

All of these questions need to be addressed and agreed upon before the group can start work.

One item that is often not discussed is what will happen if the group is not the success that you hope. The reasons for this could vary from the costs being too high, not bringing in enough patients or disagreements among members of the group. 

Dissolving the group

If you have to make the difficult decision to dissolve the group, how will the financial obligations be dealt with and how will any remaining profit be distributed? 

It is important to consider how each member of the group would transition back to independent practice if they wish to leave the group or if the group was to come to an end.

You may find that embedding routine or regular reviews, where you each openly discuss issues within the group and follow up on past decisions, makes sure that everyone feels involved in the management of the business. 

These meetings have to allow all partners to freely bring up problems, as having issues fester can cause significant problems down the road.

Your patients come to you for specialist advice and you should do the same when forming your group. 

Accountants and legal professionals will be able to steer you in the right direction, be it the requisite contracts with your colleagues, whether your business should be a limited company or a partnership, or how to ensure you are paying the correct taxes.

Forming a new group should be exciting, both professionally and personally. Careful planning at the outset, backed up with expert professional advice, will hopefully lead to your future success.

If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in upcoming editions, please do feel free to get in touch. 

Jane has written a follow up article looking at how a consultant group may have developed over time. Read more here.

 

If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in upcoming editions, please do feel free to get in touch. 

Info@designatedmedical.com or call 020 7952 1008

Accountancy vs Bookkeeping

Accountancy vs Bookkeeping

For somebody who doesn’t work in finance, it can be difficult to distinguish the difference between accounting and bookkeeping, as there are some administrative areas that can overlap depending on the structure of a business and how many employees it has working in its finance department.

However, while bookkeepers and accountants share common goals, they do support your business in different stages of the financial cycle.

Bookkeeping is more administrative, recording financial transactions. Accounting is more subjective, giving you insights into your business’s financial health based on the information provided by bookkeepers.

If you’ve ever wanted a clear definition between accountancy and bookkeeping, keep reading.

What is a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeeping is a legal requirement for all businesses of any size to carry out, and it refers to the recording of the financial transactions of a business, whether a sole trader, a partnership, or a limited company.

A bookkeeper will record all transactions either manually or within an ERP system like XERO and keep copies of all invoices, receipts and evidence of these incomings and outgoings.

The role of a bookkeeper will include:

  • Recording financial transactions
  • Posting debits and credits
  • Producing invoices
  • Preparation of financial statements (balance sheet, cash flow statement, and income statement)
  • Maintaining and balancing subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts
  • Completing payroll

What is an Accountant?

An accountant has expert knowledge surrounding taxes and accountancy. A business needs to consider more than just the in’s and out’s calculated by a bookkeeper, the right accountant will guide and act as financial business partner, ensuring all allowable expenses are claimed and all decisions are tax efficient to not only the business but the owners, directors, and partners.

The role of an Accountant will include:

  • Preparing adjusting entries (recording expenses that have occurred but aren’t yet recorded in the bookkeeping process)
  • Reviewing company financial statements
  • Analysing costs of operations
  • Completing income tax returns
  • Aiding the business owner in understanding the impact of financial decisions

Designated Accountancy Services

All business owners want to have complete control of their business finances and have an up-to-date view of their financial performance. Our team of Designated accountants are experts who work with you on a flexible basis, whether you need support one day a month, one day each week or more.

Designated is a Xero Bronze Partner and our finance team are Xero certified advisors, trained by Xero to deliver you the best financial support.

Do you wish you had answers to questions like these?

  • How much tax will I need to pay next year?
  • How much profit did we make last month?
  • What do you mean by Tax Digital?
  • Am I managing payroll in the most effective way?

If so, then our Accountancy services may be your solution, please get in touch:

Vicky Garbett, Head Of Accountancy vicky@designatedgroup.com 020 7952 1460 

2022’s mini budget update & what it means for you

2022’s mini budget update & what it means for you

Here at Designated, we aim to help our clients succeed and to support this we are committed to sharing our expertise and experience. This week our team of accountants are available to help you make sense of last week’s budget and how it may affect you and your practice.

If you’d like to have a more in-depth discussion with our finance team, get in touch with Vicky at: Vicky.garbett@designatedgroup.com 

Here is a quick budget overview from Vicky: 

The mini budget has come as a surprise to some, and a real shock to others. Reading all the newspaper coverage can cloud the raw details of the Government’s announcement, so here they are, with no fluff and straight to the point!

 

  • AIA will remain at £1,000,000
  • IR35 rules will be reformed, and tax codes will be reviewed
  • Income tax rate of 45% to be abolished next year, and income tax (lower threshold) to be 19p in the £1 from April 2023.
  • End of the 45p tax rate, paid by those earning more than £150,000, from April 2023.
  • 1p cut to the basic rate of income tax brought forward by a year to April 2023
  • No stamp duty to be paid on property purchases up to £250,000 and up to £425,000 for first-time buyers
  • Scrapping of the bankers’ bonus cap in a bid to boost the city
  • Reintroduction of VAT-free shopping for overseas tourists
  • Businesses based in 38 new ‘investment zones’ will have taxes slashed and will benefit from the scrapping of planning rules
  • Alcohol duty frozen from next year (estimated to be worth 7p on a pint of beer and 38p on a bottle of wine)
  • National Insurance contributions increase of 1.2% to be cancelled from 6th November 22
  • Cancellation of next year’s planned rise in Corporation Tax, will now remain at 19%

Designated are always here to support you, across all our services. Get in touch with the team to start your conversation. 

Phone: 020 7952 1008 Email: info@designatedgroup.com

Managing small business cash flow and income in 2022

Managing small business cash flow and income in 2022

Content from this article was originally posted by XERO.

While there are many advantages of being your own boss and running your own small business it isn’t always easy and it can come with hurdles you didn’t even know existed. Then throw in 12 months of restrictions, lockdowns and uncertainty. The scale of the impact felt by the self-employed is abundantly clear in research by simply business. They found Covid-19 will cost SMEs an estimated £126.6 billion – double what owners predicted it would cost them. With six million SMEs in the UK – accounting for over 99% of all businesses, 33% of employment and 21% of all turnover – this £126.6 billion hole in the books of small businesses is a huge blow to the economy.

It’s been a lean time for small businesses, and especially the families supporting them.

Xero’s small business trends report shows that 60% of small business owners are worried about their household finances running low. So while 2022 will hopefully be a year of rebounding sales and revenue, owners really need that to carry through to the business’s bottom line.

What the experts say

“Businesses must analyse margins and focus on the products and services that generate actual profits as they try to restore cash to the business,” says Ya Wen How, an accountant at AccountServe, who participated in the report.

While there will be a temptation to withdraw any spare cash from the business as ‘owner’s drawings’, experts say it’s important to be mindful of upcoming and potentially unknown expenses.

“Owners often overlook upcoming business expenses when taking drawings, which creates cash flow issues later,” says David Stephens, an accountant at Stephens Financial Services. These cash flow issues create further disruption to the household budget because money has to be put back into the business.

“Rather than clearing out the business bank account, owners are better off paying themselves a modest amount at regular intervals,” Stephens advises.

Takeaways for small businesses

There are a few things small businesses can do to help support their recovery according to Xero’s small business trends report:

  • Analyse your business margins and focus on products that generate the most profit
  • Create a ‘rainy day fund’ within the business so you’re not constantly loaning it money from your personal savings
  • Schedule regular, sustainable drawings to ease home budgeting
  • Keep your regular drawings modest, as you can always give yourself a bonus payment at the end of a good year

Check out other trends for 2022

Read Xero’s small business trends report learning more about how to manage your cash and income to set your business up for success in 2022.

Post-pandemic Accountancy support and HMRC changes for 2022

Post-pandemic Accountancy support and HMRC changes for 2022

Over the past few years, it has been difficult to keep up with the ever-changing landscape that is, business finance. There have been several schemes announced by the UK Government to support both businesses and their employees but staying on top of all the changes and keeping everybody informed hasn’t always been easy. There have been several changes that come into effect this year, from the end of the Coronavirus working from home tax concessions to the commencement of tax digital and an increase in HMRC’s late payments interest rates. Not to mention 2021 IR35 announcements. We have discussed some of these changes before but we thought as we are hitting a busy time of the year for accounting, it might be useful to share information and resources about these upcoming changes.

Coronavirus working from home tax concession to stop in April 2022
If you or your teams have spent some time working from home since the start of the pandemic, you probably already know about the Coronavirus working from home tax concessions. From April 6 2020 employees have been able to claim some tax relief if they have needed to work from home because of the pandemic. The tax relief is worth between £62 and £125 pa. This is based on 20% of £312 pa or 40% of £312, depending on whether the employee was a basic rate or higher rate taxpayer in the tax year. The allowance can be claimed in both tax years 2020-21 and 2021/22 if an employee was required to work from home at some point during each of the two tax years. By concession, whilst the amount is defined as £6 per week, it allows the full £312 pa to be claimed for the full tax even if the employee only spent a single day working from home. If an employee chooses voluntarily to work from home then they are not entitled to the concession allowance.

As the UK government are no longer recommending businesses to ask their staff to work from home, the scheme will be ending on 6 April 2022. After 5 April 2022, if an employee wishes to claim tax relief for employment-related expenses they will need to comply with the well-established strict traditional tax rules, and only if they have to work from home. Furthermore, claims can only be made for the actual time they have to work from home and the concession that even working from home for one day permits a whole year’s claim will stop.

HMRC says that to be able to claim tax relief, if applicable, an employee can only consider costs like gas and electricity, metered water business phone calls, including dial-up internet access etc.
HMRC say that you cannot claim for the whole bill, just the part that relates to your work i.e. the extra costs incurred by working from home and that you’ll need evidence, such as receipts, bills or contracts, to be able to claim tax relief.

Making Tax Digital for VAT affected companies
From 1st April 2022, all VAT-registered businesses will have to submit their financial accounts information via software that is compliant with the UK governments Making Tax Digital scheme. Since 2019 only businesses which exceeded the VAT threshold of £85,000 have needed to submit their tax details in this way. From next year, however, an additional 7,000 registered VAT businesses will be eligible.

To comply with the new HMRC Making Tax Digital rules, these businesses must have a cloud computer software package – one which is compliant with the government’s Application Programming Interface (API) system. It will no longer be possible for VAT-eligible businesses to submit via the HMRC website.

You are probably wondering whether the government is recommending a particular piece of software, they are not. But businesses that don’t have an accountant will be required to find their own third-party provider to provide the appropriate software and meet the new regulations. The majority of current desktop accounting software won’t be compatible with the government’s system and will likely need to be updated. The same applies to older accounting software packages. Cloud-based software packages should automatically update for HMRC’s Making Tax Digital system. At Designated Medical we are already helping our clients transition to Tax Digital. If you would like accountancy and compliance support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team at Designated Medical.

The changes to IR35 and how it could affect you or your employees
Not necessarily a change for 2022, however, it is something we are still being asked about and something people are still getting their heads around. IR35 is tax legislation that ensures that contractors who are knowingly or not working as ‘disguised employees’ pay the correct tax.
You may have applied for contract jobs in the past where the company said they wanted to pay you under an ‘umbrella company,’ i.e., an agency. This is because it is more tax-efficient for them to do so. You become what is termed a ‘disguised employee’, and the company doesn’t have to pay your National Insurance contributions, nor do they have to offer sick pay or holiday leave. That’s because the agency pays it.

Equally, when you’re a contractor working as a limited company, you can pay corporation tax at 20 per cent on your profits, claim business costs against your tax bill and avoid making National Insurance Contributions (NIC) by paying yourself through dividends.

Gordon Brown introduced IR35 back in 2000 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. That’s because when working as it should, HMRC IR35 tax can protect both the contractor and company. Crucially for the government, it also means HMRC won’t lose out on tax. This year though, changes to the rule have come into place.

When you are determining whether or not IR35 applies to you, you will either be found to be ‘inside IR35’ or ‘outside IR35’. These phrases are crucial to defining and understanding your status, and considering whether or not the legislation will impact your future contractual work.

At Designated Medical, our objective is to allow you to focus on growing your business whilst we provide the business support services you need. We offer a full range of services including Medical PA, marketing, accountancy HR and Recruitment.

We provide you with the expert financial support you need for your business, flexibly and cost-effectively, so that you can ensure you deliver the greatest client experience. Our team of Designated Medical Accountants are fully qualified and licenced and will take responsibility for the professional management of your finances. They will be supported daily by our team of qualified bookkeepers who will handle the day-to-day transactions.

If you would like to know more about our Accountancy services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly finance team who will be more than happy to answer any enquiries you may have.

Send us an email at info@designatedmedical.com or call us on +44 (0) 207 952 1008.

 

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