Ascendis is committed to the responsible handling and protection of personal data.
Personal data relates to any information about a person that makes you identifiable which may include (but is not limited to):
- Names and contact information i.e. emails and telephone numbers
- National Insurance Numbers
- Employment history
- Employee numbers
- Credit History
- Personal tax
- Payroll and accounting data
We collect, use, disclose, transfer, and store personal information when needed to provide our services and for our operational and business purposes as described in this policy.
For general data protection regulation purposes, the “data controller” means the person or organisation who decides the purposes for which and the way in which any personal data is processed.
The data controller is Ascendis
What information do we collect and how?
Ascendis, as a Data Controller, is bound by the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
We obtain, use and process the information provided to us by individuals to enable us to discharge the services (as defined in our Letter of Engagement and supporting Schedules) and for other related purposes including;
- Updating and enhancing client records
- Analysis for management purposes
- Carrying out credit checks in relation to you
- Statutory returns
- Legal and regulatory compliance
- Crime prevention.
How will we use the information and why?
At Ascendis we take privacy seriously and will only use personal information to provide the services which have been requested from us, as detailed in our Letter of Engagement and supporting schedules and as we have identified above. We will only use this information subject to data protection law and our duty of confidentiality.
We may receive personal data for the purposes of our money laundering checks, such as a copy of a passport. This data will only be processed for the purposes of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, or as otherwise permitted by law or with the individual’s consent.
Our work may require us to pass on information to our third-party service providers, agents, subcontractors and other associated organisations for the purposes of completing tasks and providing the services on our behalf. However, when we use third party service providers, we disclose only the personal information that is necessary to deliver the services and we have ensured that these providers comply with the general data protection regulation as detailed in this policy.
Sharing of Information
We partner with and are supported by service providers both within the UK and abroad. Personal information will be made available to these parties only when necessary to fulfill the services they provide to us, such as software support. Our third-party service providers are not permitted to share or use personal information we make available to them for any other purpose than to provide services to us.
As part of the services offered, your information may be transferred to countries outside the European Union (“EU”). For example, some of our third-party providers may be located outside of the EU. Where this is the case we take steps to ensure that the information we collect is processed according to this Privacy Statement and the requirements of applicable law wherever the data is located.
When we transfer personal information from the European Economic Area to other countries in which applicable laws do not offer the same level of data privacy protection as in your home country, we take measures to provide an appropriate level of data privacy protection. In other words, your rights and protections remain with your data.
We would like to send information about our services which may be of interest to those clients which have specifically opted in to receive such communications. If any individual decides to opt out of receiving marketing, they may opt out at any point by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by following the unsubscribe link found in the email communication you receive from us.
How long we keep personal information
We retain personal information for as long as we reasonably require it for legal or business purposes. In determining data retention periods, Ascendis takes into consideration local laws, contractual obligations, and the expectations and requirements of our customers. When we no longer need personal information, we securely delete or destroy it.
Subject access request policy
If you request access to your personal information, we will gladly comply, subject to any relevant legal requirements and exemptions, including identity verification procedures. Before providing data to you, we will ask for proof of identity and sufficient information about your interaction with us so that we can locate any relevant data. We will respond to any subject access requests within one month of receipt of the request.
Right to portability policy
This is an your right to receive the personal data which you have given to us, in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format and have the right to transmit that data to another controller without delay from the current controller if:
(a) The processing is based on consent or on a contract, and
(b) The processing is carried out by automated means.
Right to object policy
This is your right to lodge an objection to the processing of your personal data if you feel the “ground relating to your particular situation” apply. The only reasons we will be able to deny this request is if we can show compelling legitimate grounds for the processing, which override their interest, rights and freedoms, or the processing is for the establishment, exercise or defence of a legal claims.
In some jurisdictions, you have the right to correct or amend your personal information if it is inaccurate or requires updating. You may also have the right to request deletion of your personal information; however, this is not always possible due to legal requirements and other obligations and factors.
Right to be forgotten policy
Under the GDPR, you have a right to have personal data erased, known as the ‘right to be forgotten’. This could apply where processing is no longer necessary for the purpose; where the data subject withdraws consent; if the individual objects to processing undertaken for legitimate interests; or where there are legal requirements to do so. There are exemptions from this right. For example, the right to erasure does not apply if processing is necessary to comply with a legal obligation. We will respond to any data erasure request within one month of receipt of the request
Security breach policy
A personal data breach is a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.
Ascendis will report data breaches to the Information Commissioner’s Office within 72 hours of us becoming aware of it. Ascendis will also report the breach to any affected individuals where there is a high risk that they will suffer adverse effects.
Staying in the good books of the tax man can usually mean businesses, and some accountants, aren’t proactive in making savings within the realms of Corporation Tax.
Regulations and laws are tighter surrounding Corporation Tax but that doesn’t mean you can’t save a few pounds.
Here are our top tips that can show you how to save on your Corporation tax bill:
- Make sure you keep a record of everything paid for personally as this can offset your profits; and can also mean you are able to draw said money out of the company personally and it’ll be tax-free.
- Ensure you are claiming your capital allowances – a very important factor, read our previous blog post about capital allowances
- R&D – you could be reimbursed by HMRC if your company is seen to be innovative, and in-turn lowering your Corporation Tax bill. Unsure about if you can claim, see our previous blog post. Ascendis, accountants in Cheshire, are specialists in claiming R&D tax credits, you could be part of the 97& of eligible companies who aren’t claiming.
- Pension contributions – this is an allowable expense if you as a director makes contributions, you will also gain from a personal savings stand point.
- Make sure you are accruing for all costs necessary – if you have not yet paid for a cost but know it will only slightly fall outside of your businesses Y/E it should be included. But be aware, this will need to be reversed in next year’s accounts
There are many more ways to reduce your Corporation Tax bill. Get in contact for a free consultation, we cover a range of tax saving means.
Not making use of technology in business could quickly leave you behind.
All businesses struggle with cash-flow at one point or another. Look at the big giants of the nineties whom were so well established, nobody could ever have predicted they would go out of business.
Blockbuster, Kodak, Radio Shack…ring any bells?
With the constantly evolving technological landscape we live in, refusing innovation and change in your business may leave you struggling to make ends meet. Blockbuster failed to move into online distribution, doing so made way for Netflix, a company we all know and love and is now worth $61 billion.
Streamlining your processes by using technology could be beneficial to your business; it could save you time and money in the long-run. With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence and self-driving cars, who knows what could be possible in 10 years’ time.
Are you having a glitch in cash-flow? Or looking to improve systems? We can help with funding solutions to meet your needs.
We have access to a wide variety of funding options to suit you and your business. We understand the different circumstances of your business and are here to help. When running a business it can be hard to track how well your business is doing, with the likes of Carillion they weren’t being careful and over-reached themselves and in-turn proved unprofitable. Many opt for tracking profits but we suggest cash-flow is a more important and sustainable metric.
Xero is a great tool that we recommend to clients, it is very easy to use to assist in the accounts side of your business and you can use it for as little as £10 a month. It integrates with lots of different financial apps you may be using already and is very helpful for tracking cash-flow.
Whatever your need for funding, your helpful accountants in Wilmslow can assist.
Managing cash flow is difficult for businesses of any size, this is because the onus is usually put upon profit. But for small businesses, it can be even more pressing as many rely heavily on seasonal trends which should contribute to steady cash flow throughout the year. So if you’re a seasonal business, that’s why managing cash-flow is important.
Winter is a tough period for many companies due to the short trading periods, never mind the potential work interruptions because of the weather. A combination of factors can affect the productivity within the winter months, and as a result can have a significant impact on budgets and growth potential. But just because of the slow nature of work within the winter months, your company shouldn’t suffer.
It is important to you that your business is still functional and operating at all times, with the goal of long term success in mind. This therefore means a continued source of cash flow, even in times of slowdown. Here are 3 tips to help your business in the winter.
- Evaluate finance options
Even though your business could survive in the short-term, in the hopes that winter doesn’t last too long, it’s still best to look at the long-term bigger picture. To ensure you are prepared for business once the bad season ends, you should invest in your business. This is where alternative lending solutions could be invaluable, re-financing your assets could inject cash into your business.
- Look for alternative work
Another way to increase cash flow is to tailor your services to the demand and also suited to the environment. For example if you’re a landscaping business you could expand your business to include maintenance related issues. This would then see your business through the winter months.
- Lease instead of buying
Leasing equipment will ensure to keep your business running but will also reduce the immediate reduction in cash. This will then leave you plenty room with your cash flow and expenditure.
Making the most of the options available to you is crucial to overcoming a winter slowdown. We offer funding solutions that could get you through this tough winter period.
If you would like to discuss your funding options, please call us on 0845 054 8560.
Managing your pension savings effectively and efficiently from a single pot
If you have worked for two or three different employers, it is possible you could have a workplace pension from each of them. Combine this with any personal pensions you may have set up and your total number of pension pots can quickly add up.
Pension consolidation lets you simplify your pension arrangements and makes it easier to manage your pension savings effectively and efficiently from a single pot. There is a danger that long-forgotten plans could end up in expensive, poorly performing funds, and the paperwork alone can be enough to put you off becoming more proactive.
Easy to manage
Is transferring or consolidating everything into one easy-to-manage pension the way to go? There are advantages to consolidating your pensions, but there are also pitfalls. The best course of action will depend on the types of pension you have and your term until retirement.
Having lots of different pensions could mean paying lots of different charges. It also means you’ve got to think about where your funds are invested in each of your different pensions to make sure you are keeping an eye on performance. In addition, to make any changes to your ever-growing number of pensions, you will have to deal with each of the numerous pension providers.
The pros and cons
Pensions are important, so it is crucial that you take time to understand exactly what you’ve got and exactly what you would be sacrificing by transferring out of an existing pension.
Before you transfer any pension, you need to be sure that you are not giving up any protected benefits such as protected tax free cash or protected pension age. You should also consider any features the plan has, like guarantees or life assurance benefits.
Remember that what you receive depends on several factors, for example, how your investments perform and how they are taxed, and you may get back less than you originally invested.
If you are considering consolidating your pension plans, this is a very specialist area, and you should seek professional financial advice.
Getting it right could mean a higher income
Making the most of your pensions now will have a significant effect on your happiness in retirement. Getting it right could mean a higher income, or even retiring earlier.
In this blog we will explain the differences and uses of critical illness and income protection, and how they can be used to protect your financial position.
In 2014 in the UK, Critical Illness cover outsold Income Protection by 5 to 1. In numerical terms that’s around 1 million people Vs 200,000.*
What is income protection?
Income Protection is insurance which will provide a regular replacement income if you are unable to work due to injury or illness. The insurance is suitable for a variety of people, including business owners, directors and employees. With personal cover, the income is tax free.
What is Critical Illness?
Critical illness is a long-term insurance policy which covers a list of specific medical illnesses, the types of illnesses can differ with different providers. If you unfortunately get one of the listed illnesses, the policy will pay out a tax-free lump sum.
Why do I need protection?
Only a minority of employers support their staff for more than a year if they are off sick from work, this is mainly due to being unable to assist for a lengthy period of time. State benefits aren’t enough to keep you afloat for an extended period of time, therefore everyone as either an employer or employee should consider some form of cover.
Critical Illness V Income Protection
Most people within the advisory industry would say Income Protection is the insurance that provides the best comprehensive cover. There is however room for both on the market.
Below are the main deciding factors between the two:
Income protection, in the majority of cases, is more cost effective than critical illness. But it is always dependent on the individual. For example, a quote for a 35-year old covering £250,000 over 30 years would cost £90 a month through critical illness, whereas it would be around £30 a month through income protection.*
- Scope of cover
Theoretically, with some exceptions, income protection covers all medical conditions as it is based upon whether you can fulfil your regular and daily employment duties. The most common reasons for claiming with an income protection policy are stress and back problems, and these conditions are not normally covered under CI policies. Critical illness only covers what is specified in the policy. Therefore, invalidating your policy if you were to get a medical condition that isn’t listed. Also, a CI policy often ends when a claim is paid out whereas multiple claims can potentially be made under an income protection plan.
- Dividends and income
Income protection policies have previously struggled to cover dividends and were just able to cover salary. With many directors taking low salary but high dividends out of their companies, critical illness was a more suitable option. However, things have changed meaning income protection now covers both income and dividends, therefore the majority of people are eligible for both protection plans.
- Other benefits
Many income protection plans offer rehabilitation to help the policyholder back to work, this works well for the provider as well as reducing the amount paid out if the policyholder can get back to work.
Critical illness will help to alleviate immediate financial stress by paying out a lump sum to help pay off things like mortgages and potentially pay for treatment. However, how useful would a mortgage-free house be if you couldn’t afford to pay the bills?
Protection is always sold on an individual basis so if you have any queries please get in contact.
As a business owner you can choose how to extract funds from your company. Unfortunately almost all the funds you choose to remove from your business will create a tax charge, therefore it is more practical to keep a proportion of the money invested in your company.
There are different tax charges dependent on how your fund extraction is categorized. For example you could take a salary, dividend, interest, rent or a loan as a type of fund from your company. This blog will provide the advantages and disadvantages of taking either a salary or dividends from your company.
As long as the work you complete is a reasonable reflection of the projected salary, you can choose a salary as a form of fund extraction. Your company will have to set up a PAYE scheme and report the salaries that are paid, tax under PAYE will need to be paid on a monthly basis.
The below table shows the amount of tax and national insurance you would pay on an annual salary:
|Up to £5,876
|£5,876 – £8,164
|£8,165 – £11,500
|£11,501 – £45,000*
|£45,001* – £150,000**
|More than £150,000
*For Scottish resident taxpayers this threshold is £43,000.
**Earnings above £123,000 will result in a loss of personal allowance subjecting more of your income to tax.
The main advantages of choosing a salary is:
- You have a personal income
- Even if the company makes a loss you will still be paid a salary
- If you take a salary between £5,876 and £8,164 it attracts no NIC’s therefore no tax is paid. A salary of £8,164 also counts as a qualifying year towards state pension.
- The company gains corporation tax relief on the total salary at 19%
You can extract funds through a dividend, however the company has to make a profit to be able to distribute dividends. If you take all of your funds from the company as a dividend you will pay the following tax rates:
|Annual slice of income
|Up to £11,500
|£11,501 – £16,500
|£16,501 – £45,000
|£45,001 – £150,000*
|More than £150,000
*Earnings above £123,000 will result in a loss of personal allowance subjecting more of your income to tax.
The main advantages of choosing a dividend is:
- Lower tax rates than a salary, which can result in you paying less personal tax
- Higher tax-free threshold
To take a salary or a dividend…
Sarah is the director of an interior design company, she has paid herself a minimum salary of £8,164. This is to ensure she has maintained her state pension entitlement. Sarah has made a profit before tax of £50,000 this year and would like to extract that as either a dividend or salary. She wants to maximise her net income.
If Sarah were to take an additional salary or bonus she would pay £9,540 in tax and £4,562 in NICs, therefore will take home £37,998 including the £8,164. The company will also pay class 1 NICs of £6,063.
If Sarah extracts the available profits as a dividend, she will take home £45,336 as she will pay tax of £3,328 (Includes the salary). The company will also pay corporation tax of £9,500.
By taking dividends instead of a salary, Sarah will take home an additional £7,338.
As always if you have any questions get in touch on 0845 054 8560.
There are many advantages to developing a plan for what will happen to your assets after you pass away. The most essential being to ensure your assets will be inherited by the people you intend.
This blog post will guide you on the importance of estate planning including three of the most important elements:
A will is a legal document that determines how your estate will be distributed after you die. It is important to have a will to ensure that the correct persons you wish inherit your assets, helping to provide financial security for your family and descendants. Having a will in place can also prevent disputes between family members as it makes wishes very clear. Careful estate planning when writing a will can help with minimising inheritance tax.
Not only should you consider who you want to inherit your estate, but when they will be able to access the assets. You may wish to add limitations such as age restrictions.
If you fail to write a will your estate will be subject to intestacy rules which don’t take into account your personal wishes and are distributed according to a fixed set of rules.
Making a will is certainly an important component of estate planning but it will be of limited use if there is nobody responsible to ensure your wishes are carried out. This will be the job of an executor. An executor is the person responsible for dealing with your estate and ensuring all the beneficiaries receive what is intended for them. Anyone over the age of 18 can be your executor, even if you have included them as a beneficiary. You are able to appoint up to four executors, so you could choose a professional and a family member to ensure all aspects of your will are dealt with appropriately.
The most important aspect of deciding on an executor is ensuring it is someone you can trust to deal with family members and handle the legal and tax matters.
Keeping as much of the estate out of the taxman’s pocket as possible should be in the forefront of everyone’s minds while estate planning. If your estate is worth more than the nil-rate band of £325,000, a 40% IHT charge will be payable on any amount exceeding the threshold, rather than the total value of the estate. April 2017 introduced an additional nil-rate band, currently set at £100,000 which is available when the estate is passed onto a direct decedent.
If your estate valuation exceeds the nil-rate band of £325,000, then it is important when estate planning to reduce the value to below £325,000. This can be done through gifting and placing assets into trust.
Refer to our previous blog post here for more information on inheritance tax.
If you want to take advantage of an appointment with a legal advisor to review your will please get in touch. The appointment is free of charge and costs only apply if work is instructed.
One of the main reasons start-ups fail is because of cash flow issues. The focus is wrongly put upon making profit rather than managing cash-flow. If your company doesn’t have a steady stream of income you’re unlikely to be around within a years’ time.
A successful business needs to ensure there is a balance between money in and money out, with more focus upon the former. Having good cash-flow management will open your business for opportunities you may have thought not feasible.
Why cash-flow management is important
Individual businesses have different cash-flow needs. Achieving and managing the kind of cash-flow that is suited to your business is crucial to its long-term survival and its ability to evolve and grow. Creating and maintaining a system which allows you to see exactly what is coming in and out of your business will give you a clearer picture on how you can develop and expand.
Xero is a very useful cloud accounting tool which enables you to view your cash-flow at the click of a button. It is effective in that it allows you to see your financial position in real-time so you can make well-informed business decisions immediately. Click here to read our blog post about the benefits of using Xero and how to get set-up.
Follow these useful steps for better management of money-in and money-out:
- Set cash-flow targets
The best way to manage your cash-flow is to forecast for the future, either 6 or 12 months in the future. This will help you identify any weak spots in your business’ finances which will assist in preparation for the future.
- Use technology to manage your cash-flow
Cash-flow forecasting may sound difficult but if you adopt a cash-flow management system such as Xero, it will perform all forecasting for you, in real-time. Using a system is one of the biggest time-savers in business and can help you keep better track of your business in less amount of time.
- Agreeing payment terms
“You are nothing without your customer”. That is why setting payment terms in writing, in advance is important to ensure a good working relationship. If you begin without clear payment terms, you will be unclear about when you will be getting paid. Also, by having a range of payment methods will encourage speed of payments, as you’ll be helping make it easier for your customers.
- Invoice correctly
An effective invoice contains all of the relevant information that a customer needs to know in a concise and easy to read format. There should be no surprises for a customer when an invoice is issued. Invoicing should be issued in a timely manner once the work is completed. Xero can handle all of your invoicing for you, it will even send out automatic invoice reminders to save you time and help you get paid on time.
- Cut costs
The most obvious, and potentially the easiest method of cash-flow management, is to cut costs. You could think about using contractors instead of employing staff, or move your IT systems to the cloud. However, when cutting costs, ensure you aren’t harming your business relationships.
If you are running into cash-flow issues and you aren’t sure why, Xero can assist in answering your questions. All your bills, invoices and day-to-day transactions can be viewed in real-time which will show you a rolling forecast and give you an accurate picture of where your business stands. This will provide a detailed starting point to make improvements to your cash-flow.
As always if you have any questions regarding your cash-flow or Xero get in touch on 0845 054 8560.
When you decided on becoming a business owner, whether the reason being you had an innovative business idea or just prefer being your own boss, did you ever think you would spend so much time doing administration? How many hours have you clocked chasing clients for late payment of invoices? You are well aware that late payments from clients is a hot topic of conversation between business owners, as it’s one of the most frustrating yet proverbial aspects.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Things are moving forward, digital technology is making accounting processing easier and faster. Cloud accounting is the future, imagine such a thing as automated invoice reminders!
With the introduction of Making Tax Digital coming April 2018, businesses that adopt digital accounting early will have all the processes in place and be well versed before the introduction. Other benefits include:
- Ease of access, you can enter your records from anywhere so you can spend more time with new customers rather than chasing old ones for payments.
- You have a clear overview of your current financial position, in real-time. Allowing quick and easy management of cash flow and budget planning.
- Automatic updates mean you can spend more time doing what you love, as well as automatic backups so no loss of information.
- You save a lot of time, by having access to all your business’s tax information in one single place.
- Upfront business costs are reduced – version upgrades, maintenance, system administration costs and server failures are no longer issues. Instead, they are managed by the cloud service provider.
The cloud accounting platform we use is Xero, as we believe this to be the best on the market for our clients. There are different packages available to suit a variety of businesses and their needs:
- Starter £10 pm
- Standard £25 pm
- Premium £30 pm
Xero will allow us to share the same set of accounts and access financial data at the same time, enabling us to build a closer relationship with you and your business.
Take action now within the current 2017/2018 tax year, in order to get operational and familiar with working digitally, so when Making Tax Digital is introduced you are well accustomed to this way of operating.
Click here to try a 30-day free trial.
As agents we also have access to other platforms, and as always if you have any questions regarding moving to digital please contact on 0845 054 8560.