Monthly Archives: May 2016

Pensions Regulator Toughens Up Over Warning Notices

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The Pensions Regulator has issued a warning to small companies that fail to adhere to the 28-day warning notices to enrol their staff in pension schemes.

The regulator warns that firms could be hit with a fine that will escalate on a daily basis until they comply. 95% of small firms who are required to auto-enrol their employees have now done so, but fines for non-compliance are on the rise.

The Escalating Penalty Notice (EPN) is one of the statutory powers the Pensions Regulator has to help maximise compliance with automatic enrolment duties. It specifies the date by which the employer must comply with certain actions or be subject to a fine. The fine levied for non-compliance is £50 per day for firms with between one and four employees, and £500 a day for those with between five and 49 employees. 96 EPNs have been issued by the Pensions Regulator in the current quarter, bringing the total issued to 127. Swindon Town Football Club hit the headlines as one of the employers fined for non-compliance.

Below is a breakdown of daily fines based on the size of your business:

Number of employees Prescribed daily rate (£)
1-4 50
5-49 500
50-249 2,500
250-499 5,000
500 or more 10,000

The purpose of automatic enrolment is to ensure that all employees are building up a pension scheme to supplement their state pension as increased life expectancy and tougher austerity measures mean that the state pension alone will not be enough to fund retirement for current generations of employees. For more information or advice on how to ensure your business complies and on achieving the best outcome for your business and your employees, please get in touch with Antony Keen by emailing antony.keen@pmm.co.uk or calling 01254 679131.

PM+M Wealth Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

UK Firms Face Digital Skills Gap

shutterstock_399952573The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned that there is a divide in the UK economy, with many firms lagging far behind when it comes to digitisation.

Despite the fact that Britain is the world leader in e-commerce and sits in fifth place for availability of technology, it ranks a disappointing 14th for companies adopting digital technology. The CBI and global consulting firm IBM clarify that research indicates that only 55% of companies were adopting cutting edge tech, whilst 45% lag behind. Furthermore, research from Barclays has found that companies are investing an average of £109 per year on digital skills training for each employee, yet 43% of employers still have trouble implementing initiatives to upskill their employees.

The research also highlighted produced some interesting findings which uncovered that there is a perceived advantage of youth when it comes to digital skills. Following this, 45% of employers added that older employees were slower to pick up new tech skills and 59% of those employees claimed that they were concerned about being replaced by younger, more digitally advanced employees.

Also, 27% of bosses added that data security was an issue and was found to be a highly regarded skill in employees. Security of data is becoming a major business risk issue and it is vital that business owners are aware of the risks and what can be done to manage them.

Despite the research, only 19% of businesses surveyed intend to increase their investment in new technology and training over the next five years. In response to this, the CBI has urged firms to appoint a chief digital or technology officer to the senior executive team to promote enhanced awareness, investment and training.

For more information on what procedures can be put in place to digitally protect your business date, please get in touch with our Technologies team on 01254 679131 or email Colin Emmett (colin.emmett@pmm.co.uk).

Two Wheels Of Business

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Life is short. We know this but often take it for granted – I’m being reminded that it can be shorter than we expect thanks to my father’s ill health at the moment and fundamentally this is one of the reasons that we should enjoy what we do and be passionate about it. I’m passionate about helping new and existing clients and contacts – I’m also passionate about cycling. Thankfully, since joining PM+M Wealth Management earlier in the year I’m finding that the corporate environment enables me to do both, or at the very least it did this last weekend.

For the uninitiated Colnago is an Italian bike brand, and one which carries the same qualities of prestige, pedigree, heritage, quality and premium as the Ferrari car brand. In actual fact the connection is a strong one as Colnago’s latest bike has been designed in collaboration with the carbon composite engineers within Ferrari to create one of the lightest and most aerodynamic bikes that you can buy today. With the recent growth in cycling popularity and the suggestion that cycling has become the new golf, there is a feel that board-rooms throughout the land have a Colnago (or its equivalent) propped against the desk.

With this in mind PM+M Wealth Management were quick to agree their support of this weekend’s Colnago weekend, organised by Richard Paige of The Green Jersey bike shop in Clitheroe. The event allowed guests to test-ride the latest Colnago range of bikes at the Steven Burke Sports Hub in Pendle on Saturday – this included the Campagnolo Super Record equipped Colnago C60 (a bike that would retail at close to £8,000) amongst others. Thereafter guests rode back to Clitheroe to partake in Italian themed culinary delights from the shop’s café kitchen and to take in the end of the day’s Tour of Italy (Giro D’Italia if you wish) stage on their big screen. Sunday saw the inaugural ride of the UK Colnago Owners’ Club, with a fantastic forty miles of Ribble Valley riding enjoyed by all.

The event brought together like-minded souls, happy in each other’s company and with shared stories of cycling exploits, their interest in Colnago, and the varied justifications used to self and significant others on why a purchase was needed (cyclists inevitably believe that want and need are the same thing). The openness of communication revealed further stories of successful businesses and opened the door to financial planning discussions that would never have happened without the two-wheeled conduit. In time I hope to play an active role in the Colnago Owners’ Club – this post alluding to the multiple benefits I will take from involvement.

I am loving life within PM+M and their desire to engage with, delight and have fun with clients old and new. If you see two smiling cyclists riding along they are just as likely to be talking about pensions as they are about lycra!
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAkRAAAAJGEyOTgyMmVlLWIzYmEtNGM1OC05YjI0LWRlOGM0MDhjZjI3MwNeil Welsh – Wealth Management IFA 

PM+M Client WEC Group Limited Acquire HTA Group

shutterstock_234197374Last week saw the completion of the multimillion pound acquisition of HTA Group by PM+M client WEC Group Limited. The acquisition will enable Lancashire-headquartered WEC Group to continue to dominate the UK’s laser cutting and fabrication sector.

Wayne Wild, commercial director of the family-owned WEC Group, said: “This is an exciting new chapter for HTA Group, its workforce and its present and future customers.”

“HTA’s partnership with WEC Group will create a major new force in the UK’s laser cutting and fabrication sector and allows both companies to offer more to our customers.”

“Continuous investment in new technology and in our workforce has been the hallmark of the WEC Group’s success and we’re delighted to welcome HTA into our growing family. It’s a really great fit for our business.”

“As another family run company we’re aware of the name HTA has forged for itself and its reputation for high quality work, service and delivery. Our aim is to build on that.”

“Both companies share the same values of continuous investment, commitment to training and a strong belief in customer care. That’s why we believe this new partnership is right for both businesses.”

“The expanded group makes us one of the largest laser cutting and fabrication operations in the UK. It means we can offer more services and skills to our customers.”

Jim Akrill, Corporate Finance Partner at PM+M, provided commercial advice, comprehensive deal support and financial due diligence to ensure the deal was completed satisfactorily. Jane Parry, PM+M Managing Partner, also advised on the complex tax matters surrounding the acquisition. Forbes Solicitors provided legal advice throughout the deal.

Promotions & New Starters Update

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We are pleased to announce a series of promotions across the business as well as the appointment of Jill Morris as a director in its Run My Business division.

Jill joins Run My Business – which is PM+M’s dedicated fixed fee package covering bookkeeping, accounts, payroll, VAT and tax returns – from CLB Coopers where she worked for 11 years. Her role will be focussed on helping owner managed businesses to drive growth and streamline their processes, systems, procedures, recoveries and efficiencies using technology and innovation. Jill trained at Thompson Jones in Bury and is FCA Qualified.

Jill said: “I’m really excited about taking up this new role as I’ve admired PM+M for many years. I was attracted to the firm because of its strong vision for the future, its modern approach and clear commitment to technology and software. I’m now looking forward to working with my clients and adding real value to the business.”

The first promotion is Chris Johnson who becomes a partner in the corporate services team. Chris joined PM+M 16 years ago and was previously a corporate services director.

Jane Parry commented “The last few months have been strong so it’s an exciting time for Jill to be joining us. She has some fantastic experience and I’m sure she will be a great addition to the team.

Jane added: “Chris Johnson started his career at PM+M and his promotion is hugely deserved. He does an amazing job for his clients and has become a key member of our senior team. We are delighted that he is now a partner as it is a clear reflection of his talent.”

Claire Furnival and Ben Thornley – both colleagues of Chris in the corporate services team – have been promoted from assistant manager to manager; whilst Jonathan Cunningham has also been promoted to manager in the tax team.

Preparation Is Key

 

shutterstock_276798482Your business represents a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears so when the time comes to sell it you need to make sure that you are ready. You may feel that you are not ready to sell but if you’re planning for the future you need to start adding value to your business now.

The more time you spend preparing your business for sale, the better the outcome will invariably be. It is important that you can demonstrate two to three years of strong trading performance together with a maintainable profit stream.

Unresolved issues can be a deal breaker and can range from complex company ownership or who owns intellectual property rights, through to unreliable management systems. In your preparation for sale it is vital that you consider any potential deal breakers and try to resolve them before selling.

Effective and efficient planning will allow the sale of your business to progress in a controlled manner and having an advisor to provide advice and support throughout the sale of your business, will help you to achieve your goals.

For more information on selling your business, please click button below.

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Utilisation Rates Should Be A Key Focus For All Law Firms

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A recent survey by NatWest showed that the average profit per equity partner in a law firm had increased to £111,000, an increase of £4,000 from the prior year.  Much of this increase has been achieved through an improvement in rates, either through stronger pricing or improved recovery rates.

However, the hours recorded by fee earners remained flat. The average fee earner’s day consists of 4.4 hours being chargeable, which results in an average of 1000 chargeable hours per annum, leaving 700 hours being spent on non-chargeable activity (excluding holidays). I wonder whether law firms are actually looking at utilisation and profit or whether the focus remains on driving improved fee income through recruitment and price.

Increasing utilisation rates, ensuring these are billable of course, drives an increase in fee income which feeds straight into profit, enhancing profit per partner.  Assuming a recovered rate of £100 per hour and a fee earner group of 30 people delivering an additional half an hour chargeable a day, this equates to £345,000 of additional fee income and profit in one year.  The maths is easy; the challenge is unravelling what else goes on in each fee earner’s day to understand where that extra half an hour, or more, of chargeable time can come from. Does it come down to an under-recording of time or is work being done outside of the scope of initial engagement terms that is not being recorded and therefore not being recovered from the client through additional fees? Or are fee earners in comfort zones of recording the 4.4 hours per day as they just have not been challenged on this before? I believe that the setting of chargeable hour budgets does not lend itself to effective practice management; a balance of fee earner KPIs including billable (and recoverable) utilisation is more appropriate.

Additional profit, which in turn is additional cash, can only make life easier; for example, investment in technology, restructuring bank and other debt through earlier repayment of facilities thereby reducing interest costs, ability to better remunerate key employees not to mention attracting new talent to the firm through increasing profitability.

A focus on utilisation is a no brainer in improving productivity, fee income and profitability thereby helping to reduce the pressure of the day to day financial management of a law firm. It can deliver a higher performance and reward culture without impacting on work-life balance.

Helen Clayton – Head of Corporate Services