Tag Archives: SME

Combatting Company Impersonation and Online Fraud

Online Fraud

The number of online scams targeting organisations and individuals has dramatically increased over the past couple of years. From phishing emails from contacts who are “stranded” and need money, to email tax rebate notifications, SMEs are being targeted more than ever.

The latest scam increasing in popularity is company impersonation and requests to change bank details. Although not a new technique, this scam is making a comeback, and can result in businesses paying large sums of money to the wrong person.

How the scam works

You receive a letter, seemingly from a supplier, asking you to change/amend/update their bank details for future transactions. The correspondence will appear genuine but, in reality, it has come from fraudsters.

Impact

The extent of the scam usually isn’t realised until the genuine supplier chases your accounts payable department for a missed payment. By this time, funds will have already left your bank, and can be very difficult and costly to recoup.

Protect yourself

Below are a few simple steps to avoid falling foul of this online fraud:

  • Compare letterheads from previous communications. Try and spot differences, however small they may seem.
  • Check the contact details on the communication. Are they consistent with prior correspondence received?
  • Call your supplier using details previously supplied, not the details given on the “fraudulent” correspondence.
  • Ensure that strict sign off procedures are in place internally and that more than one person reviews any changes.
  • Share your knowledge with your employees and your suppliers. The more people who are aware of how this type of fraud is committed, the easier it will be to detect.

For more information about company impersonation and other types of fraud, plus top tips on how you can protect yourself and your business, download the Metropolitan Police’s Little Book of Big Scams – The Business Edition.

download document

Burnley: A great place to do business!

In a report published recently from the UK’s top economic Think Tank, Centre for Cities, Burnley was ranked eighth in the UK for the high growth prospects of its SMEs and identified as an area where firms are driving the economic revival.

There is currently a great buzz around Burnley not only from Burnley’s promotion to the Premier League but also since being named ‘The Most Enterprising Area in Britain’. In recent years, the town has made a real commitment to enhancing its infrastructure so as to facilitate economic growth. Several new business parks have launched, the new University Technical College has opened its doors and faster rail links to Manchester are imminent.

In particular, we have seen considerable growth in the hi-tech, manufacturing and engineering sectors. At PM+M, we work with many clients who are suppliers in the aerospace industry who are very excited about the benefits of the proposed Aerospace Supply Chain Logistics Park. New developments such as these afford local firms the opportunity to expand enabling projected industry and, in turn, job growth for the town. We have a great deal of experience in the manufacturing and engineering sector and we look forward to combining outstanding technical expertise with deep sector knowledge to help our clients achieve their goals.

We are proud to count ourselves amongst these local firms contributing to the growth of the economy. We currently have nine partners and approximately seventy people working across two offices in Burnley and Blackburn and we are constantly on the lookout for new talent.  The last twelve months has seen the firm evolve and we recently took the decision to restructure our business services department into two newly-formed specialist teams, encompassing Corporate Services and Run My Business. By streamlining our business we aim to create a platform by which we can realise our growth ambitions.

By pursuing high growth strategies Burnley firms are contributing to the economic recovery, not just in the local area but in the UK as a whole and, as a result, we can all be proud of what has become a great place to do business!

Nigel Wright – Corporate & Run My Business Partner

How can your manufacturing business turn £1 into £20 or more?

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Recently, Richard Ainscough and I went to this intriguing event, held at Bentley in Crewe, run by the North West Aerospace Alliance and the Design Council.  Like many of you might be thinking now, we were thinking “Just what has design got to do with manufacturing in the SME sector?” We naturally related design more to high end goods, luxury brands and fashion.  Watches and handbags, not machine tools and component parts.  How wrong were we?

A recent study carried out by Warwick Business School and the Design Council showed clearly how design can add value to any organisation by:

  • Driving innovation and opening up uncontested spaces
  • Differentiating products and services to attract customers
  • Strengthening branding, embodying a company’s values and improving recognition

The more strategic the use of design, the greater the benefit, but design can also improve the work environment:

  • Facilitate interdepartmental collaboration encouraging teamwork, dialogue and creativity
  • Change the physical space to better reflect the brand or improve working practices
  • Provide a more structured approach to product or service development

And it wasn’t just academic speak either.  We went through case studies in a number of sectors including textiles, engineering and high technology where businesses had made huge strides forward through embracing design:

  • Enabling premium prices to be charged for world class products
  • Re-branding to develop new markets
  • Streamlining of new product development

Taking part in the Design Leadership Programme costs between £2,000 and £15,000 depending on your needs and the size of your organisation and you would be working with some of the most experienced designers in the UK.  So if you have an opportunity to turn £15,000 into £300,000 then what’s not to like?

Contact me or Richard for a confidential discussion.

Jim Akrill – Corporate Finance Partner

Four tips for a smooth transition when a director retires

Recently I had the challenge of helping a client and its managing director with his retirement. It’s never easy when a long standing director of a relatively small business wants to retire – the many roles and positions they play and hold make an apparently simple end to employment into a complicated personal and corporate transaction.

I have been an accountant for an (awful) lot of years and had acted for the business for a long time so I assumed I knew how it needed to be done.  Reality showed that  as always when dealing with entrepreneurs, there are angles/negotiations/issues which appear out of the blue. Normally these are the personal points, but sometimes there are technical accounting/tax queries which challenge you unexpectedly.

The process gathered momentum slowly over an 18 month period.  It began with the business owners trying to find out the retirement plans of their MD, without triggering any employment law issues (as is usually the case the employment contract of the directors had not been updated with developments in the law, even when the shop floor terms and conditions had been changed).

Once agreement had been reached over a retirement date, there were two largely separate projects needed: succession planning and a financial settlement.  The role of the business adviser can vary enormously depending on the relationships amongst the parties in the business and between each of them and the adviser.

In my recent case, the biggest issue was the succession planning.  Operational roles needed filling (the managing director had key roles in technical development and in sales) and the supervision of the company required reorganisation.  My role here was largely as a sounding board for the various parties to check ideas, along with maintaining communication – passions can get high in these circumstances and it is often useful to have an engaged outsider to act as a mediator.

As you would expect for an accountant, I had a much bigger role in the financial settlement.  The underlying issues included the level of annual bonus due for the part year of retirement, the price to be paid for the options/shareholding held by the retiring director and the price of effective restrictions on him after he had left.  Each of these had a tax consequence for the retiring director and for the company. In addition, the terms of the deal with the retiring director were communicated through me, to avoid adding further friction to the already tense succession planning situation. Assessing and advising (to the extent possible) on the corporation tax, inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax aspects of various payments while maintaining good relations with all concerned was challenging and time consuming!

We (the company owners, the ongoing management, the retiring director and me) eventually reached an acceptable arrangement.  It was all signed up on the agreed retirement date and the business is progressing well.

I learnt a great deal from the process and my four tips for retiring company directors and businesses would be:

  • Early consideration of these things is best – try to have an established succession plan in place to avoid being caught short by an impending retirement.
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of time consumed by discourse between the various parties – these discussions can be sensitive and should be approached with appropriate tact and understanding.
  • Even relatively small transactions can become complicated in their accounting and tax implications.  This is not a matter of simply dotting I’s and crossing T’s, these are complex issues and should be treated as such and planned in advance.
  • A business adviser should be used as a sounding board or intermediary by which the process can be streamlined, advising wherever possible.  My experience tells me that an adviser should know when to take a step back and when to engage the parties.  If not, these boundaries should be established promptly.

I’d be interested to hear about your experiences regarding retirement of company directors, so please leave a comment on this blog, drop me an email at david.gorton@pmm.co.uk or call me at our Blackburn office on 01254 604308.

David Gorton – General Practice Partner

Real Time Information and its Effect on SME’s – Video Blog

Real Time Information is a new initiative introduced by HMRC in April 2013 to help streamline the process of payroll for all businesses. In this blog our Payroll manager Julie Mason explains what it means for SME’s and what you should be doing now to prepare.

Key points from the video are:

  • If you have less than 50 employees, DON’T PANIC. The RTI compliance deadline has recently been extended to 6th April 2014 for smaller employers.
  • Even though the deadline has been extended, look at putting proceedures into place now. Keep on top of your employee data and PAYE liability payments and prepare for the changes well in advance.
  • Look at outsourcing your payroll function if you feel it is going to be too difficult to keep on top of.

How are you finding the transistion to RTI? Have you encountered any issues, and what would be your top tips for overcoming them? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!