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Death of the tax return: what this means for accountants

23 March 2015

Real time online accounting may not be the sweetie of choice for small businesses but overall for accountants its good news.

Under the plans for online self-assessment and payment accountants are likely to be busier than ever.

Although the detail has yet to be worked out, effectively people who work for themselves and small business owners are likely to be filing income returns and paying their income tax throughout the year. This will inevitably mean more work for accountants as they keep their clients’ compliant.

The chancellor’s announcement was wrapped in candy floss yet for many this may not be the sweetie of choice. Submitting accounts via desktop, smartphone or tablet may seem highly edible but sceptics doubt that dates will be random or that there will be a choice over when tax should be paid.

The upside of course is that instalments can be spread throughout the year, easing the burden of the year end lump sum but small businesses will need to keep their books balanced real time too and this may take up more accountant time adding to costs for the small business owner.

Of course the real treat will be consumed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who will get tax money into the coffers much earlier. Tax collections could feasibly be as prompt as PAYE, but this class of taxpayer does not have the administration to do themselves.

In digesting the news there’s been a mixed reaction which has fuelled discussions around HMRC’s track record of large scale IT projects, which real time online assessment will need; historical performance on over-runs and over budget projects, HMRC’s ability to gear up for year round support, particularly when all incomes will need to be declared in a timely way; the sceptics are out front viewing the introduction as overly ambitious.

The current online assessment has not been without its faults. Certain types of income still need to be filed in hard copy or use companies that have invested in expensive software to submit the return. In theory the concept should make tax reporting simpler but at the moment the devil is in the detail and this may not be the ribbon wrapped chocolate box that the chancellor promises to tax payers.

Is this good news for accountants? Yes of course. They will be in more demand as the small business accountant will need to be retained throughout the year. And for the economy? Having tax collected earlier is always good for the treasury. Less wiggle room for tax avoidance? Probably as most accountants are keen to see these gaps closed with the damned if you do and damned if you don’t approach of the past few years.

For more information on finance jobs email

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How to get your message across in meetings

19 March 2015

"Getting your message across is all important for your career" -
8 tips on how to do this when everyone else is talking


Meetings come in many forms and guises; there are those which are formal, incredibly well organised, everyone knows their place and is given floor-time equally or proportionately and then there are the more informal, disorganised meetings which appear to be more like free-for-alls.

Whichever of these you attend you know that in order for your career to progress you need to participate. After all it's a dog-eat-dog world and if you sit on the side lines like a wall flower you're not going to notch-up any brownie points. In fact non-participation is often viewed as a failing, a weakness, a chink in your armour.

So how do you make your voice heard when everyone else is talking? Here are 8 tips to help you get your message across.

 

Grab air space when you can

Air space, or floor-time, is the crux of the matter. When everyone is talking over each other this chaos may seem impenetrable; as soon as there's a lapse in the conversation, no matter how small, grab the air space. Stand up if necessary so that everyone knows you've got the floor.

 

Use body language

Use positive body language to show that you have something to say. Shy away or stare out of the window and you'll be ignored. Look at the speaker, raise your eyebrows if you don't agree or are surprised at what they're saying, they might then ask for your thoughts giving you the opportunity to have your say.

 

Make a statement

Sometimes being tactful isn't the way to go. Making a bold statement such as “I've got a very different opinion on that” in a very loud voice may just silence your colleagues for that split second you need to grab the air space.

 

Pump up the volume

In disorganised, rowdy meetings it's acceptable for you to pump up the volume as much as the next person, within reason, just as long as conversations don't end up as shouting matches. Raise your voice in a polite, but authoritative manner; showing your assertiveness may gain you recognition as having good leadership skills.

 

Be succinct

Once you've got your air space and the floor-time be succinct; get your point or message across as quickly as you can, because someone else could interrupt and start talking across you within a very short space of time.

 

Start a side conversation

Often disorganised meetings have a tendency to break into sub groups. Take the lead and begin a side conversation with others who look as if they're being left out of the main discussion. Again this will show good leadership skills, it will also show that you have good awareness and social skills. However, make sure that the conversation you start is in-keeping with the topic of the meeting.

 

Use good social skills and assist others

You can also use your good social skills to assist others who appear to be struggling with the chaos. Say in a loud voice “what are your thoughts on that?” to encourage them to join in. You do need to be tactful when assisting others as you may be seen as interfering or playing mother-hen to those who would rather do things their own way and in their own time.

 

Repetition, repetition, repetition

You could try the age old trick of repetition. By repeating your opening statement over and over again until you're heard or taken notice of may seem a little out-dated but sometimes the oldest tricks actually work.

The next time you're in a meeting and it feels like you're trying to cross a busy motorway at commuter time just to get your voice heard, don't stand startled by the headlights like a rabbit, judge when the time is right, put your best foot forward and go for it.

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Cause or career in fundraising?

04 February 2015

Cause or career – Morgan Hunt gets behind the careers of fundraisers.

 

Is cause or career the ‘big question’ for fundraisers?

It states the obvious to say that fundraising is a critical role of any charity, yet it is an important fact to state since getting the right kind of person in place with the right kind of experience could be the make or break of the organisation. Many charities rely on the goodwill, values and experiences that lie at the core of their fundraiser; people who have joined them from different backgrounds, who embrace a cause that envelopes their very wellbeing. 

The cause is often greater than the rewards - sometimes almost self-sacrificing. Yet fundraising is a skill like any other; you need to be creative and ‘gutsy’; not afraid to speak your mind, ask for money, tap into funds, a kind of commercial mindset that drives a person forward in our capitalistic society, even if this flies in the face of what a fundraiser is all about.

In Morgan Hunt’s experience many fundraisers do not change their cause for more pay and in a sense this skews the normal characteristics of supply and demand which sets pricing. High demand and low supply drives up cost in the world of business economics and this kind of market ‘disruption’ will impact on what fundraisers are paid and how they are rewarded.
 

So what do fundraisers say?

Morgan Hunt ran a poll to find out if cause or career was a major consideration for fundraisers. Would they move jobs for a different cause in order to further their career? Our poll is by no means statistically valid but gives some insight into the motivations behind being a fundraiser. 

It is worth noting that on speaking to a fundraiser who had a previous life working on London’s Underground, who took up studies that would give him the skills to start a charity with a cause that was close to him; he was clear about his views: “you have to get over the fact that people get paid to do a job, this is my living, but I do something that I enjoy, that is rewarding in many ways that my previous life was not. You cannot run a charity successfully on just volunteers”. This is a clinical response that does not deny the nagging commercial principles that lie beneath it.
 

So would fundraisers move jobs for a different cause in order to further their career? 

Our poll says a fundraiser would swap causes to further their career. No one said that they would swap for more pay.

 

What skills should fundraisers make sure that they have?

  • Commercial principles – understanding the difference between a surplus and profit. Low overhead doesn't necessarily mean an organisation is good at its cause, or that its turnover is low and its people productive; or that the group is spending wisely.
  • Creative ideas – how to access funds.
  • Understanding your donors and how to tap into them.

Among others these would be a priority.

At Morgan Hunt our highly specialist fundraising and charities team maintains in-depth knowledge of the sector and how policy and regulatory developments, and change affect the market. We work closely with both clients and candidates to offer a consultative approach in order to expertly match candidates across a broad range of disciplines with their ideal fundraising job. To find out more contact our fundraisers team on 0207 419 8911 or [email protected]

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Public sector finance jobs outlook

30 January 2015

Challenging was the word for central and local government finance professionals. In contrast the NHS, education and charity sectors held up well with finance managers, controllers and head of finance roles the most popular in the more buoyant areas within the public sector. Despite a backdrop of more cuts to public sector funding, the outlook for opportunities for finance professionals looks improved.

How does this influence what type of financial leaders charities and public sector bodies are looking for in 2014 and what are the potential challenges facing them?

Charities & Membership Bodies

Charities that relied on local council funding and those that provide disability assistance were squeezed, with some charities merging and 1600 organisations closing down altogether. 

Large charities which relied heavily on donations have struggled over previous years. However, more recently, they have seen an increase in charitable donations in the past 12 months reflecting a more positive mood in the private sector. The result is a more commercial sector increasing headcount in all areas of support staff, in particular, an increase in demand for financial professionals.

Education and training providers

The education sector continues to become more commercial.  As a result, more organisations were dedicating time to finding finance business partners, management accountants and commercial VP’s of finance.  However, attracting candidates from the commercial sector to education remains a challenge from a salary perspective.

We expect the sector will see continued budgetary changes as public sector funding is reduced and replaced by private tuition fees. The rise in student tuition fees and increased competition with international institutions means next year we will see more higher education institutions having to cut cost and merge roles.

Government

Finance professionals in local and central government faced a tough year as the demand for senior part-qualified and newly-qualified accountants decreased substantially. This trend looks set to continue, with only a few areas recruiting finance staff.

Increased public scrutiny in large corporate affairs after the GFC has resulted in regulatory bodies increasing hiring of finance professionals.

Housing

We anticipate a drive in the housing sector to get more value for money. Finance candidates will need to clearly demonstrate this to potential employers. Management accountants will continue to be in constant demand as housing associations aim to keep tight control on budgets and forecasts. Seasonal fluctuations will predictably occur around half and full year-end.

With many housing associations not having extra staffing capacity, this will probably lead to high interim demand.  The G15 and other larger national associations will continue to recruit finance staff at transactional and middle-management level.

NHS

We saw an increase in interim and temporary recruitment within the NHS.  We found that the primary reason for the increase was due to the cuts at management level – an unsurprising development in light of ‘an aim for £15 billion in efficiency savings’.

The subsequent knowledge gaps across NHS Trusts and hospitals have in turn increased demand for interim cover to bridge these gaps. Financial skill sets that were particularly sought after during the last year include financial planning and analysis and financial modelling to accurately monitor long-term costing and expenditure of a ‘moving feast’ in many situations. Candidates with these skills were able to command significant increases in their rates as they were in constant demand and still are today.

Management accountants with pricing and costing experience were also highly sought after as budget management was of particular importance within the NHS. Technical financial accountants were also very much in demand. Furthermore, as the NHS sought to improve efficiencies through improving financial systems, finance professionals with ERP systems experience were also sought after – Oracle the most frequently requested by hiring managers.

As the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) and Commissioning Support Units (CSU’s) continue to evolve, finance professionals with specific experience in these areas will be in demand.

2014 looks set to be a busy year for interim and contract recruitment in the NHS.  Cuts to permanent staffing budgets set to continue until at least 2015, will increase the competition for specialist temporary staff with NHS Trust, CSU or CCG experience.

Finally...

Public sector saw some tough times in 2013, with further cuts and a further decline in jobs.  In contrast to this, the NHS, education and the charity sectors have held up better and have seen a demand for finance professionals. however, with these cuts we can expect to see a demand in finance professionals with the capabilities to ensure organisations see ‘bang for buck’ across the board.

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Moving into the charity sector from the private sector

21 January 2015

With government cuts affecting many of the impoverished and most vulnerable in society, the role of charities in the UK has never been more important, and effective fundraising is a vital central function to the survival and growth of charities.

Additionally, reductions in public funding for charitable organisations has led to an increased  need for more aggressive and forward-thinking fundraising strategies. There is now also a large demand for candidates who can apply a commercial mindset to fundraising roles.
 

Transferable skills

This need for a more competitive fundraising strategy has made many of the skills that are synonymous with the commercial sector particularly sought-after for charity jobs.

The communication skills and the ability to build relationships that has been developed within the private sector will be of significant benefit if you are looking to build a new career in fundraising. Project management and forward financial planning are two further transferable skills that are a prerequisite for success in a charity fundraising role.

Additional value of the private sector candidate to any charity organisation is the fresh perspective alongside the commercial experience that can revitalise their fundraising strategies and boost operational efficiency.
 

What are the benefits?

The primary benefit of working as a fundraiser within the charity sector is the sense of fulfilment that the job offers. Helping less fortunate, disadvantaged or vulnerable people means that you can go into work every day in the knowledge that you are making a real difference to the world around you, and this sort of job satisfaction is not available in any other career.

The charity sector can also provide a more relaxed working environment, often with a casual dress code, shorter and more flexible working hours, making it ideal for candidates who are looking to start a family or perhaps move into a sector that is more personally rewarding rather than frenetic and fast-paced.

Many of the charity and fundraising positions we recruit for at Morgan Hunt offer an incredibly varied working life where no two days are the same.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help you make the move into the charity sector, get in touch.

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Tips for your fundraising job search

20 January 2015

The benefits and sense of fulfillment on offer for those working in the charity sector means that competition for charity jobs – particularity fundraising roles – is high.

If you’re looking to progress your career in fundraising, it’s vital that you adopt the right strategy for your job search to maxmimise your chance of success.

To help ensure you’re on the right track, we’ve provided some handy tips.


Determine your career goals and preferences for your next role

  • Decide what your long-term career goals are:
    • Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years’ time? Do you see yourself working for a well established international organisation, specialising in a particular fundraising function; or perhaps you’d prefer to work for a small, lesser known charity, heading up the fundraising division to develop and establish the brand?
    • How will you work towards that goal as you progress your career - what path do you need to take and what experience will you need to gain to get there?
  • Make your search as targeted as possible and consider your job preferences:
    • Think about the size and type of charity you want to work for;
    • Pull together a list of charities (5-10 at the most) in which you would want to progress your career;
    • Do some research on what type of fundraising role/function would best suit you and your career goals.
  • The key is to be specific - but also realistic - when setting your preferences for your next job.


Maintain an up-to-date CV

  • You should aim to review your CV at least every 2 months, ensuring that you add any new skills, experience and achievements as appropriate, as well as any volunteer/charity work performed outside of work;
  • Register with Morgan Hunt, upload an up to date CV to and sign up for job alerts to notify you of any new fundraising jobs;
  • Register your CV on specialist charity job boards (such as Third Sector and Charity Job) and set up job alerts specific to your search;
  • Make sure your CV is publicly visible via these sites if you are openly job seeking.


Enhance your online profile

  • Maintaining your online profile and enhancing your online brand should be a key part of your job search;
  • Manage and conduct regular spot checks of all your social media profiles to ensure you maintain a professional, positive presence;
  • Read our guide on how to maximise the potential of your online brand for more tips on how to get ahead of the competition in the fundraising market.


Don’t be overly ambitious – adopt a targeted approach to job applications

  • Don’t waste precious time applying for jobs you are not qualified for – be realistic about your career level;
  • Analyse the job description and essential requirements of the role and assess whether or not your skills and experience are a good match before applying.


Adapt your CV and cover letter to the role

  • Job applications can be a lengthy process, so it’s important to get it right;
  • Tailor your CV and cover letter (or supporting statement) to the job and the charity;
    • Highlight relevant experience and key achievements high up on your CV so that the hiring manager is able to see this information clearly;
    • Do your research on the charity to which you are applying and emphasise your passion for the cause, your career ambitions and how you would ‘fit’ the culture of the charity.


Get on the radar of your employers of choice

  • Your Morgan Hunt consultant can approach the charities you want to pursue on your behalf on a speculative basis so it’s important you brief your consultant thoroughly;
  • This will demonstrate your desire to work for the charity and will put you on their radar to be considered for current and future opportunities.

Ask for feedback on unsuccessful applications and interviews

  • Always ask the recruiter or employer for feedback if you have interviewed for a particular role and were unsuccessful as this will help you hone your interview skills and technique;
  • If you have applied for a role that you feel matched very closely with your skills and experience but were not shortlisted for interview, don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter or HR contact/hiring manager for feedback on why you were unsuccessful.


Regularly evaluate your progress and review your job search

  • If you’ve been conducting your job search for a while but feel as though you haven’t made any progress, don’t keep ‘plugging away’ and hope for the best; stop and take some time to review your current strategy to identify what may be impeding your progress;
  • Speak to your recruitment consultant and ask for advice on how you can improve your CV and job search strategy to increase your chances of securing the right job for you. They can advise on market trends/conditions, what type of roles and charities would suit you and what their clients are looking for in terms of stand-out skills and experience for fundraising posts;
  • Aim to review your job search strategy every few months or so at least and continue to do your research and update your CV and online profiles regularly.


Stay motivated and keep that end goal in mind

  • Securing the ideal job and making that next career move takes time and perseverance – it doesn’t happen overnight. Keep that end goal in mind to stay motivated;
  • The important thing is to make the right move – don’t settle for a job that won’t provide that all important stepping stone to help you reach your career goals.

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