2018: A Review by Robert Ellis

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Another year has passed, and what an eventful year it’s been… we won’t mention Brexit!

Robert Ellis, Director of Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, takes us on a whistle stop tour of the year that was 2018.

It’s been a year of change here for us at Ellis & Co; the major change has been the way in which we correspond with our clients, which also keeps us within the new GDPR guidelines.

Exchanging sensitive and confidential information with clients is an important part of our daily routine.

Due to GDPR and online security threats we had to change the way in which we sent sensitive information to our clients.

Email is no longer secure, and sending information via post is time consuming and costly (for both parties).

We introduced our own client portal called IRIS OpenSpace in April 2018.

The portal is a safe, simple and secure collaborative tool for accountancy practices and clients to share documents with each other and get client approval electronically.

We can securely share a draft set of accounts, a tax return or a financial statement with our clients, while clients can send bank statements, payslips and trial balances to us.

One of our biggest challenges faced this year has been our broadband connection which hasn’t been sufficient to meet our business requirements.

After over two years of ongoing delay in planning to dig up the road outside our Chester office and lay a fibre optic cable, we finally took the decision to go for a wireless signal attached to the exterior of our premises.

I am hoping this will overcome the issue of broadband engineers disconnecting cables from the green box by the cathedral!

Our clients have been affected by a number of changes throughout the year including the changes to capital allowances, the dividend allowance cut and the personal allowance increase.

However, the biggest change on the horizon for both the team and our clients is still Making Tax Digital.

From April 1, 2019 interaction with HMRC will become increasingly digital, and many businesses will be required to use accountancy software packages to record business activity.

Cloud accountancy software is revolutionising the way in which business owners deal with their day to day accounting.

Whilst many accountants are slow to react to changes such as these, here at Ellis & Co we feel that it is important that clients understand the new system and are prepared for its introduction.

With this in mind we have, yet again, held numerous Making Tax Digital seminars throughout the year, with more planned for 2019 (event details to be released in the new year).

Our software specialist Anna Rowson-Smith has already helped a considerable number of our clients on to software packages.

If you haven’t already taken us up on our offer of three hours training and set up, please be sure to contact us.

Rather than considering Making Tax Digital as a program to ‘help out’ HMRC, it is more importantly a great asset to your business growth through giving up to date financial information  in the performance of your business.

Speaking of growth, we’ve seen an increase in both clients and staff this year.

Glenda Hall joins us our payroll department and Nick Clark as a trainee accountant; Nick initially joined the team on a work experience placement from Chester University in 2017.

Both are a welcome addition to the team and have settled in well.

We have continued to support and work well with the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce, attending numerous networking events throughout the year including Young Chamber and the Chamber’s Annual Ball.

As Strategic Members of the Chamber; with John Farrell as a member of the Focus Group and I serving as a Board Director look forward to seeing what the Chamber has in store for 2019.

Ellis & Co has also supported a number of events organised by the University of Chester throughout the year, including: presenting a cheque to the highest performing accounting student; judging at the Dragon’s Den style ‘Pitch’ and welcoming a work placement student into the office for five weeks. 

Our accountants John Farrell and John Moorhouse have been taking time out of their busy schedules to hold weekly Q&A drop in sessions at two of the Universities sites: Thornton Science Park and The Riverside Innovation Centre.

The West Cheshire Women’s Network, ran by our accountant Alison Howell and Marketing and PR manager Natalie Tomlinson, continues to go from strength to strength, with this year’s attendance at its highest yet!

Our summer was filled with golf and beer, although luckily for all involved not at the same time.

Our annual golf day was a great success, the weather couldn’t have been better and we raised a great amount for our chosen charity My Name is Not Cancer.

We were, yet again, headline sponsor for this year’s Hoole Beer Festival which proved to be a popular event.

We have continued to support and work well with all our partners throughout the year and aim to maintain and enhance these relationships in 2019.

On a personal note I wish to thank all of our clients for their continued support throughout 2018 and hope you have a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year.

We now look forward to 2019, which looks set to be another busy year.

Robert Ellis