How we get your data
For the self-employed sole trader, Coconut is an ideal way to link in to your bank transactions without the complexity required by most other apps. We invite you to download and set it up, footing the bill you'd otherwise face if you were signing up directly, then review and categorise transactions every month. You can either link a personal bank account and mark business transactions as such as and when they happen, or you can link an account you use exclusively for business, and we'll take care of it from there.
Limited companies, VAT-registered individuals or sole-traders needing full accrual accounts (as opposed to the cash basis we'd usually use) need a more in-depth tool, for which we turn to Xero, an industry standard platform. You only need to link and re-authorise your bank accounts, and we can take care of the rest - or if you want to use the tool yourself e.g. to raise invoices and manage supplier credit, we can set it up that way, too.
It didn't exist, so we made it - an extremely simple web app, usable from any device with a web browser, making it easy to record manual transactions (such as those made via cash or from bank accounts not linked via Coconut or Xero) and mileage records. It was the first way ever to record sales, expenses and mileage via voice on Google Assistant on your smartphone, and though Google sunset that capability back in June 2023, we'll soon be bringing back a way for you to just tell us what happened in plain English - it's our preferred tool for clients on our Start plan with only a few transactions to record and little need for a complex software package.
It's not just these though, if you already use a bookkeeping software package like QuickBooks or something similar, we can work it out - especially if it's already linked to a transaction feed from your bank account(s).
What we do with it
Don't overlook this: it's the clincher. For most online services, you're free to ask for support where you need it... but you have to know you need it. To us, this simply makes no sense for the large majority of small business owners out there. Tax law is complex and is not going to get easier. With an accountant actively and regularly reviewing your data, armed with professional knowledge and practical experience, the benefit isn't just a handy accurate-as-possible tax forecast, but proactive advice based on what we see and what we don't see in your data. And since that advice is essentially useless if given more than 12 months later, a good monthly service such as the one we deliver is irreplaceable.
We don't believe in waiting 12 months and then sending you a long list of queries to do with things you have long since forgotten about. With each monthly report, we give a short list of the queries we have with your data that month, and often propose what we think is the most likely solution. In fact, we often simply let you know that we've made an assumption in the interpretation of your data that month, explaining it and giving you a chance to correct us if we've got it wrong - after all, we have a fair bit of experience with the most common scenarios we'd expect to encounter, so why not pass on that efficiency so you have fewer long emails to write.
As part of our monthly review of your data, we run through an extensive checklist to ensure we've caught all the errors and inconsistencies that we regularly see. We keep that checklist up to date with current, relevant legislation and interpretation, too, and ensure we're monitoring all kinds of thresholds and scenarios that we know might affect your business. Essentially, we proactively apply our accounting expertise to your data, regularly. And, of course, if you want to speak to us about an upcoming business decision for which you would like to understand the tax implications, just give us a ring - that's our job!
Why it matters
Did you know that you have to monitor a 12-month rolling window of your VATable revenue to ensure you register for VAT within 30 days of breaching the registration threshold? Maybe.
Did you know that failing to keep or maintain with sufficient speed a People of Significant Control register for your limited company is a criminal offence? Unlikely.
Figuring out how to file a self-assessment and how much tax you need to pay on some stressful day, probably late in January, armed with some patience, a lot of Googling and a calculator, is certainly possible - even if doing so error-free is unlikely. But monitoring your business to ensure both compliance with tax legislation and to anticipate the impending need to make critical changes and make informed decisons when executing them... it just isn't something you can do yourself - at least not without undertaking specific training. And it's way out of reach of any impersonal accounting service, no matter how much they suggest you can always talk to a real person. After all, what use is it for advice to be available if you don't know when you need to ask for it in the first place?
With our approach of maintaining access to your transactions data via Open Banking, reviewing that data, resolving queries and proactively advising, on a monthly basis, you can be sure you are being given the best possible support - minimising the risk of nasty surprises and keeping you informed and advised throughout the year.