Jar filled with coins with Pensions written on the label

How to make the most of your NHS pension

Want to know how to maximise your pension on retirement? Read our short guide to see how you can make the NHS pension work for you.

We all worry about what will happen when we reach retirement and in an uncertain economic environment trust in basic structures such as pensions is not what it used to be. The good news, if you’re a doctor, is that you benefit from one of the best schemes around: the NHS pension.

What you get from the NHS pension

The NHS pension offers all sorts of attractive features such as:

  • A link to the length of your service.
  • You can be eligible even if you’re a locum, freelance, or self-employed doctor.
  • Early retirement at the age of 50 or 55 depending on what scheme section you’re in.
  • Taking 25% of the capital value of the pension as a tax-free lump sum.
  • Benefits for dependants if you die.
  • Benefits in case you have to retire early due to ill health.

A generous pension

Unfortunately, making the most of it is not always as straightforward as you might think. That’s partly because the pension is divided into different sections, and the exact rules often depend on which section of the pension plan you are in. Understanding your entitlements and plotting the best course forward can be devilishly difficult.

Recent rule changes have also made things a little more complicated. In 2016, the government limited the total amount of pensions savings you can build up to £1million, down from £1.25million. Any savings you accrue beyond this limit could be subject to a punitive 55% tax rate. Given that many doctors and GPs are relatively highly paid, you might expect to reach that limit some time before you reach retirement age, which might make early retirement a little more appealing.

Tax relief

The good news is that there are attractive tax relief on offer. The Government is desperate for more of us to pay into our pensions and so they will top up our contributions. If you’re contributing to an NHS pension plan directly from your salary, the payment is deducted from your gross salary before they take the tax. You therefore save tax on the money contributed to your pension.

You can also contribute to a private pension and receive an additional 25% of the value of your contribution from HMRC subject to certain limits. Let’s say you pay £80 into a private pension HMRC will then pay in an additional £20 making the contribution £100.

There are limits, though. You can only benefit from tax relief on deemed contributions up to £40,000 every year. Tapering of individual annual allowances was also introduced in April 2016. If your income is more than £150,000 and the threshold income is more than £110,000, you’ll have a reduced limit on the amount of tax efficient savings you can claim. The rules also have a habit of changing regularly. The retirement age may change and so too could rules about tax relief and other measures. Keeping up with it all can be quite a challenge, which is why it’s useful to get help from the experts.

Berley offers a comprehensive accountancy service that is tailored to your specific needs as a doctor. We can help you with everything from bookkeeping and payroll services, to personal tax advice. We can also help you to plan for your future by creating a pension plan and advising you on any tax relief that you may be eligible for. There are many challenges that you face as a doctor, but Berley will ensure that your accounts and pension will not be one of them.

To find out more about your pension and how to make the most out of your finances, call Berley today on 020 7636 9094.

Why should start-ups plan a launch event? Here are 5 reasons!

Establishing a new business can be a frightening, yet rewarding, adventure. Regardless of your industry, exposing your brand can help you to reach the clients that you want and can really reinforce client relationships.

Having a launch event will allow you to introduce your business, your brand, or your new product line to the public, and can ensure that you get the publicity you need to forward your start-up.
Here are five ways in which hosting a launch event can have a real impact on your start-up:
Face-to-face conversation
Meeting people face-to-face, and being able to directly communicate to them what your brand is and what services your business can provide, will really help you to cement client relationships that can last long into the future.
For many people, communicating with others face-to-face can really help in establishing long-term business relationships. It’s important for your clients to see who they are potentially doing business with so that they can build trust around your brand. With all of this in mind, it’s a good idea to use a launch event as a networking tool and to take advantage of all the contacts you can make.
Press coverage
Inviting the local press to your launch event can help you to get your brand out to the prefect audience. Make sure to invite local journalists to your event ahead of time. You can ask them to take some photos of the event and to conduct an interview with you, as the business owner, or with anyone else you may think relevant. Alternatively, you can also send a pre-prepared interview, as well as some photos of the event, to journalists and bloggers and ask them to put a short article together which sums up your business and the services you offer.
Social media exposure
Encourage attendees of your launch event to get involved with social media by providing ways in which they can post to their social media accounts. Get a printed Instagram board designed, or host a Twitter competition, all the while ensuring that your social media handles are always visible. Encourage your guests to post photos of the event and to follow your business social media accounts.
After your event, make sure to follow attendees and potential clients back on their social media platforms. This will guarantee that you stay connected with people and will encourage brand loyalty.
Show off your business vision
A launch event is the perfect place to show your guests who you are and what your business has to offer. Use this event as an opportunity to showcase your brand and its values to your attendees, giving them the chance to get a personal insight into what your start-up is all about.
Make your event memorable
Once your successful launch event is over, it’s important to start thinking about how you can turn guests into clients. Giving you attendees a few freebies, anything from branded pens to business cards, before they leave your event can help your business stick in their minds. Make sure to include your company logo, your contact details, and your social media accounts on everything you give away. This will help potential clients get in touch with you when they’re ready to do business.

How can Berley help?

Berley are chartered accountants that are dedicated to helping small businesses with all their accounting and financial needs. No two businesses are the same and we pride ourselves in offering services that are tailored to your specific brand.
As well as providing personal business assistance and supporting you through any financial worries you may have, we can also help you to arrange how to finance your launch event by offering funding advice. Having a start-up company means that organising a launch event can catapult your brand into the future, ensuring that you get the most out of being a business owner.
To find out more about how we can help you to manage your business accounts and plan for a launch event, call us today on 020 7636 9094.

Giving your small business an artificial helping hand

Artificial Intelligence is becoming an increasingly common sight in the business world.

For small businesses, the subject of Artificial Intelligence may be daunting, but adopting smart software into the day-to-day running of your business could help you to increase your productivity and could give you the helping hand you need to compete with larger industries.

How can AI assist you?

There are a range of businesses that AI can help with, such as sales, marketing, finance, HR, and customer services. Using AI can dramatically increase the efficiency and productivity of your small business. By using AI technology to deal with entering and analysing the data of your business, for example, you will be able to dedicate more time to focusing on the important things, such as making decisions for the future of your company.
In order to start using AI technology, your small business may need an upgraded IT infrastructure to support the AI software. By moving towards a cloud-based system, that can support AI, you can ensure that the data necessary for your business is easily accessible to the AI software. It is also important to stay current with the ways in which AI is evolving and the potential benefits it could provide for your business. Being aware of these changes, and implementing them when you can, can really help you stay ahead of the game within the business world. For some, upgrading their IT infrastructure might mean hiring a new employee, something that we can assist with on the financial side.
Experts say that small businesses should strive to embrace this new AI technology, and encourage them to implement such software as soon as possible. Not doing so, they say, may mean that your business could be at threat from other companies that do incorporate AI. Regardless of the size of your business, AI could help to make your company work more efficiently, thus potentially increasing your revenue.

How can Berley help?

With all that AI assistance in your business, Berley can provide the human touch. We provide small businesses with expert financial advice that can help you make the most out of your resources. Our services are tailored to your specific needs and include a range of accounting and tax advice that aim to take away the stresses of having to deal with complicated forms alone.
Whether you are interested in branching out overseas or remaining in the UK, we can help you with developing business plans and can even assist you in making sensible investments. We work with the future of your business in mind and pride ourselves on having the knowledge to assist you in all financial aspects of your business. Since we specialise in helping small businesses, you can be sure that we always aim to do what’s best for you and your company.

Get in touch

To find out more about how Berley can help you with your accounting and tax needs, call us today on 020 7636 9094.

Importance of cyber security for SMEs

Did you know almost  a quarter of SMEs infected by ransomware have to cease their operations immediately?

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a computer virus which encrypts your files (photos, videos, database and documents) and won’t release them unless you pay a ransom. This ransom is paid in the virtual currency Bitcoin. The attackers usually ask for the Bitcoin ransom to be paid within a time frame or they will release or destroy the data they have taken hostage.

Why is cyber security so important?

Ransomware and other forms of cybercrime is on the rise. Different types of attacks make it difficult to keep up.
Malwarebytes conducted research recently and discovered that over a third of businesses with less than 1,000 employees had been affected by ransomware in the last year. 22% of those attacked were affected so severely they were forced to cease their operations immediately.
Obviously, as a business owner you wouldn’t want that to happen to your business. Your business is your livelihood and it isn’t easy to restart a business that has had to cease operations. Berley understands how important the business is to its owner and so we’ve made a list of ways to protect your business from cyber attacks.
Attend a seminar or two - this is a good way to learn about cybersecurity and how to protect your business. Make sure you make this a trip for all employees in your business. If you all take notes and compare them afterwards, you could all learn how to protect the business in the cyber world.
Install security software - even though there isn’t a software that can keep your business 100% safe, installing anti-virus software can protect you from the more common and basic threats. Cyber criminals are capable of creating new ways to infiltrate a business so keep in mind it may take a while for your software vendor to include the new method to their anti-virus definitions.
Hire an IT security employee - if you have the budget for it, hiring someone to internally work on protecting your business is a great way to protect your business. They will be able to notice all things that you might miss.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst - you can do everything you possibly can and still be infected with ransomware. Be prepared for the worst and have backups of your data somewhere separate and safe. One option is to save it somewhere in the Cloud as data and documents can be restored if lost or destroyed in the Cloud.
Berley like to encourage entrepreneurship and so we want those who are following their entrepreneurial dream to stay safe. For financial advice on your business, call us on 020 7626 9094 today.

Financing your business in 2017

Starting up a business has its challenges; formulating a business plan, sorting out the necessary paperwork, and securing funding to get your ideas off the ground can all be a hassle.

At Berley, we try to reduce the stress of owning a business so that you can concentrate on doing the things you love. As part of our comprehensive service, we can help you apply for and secure funding that will allow you to see your business grow.

Government funding

2017 has been a year of uncertainty thus far, with official lenders, such as banks, more reluctant to invest in a small business for fear of not seeing a return on their investment. However, the British Business Bank, which is government-owned, has promised to maintain funding for small businesses to guarantee that those who need a helping hand have the opportunity to reach up and grab one.
In January of this year, the government announced that they would be providing £40 million to help small businesses across the UK. With £40 million already invested in 2014, and a £20 million investment made in 2013 through the Business Finance Partnership, the UK government is keen to show their support for small businesses by helping them to capitalise on new opportunities.

Speedy service

These government backed business loans can be applied for through the online lending platform, Funding Circle. Funding Circle provides a quick and easy way to help small businesses get what they need, with the application taking as little as 10 minutes to complete. A final decision on the loan request is then given within two working days, and if successful, you can have access to the funds within the week.
In the past, business had to rely on banks to give them the support they needed. Often, these bank loan requests take a long time to process, and they require a lot of inconvenient paperwork. The quick access to funding that Funding Circle provides can mean that you don’t have to wait months before you can start making important decisions for your business. You can act straightaway, which may mean the difference between success and failure in the fast paced business world.

How can Berley help?

Berley are chartered accountants who specialise in helping small businesses reach their potential. We offer expert advice to enable you to get the most out of your business plan and we’ll be with you every step of the way. Our aim is to ensure that you, as an entrepreneur, know how to manage your accounts and are able to deal with any tax issues you may have.
As well as all this, we can provide you with information about the funding options that are available to you, and even support you with making the right decision for your business. Whether you would like to apply for a government backed loan, or you’d just like some advice on other types of funding available to you, we can help you make that next step in securing your positive future.
If you’d like some more information on how we can help you and your business, call us on 020 7636 9094 now.

Why is cloud accounting so beneficial?

Over the years, technology has gone through vast changes; clunky computers have become slim laptops and phones, sending letters has been replaced by texting.

The upcoming Making Tax Digital scheme by HMRC has brought cloud accounting to the forefront of entrepreneurs’ minds. The launch of MTD has been delayed to allow businesses to adapt, but it will gradually be introduced from the 19/20 financial year. Businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold will have to keep digital records for VAT purposes as of April 2019, and the scheme is expected to be implemented further in 2020. The Making Tax Digital scheme will be available for smaller businesses on a voluntary basis.

Even if you are not yet obliged to keep digital records, that doesn’t mean you should delay getting accustomed to cloud accounting. The benefits of cloud accounting can help you to manage your business efficiently. We would know as we have been using Xero (an online accounting software) for years now and are an official Silver Champion Partner with Xero.

Colleagues can collaborate

Do you have colleagues that need access to the accounts but aren’t in the country? Online accounting software covers that issue for you. As cloud accounting requires access to the internet and can be accessed from any device, colleagues from across the globe can update and work on account data from wherever they are. Think of it as logging into your bank account online and checking recent transitions - it works in a similar way.

Work from anywhere

In the past, dealing with your accounts usually meant you were tied to your desk in front of large stacks of papers. As time went on it meant being tied to your desk where your computer was. Cloud accounting software allows you to work from anywhere at any time of day. Of course, it only works if you have internet access, something that can be found in most public places across the country.

Safely stored account information

Cloud accounting means you no longer have to worry about deleting or losing account data. The cloud automatically backs up the work you have done, keeping it safe. Additionally, you can easily recover data that may have been deleted accidentally. As an entrepreneur, running your own business requires a lot of time and effort put into each aspect of the business. You can’t afford to waste time worrying about data you can’t find.

Furthermore, cloud accounting software is safe from cyber attacks which means you don't have to work about data being stolen from you. Stolen data is a huge risk for businesses (of all sizes) as it can be used against you or as a means for ransom, both of which can seriously damage your business financially.

Berley understands how difficult it is to transition into a new way of doing things. Our accountants are here to help with that transition and can also assist with accounting and bookkeeping - it is what we do.

All You Need To Know About The Statutory Residence Test

The government introduced the Statutory Residence Test, also known as SRT, back in April 2013 and the test is designed to decide on your residence status, which helps to determine whether you should pay tax here in the UK or not.

There are many grey areas in these rules and although we cover the main points here, this cannot substitute professional guidance about your personal circumstances and tax status here in the UK.
Your tax status here in the UK largely depends on how long you stay in the country and your connections here. These factors will be added together with other calculations and will determine the outcome of your SRT.
In the past, there was a less clear and structured way of determining Statutory Residence as most cases were decided using existing case law from past rulings, however the SRT was developed to ensure a more open and transparent approach to determining residence for tax purposes.
What Does The SRT Consist Of?
The SRT has three parts; the automatic overseas test, the automatic residence test and the sufficient ties test.
The automatic overseas test considers if there are grounds for automatic non-residence in a specific tax year and if you meet one of four automatic overseas tests applied to your circumstances, you will be declared non UK resident. These include:

  • working full time abroad and spending less than 91 days in the UK during the tax year in question
  • being non-resident in the UK for any of the last three tax years and spending less than 46 days in the UK during the tax year in question
  • being resident in the UK for one or more of the last three tax years but spending less than 16 days in the UK during the tax year in question
  • dying during a tax year and being non-resident in the UK for the previous tax year and the one before.

If you do not meet any of the automatic overseas test, you will be classed as resident in the UK for tax purposes if you met the automatic residence test or the sufficient ties test.
The automatic residence test looks at whether you should be automatically resident in the UK in a specific tax year, and the sufficient ties test considers your residency based on the time you spent here and your ties in the UK. This will apply if:

  • you spend at least 183 days in the UK in that tax year
  • you have a home in the UK for a period of 91 days consecutively, 30 of which are in this particular tax year in which you spent at least 30 days in and you do not have a home overseas or do not spend at least 30 days in that year in it
  • where you work enough hours in UK in that year period, whether that period runs for all or part of the tax year, and there are no significant breaks
  • if you die and were resident in each of the three years previously or the other residence tests apply

The sufficient ties test will be applied by testing the relationship to the UK along with the number of days spent here. The ties are as follows:

  • you have a spouse or child or partner resident in the UK
  • you have accommodation here in the UK and you spend one night there
  • you worked in the UK for 40 days or more
  • you spent more than 90 days in the UK in either or both of the last two tax years
  • you spend more time here in the UK than anywhere else

When there are split years, someone dies or you are temporarily non-resident, this can have implications. In any case, the rules are complex so taking advice is crucial to your status.
Call us now on 020 7636 9094 or email info@berley.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help you.