Unless you were trading in the days before computers were in common usage, you will not remember the shelves in your office stacked with shopping bags: in the main client’s record keeping consisted of dumping bank statements and receipts in a plastic bag. The diligent few used manual record systems, like the ever popular Simplex books.
Gradually, shelf space to store client’s records has been reduced as more and more businesses computerise their record keeping. Even traders who do not use off-the-shelf bookkeeping programs have been known to record their business transactions on a spreadsheet.
The art of converting a bag full of “records” is past becoming a redundant skill in professional offices. But is it time to start dusting off those skills?
HMRC have announced this week the formal demise of the notorious Business Record Check campaign. Surprise, surprise, they have discovered (no doubt at considerable cost) that the majority of traders’ records do past muster. Hopefully, they now realise that businesses no longer adopt the “plastic bag” system of bookkeeping.
However, when clients pick up on HMRC’s withdrawal from this program it is worth pointing out that the requirement to keep proper books of account is not going away, only the formalised Business Record Check visits.
It’s worth discussing this with staff, clients and prospects. The last thing you need is a return to the bad old days. If clients perceive that business record keeping is no longer under HMRC’s radar they may be tempted to salvage a shopping bag and switch off their computers.
Of course there are many other reasons for computerising your bookkeeping, not least of which is the ease with which you can keep an eye on business financials and file VAT returns.
As always perception is everything.