The Trusts Act 2019 – how will it impact you?

The Trusts Act 2019 – how will it impact you?

Trusts are common in NZ and the reasons for setting them up vary. The Trusts Act 2019 comes into effect on 30 January 2021. Changes to the act aim to make trusts more accessible. There are increased compliance obligations on trustees and duties that ensure greater transparency for beneficiaries.

The changes to the act include:

  • The age of majority (the default age that a person can inherit if not specified) changes from 20 to 18.
  • The maximum duration period of a trust is extended from 80 years to 125 years
  • Obligations on trustees to keep certain information about trusts
  • A mechanism to request the court to review the decisions and actions of trustees
  • Flexible powers for trustees to manage trusts.

Trustee duties

Trustees must be aware of their obligations and duties under the law. These are set out in the Trusts Act 2019. There are mandatory duties that are essentially to ensure trustees take their role seriously. These are:

  • A trustee must know the terms of the trust
  • A trustee must follow the terms of the trust
  • A trustee must act honestly, and in good faith
  • A trustee must act for the beneficiaries of the trust
  • A trustee must exercise the powers they have for a proper purpose.

Optional duties for trustees – The act sets out optional duties that can be changed in the trust deed. If this happens, the advisor must point this out to the settlors.

Duties regarding information keeping and sharing – These duties are regarding the information trustees must keep, and the information that must be made available to beneficiaries (including of trust assets, trustee decisions, and changes to the trust).

The additional compliance duties for trustees within the act may mean that existing trusts are no longer cost effective. Greater transparency may also require trustees to disclose information that they previously did not share.

Get in touch to discuss how the changes impact you.

Understanding your numbers to improve your results

Understanding your numbers to improve your results

Understanding your financial reports, or knowing your numbers, is critical to business success. It allows you to make better business decisions, measure the impact of those decisions, take corrective action where necessary and, ultimately, enjoy better results.

By understanding your financial reports, you’ll:

  • Know if your business is growing or shrinking
  • Discover trends in your business and be able to respond accordingly
  • Compare your actual results to your expectations
  • Identify areas of strength and weakness in your business
  • Understand the value of your business
  • Make better decisions

How to maximise results from your reports:

1. Ask yourself, is the data ‘clean’? This means that all transactions have been coded correctly and bank statements have been reconciled. Do you have monthly procedures to ensure your data is clean?
2. Inspect what you expect. You must have goals for your business, or targets you expect to achieve. Inspect your financial reports each month to see if you’re on track to achieve your expected targets.
3. Know which reports to use. Each report tells you a different story. Your Profit and Loss Statement measures your income and expenses; the Balance Sheet measures your assets, liabilities and net worth.
4. Conduct both horizontal and vertical analysis. This means comparing the current period with previous periods (horizontal analysis) and calculating each item as a percentage of a base item (vertical analysis). For example, comparing this year’s Balance Sheet with last year’s and calculating each expense item as a percentage of Sales on your Profit and Loss Statement.
5. Understand the difference between ‘as at’ or ‘for the period ending’. An ‘as at’ report, such as the Balance Sheet, shows the balances at the end of a specific period. A ‘for the period ending’ report, such as the Profit and Loss Statement, shows the results over a period of time.
6. Choose the correct date range. Ensure you correctly specify the start and end dates for the period you want to measure. Choose a month end date, such as 30 June instead of 15 June, to ensure all income and expenses have been coded and reconciled for the period.

By understanding the fundamentals behind your financial reports, you’ll know more about your numbers and be able to use that information to make better decisions. Whether you want to grow your business or increase efficiency to free up your time, we can help you interpret your financial reports and set goals for improvement.

Get in touch for our complimentary Guide to Your Financial Reports to learn more.

GoFi8ure named ICNZB’s Bookkeeping Business of the Year 2020

GoFi8ure named ICNZB’s Bookkeeping Business of the Year 2020

We have some exciting news! GoFi8ure have been named Institute of Certified NZ Bookkeepers‘s Bookkeeping Business of the Year 2020! We are so proud of the team and what we achieve on a daily basis. Listen to the announcement here.

There are so many amazing Bookkeepers out there and we are honored to have been named a Finalist and then a Winner of this award. Congratulations to all of the Finalists and Winners #hugabookkeeper #communityovercompetition

Maximising your cash reserves

Maximising your cash reserves

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the inadequacy of current cash reserves for many businesses. They simply don’t have enough cash to sustain the business in a crisis.

Now is the time to make permanent change to your business processes and cost structure so you can build those reserves. At the same time, business owners need to be part of a world solution, and that means paying our bills on time where possible.

11 strategies to maximise your cash reserves:

  1. Invoice your customers immediately upon supply of products and services. The faster you bill, the faster you’ll be paid.
  2. Shorten your payment terms, e.g. from 20th of the month to within 7 days of invoice. You’ll need to reflect any changes in your Terms of Trade, in key customer contracts, and on your website.
  3. Invoice directly from your accounting software. This can enable faster payment.
  4. Negotiate prompt payment discounts with your suppliers. Don’t be bashful, there is no harm in asking.
  5. Get better at collecting the money you’re owed. Ask nicely to be paid by customers as soon as an invoice is overdue. The fast cash is in the 30-day column, not the 90-day column.
  6. Outsource proactive debtor management to a collection agency. This can be surprisingly cost-effective.
  7. Perform credit checks on new customers and make sure your Terms of Trade give you as much protection as possible if a debt goes bad. For example, put personal guarantees in place.
  8. Develop a personal spending budget and stick to it. This will reduce cashflow pressure on the business.
  9. Take costs out of the business where you can, but only where you should. This is an ideal time to review every line item in your Profit and Loss Statement. The shift to working online may allow you to change spending patterns.
  10. Have clear spending limits for team members who incur expenses on behalf of your business and regularly monitor these.
  11. And finally, prepare a Cashflow Forecast. Know what’s ahead of you and understand how positive changes will improve your cash reserves going forward.

Cash is oxygen for your business. Contact us now so we can help you put a cashflow improvement plan in place.

“The more a business owner knows about their cashflow, the more empowered they become.” – Nick Chandi

Successfully implement change in your business

Successfully implement change in your business 

Research by Kotter International found that more than 70% of change projects within a business fail. Why is this?

The research findings show that employee engagement is the biggest factor. Whether it is a small change to one or two processes, or a company-wide change, it’s common for staff to feel intimidated by it.

So what can you do for successful implementation of change? Here are the principals from Kotter’s 8-Step Program:

1. Get the team onboard

Build support and create momentum behind the changes you are making by communicating the benefits with the whole company early on.

  • Start honest discussions with your team and give dynamic and convincing reasons to get people talking and thinking about the change.
  • Demonstrate what would happen if you didn’t make the change and what else it could affect in the future.
  • Request support from customers in this instance who may love the product, outside stakeholders and others known in the industry to strengthen your argument.

Kotter suggests that 75 percent of a company’s management needs to support a change in order to succeed.

2. Form a powerful coalition from all areas of the business

Share the support you have from all areas in the business (not just the leadership team). Visible support from key people within the organisation will bring others on board and create a sense of urgency. Give these people key roles in the change process to help progress it.

Once formed, your “change coalition” needs to work as a team, continuing to build urgency and momentum around the need for change.

What you can do:

  • Identify the influencers in your organisation for this change, as well as your key stakeholders.
  • Ensure that you have a good mix of people from different levels within your firm.
  • Ask for a commitment from these key people.
  • Work on team building within your change coalition.

3. Create a vision for change

Create an overall vision that helps everyone understand why you’re asking them to do something.

What you can do:

  • Develop a short summary (one or two sentences) that captures what you “see” as the future of your organisation.
  • Create a strategy to execute that vision.
  • Ensure that your team leading the change are all on the same page.

4. Communicate the vision

Embed this in everything you do so it is not lost in the day-to-day operation but a powerful part of this.

What you can do:

  • Talk often about vision and change.
  • Make sure the vision is applied to all aspects of the operations. For example, ensure it’s added to the training and induction program and is encapsulated into the relevant job descriptions and evaluations.
  • Address people’s concerns and anxieties about it openly and honestly.
  • Lead by example.

5. Remove obstacles

Check constantly for processes and structures that need to adjust to allow you to execute the vision and help the change move forward.

What you can do:

  • Look at your organisational structure, job descriptions, and performance and compensation systems to ensure they’re in line with your vision.
  • Recognise and reward people for making change happen.
  • Identify, or hire, change managers whose core role is to deliver the change.
  • Identify areas or team members that stand in the way of change, and find solutions.
  • Take action to quickly remove barriers rather than letting them fester.

6. Create short-term wins

Create short-term targets – not just one long-term goal. Each “win” that you produce can further motivate all the staff especially if it’s a big change requiring a longer process and help keep them on task.

What you can do:

  • Reward people who help you meet the targets.
  • Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement without help from any strong critics of the change.
  • Don’t choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.

7. Build on the change

Keep looking for improvements to the system to ensure the long term goals are achieved.

What you can do:

  • After every win, analyse what went right, and what needs improving.
  • Set goals to continue building on the momentum you’ve achieved.
  • Develop a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new people to lead the change.

8. Anchor the changes in your culture

Finally, to make any change stick, it should become part of the core of your organisation. Make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect, giving it a solid place in your organisation. It’s also important that your company’s leaders continue to support the change. This includes existing staff and new leaders who are brought in.

What you can do:

  • Talk about progress every chance you get. Tell success stories about the change process, and repeat other stories that you hear.
  • Include the change ideals and values when hiring and training new staff so it is enforced from the start.
  • Publicly recognise key members and enablers of the change.
  • Create plans to replace key leaders of change as they move on. This will help ensure that their legacy is not lost or forgotten.

How to create a cash flow forecast for your business

How to create a cash flow forecast for your business  

A cash flow forecast is an important tool for business planning. And right now, understanding the cash coming in and going out of your business is vital.

A cash flow forecast will show you how long your business can continue to survive on current sales levels, by showing you how much money you’ll have in the bank at the end of a period.

It will give you an understanding of what the revenue drivers are in your business, and give you visibility of your expenses and the things you can control. Having this information in a forecast will also allow you to plan for different scenarios, work out your priorities and understand the outcomes of different options such as diversification.

A cash flow plan can give you a proactive tool to deal with uncertainty. If you are seeking funding in the form of a loan, applying for business support or just establishing your long term survival, you’ll need a cash flow plan.

What information do you need?

We can help you to create a plan for your business. The plan is only as good as the data you have. So here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Understanding where your cash is coming from

Start with revenue from sales – break your sales figures up by product line and across channels. This will show you where the cash is coming from. For example:

  • Does 80% of your revenue come from only 20% of your products?
  • Do you sell to different markets and does one deliver more revenue than others?
  • Are some of your products high value but low volume or low value at high volume?

The data you collect will enable you to ask questions, such as can you reduce margin to lift sales, can you push volume up or are there other channels to sell through?

Make sure you include all other revenue streams, such as grants, tax refunds or investment in your cash inflows.

Understanding expenses – where is the cash going to?

This will include all the costs associated with your business, including rent, wages, supply materials, bank loan fees and charges, tax bills, and electricity.

If you have a bank loan, include the details such as the length of the term and the monthly payments.

Your cash flow plan should also include tax payments when they are due and any capital expenditures.

Some of your variable expenses will directly relate to revenue such as freight or materials. When your sales stop, these will drop too, so your cash flow plan should reflect this relationship in order for you to scenario plan.

Controlling expenses – what costs are fixed and what are the variable costs that you can control? You may not be able to stop fixed expenses like rent, power and internet, but you could reduce the cash going out on petrol and travel, cleaning, and even directors’ drawings.

Making informed decisions in your business

A good cash flow forecast will collate all the data from your business in one place. It will allow you to plan and work out how long your business can weather a storm. It will also help you make decisions around staffing, purchasing inventory, ordering supply materials or investing in growth.

It’s worth remembering that a cash flow plan is a different tool to a budget. Here’s one example: a budget will show sales but a cash flow plan will show the cash benefit of those sales. If you offer credit to customers, your sales may not result in immediate cash flow.

Want to get a handle on cash flow in your business?

If you’re not certain of how to get this information from your accounting software, talk to us about which reports to run. You may need a combination of accounting software reports and projected figures.

Use the information above to source the data you’ll need and get in touch. We can help you build a plan that gives you cash flow projections to assist your decision making.

What can you do to prepare now, for a return to business?

What can you do to prepare now, for a return to business?

In the context of the Covid-19 outbreak, the duty to remove or minimise health and safety risks in your business has become harder. When lockdown measures ease, businesses will need to have a plan on how they will manage risks and protect workers and customers before they start operations.

At Alert Level 3, workplaces can be reopened if the work cannot be done from home and the workplace can operate consistently with public health guidance.

Many businesses are still unable to operate under Alert level 3. Businesses will be required to work from home unless that is not possible. If you are one of the businesses that are able to return to work, you will need to think about the following safety measures:

Keeping your workplace, and the people you work with safe

  • Strict hygiene measures – disinfecting surfaces and allowing people to have easy access to soap and water and/or sanitiser so they can maintain high levels of hygiene. Reminding staff with posters about how to reduce risk will be important too.
  • Social distancing for employees – the goal is to limit the interaction between people. Can you set up split-shifts for staff or ensure that only essential workers come to the workplace in order to reduce interactions?
  • Social distancing for customers and suppliers – offering online purchase and contactless delivery. If people come into the business, have a plan for a managed entry system, with space for people to maintain a safe distance from others.
  • Contact tracing – you’ll need to record who is working together and any other people such as suppliers, customers or a tradesperson who you have contact with.
  • Providing protective equipment, if it is required – you may not need PPE equipment but if it is necessary, you’ll need to be able to supply workers with the items they need.
  • Have a plan to respond to suspected infection – make sure everyone can identify symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath). Unwell people should stay home.
  • Employee engagement – work together to discuss and agree the new working arrangements.
  • Have a plan for managing employee absences – who is essential to your business operation? Have a plan in place if staff are unable to work.
  • Communication with customers – you’ll need to consider how you will communicate with customers.

At Alert Level 3, workplaces can be reopened if the work cannot be done from home and the workplace can operate consistently with public health guidance. However, there cannot be contact with the public.

For more information on what business can operate and how to comply visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

What does an Accountant really do?

What does an Accountant really do?  

Not sure what an Accountant can do for your business? Well, the right accountant will do a lot more than just help with your tax returns! Your Accountant should be a trusted business advisor, helping you lead with more confidence.

The best Accountants can do much more than just tax and compliance work for your business. They are troubleshooters and strategic advisors for small business. Basically, having an Accountant means that you can operate your business with more clarity and confidence.

Whether you are working to get a startup off the ground, or taking the reins of an established business, you will see value from making an accountant part of your team. When you have the right Accountant and a good relationship, you will see their influence impacting all the moving parts that make up your business.

Accountants can support you from startup to business exit. Read more on what accountants do to support your business and help you achieve your goals.