Here are four key technology takeaways from Accountex 2018.

1. IRIS acquisition of Taxfiler

Accountex coincided with a key announcement for IRIS Software Group, as it revealed the acquisition of Taxfiler, the cloud tax and accounts provider for small accountancy practices.

CEO of IRIS Accountancy Solutions Sion Lewis said that the acquisition provides “an exciting opportunity for us to offer a new generation of professionals tax and accounts compliance in the cloud using a product specific to their needs”.

He added: “We recognise the requirements and challenges of small practices are different to those of larger ones and look forward to simplifying the lives of more accountants to help them become more effective and productive.”

IRIS aims to provide small practices and tax agents with a “friction free, digital record compliance solution” by integrating Taxfiler with KashFlow and OpenSpace. This comes as businesses look to comply with Making Tax Digital.

Taxfiler founder James Reeves said that the cloud provider was “delighted to join the team and with the plans to accelerate product development and focus on best in class customer experience, we look forward to continuing to build the new generation of cloud-based compliance software for small practices.”

The acquisition means that IRIS will be able to support “every size of practice” – from micro businesses to SMEs to larger regional firms and the Big Four.

In recent months, IRIS has been named as a software agent for HMRC’s MTD pilot programme, and the first quarterly filing submission for MTD using IRIS Personal Tax has been completed. The technology provider has also launched Accountant Go – a practice-branded app enabling accountants to engage with their clients – and has acquired Star Computers in a bid to offer payroll and HR solutions within the IRIS Human Capital Management portfolio.

2. Sage update to MTD and GDPR related services

Announcing updates to its products and services at Accountex, Sage said that Sage Business Cloud Accounting and Sage 50cloud are ready for MTD with new functionality enabling OCR receipt capture, Stripe and Paypal integration, and an improved mobile experience.

The updates had brought “digitisation into natural day to day activities”, said Sage.

The company is also offering businesses flexibility when it comes to cloud adoption, with options available for embracing a “full cloud experience” or “keeping the familiarity of a desktop environment whilst taking those first steps to the cloud”.

With regard to compliance with GDPR, the Sage 50 Cloud Payroll contains a new Online Bureau, providing clients with a secure cloud portal to enter employee details, and timesheets and absences, while also giving access to payslips, documents and reports. The system “ensures protection for personal data”, as well as helping clients with GDPR requirements. It also reduces errors, saving businesses approximately one hour per client per week in time spent on administration.

3. Digital invoice capture with Compleat

Compleat Software announced the release of its self-service purchase invoice automation software iCompleatInvoice.

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application combines digital invoice capture and approval automation to further the functionality of accounting software or enterprise resource planning applications. Compleat said that the system delivers real-time information for cash flow management, reducing administration costs by up to 90%. The software leverages AI and machine learning to automate between 60-80% of repetitive invoice coding and approval processes.

Neil Robertson, CEO of Compleat Software, said: “We believe it is time to offer businesses an affordable, competitive, self-service solution.”

He added: “To open a new market for end users and accounting practices, we used our highly successful procure to pay enterprise solution, eCompleat, for digital invoice capture to remove manual processes that add no value.”

4. Insight into MTD from Intuit Quickbooks

Research released by Intuit Quickbooks revealed that while 75% of UK accountants have heard of MTD legislation, 30% of these individuals were unclear on what the initiative means for their practice, highlighting a “disconnect between awareness of the legislation and an understanding of its implications”, the software provider said.

Currently, 33% of accountants’ clients use cloud accounting software, however, 23% have said that none of their clients use cloud software – emphasising that migration to digital platforms is the key concern of many accountants in the run up to MTD.

“Accounting has historically been an exercise of looking in the rearview mirror, but cloud technology empowers accountants with real-time insights that can be used to transform their role from bookkeeper to financial advisor,” said Nick Williams, head of business development, accountants, at Intuit QuickBooks.

“Introducing new client behaviour, educating staff and taking a proactive approach to forthcoming legislation isn’t always easy, but the time to get ahead is now.”

Dates for 2019: Accountex 2019 will take place at the ExCeL London on 1-2 May. Accountex Summit North will take place on 10 September 2019 at Manchester Central.

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