By Annie Makoff Members Accountants share their New Year resolutions and goals for 2024 3 Jan 2024 The first few months of the year are already busy enough, and some of you are making additional plans. Accountancy is one of those sectors where it’s nose to the grindstone almost as soon as January hits. January to April is the season of tax returns, with January in particular being one of the busiest months in a practice accountant’s calendar. Q1 includes the Self Assessment online deadline for tax returns (31 January) and Corporation Tax return deadlines (usually nine months after the end of the business’s accounting period) along with additional tax document filings. After that, the focus is on consolidating figures for the end of the financial year (April) in addition to month-end and quarter-end. Yet tax returns and financial conciliation aren’t the only priorities for accountants in the first few months of the year: it’s also a good time for planning for the year ahead. While some practice accountants may be looking to grow their business and are preparing roadmaps over the next 12 to 18 months, accountants in industry may be reviewing internal financial systems and looking at ways to boost efficiency and accuracy. Other resolutions and areas of focus for the coming year may include: building up client base through networking and optimising social media channels reviewing pricing structure looking at alternative ways to offer added value automation financial transformation. We spoke to three accountants – in practice and in business – to find out what their plans are for the coming year and beyond. We’re developing new financial processes as we scale up Andy Murray MAAT AATQB, Finance Manager, Galson Sciences Ltd We’re transitioning from an SME to a large corporation so there are a lot of processes to review, integrate and develop. We’re heavily excel-based and this needs changing. We’ll be making efficiencies within the finance function to save time and improve the robustness of internal controls, while adopting new policies and procedures into the wider group. Part of this is not just understanding how we’re going to run things differently but why. We’ve been operating for 30 years and many people will say ‘the system isn’t broken so why change it?’ so there’s a need for education around change and transformation. The focus this year in particular is going to be the return on gross revenue and how this translates to the bottom line. In mid-January, I’ll be running an internal audit to scope out our financial transformation project which will hopefully be completed by the end of Q2, ideally. We’ll also be continuing to plan and develop our new financial system which is expected to go live in January 2025. Other priorities and areas of focus for 2024 include: • Financial business partnering to work with project managers and fully understand how our 70 live projects – which are entirely different from each other in structure and financial requirements – are operating. • Closer working within the Egis Group (whom Galson Sciences are a part of) to review risk strategies, planning, re-forecasting etc. • Replacing manual process with automation (e.g. invoice payments) and reducing number of Excel spreadsheets. Verdict: We’re scaling up from SME to large business and will be developing new systems and procedures in 2024 in anticipation of this. I’m moving from sole trader to business owner in 2024 Sallyanne Sheppard MAAT, Sheppard Bookkeeping Services In 2024 my focus is to go big. I want to grow and expand my business. Currently, I’m a sole trader but I’m aiming for my business to become a limited company by April so I’ll move from sole trader to business owner. I have big plans to re-brand and I’ll be creating a new company name and implementing a new pricing matrix. The new pricing structure will move away from output-focused and task-driven tasks to focus on the service itself and providing value-add to the client. I also have big plans to develop my client base and pull in more clients through advertising and sales leads and be much more proactive. Part of this is getting the right clients and fine-tuning my target market. It’s been a big mindset change, spurred on by a business coaching programme I’ve been attending which has inspired me to take more risks and scale up. Verdict: I’m moving from sole trader to business owner in 2024 and I’m aiming to fine-tune my client base and generate more leads. Growing through SEO and online marketing Tom Smith MAAT, Director, Every Cloud Accounting I’m focusing on business growth this year and carving out more time in which to do this. My wife and I are expecting our first baby, due in April, so the business needs to become sustainable to support the family. A big part of this is about having the flexibility in my work to be creative – so carrying out accountancy work for existing clients while having the time to implement creative marketing campaigns. Online marketing is therefore going to be a big area of focus for me in 2024 and beyond. I’m developing a long-term SEO marketing strategy. Part of this will include producing consistent, regular blog and video content on my website with a local focus on Lichfield and surrounding areas, which is where I’m based. Regular content like this will ensure my website appears higher up in Google search when potential clients search for Lichfield-based accountants. I’ve also been reaching out directly to local businesses over the past year and I will continue to do this in 2024. Verdict: I’m focusing on SEO and online marketing this year to grow my business. Would you like to contribute to future articles like this one? If so, please get in touch with Annie Makoff-Clark at email@example.com. Annie Makoff is a freelance journalist and editor.