July 2014

And the prize goes to… the taxman.

Published on: 31 Jul 2014

Tax evasion is a major problem for lots of countries. The tax authorities of the Central European country Slovakia though have come up with an ingenious way to reduce tax evasion.

restaurant moneyRestaurants can be notorious for not declaring all of their sales. With lots of customers paying for their meals in cash it can be very difficult for the tax authorities to ensure that all the revenue is properly reported by restaurants.

The Slovakian tax authorities have come up with a clever way to limit the non disclosure of income by restaurants. They have launched a lottery with a monthly top prize of €10,000. The twist in this lottery though is that you don’t buy a ticket to enter. Instead, you enter the lottery by submitting your receipt from the restaurant.

Yes, your receipt acts as the ticket for the lottery. You therefore have happy members of the public who get free chances to enter a lottery to win €10,000 and a happy taxman who now has copy receipts which they can check against the tax records of the restaurant to ensure that the sales have been properly declared in the tax returns.

So far over 60 million receipts have been submitted by 450,000 people.

A very good idea.

You’re not an auditor, you’re a financial detective…

Published on: 25 Jul 2014

I’m an accountant and I’m proud of it.

I think the education and knowledge that you acquire both during your studies and continuing professional education are fantastic.

At the start of my career when I worked for one of the Big 4 I spent several years in the Audit department and this was a great opportunity to find out how a variety of different companies worked.

Sometimes though it has to be said that the term “auditor” doesn’t always have the most exciting of images to the general public. People may think that an auditor is merely somebody who checks other people’s work.

To be honest though a simple piece of rebranding whereby “auditors” were known as “financial detectives” would go a long way to removing some of the negative perceptions that some people have in terms of the excitement of the profession and could create a whole new generation who want to become auditors financial detectives.

Now, whilst most people have heard of the term “auditor” a lot of people don’t really fully appreciate how it works.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) have got a website called “True and Fair” which in their own words aims to “help you find out anything you would like to know about the process known as audit – or to use its full title “Audit of Financial Statements”.”

I think it’s an excellent site and if you are an auditor and want friends or family to find out what your job entails then you should direct them to it (although admittedly if you’re on a first date with somebody and they ask you what you do then maybe say you’re a financial detective).

For any of you that are attempting an ACCA or CIMA paper with an auditing content it also makes for very good background reading.

The site can be found at www.trueandfair.org.uk

You get a safe hotel and a great bed. The towels and TV will cost you extra but what about the toilet paper?

Published on: 20 Jul 2014

The Tune Hotel chain has just opened up its first hotel in the UK. The chain already has 7 hotels in Malaysia and 2 in Indonesia and they claim they offer 5 star beds at 1 star prices.

Their policy is to offer the essentials that people look for in a hotel such as safety, cleanliness and comfortable beds whilst at the same time removing a number of “extras” that some customers don’t necessarily want.

With rooms starting at £35 it certainly offers great value for London hotels. It wouldn’t suit everyone’s taste though as some of the things that people take for granted at a hotel are not included in the standard price.

There are a number of optional extras that guests can purchase. A towel for example can be provided for £1.50 per stay whilst the use of a hairdryer will set you back £2. If you want to watch TV you’ll need to pay £3 a day.

If you’re the type of person that likes to take your own towel to a hotel or is relaxed about whether or not you wash then you could end up with a very cheap room.

Whilst this hotel wouldn’t be everyone’s “cup of tea” (incidentally there are no coffee or tea making facilities in the rooms) there will certainly be a market for people that only want a clean and safe hotel room to sleep in and are not bothered about the extras.

In the past we’ve blogged about the BMI Weymouth hospital that was adopting a differentiation approach to business. With Tunes Hotels adopting a hospitality industry equivalent to the low cost airline models of Easy Jet and Ryan Air, this is a great example of either a cost leadership approach or Bowman’s no-frills strategy.

Guests can rest assured though that toilet paper is included in the price and is not an optional extra.

Husband hides money in oven and then wife decides to…

Published on: 15 Jul 2014

There’s a saying that “money makes the world go around” and as finance professionals we should all have a good solid understanding of the importance of cash flow and treasury functions.

With the recent history of banks failing and the turmoil that is currently taking place in certain European countries there is also the question as to how safe is your money.

Both companies and individuals should therefore make sure that their money is kept in a safe place.

Now, this doesn’t just mean ensuring your bank account is with a reputable bank. No, it also means don’t try and hide your money in a pretty stupid place…

As an illustration of where not to “invest” your money, according to press reports in Australia, a gentleman in Sydney stored his money in what must rank as one of the most stupid places to store money.

Due to the slowdown of the building industry that he was working in, the unnamed individual had been forced to sell his sports car to pay various bills and mortgage obligations.

The individual had just sold his Toyota Supra for AU$15,000 and when he was looking for a place to hide it until he could get to the bank the following day he decided that the best place would be to put the cash into the kitchen oven.

Now let’s just stop for a moment and think. Was this a good idea? Was there any chance that the oven could get turned on, become very hot and as a result the cash become pretty worthless??

Yes, you guessed it.

His wife came home and decided to preheat the oven so that she could cook some chicken nuggets for their children.

20 minutes later and as she went to put the nuggets in the oven she found a pile of melted money (interestingly, Australia has plastic banknotes which last longer than the traditional paper banknotes although not if baked to 200°C).

The gentlemen went to the bank the following day to see if they would replace the damaged money. In some countries the central bank will replace damaged bank notes with new bank notes but it’s unclear how much if anything the individual got back in this case.

So, the moral of the story is if you’re going to put your cash in a safe place then make sure it is safe.

Instead of hiding it in the oven then why not try hiding it in the trash bin…

The viewers won’t be talking about this new TV channel.

Published on: 10 Jul 2014

Do you have a favourite TV programme? Is there one particular programme that you really like and watch it as much as you can?

Before you start answering those questions I should say that I’m not talking to you but am instead talking to the dog.

dog-tvBefore you start questioning my sanity (or asking the dog if he thinks I’m mad) I should point out that a new TV channel is launching this month called Dog TV.

The channel isn’t aimed at owners of dogs. Instead, it’s aimed at the dogs themselves. It’s a 24 hours a day, seven days a week channel which has been specifically designed for dogs that are left at home whilst their owners are out of the house.

Instead of showing dog action movies or dog romantic comedies the programmes will aim to soothe and relax dogs who are alone at home.

If you look at the typical revenue stream of the TV channel it’s generally advertising revenue and subscription income.

The brighter amongst you will have probably realised already that advertising on a TV channel aimed at dogs and not humans isn’t likely to be that successful. After all, if Fido your faithful hound sees an advert for the latest dog food it will be tricky for him to tell the owner about it when he or she gets home from work.

So that leaves the subscription option and Dog TV will be open to subscribers for a monthly fee of $4.99.

It’s certainly a novel business idea and we wish the Tel Aviv company behind it all the best. If it is a success and the subscriptions go well then the company will be happy, the dog owners will be pleased and the dogs themselves will be soothed and relaxed.

It does of course raise the question, “what about the cats of the household and where is their TV channel? Where is Cat TV?”

Maybe this is in the company’s product development expansion plans??

On a separate note, a lot of our readers are studying for ACCA exams. The results were out this week and many congratulations to all of you that were successful in your exams. If you want to start studying for the next paper don’t forget that here are our free ACCA online courses.

Forget about Harry Potter. What about Alan the Accountant and his pants?

Published on: 05 Jul 2014

The Harry Potter books are a publishing phenomenon. Who would have thought that a story about a boy wizard would be so successful? Here we are more than 10 years after the first film in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and the movies alone have earned more than £4 billion worldwide. Add in the books, merchandise and rights and you have a hefty sum.

But will there be a challenger to the Harry Potter crown?

I’ve just come across another children’s book and forget about wizard characters such as Harry, Hermione and Ron and instead welcome in “Alan the Accountant”.

Author Jinky Fox has produced a book about the likeable accountant Alan and whilst I haven’t yet managed to find a “window of opportunity” to read the book yet it does sound an exciting read.

Publishers Flaneur said that “as a student the author Jinky Fox planned to become an accountant, but was sidetracked into fine art”.

‘The series of books planned for Alan the Accountant will help me examine the exciting world of Accountancy that I turned my back on,’ commented Jinky.

So, as an accountant myself I’m pleased to see this potential challenger to the Harry Potter crown.

As one of the publicity shots for the book shows on the left he even looks like a fashionable accountant when he’s in his trendy pants.

A colleague in our marketing department though joked that seeing as it’s a book for children starring an accountant it will no doubt help children to fall asleep at night.

The ExP Group