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Is it clothing or a blanket?

If you’ve just had a baby the concept of taxation is probably one of the last things on your mind but for anyone who has purchased a SnuggleBundl for their baby there is an interesting link to taxation.

blog-Snugglebundl-268x275According to the manufacturers the SnuggleBundl is “the world’s first lifting wrap for babies. This beautiful multi-award winning hooded baby garment ties at the front and the soft, strong handles on this wearable wrap let you lift and lay your baby so gently that they’ll stay sleeping”.

It seems that they have been selling very well and there have no doubt been lots of parents, babies and possibly very small adults who are extremely pleased with the warmth and comfort of the SnuggleBundl.

The tax authorities though had different things on their minds. They were more concerned as to whether the SnuggleBundl was baby clothing or was a blanket.

And the reason the tax authorities were so concerned about the classification was because of?

Well, the reason was all down to VAT. As is the case in a number of countries, the UK tax authorities do not levy VAT on children’s clothes. They do however levy VAT at 20% on blankets.

The tax authorities claimed the product was a blanket whilst the company claimed it was clothing.

The simple difference was that if it was classified as clothing it would be sold for £34.99 whereas if it was classified as a blanket it would be sold for £41.99 (£34.99 plus 20% VAT of £7).

This difference in price would have a major impact on the number of SnuggleBundl’s sold as it’s a big difference for a parent if they have to pay £34.99 or £41.99 for the item.

Given that in both of these cases the company would end up with the same amount of money, it was obvious why the company wanted it to be classified as clothing (if the item was classified as a blanket and sold at £41.99 the £7 VAT would need to be paid over to the tax authorities by the company leaving them with £34.99).

In what no doubt caused a huge sigh of relief the company (plus a few happy gurgles by some babies) the company won the case and the courts found that the product was in fact clothing and not blankets.

The directors of the company can sleep peacefully now…

Not the brightest individual.

Be honest now – have you ever thought that it would be nice to be able to cheat in your exams and get away with it? Have you ever thought it would be great to be able to pass your exams with ease without putting in any real effort?

blog-exam-cheat-man-275x275Well, if the thought has crossed your mind you are not the only one. The girlfriend of Ayan Zhademov thought it would be a good idea to cheat in her exams and she managed to persuade 20 year old Mr Zhademov to help her cheat.

Unfortunately for the lady (but fortunately for all the hard-working honest students who were sitting the exam) the plan wasn’t the smartest and her boyfriend didn’t look much like a woman.

“Didn’t look much like a woman” – why does it matter whether or not he looked like a woman I hear you say?

Well, the plan was for Mr Zhademov to pretend that he was his girlfriend and to sit her exam for her.

When the day of the exam came around, he wore her clothes together with a wig and lots of make-up.

It was reported that despite his efforts to dress up as a woman he simply look like a man wearing a dress and make-up which had been put on badly. The exam invigilators noticed something was wrong and became even more suspicious when he spoke as he had an extremely deep manly voice.

The end result was that he was caught out, his girlfriend failed her exam and he was fined £1,400.

The morale of the story is that it doesn’t pay to cheat and no matter how tempting it may appear to be, just don’t do it. Not even if your girlfriend or boyfriend is a genius and looks exactly like you.

ACCA exam tips released. Will you have a great escape or a rubbish escape?

Those of you that are attempting the June 2015 ACCA exams will no doubt be feeling a mixture of emotions.

blog-June-2015-ACCA-exam-tipsSome of you will be fully confident of passing although probably the majority of you are only hopeful of passing at this stage and are frantically trying to cram as much knowledge into your heads as possible by undertaking some last minute revision before the exams next month.

One of my students at a recent session was unfortunately ill during the run up to the exams and wasn’t feeling at all confident entering the exam hall. Pleasingly he managed to pass his exams and when he told me he the good news he referred to it as his “great escape”.

Hopefully you’ll be successful in your exams and won’t be relying on a “great escape” when you sit your papers but we’ve now released our ACCA exam tips for the June 2015 ACCA exams and the link to them is at the bottom of this blog post.

For those of you interested in seeing an example of a “rubbish escape” as opposed to a “great escape” the video below of two prisoners trying to escape from a New Zealand court makes nice viewing.

Good luck with your final revision and here are the June 2015 ACCA exam tips (after selecting this link, click on the paper you are interested in and the exam tips are on the right of that paper’s page).

It’s a good idea to start walking in the office…

Do you sit at a desk when you’re at work?

If you do, how long do you spend sat there before you get up to move around?

blog-walking-in-office-275x275If you sit at your desk and work on your computer without moving around then I’ve for some unfortunate news for you because a sedentary lifestyle where you sit at your desk without moving around is bad for you.

Researchers at the University of Utah examined the health, exercise and nutrition records of over 3,000 Americans over a 3 year period and on average they spent 34 minutes sitting or lying down per hour whilst working.

Ignoring the question as to what were they doing lying down it will come as no surprise that the more time they spent on sedentary activities the more likely they were to die during the study.

Swapping sitting with standing up appeared to make no difference to the risk of death but what did make a difference was replacing 2 minutes sitting with 2 minutes of walking around

2 minutes of walking around per hour instead of sitting down reduced the risk of death by 33%.

So, the trick is to make sure you walk around for a couple of minutes an hour whilst at the office.

Of course, if those 2 minutes are spent walking to the vending machine to stock up on crisps and chocolate to eat at your desk there may not be that much of a benefit…

Should you be able to get this benefit at work?

How much do you get paid? My guess is it’s not as much as the chief executive of WPP.

Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured) is chief executive of the advertising business WPP and his annual pay has just been revealed in the company’s annual report.

blog-sirmartinsorrell4-275x275His total pay was £42.98 million. In case you think that’s a typo – it’s not. He received nearly £43 million in pay.

As well as being the chief executive, Martin Sorrell is the founder of the company.

The company has grown significantly since it was founded in 1985 and it is now quoted and part of the FTSE 100 (the largest 100 companies on the London stock market).

As a result of being quoted there are numerous corporate governance requirements which need to take place. One of these is the disclosure of the directors’ remuneration policy in the published accounts. 

Following the publishing of his remuneration package in the accounts it became apparent that one element of his package was very unusual.

Included within his remuneration package of $43 million is a payment to him in respect of his wife’s travel expenses. Now his wife’s travel expenses which were paid by his employer were pretty significant and definitely amounted to more than the occasional taxi journey. In fact, they amounted to £274,000!

That’s not a bad amount for travel expenses is it?

So, should you suggest to your boss at your next salary review that you should receive a travel allowance for your husband or wife?

My guess is that if you do, the response to your request would be fairly brief and probably include a rude word or two…

Be careful what you say as you never know who can hear you.

As you progress through your career there’s a good chance that at some stage or another you’ll have to make a presentation involving a microphone.

It may be stating the obvious but whenever a microphone is near you think carefully about what you say.

microphoneAmerican basketball player Nigel Hayes unfortunately didn’t appreciate that his voice would be picked up so clearly before a press conference started.

Whilst waiting for the press conference to start, Mr Hayes noticed a journalist by the name of Debra Bollman in the audience. He turned to his fellow players who were sat next to him and whispered “God, she’s beautiful”.

With the microphones doing what they were supposed to do they picked this statement up loud and clear and the journalists all laughed.

Mr Hayes’ reaction when he realised that his comments had been overheard can be seen in the video below.

Looking on the bright side for Mr Hayes though, at least he thought the journalist was attractive as it would have been a lot worse had he said “God, she’s ugly”.

Somebody is calling him a loser…

Having a good website is vital in today’s business environment but if you’re looking for a certain name for your website there’s a chance you may have to pay a lot of money for it.

360.com has reportedly just been sold by Vodafone to the Chinese security software and mobile services company Beijing Qihoo Technology company for $17 million.

loser business manThe Chinese Technology company previously used 360.cn but they wanted the .com domain to drive their global strategy.

One website that was sold for an undisclosed sum of money is loser.com. Whilst it’s not clear how much was paid for the domain it’s fair to say that it would have been pretty expensive with some people estimating it to be up to $500,000.

But what was the return and what was the website used for?

If you go to loser.com it redirects through to the rapper Kanye West’s Wikipedia page.

Yes, whoever bought the loser.com domain obviously doesn’t like Kanye West but does have a lot of money!

If you’re interested in other expensive domain names, the top 15 most expensive web domains which have been sold are:

1. Insurance.com $35.6 million in 2010
2. VacationRentals.com $35 million in 2007
3. PrivateJet.com $30 million in 2012
4. Sex.com $24 million in 2014
5. Internet.com $18 million in 2009
6. 360.com $17 million in 2015
7. Insure.com $16 million in 2009
8. Hotels.com $11 million in 2001
9. Fund.com £9.99 million in 2008
10. Porn.com $9.5 million in 2007
11. Porno.com $8,888,888 in Feb 2015
12. Fb.com by Facebook for $8.5 million in 2010
13. Business.com $7.5 million in 1999
14. Diamond.com $7.5 million in 2006
15. Beer.com  $7 million in 2004

Looking at the above list makes me think what a great idea it would have been if I’d thought of buying up a load of domain names back in the 90s when the internet was just getting going and domain names were very cheap.

The people that bought those sites and then sold them are no doubt doing very well and flying around in their (number 3 in the list above) whilst drinking lots of (number 15 from the list above) and possibly wearing lots of (number 14 from the list above).

Probably not a good idea to do this before an interview.

Interviews can be stressful occasions. The best you can do though is to be as prepared as possible, be confident and answer questions as well as you can.

Unfortunately for this particular individual though, no matter how well he performed in the interview he was never going to get the job.

tube stationMatt Buckland was on the tube in London heading to the office. Anyone that has been on the tube in rush hour will know that it gets very crowded but generally people can get in and out of the train without too much drama.

Matt got to his station and was waiting for the doors to open to get off the train when a gentleman behind him started pushing and trying to get past him.

Matt politely told the other individual that he was getting off at that station but the other guy just ignored him, pushed him out of the way and then turned to him and rather aggressively told him to, how can I say it, but perform an act on himself which as far as my understanding of biology goes would be physically impossible.

Anyway, the grumpy individual carried on his way and Matt headed into the office where he was due to interview some people for a job.

In a fantastic coincidence, one of the people that Matt was interviewing that day was the grumpy guy who had told him to “go forth and multiply with himself” on the tube.

Brilliant! A rude person pushes past you and swears at you but you then meet them again a short while later to decide whether or not they should be offered a job at the company you work for.

Needless to say the individual didn’t get the job and as a learning point from this it’s best not to be rude to too many people on the way to an interview.

Your phone – a communication or translation device?

English is often considered to be the international language of business.

Whilst you’re (or is that your?) not expected to speak 100% perfect English to pass your professional exams you are however expected to be able to understand English to such a level that you can effectively communicate business concepts to other business professionals around the world.

professional examsThe global professional bodies such as ACCA and CIMA are certainly international. ACCA for example has over 162,000 members and 428,000 students in 173 countries and it’s a fair guess that the majority of ACCA students and members speak another language other than English as their first language.

Whilst the number of English speakers in the world has been steadily increasing there is an interesting debate as to whether technology will result in fewer people speaking English and instead other languages taking off.

Most of us have heard of or used Google translate which translates written text from one language to another on the internet but Skype has recently announced a novel approach to translation.

Skype offers VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) calls and enables people to speak to each other free of charge over the internet.

They have just announced a beta version (a test version) of Skype which will provide near instantaneous VOICE translation between Spanish and English.

In other words, I can call a Spanish friend who doesn’t speak English, I speak in English on Skype and my Spanish friend will hear the words in Spanish rather than English.

Ignoring the question of how we became friends if neither of us speaks the other person’s language, this is a pretty impressive bit of technology.

Whilst it is still very much a test version and a lot of the initial calls may well be translating English and Spanish swear words, there are some interesting potential uses in the not too distant future.

Will we for example all have our own mini voice translation device with us in 10 years which will enable us to understand 50 different languages (or swear in 50 different languages)?

Will some lesser spoken languages become more popular than they are now?

Only time will tell or should that be only technology will tell?

Financial Trader to Football Manager.

It’s nearly the end of January and the New Year celebrations feel as though they were a long time ago.

In a lot of countries it’s traditional to make New Year’s Resolutions to change a certain area of your life.

The vast majority of resolutions though get broken by the end of January (anyone that goes to a gym will know that it is generally a lot busier in January than it is in July!).

financial coachingAs well as getting fit, other popular resolutions are to lose weight and (occasionally) to study harder towards the professional exams.

Some people have getting a new job as a New Year Resolution and one person who has made a very successful (and certainly very unusual) career change is Mark Warburton.

Mark has a financial background and worked as a financial trader in the City of London. As well as being good with figures he also had a love of football. This love of football resulted in him deciding to leave his well paid job in the City back in the early 2000s and to obtain his football coaching qualifications.

He took a 90% pay cut (yes, 90%!) but it’s paid off in the long terms as he has worked his way up the football career path and is now manager of Brentford who are currently in the playoff position in the Championship hoping for promotion to the Premier League.

If Brentford are successful in getting promotion to the Premier League then Mr Warburton would have successfully made the transition from analysing financial spreadsheets to analysing the tactics of his competing Premier League managers such as Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini.

Of course, anyone who follows football will know that football management is a tough job and the long term career prospects aren’t always that good. At the moment though things are going well for Mr Warburton and we wish him all the best.