26 August 2014

"Join the Party!" Article by Tina Zawila

Steve and I spent a couple of days in Sydney late last week at the annual Xero Conference “XeroCon”.  If you don’t know who/what Xero is, you soon will.  Forbes magazine earlier this year heralded Xero as the “World’s most innovative growth company”, and the company is growing at a blistering pace. 

So what does Xero do?  Quite simply, Xero provides “Beautiful Accounting Software”. 
At Sothertons Gladstone we have been using Xero with some of our clients for almost 2 years and it seems that all who use the online software love it, and so do we.
It seems that many other businesses in Australia are loving it too. 147,000 Australian businesses are now using the software, almost double the number from this time last year.
Managing Director Chris Ridd also informed the conference, “Xero is reaching significant scale, accounting for $54 billion in transactions in Australia alone. We processed over 10 million invoices in the last 12 months valued at $23.5 billion and 40% of those invoices were sent online. Xero also processed over $20 billion in payments, making the company a force in the financial services arena. ” Ridd also said Xero had transacted over one billion Australian dollars of monthly payroll for over 370,000 employees in the last financial year.
XeroCon was an opportunity for Steve and I to interact with the Xero team including the software developers, to learn what is due for release in the next 90 days and what we can expect in the next 12 months. There are certainly some exciting enhancements coming, that will continue to boost Xero’s reputation for building beautiful, easy to use accounting software.
If you want to join the party, call the professional team at Sothertons Gladstone on 07 4972 1300 and we will discuss how Xero can help you run your business with ease and efficiency

"The best advice we ever received..." Article by Steve Marsten

In the last few months we at Sothertons, have been encouraged by those business men and women who are looking to invest and establish new businesses to hopefully enrich their lives and provide a sustainable income and a reasonable return on their investment. While working with one such couple I was asked what was the best business advice I ever received.

I started to give the question some consideration before answering. Clearly when you have been around business owners all your life you hear a considerable amount of advice yourself even when you are the business adviser. Now I often keep a “Black Book” for things I hear or read and I write them down so I can read back over them when ever I get a chance. I have used many black books over the years.  So I sat down and noted that I had written many gems of advice down in several books. Here are my top 7 gems of Business advice that I think all business owners should remember.
1.      My father once said “People may not always like the decisions you make, but if you strive to be fair, they will respect you.”

2.      If you don’t own a business, then atleast care enough about your job to work like it is YOUR business.

3.      Don’t do what others on your team are capable of – ever! Get the right people in place and RUN the business.

4.      Never take “no” from someone who doesn’t have the authority to say yes. If you want it, go get it.

5.      If you are not fit then get good health insurance, because if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you possibly take care of a healthy business!

6.      Confidence is half the battle. Believe in yourself, and others will too.

7.      Measure twice, cut once!
Advice is great however it’s pointless unless it’s followed by action. At Sothertons we work with Business Owners to use action sheets, commitment dates and deliverables and strive to achieve these where ever possible. Communicate when it’s not possible to your customers and your suppliers if need be. Call Steve and Tina to discuss your business ventures now on 07 4972 1300.

"myGov.com – let the user beware" Article by Steve Marsten

Recently clients have been asking about myGov.com. This is an Australian Government initiative to provide a fast and simple way to access various government services and more importantly, provide access to your personal history for such services as Medicare; Centrelink; Australian Tax Office; Child Support; The National Disability Insurance Scheme; eHealth Record and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

It has some pro’s and con’s. Firstly, I like the idea that it is the easiest way to find out how many old superfund accounts you have open. An account that I thought I had closed had over $3,000 still sitting in it. Also it gives me fairly up to date information about my taxes including PAYG payment summaries - assuming of course the employer has lodged them on time. It’s handy to confirm your HELP, HECS and SFSS debts as well as get your Tax File number.
It allows the taxpayer to set up their own payment plan with the ATO should they find themselves in difficulty paying off the debt. Of course there are limitations – namely only debts below $25,000.
The other appealing point is it gives the taxpayer the ability to roll their superfunds into one fund. Again this is fast and expedient. Now there are some downsides to the expediency – that is, some people will change their super without consideration to the information that is not showing such as the fees within each fund and are there any fees for the switches?
Even more of a surprise is it allows you to cease a Life Insurance policy (when consolidating your super) without considering the implications of such an action. It is so difficult to acquire quality Life Insurance these days thus nobody should cancel a life policy until they have an alternative arrangement in place. The decision could be devastating to the taxpayer and his or her family.
Our advice is to seek professional guidance so that you are fully informed of the ramifications before you push the button. At Sothertons we aim to educate our clients to make better quality financial decisions. Phone 4972 1300 to talk to Steve or Tina.

"SuperStream – Another nail in the coffin of the cheque book" Article by Tina Zawila

Employers, you may have missed it, (with all the other changes that occurred on 1 July 2014 such as an increase in tax rates due to the Medicare Levy increase, and increased Superannuation Guarantee Contributions), but “SuperStream” also came into effect on 1 July 2014.

What’s SuperStream I hear you ask?
It is yet another government reform aimed at improving the efficiency of the superannuation system.  Under SuperStream employers must make super contributions on behalf of their employees by submitting data and payments electronically in accordance with the SuperStream standard.   All superannuation funds, including Self Managed Superannuation Funds, must receive contributions electronically in accordance with this standard. 
This means no more cheques and paper remittance advices to super funds!
Although the ATO is being flexible with the implementation of this initiative, employers with 20 or more employees are obliged to start using the SuperStream standard from 1 July 2014.  For employers with 19 or fewer employees, you have until 1 July 2015 to adopt SuperStream.
Employers have two options for meeting SuperStream; either:
a)      Use software the conforms to SuperStream, or

b)      Use a service provider who can meet SuperStream on their behalf.
If you do employ more than 20 employees, you should investigate your options as soon as possible.  Transitional rules recently introduced will allow you (between 1 July 2014 and 2 November 2014) to send super contribution messages to a fund without strictly conforming to the SuperStream standard provided the super fund will accept the format. 

Time is ticking…at Sothertons Gladstone we can assist employers in understanding their obligations regarding SuperStream and other taxation and employment matters.  We can also help you with software options to make things easier for you.  Call us today on 07 4972 1300 if you need more information or assistance to ensure your meet the SuperStream requirements.