AQRU launches crypto accountancy start-up Daxiom

During November 2022, AQRU plc, an incubator specialising in decentralised finance (DeFi), launched crypto accounting start-up Daxiom to offer technology-led accountancy and advisory services for institutions holding digital assets, in partnership with the Managing Partners of chartered accountancy firm Sampson Fielding Ltd.

With crypto prone to regular changes in value, it can be difficult for institutions to accurately account for the value of their digital assets. Daxiom will use AQRU’s proprietary accounting software to enable companies to quantify and independently verify the value of digital assets, including crypto and NFTs, at a given point in time.

As well as offering a technological solution, Daxiom will leverage Sampson Fielding’s Managing Partners Elliot Fielding and Ben Sampson to advise institutions on their reporting requirements and best practice for accounting for digital assets and will work closely with clients’ teams to ensure all data collected is filed accurately.

Sage ramps up MTD support  to sole traders and landlords

Sage has launched a series of new tools to help accountants support the 4.2 million sole traders and landlords impacted by one of the UK’s biggest tax changes.

Making Tax Digital for Income Tax for Self-Assessment (MTD for ITSA), will apply to unincorporated sole traders and landlords from April 2024.

The end-to-end solution features two new Sage products - Sage Accounting Individual, designed to support sole traders with the simplest of tax needs and Volume Purchase Agreement (VPA) that allows practices to forward plan for the right solutions for their clients.

Sage is also announcing a new strategic partnership with Hammock, the accounting platform for landlords to manage rental property transactions, that will offer a dedicated solution to the 1.3m UK property owners impacted by MTD for ITSA.

Gravita launches to challenge traditional accounting industry consolidators

Gravita launched as a new challenger brand in the accounting industry with ambitions to become the leading tech-enabled full-service partner for established UK SMEs. Backed by Tenzing, Gravita is significantly investing in building a new kind of consolidator to support ambitious SME leaders in realising their growth goals. Gravita currently includes experienced and trusted specialists from Jeffreys Henry, Arram Berlyn Gardner (ABG) and Propel (acquired from Deloitte).

Gravita, inspired by space exploration and new frontiers, reflects the Group's innovative yet pragmatic approach to working with clients. Clients will benefit from access to a full-service firm with trusted, high calibre specialists all under one brand offering audit, tax, accounts, financial outsourcing, payroll and advisory.

The accounting industry is currently undergoing a period of transformation. The Big Four firms are turning their backs on SMEs and in recent years, some have drastically reduced the services they offer to small and medium businesses. In September 2022, Gravita acquired Propel from Deloitte to provide clients with easy access to full-service finance, compliance and specialist advisory offerings under one brand without compromising on quality. By building a shared future collectively, with every firm operating under one brand as one team, Gravita believes it will create a best of breed Group that teams want to be a part of and clients want to work with.

Gravita CEO Caroline Plumb OBE said, “Our ambition is to build the UK’s leading tech-enabled accounting firm focussed on SMEs, and the launch of Gravita marks a key milestone in our growth journey. Accountancy is an increasingly crowded sector, and the industry landscape has been shifting for some time, with a new wave of consolidators entering the fray. At Gravita, we take a highly collaborative view on consolidation in the market and have a carefully considered approach to finding the right firms who share our future vision.”

Christian Hamilton, Co-Founder of Tenzing, added: “We are delighted to see the launch of Gravita as a new challenger brand in the accounting industry. At Tenzing, we have always been strong supporters of continued innovation and evolution in the sector and welcome a forward-thinking, next generation firm who want to disrupt the current status quo. This is a significant step in Gravita’s strategy to transform how small and medium businesses receive accounting services and through its approach of leveraging technology to meet evolving client needs, it offers a unique proposition in the market.”

Ryedale Group implements Aqilla and reduces software costs by 84% a year

Ryedale Group, a Yorkshire-based, sustainable plastic printing business, used an old accounting system that was costly and cumbersome. Deciding they needed a new solution to integrate accounting with sales and production processes, save time, and improve the overall experience for staff and customers, they turned to Aqilla, a cloud-based accounting and ERP solution. As a configurable, agile and powerful system, Aqilla ticked all the boxes.

Since implementing Aqilla’s software six months ago, Ryedale has achieved a number of significant business goals, including a hugely reduced annual cost, digital transformation of the accounting operation, an enhanced level of customer service, connected processes across the business, increased productivity, and a much-improved user experience. As Ryedale’s Finance Director, Julie Davis, advocates: “Aqilla has made everything a lot easier. We were on the cusp of recruiting another member of staff to our accounting team, but Aqilla has taken the pressure off, and we are able to cope for the moment because our processes are so much better.”

Finance functions to ‘break free’ of constraints of annual cycles

Global research into the evolving role of finance functions finds real-time analysis, and data beyond the financial, holds the key to navigating volatility and transitioning to a more sustainable future.

The new report, the Planning and Performance Management Paradigm, by ACCA and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) in association with PwC, asked over 3,000 finance professionals around the world for their views on the future of the finance function. Overall respondents report too much focus on past financial performance and limited insight to the other data needed for ESG purposes.

Only 16% of respondents said ESG forecasting was ‘fully integrated’ in their financial planning and performance process, while 82% said stakeholders needed new performance measures beyond the financial. Just over half (56%) of respondents said they currently give ‘equal’ focus to financial and non-financial areas, such as operational objectives.

The report recommends planning and performance models should be data-driven, agile and use real-time data where possible. The process should be forward looking, with scenario planning and integrated forecasts. Data and technology are key to achieving this and, where feasible, should be integrated in the organisation’s Cloud-based application architecture. This is currently a potential stumbling block, with the research finding this to be ‘disjointed’ and organisations still relying on spreadsheets and not harnessing new technology efficiently.

Brian Furness, partner and global head of finance consulting at PwC, commented: “There’s a huge opportunity for finance teams to drive value and gain a more rounded view of organisational performance through collaboration, digital innovation and data analytics. CFOs can lead this move by focusing on a set of broader metrics and value drivers for the organisation rather than limiting themselves to the traditional financial performance agenda. To do this, finance teams need to collaborate across the organisation and externally, and become more comfortable with exploring and analysing non-traditional data sets such as supply chain, logistical and operational data, all of which provide insights into future performance. While traditional annual plans give a point in time, a more agile approach to planning is needed in times of uncertainty and greater stakeholder expectation.”

‘Tokenisation’ must address regulatory and custodial concerns

Token City’s research found professional investors believe tokenisation could be positive for regulators by enhancing their ability to improve clarity and protection. Around 91% agree that the immutability of data and real-time data held in digital ledgers provides those benefits.

A study, conducted among professional investors in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK who are responsible for around $546.5 billion in assets under management, found around a third (31%) of professional investors are very concerned about regulatory compliance in the market while 60% are quite concerned and just 9% are not concerned. Moreover, more than half (51%) are very concerned about custodial services for tokenised assets while 24% are quite concerned. Just 22% are not concerned.

The World Economic Forum estimates that up to 10 percent of global GDP will be stored and transacted via distributed ledger technology by 2027 and that tokenized markets could potentially be worth as much as USD24 trillion by 2027.

The research by Token City, which provides the platform infrastructure and services for issuing, managing, and trading Security Tokens by investors, investment funds, portfolios, brokers, and other investment service companies, identified regulation and custodial services as the major obstacles to growth in the market.

Madrid-based Token City’s research shows investors expect a greater focus on regulation with 30% expecting a dramatic growth in the pace of regulation over the next three years.

Recent developments include the European Parliament’s agreement with the European Council to launch a pilot programme that will allow financial markets to use blockchain applied to the tokenisation of stocks, bonds and UCITs. Other regulators around the world are laying the foundations for frameworks enabling the creation and exchange of digital asset-backed tokens, with authorities in Switzerland and Singapore leading the way.