Category: Uncategorised

Outsourcing your Legal Cashiering

Outsourcing your Legal Cashiering can have many rewards. You can save money, buying in services as and when needed, rather than paying a full time Legal Cashier. Also you can utilise holiday and sickness cover at no extra cost.

There are a number of considerations before deciding to Outsource your Cashiering to an Outsourced provider or a Freelance Legal Cashier.

Validation phase

In the validation phase, it is essential to ensure that an Outsourced Legal Cashiering arrangement is practical.

IT Systems

Examine your IT systems to ensure that the Legal Cashier can access them. Questions to consider include:

  • How are your systems hosted? Are they server based or cloud?
  • If cloud hosted, will the Legal Cashier have access to a remote desktop? Or a direct link to the Practice Management Software?
  • If server hosted, can a VPN be set up for the Legal Cashier? Will an accounts desktop be required for remote access?


How will payment requests and financial information be communicated to the Legal Cashier?

  • Will there be a central point of contact such as a secretary or administrator to forward information onwards? Or will individual fee earners make requests directly?
  • Will you use payment request forms/chits? Does the Practice Management System have the facility to do this electronically?
  • How will documents be stored? Will there be a shared workspace?
  • How will financial information requests be forwarded? Will they be emailed? Will an App be utilised such as Receipt Bank or Concur?

It is important to remember that financial records will need to be stored and maintained in the Legal Practice still, subject to SRA or HMRC inspection. Also practices subject to a Client Account Audit will need information onsite for inspection.

Due diligence phase

The due diligence phase should identify possible vendors and establish that they are capable of providing a high quality service.

Business continuity

It is important to establish that the vendor has a full Business Continuity Plan and insurance in place to assist with disasters or emergencies.

  • In the event of a key person falling ill, what is the back up plan?
  • In the event of the vendor having an IT failure, what is the back up plan?
  • Does the vendor hold professional indemnity insurance?


Establish that the vendor has experience in providing Outsourced Legal Cashiering services and that they are suitably qualified to meet your requirements.

  • Will you have access to the same Legal Cashier each day?
  • Who will cover for sickness or absences?
  • Are all members of staff suitably qualified? Are they members of the ILFM?
  • Do members of staff undertake CIPD to maintain knowledge?

Compliance phase

Once your IT systems, workflows and initial due diligence have been verified and you are ready for vendor selection, it is essential to ensure compliance with the SRA handbook.


You should ensure that vendors have a robust confidentiality process in place and that clients’ confidential information will be protected per indicative behavior 4.3 in the code.

  • How does the vendor ensure confidentiality? Is this is staff or contractor agreements?
  • Is there a standard Non Disclosure Agreement or Confidentiality Agreement for the vendor?

Inform your clients

Client consent will be required to share necessary financial documentation with the Outsourced Legal Cashier per outcome 4.1 of the code. This maybe included in client care letters or terms of business. But clients must have the ability to decline consent. This could be included in the terms of business as “if you are not happy with this, please contact us to discuss your options”.


Per outcome 7.10 of the code of conduct, solicitors must per any outsourcing agreement:

  • ensure their ability to comply with their regulatory arrangements is not compromised;
  • ensure the SRA’s ability to monitor that compliance is not compromised; and
  • ensure their obligations to their clients are not affected.

Further information

For further information on Outsourcing your Legal Cashiering, contact Kevin Drew of Ascentant Limited.

01332 897356



Completing your VAT return

Completing your VAT return can be confusing and troublesome. When completing your standard VAT return, remember:

1) Boxes 1 to 5 are tax boxes;
2) Box 2 is for intra-EC acquisition tax only;
3) Boxes 6 to 9 are net of tax and rounded to whole numbers;
4) Box 6 includes the net value of outputs, including taxable, exempt and outside the scope;
5) Box 7 includes the net value of inputs, including taxable, exempt and outside the scope;
6) Boxes 8 and 9 only include intra-EC removals or acquisitions of goods;
7) The values in Boxes 8 and 9 should also be included in Boxes 6 and 7;
8) An EC Sales List will be sent automatically if there is a value in Box 8;
9) But it is also required if services are supplied intra-EC;
10) The reverse charge on international services received is included in Boxes 1, 4 (subject to partial exemption etc), 6 and 7;
11) But a domestic reverse charge on purchases is only included in Boxes 1, 4 (subject to partial exemption etc) and 7;
12) Intra-EC acquisitions are included in Boxes 2, 4 (subject to partial exemption etc) and 7.
Flat Rate VAT: 

We all know about the limited cost business test introduced on 1st April 2017 which means that for many businesses the FRS is no longer viable, but what else should we watch out for with the scheme?

1) The £150k turnover threshold to join is VAT exclusive and taxable only but the £230k turnover threshold to leave is gross and includes exempt supplies;
2) Output tax is due on reduced-rate, zero-rated and exempt supplies under the scheme;
3) Output tax is due on zero-rated exports or EC removals;
4) The Box 6 scheme turnover is gross rather than net;
5) Limited cost businesses have to use 16.5% (tested on a period by period basis);
6) The reverse charge on services is dealt with completely outside the scheme;
7) If goods are brought in from the EU acquisition tax is due in Box 2 but there is no input tax claim in Box 4;
8) International services outside the scope of UK VAT are dealt with completely outside the scheme;
9) HMRC now allow retrospective adjustments to the FRS sector percentage;
10) Certain businesses historically using 14.5% can make refund claims based on 12% if they have used the wrong percentage.

Retrospective claims are now possible where the wrong sector percentage has been used e.g. engineers other than civil engineers on 14.5%. If you have clients in this situation please get in touch.

One of the main risks in FRS is treating everything as part of the scheme when, in fact, there are often transactions which have to be accounted for under the normal rules. Our accountants can help with that, providing a comprehensive VAT management template including the Flat Rate Scheme. For further assistance with your VAT matters, contact Ascentant in Derby or London.

Ascentant Limited, Laurie House, Colyear Street, Derby, DE1 1LA 
Ascentant Limited, 86-90 Paul Street, London, EC2A 4NE 
01332 897356 |
Ascentant Limited is a Limited Company registered in England and Wales. Registered number 10245669. Registered office Laurie House, Colyear Street, Derby, DE1 1LA.

Good housekeeping for your Accounts

To many people, bookkeeping is a pain and diverts time away from earning income for a business owner. If you leave it to fester, it can lead to incomplete records, incorrect financial accounts and increased accountancy fees. Keeping on top of your books can reap rewards with current and accurate financial records and lead to reduced accountant fees.


So how can you help your accountant with your bookkeeping?

Records and documents

  • Keep good records and notes to refer back to.
  • Keep on top of your bank statements – Check them regularly – Identify any abnormal transactions.
  • Keep on top of direct debits – Are they still required? Are they the correct amounts?
  • Keep a monthly folder of receipts, expenses, supplier invoices and client invoices.
  • Avoid cash – Where possible, avoid cash as it is difficult to keep track of income and expenditure.

 Record keeping

  • If possible, use a cloud service such as Quickbooks or Xero to record your transactions.
  • If you find a cloud solution costly, free versions such as Pandle or Quickfile can be explored.
  • If avoiding cloud solutions completely, use a spreadsheet to record your transactions.

Set tasks

  • Daily tasks may include banking and reviewing bank transactions
  • Weekly tasks may include reconciling your bank account, reviewing outstanding debts and cashflow forecasts
  • Monthly tasks may include client billing and checking your progress against your goals.

Dont miss deadlines

  • Ensure you are prepared and ready to make your payroll, VAT or other submissions in good time.
  • Ensure you pay anything due in good time – Delays will incur penalties and interest which will snowball.

Manage debts and cashflow

  • Regularly review and chase outstanding customer debts
  • Utilise a system such as Go Cardless to collect direct debits from customers electronically
  • Undertake cashflow forecasts of expected income and expenditure

Use Cloud Accounting

There are many benefits of using a Cloud based accounting system. Such as you:

  • Can automatically pull your bank statement entries for coding into your accounts
  • Can have a realtime view of the business including cashflow, Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet.
  • Can automatically run VAT returns, payroll and financial statements.

Use add ons, apps and extensions for Cloud Accounting

There are also apps you can use to integrate into your accounting system such as

  • Receipt Bank for expenses,
  • ZohoCRM for Customer Relationship Management and
  • Go Cardless for collecting customer direct debits

Business planning

  • Make a business plan – This will allow you to plan targets, goals and manage Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
  • Make a budget – This will allow you to compare estimated income and expenditure against actual spend
  • Make time to review your progress regularly – Either alone or with a mentor


Ascentant provide Accounting, Bookkeeping and Business consultancy services across Derby and Derbyshire. Contact

Ransomware attack – How to protect your IT system

You are likely to have heard of the ransomware attacks that have affected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world, including our own NHS. The risk from ransomware, such as the one utilised in the Friday cyber-attacks known as WannaCry, and other malware is very real and you should be taking full notice of it and what you can do to prevent it. It’s only just happened and it can happen again at any time.

There is a multitude of things you can do to help stop these attacks from happening in the first place or trying to minimise the damage in case you do find yourself in such a predicament. The first thing to say is if you do find you have been the victim of an attack we would strongly recommend visiting the The National Cyber Security Centre webpage which can offer advice on what to do in event of this.

What can I do to respond to Wannacry?

What you can do right now to try to prevent an attack and minimise damage on your systems is simple and is as follows:

  • Make sure all software is up to date with its latest security patches
  • Ensure you have a fully working firewall, Windows firewall would be sufficient on personal computers
  • Have a fully working, up to date anti-virus system in place
  • Keep Windows, or your preferred OS, fully up to date and make sure you’re on a still supported version (list of supported versions here)
  • Keep a backup of all your important files or your entire system, if you do end up infected a backup can ensure you don’t lose any important data

What else should I do to protect my IT system?

If you follow through on these steps you should be in a much safer position with IT than you were previously. To really be secure and protect from more than just ransomware there is a few more things you should make sure you’re doing:

  • Keep passwords secure, never share them with anyone and ensure that it’s a complex password consisting of letters, numbers and symbols
  • Have different passwords for different accounts, in case a password does get stolen you minimise the damage that can be caused by having multiple different passwords
  • Do not open potentially dangerous emails or links, if an email looks to be fake (look out for things such as incorrect personal details and poor English) then do not open it, just delete it and be safe
  • Do not visit potentially harmful websites, if there is a lot of adverts or links all over the page it could be risky
  • Do not download anything you aren’t 100% confident in
  • Do regular scans of your computer using a trusted anti-virus program


If you follow all these steps you are likely to be pull through any security threats you see in the news, if you’re unsure of anything listed here or you would like any additional advice please feel free to contact Ascentant on 01332 897356 or

Why choose Ascentant – Accountants in London?

There are many Accountancy practices in London and beyond – Who should you trust to take care of your financial affairs?

Being a young, flexible and dynamic practice, Ascentant are responsive to immediate needs and tailor solutions to client requirements.

Here are some things that set us aside from other practices:

  • We publish our prices online – Does your accountant? We believe in transparency. Check here.
  • We run a referral scheme for new introductions – Know somebody who needs accountancy services? Refer them for a referral bonus of up to £50 per introduction. Check here. 
  • We offer fixed fees, payment plans and discounts on prompt payment.
  • Experienced in Tech Startups.
  • Tax advisors for R&D reclaim advice
  • We offer a free initial consultation with no cost.
  • We utilise fully secured Cloud software, being certified in Xero, Sage and Quickbooks.
  • We offer employment advice, business consultancy and IT services.
  • We run promotions and prize drawers on Social Media – Follow us on Twitter or Facebook 

How are we able to offer low prices?

The bulk of our services are carried out from our Derby office, allowing us to offer lower comparable prices to other practices. Our Accountants can arrange meetings at your premises or at our London office – Alternatively we can arrange telephone or Skype meetings.

Contact us to discuss your needs on 0203 3899373 or email us at

Why choose Ascentant – Accountants in Derby?

There are many Accountants in Derby and beyond – Who should you trust to take care of your financial affairs?

Being a young, flexible and dynamic practice, Ascentant are responsive to immediate needs and tailor solutions to client requirements. Here are some things that set us aside from other practices:

  • We publish our prices online – Does your accountant? We believe in transparency. Check here.
  • We offer a 10% discount on first year fees.
  • We run free monthly networking events. Join here.
  • We run a referral scheme for new introductions – Know somebody who needs accountancy services? Refer them for a referral bonus of up to £50 per introduction. Check here. 
  • We offer fixed fees, payment plans and discounts on prompt payment.
  • We are open late evenings and Saturdays.
  • We offer a free initial consultation with no cost.
  • We utilise fully secured Cloud software, being certified in Xero, Sage and Quickbooks.
  • We offer employment advice, business consultancy and IT services.
  • We run promotions and prize drawers on Social Media – Follow us on Twitter or Facebook 

Contact us to discuss your needs on 01332 897356 or email us at

One week of the tax year left? Make the most of your allowances!

With less than a week until the end of the tax year, have you made the most of your allowances? Invest a little time over the next week and the rewards will last a year.

1 – Maximise your ISA Allowance

The coming week is your last chance to use your 16/17 ISA allowance with no way to roll it over. The limit for this year is £15,240 in cash, shares or investments. It is worth saving as much as possible with this years allowance, to maximise your 17/18 allowance.

2 – Maximise your Pension Allowance

The end of the tax year is the final chance to make use of various allowances and that includes your annual pension allowance. The final week of the tax year is a busy time to top up self invested pensions in addition to ISA contributions. Recent years have meant a reduction in the annual allowance for pensions, currently standing at £40,000 with lower levels for higher earners and those having accessed pension freedoms. Depending on your tax bracket, tax relief of between 20 and 40 percent can give your pension a significant uplift.

3 – Capital Gains Allowance

The current allowance stands at £11,000 per person and has to be used in the current tax year, without being able to roll into the next tax year. Use it or loose it…

4 – Spread the wealth

Your spouse and children have their own individual ISA allowances. The junior allowance is currently £4,080 this tax year. Many grandparents and parents set up premium bonds, ISAs or cash savings accounts around this time of year. Maximise your allowances between family members.

5 – Regulate your cash

Basic and higher rate taxpayers enjoy the personal savings allowance under which savings interest maybe accrued tax free.

6 – Pay down debt

With interest rates currently low, it may seem a good time to load up on credit card debt or take out an interest only mortgage (where still available). But many economists expect a sharp turn in the Bank Of England policy on the horizon, quickly catching out debt laden consumers and piling on interest charges.

7 – Speak to an adviser

To ensure that you are making the most of your allowances, speak to an independent financial adviser or accountant. Ascentant in Derby are able to offer tax planning and financial advice on pensions, ISAs and general accountancy advice.


Ascentant Limited, Laurie House, Colyear Street, Derby, DE1 1LA | 01332 897356 |

Ascentant today launched its Business Support Package, following growing interest from a number of clients.

The comprehensive package provides monthly Bookkeeping support to small businesses, end of month management reporting, a meeting with a designated Accountant, HR support throughout the month and IT support. It brings together a number of previous standalone services into a monthly retainer, which provides discounts on standard standalone rates.

The package supports small businesses with back office support, usually reserved for larger firms.

Small business owner, Helen Craft commented “I find it difficult to source business support services as a sole trader – I do not have the capacity or budget to employee staff to assist with finance or employee issues and a package such as this really helps me “buy in” services as and when needed”.

Ascentant is a Business Consultancy based in Derby, providing Accountancy, HR and IT services. Specialists in providing support to Legal Practices, Ascentant are members of the Derby Law Society and work closely with the Insitute of Legal Finance & Management.

For further information, see our pricing page or contact us for a bespoke quote or further information.




DLA has outsourced its UK business support to Warsaw –  KWM has gone under – Olswang, CMS Cameron McKenna and Nabbaro are merging – Although very different circumstances, each of these cuts the amount of Business Support roles in UK Law firms. The questions being asked are, who will be next, why and what is the future of the law firm business support model?

It is known that the brunt of the DLA cuts focused on the historic heart of Dub Lupton Allsop in Sheffield, where “DLA” traces its roots back to the early 1800’s. Andrew Darwin, chief operating officer at DLA Piper, said many of the firm’s systems and processes ‘reflect the history of the firm rather than its future’ and the firm is focusing on streamlining its business support processes and relocating roles to Warsaw, Poland.

With the British economy never fully recovering from the banking crisis and reduction in work, law firms have been keeping a close eye on the bottom line. With the fallout from Brexit, the UK services sector saw a sharp slowdown of business activity to its lowest level in three years recently. With FX currency losses already weighing heavy on international firms, clients vastly reducing panels and more closely scrutinising billing arrangements and pushing for more transparency on fees, times are tough for the legal sector.

So how are firms reacting to these pressures? Redundancies, Streamlining, Offshoring, Outsourcing and Northshoring

On the road to redundancy, DLA had already cut 69 document production roles after a consultation and closed its Glasgow office in 2013/14. Slater & Gordon recently consulted over 51 job roles and possible office closures after a heavy UK launch with mass takeovers and now undertaking a firm UK business review. In the past 12 months, KWM (prior to collapse), BLM, Reed Smith and Hill Dickinson have all launched redundancy consultations including support staff.

Ashurst has outsourced document production to South Africa and recently opened a low cost support base in Glasgow following discussions with Scottish Development International reportedly providing £2.4m of public funding while Sheffield City Council is trying to entice South East law firms to the city via its economic development arm, Creative Sheffield offering rental deals, a business investment fund and relocation support. This follows Allen and Overy launching a campaign to save £10m over five years by relocating as many as 300 support staff to Belfast with an investment of £2.5m from Invest NI. With public money being offered to incentivise the moves and reduction of rental and staff overheads, why wouldn’t a firm revise its business support strategy?

Freshfields also announced last year that it was launching a low cost service hub in Manchester following an announcement by Latham & Watkins of a business services office in the city.

In the past six months, Shearman & Sterling and Dentons have announced consultations or plans to launch remote or agile working projects alongside Olswang, DAC and Mischon De Reya to reduce the need for office space and make the workforce more flexible.

So what is the “future” for a firm’s systems and processes?

For business support, the future looks slimmed down, streamlined and more automated. With the first step in reduction of overheads by moving to low cost business hubs, technology is beginning to play its part in removing roles and slimming down processes.

With talk of Artificial Intelligence being developed to assist with checking and drafting legal documentation, cloud technology is also being developed to reduce the need for “human interaction” in business processes.

At the Legalex fair last year, the exhibitors were largely focused around Cloud technologies for Practice Management, Accounting, Document Management, CRM and other hosted IT platforms, reducing the need for business support staff. Using streamlined processes such as OCR scanning of accounts payable invoices which automatically recognises data fields and uploads into an accounting system, cloud based expense management systems, online document management and smartphone Apps for time recording, expense claim scanning of receipts and instant access to client data on the move, these all feed into the agile or remote working that law firms are realising the cost savings that they can tap into.

By reducing the paper trail and arranging electronic streamlined processes, the support needed by facilities, post room, finance, marketing and other support service staff is reduced. Companies like Leap Legal, Clio, Insight, DPS and Klyant are putting huge investment into Cloud technologies which further reduce the cost of having traditional software on a server onsite, which requires regular maintenance, hardware costs, software licensing and upgrades as well as oversight by IT staff. Cloud practice management solutions reduce these costs by hosting the system, providing support for system users and operating on a per user license in some cases.

So where does this leave business support? With UK regulatory compliance with Anti Money Laundering, the SRA Handbook and Solicitors Accounts Rules, there will always be a need for manual checking, manual intervention and some manual processing. But do you need full time staff, do they need to be onsite and do you need to employ them yourself?

With firms looking closer at the bottom line, outsourcing and reducing costs, a new generation of outsourcing and business support practices is growing, offering part time, temporary or hourly business support as and when required remotely over the Cloud. Even firms with server based practice management systems are benefiting from these cost reductions via remote working and Citrix solutions. In some cases, this raises issues of data security, possible conflicts of interest and confidentiality – Do your terms of business state who will be working with client data and detail any third party involvement? Have you fully checked your outsource provider with full NDA, KYC and confidentiality agreements? And where will that data be held and who has legal privilege? With DLA moving business support to Warsaw, what will happen when the UK finally leaves the EU? Will this affect data protection and outsourcing agreements where data is held outside of the UK?

The future looks uncertain for the legal sector with the effects of outcome focused regulation, government reforms and Brexit – But as for business support, the future points to lower cost, more automation and more outsourcing.

Ascentant provide Accountant and Bookkeeper services in Derby, London and across the UK. We specialise in Cloud Accounting and Outsourced Business Support including Legal Cashiering, HR Support and IT Support.