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Another financial year has passed, and as you look back, will you seek to do things differently next time around? Below, Dean Snappey, the President and Co-Founder of DocsCorp discusses with Finance Monthly 5 simple accounting tools that’ll make your life that much easier to navigate at this time of year.

Over the past 12 months we have seen considerable adjustments to taxation, such as changes to dividend taxation and the recent increased tax for landlords. Aim to prevent the end of year mess and avoid the kind of errors that carry implications to your and your company’s reputation.

There are several accounting tools and software solutions available at your fingertips to ease the process, stay organised and plan ahead. Make the most of these accounting tools and follow these five easy steps to make pre-emptive tax planning simple.

  1. Bundle Documents. Best practice is to ensure any invoices, statements and paperwork are scanned and saved as a PDF document as paper filing systems and loose documents are at risk of being lost or damaged. Document bundling software gives you the ability to collate PDF content and bind all relevant documents such as tax returns, invoices and financial accounts into a single file for each client. By bundling all important documentation, it will make the process of finalising paperwork much easier as all documentation required will be stored together. Finalised documents can then be sent as a single secure file in one hit rather than multiple attachments, saving you time with each client and avoiding the risk of lost or separated files.
  2. Redaction. As part of the process of preparing documents with such complex data, it is essential to redact classified or sensitive information. To redact is to remove, therefore ‘redacted’ is often used to describe documents from which sensitive information has been expunged. By using a redaction tool it is easy to search whole documents to redact multiple instances of a word or string of words in a way that is quick, easy and fail-proof. Redact personal information or bank account details in documents as part of an audit.
  3. Make Scanned Documents Searchable. When you scan invoices, receipts and finalised paperwork onto your desktop, the scanned documents are image documents that do not have the text layer that’s needed to make them searchable. You can make the documents text-searchable with an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) tool. This software converts scanned, printed or handwritten files into its machine readable text format.  You can then search whole documents for a word, phrases or a set of numbers which makes finding information or documents for tax audits a breeze.
  4. Remove Metadata. Metadata may appear hidden, however, every time you annotate, edit or alter a document, your decision is stored invisibly within the very document you’re working on. Metadata removal software removes metadata from files – eliminating any risk of unintentional information leakage. To put it simply, the metadata cleaner will ensure you only send the part of the document or spreadsheet you intend to – exactly what would be printed out on a piece of paper. Remove hidden cells and other sensitive metadata before uploading or attaching files intended to be sent to clients.
  5. Compare Documents for Change. Working with numerous clients means navigating through each client’s financial accounts and complex paperwork. Throughout the year many changes can occur within clients’ businesses, often meaning multiple changes to important documentation. Analysing large volumes of documentation, in which precision is required, can be very time consuming. There is a simpler way to undertake this task, which is by using a Comparison software package. This enables you to compare and analyse the differences between two documents with incredible accuracy and reliability. The software is able to show you the smallest change in documents, spreadsheets, PDFs without needing to convert them first. Save time and never miss an important change again.

hsbc-headquarters-4393x2471HSBC’s Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver blamed a ‘challenging year’ for the banking group’s 17% drop in profit before tax (PBT), as the financial giant posted its full year 2014 results today. The results follow allegations earlier this month that HSBC’s Swiss unit has assisted people to avoid and evade tax using hidden accounts in Geneva.

The beleaguered bank filed a PBT of $18.7 billion (€16.5 billion), down from US$22.6 billion (€19.9 billion) in 2013. The banking group said this primarily reflected lower business disposal and reclassification gains and the negative effect, on both revenue and costs, of significant items including fines, settlements, UK customer redress and associated provisions.

Adjusted PBT was broadly unchanged in 2014 at $22.8 billion (€20.1 billion) and excludes the year-on-year effects of foreign currency translation and significant items, compared with $23 billion (€20.3 billion) in 2013. Return on equity was lower at 7.3%, compared with 9.2% in 2013.

However, HSBC did report stable revenue, with 2014 adjusted revenue of $62 billion (€54.8 billion) compared with $61.8 billion (€54.6 billion) in 2013, underpinned by growth in Commercial Banking, notably in its home markets of Hong Kong and the UK.

Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive said: “2014 was a challenging year in which we continued to work hard to improve business performance while managing the impact of a higher operating cost base. Profits disappointed, although a tough fourth quarter masked some of the progress made over the preceding three quarters Air Maniax. Many of the challenging aspects of the fourth quarter results were common to the industry as a whole. In spite of this, there were a number of encouraging signs, particularly in Commercial Banking, Payments & Cash Management and renminbi products and services. We were also able to continue to grow the dividend.”

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Finance Monthly is a comprehensive website tailored for individuals seeking insights into the world of consumer finance and money management. It offers news, commentary, and in-depth analysis on topics crucial to personal financial management and decision-making. Whether you're interested in budgeting, investing, or understanding market trends, Finance Monthly provides valuable information to help you navigate the financial aspects of everyday life.
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