C+T’s back office experts: ‘like a team of drummers with a hundred drum kits’*

One of the challenges about being a member of Chiene + Tait’s Business Support Department is explaining, succinctly, exactly what we do. That’s because we do a bit of everything. There aren’t many tasks we haven’t seen or experienced, or requests that we can’t accommodate – even if it’s just to refer to the right people – so I thought it would be useful to show the kind of things we work on with our clients. A sort of ‘Year in the Life’ of providing business support for clients.

Let’s say we’ve got a client called Bear Housing. Bear does property development: it buys and sells land on which new housing and retail units can be built, and completes projects to make land ready for building (getting planning permission, getting permission to demolish existing structures, change of use administration, and liaison with councils and infrastructure businesses to get proposals approved).

Accounts

Bear is probably going to have a few different subsidiary companies, because it works on quite a few different types of projects across the UK. We’ll prepare the accounts of all of the different companies, assigning revenue and expenditure and making sure they all agree, particularly with the parent company’s accounts. This normally involves working very closely with the client: we’re on the phone, offering support or asking questions, or helping them with their accounting software.

Secondments

We second members of the BSD team to clients all the time. Usually it’s because there’s a skills gap in the client’s bookkeeping team, such as if a member of staff is off sick, or someone left and they haven’t been able to fill the vacancy yet. Sometimes it’s time-linked to a specific project that needs certain skills, but it’s not worth the client taking someone on for it. So we often head out to clients to work on-site as a member of their finance team, sometimes for a couple of days a week when things are at their busiest. Let’s assume that Bear needs some cover for a sick member of staff, so we pop out and help for a day each week for a month.

Secretarial

Running a lot of companies means a lot of admin. We perform company secretarial services for our clients – for Bear, this means we do things like ensuring all the companies submit the relevant information to be compliant, such as submission of confirmation statements and Construction Industry Scheme returns.

Tax planning

Bear and its directors have lots of different businesses and income streams, so we’ll involve our colleagues in the C+T Tax and VAT Departments. As a firm, C+T deal with all aspects of compliance – making sure all tax and paperwork is submitted the right way – and advice, meaning we guide clients on things like what tax reliefs they’re eligible for and what VAT rates their different products and services should attract.

VAT returns

Linked to the accounts, we also prepare separate VAT returns for Bear and all its subsidiaries, and submit to HMRC monthly or quarterly.

Planning and projecting

We also help with business planning for new projects, and creating financial models that estimate future revenue and expenditure and consider risks. So imagine that Bear is planning to establish a new subsidiary aimed exclusively at the construction of student lettings in the Highlands. We can help define targets, create a business plan, forecast costs and income, and even negotiate with the bank for borrowings.

 

As you can see, there’s always a lot of activity to keep us busy. We all get plenty of experience of different projects and sectors, which gives us a focused, commercial mindset and niche specialisms. We have team-members who are particularly skilled in charities, start-ups, housing associations, rural businesses, and more. (I work with quite a few clients involved in property, hence the Bear example.) And it’s worth saying that no two clients use our services in exactly the same way, so we’re kept on our toes. As I said at the top of this blog, there aren’t many tasks that we haven’t seen or experienced, so why not give us a call if you are looking for a solution to help make your organisation more efficient? There’s nothing to lose!

*If you’re wondering who said that, it was a colleague of ours who thinks we’re all very good multi-taskers.