Ethics by Design – smaller business reflections

  I recently attended a thought provoking conference, Ethics by Design, on the topic of fostering ethical culture in organisations. Ethics pays The morning session was led by Jonathan Haidt, a Professor at NYU Stern School of Business.  One takeaway for me was something that I had only partly rationalised – that is that ‘Ethics […]

Ethics & policies. On the tongue, are they on the lung?

I was struck by a recent headline, “55% of small firms don’t have an ethics policy”.   The article referred to a survey of ‘SMEs’  and I must say I was surprised that there are as many as 45% that actually have an ethics policy! Does the lack of an ethics policy mean that a business lacks […]

Fraud should be seen as a business opportunity!!

‘It’s not going to happen to us’ From time to time a major fraud scandal hits the headlines, the latest one being Toshiba. Frauds in smaller businesses are less likely to receive public attention but they still happen. Common characteristics are a high degree of trust in staff and more informality than in a large company. […]

Why an “us” culture adds to the bottom line

As my work often involves helping improve business processes I am all too aware that having staff “buy in” is an important factor in achieving change.  Conversely, the way that change is managed can impact (for good or bad) on staff morale. In my view a key factor in motivation and positive change is the […]

Choosing an accountant? Would you put Wayne Rooney in goal for England?

As most people first hire an accountant in order to prepare accounts and deal with tax, I guess it is small wonder that I sometimes get the comment “you’re an accountant you must know about tax”.   However  –  I’m an accountant who doesn’t prepare accounts (at least routinely) or who gives tax advice. I recently came across an […]

The economy, profits – you need to get past the headline!

There has recently been talk of a triple dip recession.  There is a recession when there has been two consecutive quarters of negative growth, a definition based on numbers.  In Q4 2012 UK GDP contracted by 0.3% and growth in the previous quarter was 1%.  In my work I particularly enjoy helping businesses use numbers […]

Is it time to take the “Corporate” out of “Governance”?

Corporate Governance has been described as “the system by which companies are directed and controlled”.   Clearly this applies to all businesses.    However Corporate Governance as a subject tends to be the ambit of public companies, charities and other public interest organisations.  On line conversations in the Corporate Governance community seem to mostly relate to larger businesses. In […]

Is more audit exemption a good idea?

Last week the Government announced a further expansion of the audit exemption rules.  In addition to extending the exemption for some so called “small” companies, it will be available to most subsidiary companies provided the parent company guarantees their liabilities. Arguably I should be welcoming the relaxation in rules, perhaps more businesses will want internal […]

David Gauke – playing the morality card can be very dangerous!

Yesterday there was a furore over a comment made by Exchequer Secretary, David Gauke regarding the morality of paying cash in hand to tradesmen.  In response the Treasury last night issued a statement saying “The Tax Minister was clear that it is fine to pay in cash, but where that is done in order to […]

Bonuses the good the bad and the downright ugly

It is people’s abilities and behaviours that drive business success (and also failure). Training, leadership and motivation are critical to success. For people to perform well they should understand the purpose of what they are doing and its relevance to the organisation as a whole;  it is also important for them to have feedback.  Something […]