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Pimms O’clock : Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants Annual Open Day 2017

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It’s that time of year again – for Pimms O’clock, our annual networking and charity event.  Friday 8th September 2017 12 noon to 3pm.   Drop by for 10 minutes or stay and enjoy yourself!

If you are thinking of coming please RSVP and let the office know.  #Pimmsoclock

2017 marks our 14th annual event and come along for a Buffet lunch, Pimms (other drinks are available!), networking, meet the team and, as ever, we will try and twist your arm to support our charity raffle.   This year we are fund raising for the British Lung Foundation.  On average someone dies from lung disease every 5 minutes and lung disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths! The BLF pays for vital research into lung disease as well as support for patients and their families.  You can donate via our Just Giving page at


Business Marketing: You Want Everybody To Love You, Right?

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If you are trying to appeal to everybody with your business marketing, you end up being middle of the road; just a bit average! Marketing works best when you target a niche or particular sector …

If you get to resonate with the people you are targeting, hopefully, those people will think you are amazing at what you do, and they will beat a path to your business’s door.

“Jack of all trades, master of none!”

It’s an old saying and none the less, it is important in lots of ways, especially when it comes to marketing! If you think about it, marketing to everybody really means marketing to nobody.

If you are a car mechanic, you might want to target people with a car because a lot of people own a car! But that is just too wide a definition to be useful. Which means you need to be more specific. Refine that to people who drive a VW car which is more than 3 years old in your home town and you have something specific.

More importantly, you now have a target market that you can identify at networking events and you can even get a marketing list from a reputable data source or target on social media. You have a clearly identifiable target audience to aim for!

There are a few points that flow from this; ‘who are you targeting’ and ‘might there be any negative consequences’ are two important ones. Well, if some people are going to love you, then inevitably there will be others who will ignore you. Or, worse, they will dislike you.

If you are a politician then this is a really important point to bear in mind as you will definitely polarise opinion into love and hate, which will result in both positive and negative reactions and social media posts!

However, for most businesses, targeting your marketing simply leads to you being ignored by the people you aren’t targeting, not to negative reactions. So, if you have several different sectors you are targeting, you need to have several different marketing campaigns and strategies.

“Different strategies that aim for different targets!”

Which leads back to the first question of ‘who are you targeting?’ Have you really defined your ideal customer? More importantly, can you describe your ideal customer in a way that can be linked to the available information so that you can identify how to market to them, through lists or social media? You might have several different products or services that appeal to several different markets, and thus have several categories of ideal customer.

“But you have to pick one at a time!”

If you are a start-up business, then you need to build this into your thinking right from the start and do research to identify who might be your ideal target. For an existing business, it is much simpler, as you have your customer records to data mine, which will then answer the really simple question of who are your best customers!

Until next time …



Many of my clients have regular business reviews with me to talk about just this sort of thing! If you are starting a new business, or are looking for an innovative accountant to work with, call me on 01234 752566.

Four Top Tax Tips for High Earners

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Nobody likes paying too much tax. But if it’s the difference between paying tax at 60% down to 20% or from 60% to nothing then it really can make a difference …

Sometimes, there isn’t much that you can do, and at other times there is quite a lot! Anyway, read these four top tax tips and compare them to what you do:

  1. Pension contributions

    Everyone should consider putting money into their pension. As a high earner, it becomes an excellent way of obtaining tax relief.

    • Be careful of the annual contribution limits. If you aren’t sure what yours are, then find out as getting this wrong can cost you tax rather than save you tax.

    • As a high earner, pension contributions get you tax relief at your highest rate of tax.

    • Don’t forget to consider pension contributions for your spouse, especially if they are a non, or low earner. Even a non-earner can pay £240 per month into a pension scheme and the taxman will top this up with an extra £60 per month!

  2. Savings

    Make full use of the ISA limits. Having your savings or investments held in an ISA means that they are tax-free, no income tax on the interest and no capital gains on the investment profit.

    Don’t forget that you can invest new money each year, up to a contributory limit. You can even have more than one ISA you contribute to in the same tax year, subject to the overall annual contributory limit. Which means you can build up a big pot over time and not pay tax on your savings as you do.

    • If you are married, then you can each have an ISA and save up to £20,000 into them.

    • Also your kids can have a junior ISA and save up to £4,080pa.

    • In the unfortunate circumstances of inheriting your spouse’s ISA then you can transfer their ISA into your own name.

    • If your circumstances fit, then you can save up to £200 per month into a Help-to-Buy ISA and the government will give you a bonus worth 25%. The maximum government bonus is £3,000, so you save £12,000 over 5 years and the Government will then pay £3,000 towards the purchase of your first house. A great planning tool for your kids as they are available to anyone who is 16 or older.

    • You can also have a Lifetime ISA, if you are under 40! You can save up to £4,000pa and the government will add a 25% bonus each year. However, the government also imposes a 25% penalty if you don’t use the savings to buy a house or don’t wait to make withdrawals until after age 60.

  3. Buy-to-let property

    If you have one then you will be aware of the tax relief changes. So what are you going to do to maximise your tax relief? There are a few points to consider here:

    • Put your rents up. Ok, you will pay more tax but you will also get more income!

    • If you have a mortgage, consider rate hunting and getting a better deal.

    • Have you checked out if you can utilise a limited company to hold your property portfolio?

    If you don’t have a Buy-to-let property then is it worth getting one and gear it up really highly? Borrowing to invest in something sounds like a contradiction in terms, but you still get tax relief on your cost of borrowing, even if it is now restricted. Buy-to-lets can be a great way of investing for the future.

  4. Play the market

    Firstly, this is not for everyone. Remember you can set up a stocks and shares ISA to hold your investments, which means they are in a tax free environment.

    Playing the market can be very good however, don’t invest money you can’t afford to loose!

Finally, bear in mind that the more money you have, the more the taxman will pay attention to you! Also remember that despite the taxman saying that “tax doesn’t have to be taxing“, it quite often does get complicated!

“Would you like to know more?”

If you need help with your tax affairs or things are getting serious with the tax man then do get in touch with me.

How To Get Debt Free … Quicker!

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I run a firm of accountants and part of what I do is give people advice and some of that is about finance. So I thought I would share a tip for getting your debt under control …

Probably, if you review your budgets and finances, you can squeeze a bit of money somewhere. You might forgo spending on one thing to pay for another thing, but the key is to find some money that you can spend in a different way.

“Not everybody has debt, but if you have it you need to deal with it!”

If you are really up against it, this might be £10, if not it might be £100 or £200 or more, and it might be that much per week or per month. The point is to find that bit of money that you can spend in a different and more positive way.

Then rank your debts by interest rate, and work on the one with the highest interest rate. Then you spend that £10, £100 or £200 extra, regularly each week or month, on repaying a little bit extra of that debt. Mathematically, you know that this is a good choice.

If you have a credit card you are paying 30% interest on, then that £10 not only saves you some interest for that month, but for the remainder of your contract. And you have reduced the balance by a bit more than the payment you have paid to them as well.

All this means that you are paying off your debt that little bit quicker, but also you are saving interest, not just for this month, but for the life of your debt.

“£10, £100 or £200 extra this week or month might not seem like a huge deal, but this really works!”

Then in a few months, when you have dealt with that debt, take the amount you would have paid off that debt and the £10, £100 or £200 extra and use them both to help deal with the next debt.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have more money to spend just because you have paid off one of your debts! Keep spending the same amount of money to pay off the next debt. What this means is not only are you making your normal payment but now you are paying the same amount you were before, but this time to pay off a different debt. This means that you will pay off the next debt much quicker.

And then when that one is paid off, the amounts you were paying to the first two get added to the amount you are paying off your third debt, and so on.

“And pretty soon you will be
debt free!”

If you are a business owner looking for advice that can make a real and positive difference to your business and your life then do call me.

OFFICE STATUS update Wednesday 21 June 2017

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 Sorry if you are trying to contact anyone at the office this afternoon.  The local area has suffered from a loss of water due to a broken water mains.  We stayed open as long as we could, but unfortunately this means we have closed the office early at 3pm … as the loos have stopped flushing and nobody can get a drink of water (or Jonathan a cup of tea!). 
It goes without saying that we are really sorry if you have been trying to ring us and got the answer machine instead and we will get back to you tomorrow.

Planning for Start-up and Growth

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Thinking of starting a business or started and want to grow successfully?  Then this seminar is for you!

Learn invaluable legal and accounting steps essential to the success of any growing or start up business with Heald Solicitors and Jonathan Vowles Chartered Accountants.

This unmissable event, held in conjunction with Velocity, will explore each aspect of planning your start-up and growth.  The event will be held at Artemis House between 4.30pm and 7pm on Thursday March 23rd.  Event registration starts at 4.30pm with the first presentation at 5pm.  The presentations will last no more than 1 hour, with plenty of time for questions and networking.

This joint seminar is being held at Heald solicitors, Artemis House, 4 Bramley Road, Milton Keynes, MK1 1LZ

Thursday March 23 4.30pm – 7pm

Free tickets can be booked here:

Whilst there are many risks associated with launching a start-up, the rewards can be great. This workshop is a must for those who are thinking about or have recently embarked on the journey to create a new company.

Learn about legal and accounting frameworks that are designed to control business risk but allow you to expand. In addition, a well-structured business can make it easier to raise initial finance. Heald and JVCA want to help your business become strong, sustainable and profitable – and this is your chance to get free advice to start you on your path.

Lifetime Financial Responsibility

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Are you responsible … financially responsible?

The answer to this question will fundamentally affect how happy you and your family are for the rest of your lives. Over recent years the landscape of personal finances has changed. Fundamentally. Forever. For the worse. For everyone… including you, your family and your loved ones.

Let’s start with the brutal truths…

Over recent years the landscape of personal finances has changed. Fundamentally. Forever. For the worse. For everyone… including you, your family and your loved ones.

The evidence is overwhelming. And it is all around us…

  • Austerity means the state will provide less help than ever before
  • We are already being forced to contribute more for the help we do get
  • Parents are being forced to act as “The Bank of Mum and Dad”
  • The young are burdened with student debts of £27,000 for university tuition fees
  • Parents must often contribute towards university living costs of £20-£30,000
  • Getting on the housing ladder is tougher than ever before
  • New affordability rules mean it is harder than ever to get a mortgage
  • Average first-time buyers must find £30,000 – with 78% needing  help from their parents
  • Interest rates must rise – making buying a home even more expensive
  • The elderly are having their savings decimated by care fees of £30,000 a year
  • The country’s national debt – £1 trillion and rising – will have to be paid for
  • The total amount of tax society pays will keep increasing – probably dramatically
  • And all of this is against a backdrop where real wages have fallen
  • The cost of living is more expensive than ever before
  • An average wedding costs £24,000
  • The lifetime cost of having a child – ignoring university – is typically £218,000
  • Private education from 5-18 can easily cost £140,000
  • For the average family with two children, many of these costs are doubled
  • People are living longer – so retirement is going to cost more
  • State pensions are certainly not generous – and are getting worse
  • Many company pensions are not paying what they “promised”
  • Personal pensions are a minefield
  • Low pension annuity rates mean that even the best pensions pay less
  • Pension reforms make it possible to catastrophically mess up previously watertight plans
  • Low interest rates have decimated interest income from savings
  • Increases in house prices can no longer be relied on to bail you out
  • And there won’t be a nanny state to bail you out either

“The irrefutable fact of family life”

This evidence is overwhelming and life can be brutal!   The irrefutable fact of family life is that every single one of us must tackle these issues head on. Because if you don’t, no-one else will. Indeed, no one else can. In other words, you owe it to everyone you love – and that means taking ‘Lifetime Financial Responsibility’.

If you fail to act, if you kid yourself that these issues and other like them don’t apply to you. Or that you can wait and deal with them later – well then you are operating on luck. But if luck isn’t on your side, then think of all the regret because things could have been different had you done more and sooner. Of the pain because your finances aren’t sufficient and you have failed to give yourself and your loved ones the happiness and life you wanted. And the real hardship this will result for you and your loved ones.

What is Lifetime Financial Responsibility?

You must take Lifetime Financial Responsibility because otherwise you won’t be able to prevent all of that pain, regret, hardship and shame.     What does that mean – well specifically that means:

  • Understanding your current situation
  • Understanding your future situation
  • Managing your income
  • Managing your spending
  • Managing your saving
  • Managing your assets
  • Managing your liabilities
  • Managing your risk

What can you do to take Lifetime Financial Responsibility?

I know that this sounds daunting. But actually it’s much easier than it seems – which is good! Because if you care about your family and your future, you must take action to do these things. After all, no one else can or will do it for you.

If you would like to create an action plan, then we have a 14 step checklist that breaks this process down into bite size chunks. Using this checklist, you can identify how to not just take responsibility but take action to fulfil that responsibility.

And, as you might expect, we also have the tools and strategies to help you deal with each step on that checklist. So get in touch and ask for your copy of our checklist or book a meeting to start taking action!

Why the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement is irrelevant!

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There has been loads of fuss surrounding the 2016 Autumn Statement and I am sure there will be lots more over the coming days.…however, the Statement and the Budget announcements are essentially irrelevant if you run a business.

Sure there are little changes to the rules, but in the main these make little nibbly differences.   For example:

  • The Chancellor has reduced the threshold at which businesses start paying employers national insurance.  This will cost each employer £7.20 per employee per year.  Individually it makes little difference but for the government this will raise around £145m each year.
  • The personal allowance has increased £500 to £11,500 for 2017 which will save £100 pa for most taxpayers.
  • Fuel duty has been frozen again, to help keep the cost of petrol and diesel down.

I don’t think that an employer paying an extra £7 in national insurance or an individual saving £100 in tax is really going to shake your world!

Which is why I think the Autumn Statement is irrelevant – and honestly the same can be said for pretty nearly every budgetary announcement in recent years. What is important is the business is allowed to flourish and develop …and that depends on the individual business far more than on the economic climate or the tax rules.

So, I say again the Budget and the Autumn Statement are irrelevant if you run a business – why do I say this? Because what is important, is that your business is a success!   That you, as the business owner, get a nice life and your business employs more people or pays those people more as a consequence of your business success.

What is important?

What I think should have been feted, more than it was, as part of the budget is that the UK is by and large an economic success.   There is always more to achieve, but as a nation we are succeeding!

  • Employment is at the highest rate for over 10 years
  • Economic growth as recorded by GDP is one of the highest of the G7 countries and grew by 2.3% in the year to September 2016.
  • In the year to September 2016 around 562,000 new companies were started
  • The UK has around 5.5 million active businesses – an increase of nearly 1.6m or 40% since 2005

However, in business you can’t stand still and rest on your laurels – pretty nearly every business could make more profit or employ more people or pay their employees more.   This is the real message that I think should go out and be made a fuss of.

This is also why I want to help make a difference to our clients and why I am offering a free profit improvement review to any business that wants one.   To claim your free profit improvement review, just ring 01234 752566 or email to

The UK economy improves when small businesses succeed

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The economy is all those businesses that employ people who then pay tax. The government might spend lots of money, but the only reason they have it is because of the tax that is paid …

The UK has around 5.4 million businesses. Of this number, only around 54,000 are classed as ‘big’ businesses. The vast majority of businesses, 99.3%, have less than 50 employees. Another 0.6% employ between 50 and 250 employees.

“In fact 60% of all UK employment comes from these SMEs!”

We need those small businesses and actually we need them to be successful, to make a profit, grow and expand … and then employ more people and pay more tax.

The UK has a bit of snobbery about financially successful people. I think that as a nation we need to stop thinking of how to penalise or put down people in this way. Instead, we should be looking for ways to encourage and celebrate those business owners that make it to the big time.

I know plenty of business people who have built a company and created employment for others and financial security for themselves and their family. More importantly, creating jobs generates both tax and increased spending.

“Spending supports business and thus creates more employment and so the nation becomes better off!”

So spend more with your local small businesses rather than those giant corporations, after all, they provide over half of all employment in the United Kingdom.

And that, dear reader, is what will encourage job creation and lead to more taxes being paid, and to a better world for both us and our children.

Pimm’s O’Clock 2016

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Yes, it is that time of year … Come along to our office for a bite to eat and a chat with the team at our relaxed (late summer) networking event. 
– Buffet Lunch
– Pimms
– Networking opportunities 
– BrainsTrust Charity Raffle
– Cloud accounting demonstrations
– Meet the team and local businesses
Please RSVP either by email or saying you are going to attend via Facebook’s events link.

Friday September 9, 2016 12pm – 3pm

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Jonathan Vowles
Chartered Accountants
114 High Street
MK43 0DG

Tel: 01234 752 566
Fax: 01234 752 577


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114 High Street
MK43 0DG

Tel: 01234 752 566
Fax: 01234 752 577

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