XU: Why should accountants and bookkeepers outsource their Payroll?
EH: Running payroll as part of your service offering is something that most clients expect and want. However the reality is that it can quite often become laborious, time consuming and not as profitable as other services. As payroll is all that we focus on here at PayrollBee, it means that we can run it efficiently and effectively. Accounting and bookkeeping firms can control their costs by taking advantage of our fixed fee pricing for running all of their clients’ payroll and they can put their desired mark-up on. This gives peace of mind that their clients’ payroll is being professionally administered but also ensuring that the practice benefits from an essential value-added service which is profitable from day one.
XU: So does this mean that practices can save on their staffing costs?
EH: Absolutely, there is no need to take on the burden of having additional staff within their practice. As well as the financial cost saving it means that practices do not have to deal with the headaches that can come when trying to cover holiday, sickness and other absences. Here at PayrollBee, we have ensured that we have enough resources so that there is always somebody on-hand to cover the routine payroll runs and also ensure that we can respond quickly to any queries. Payroll can often be quite a sensitive and time critical subject and our team here at PayrollBee have many years of expertise in handling queries on a direct one-to-one basis. This further ensures the level of confidentiality that you would expect.
XU: How can practices ensure that the customer service being offered by PayrollBee is to the same standard as their firm is currently offering?
EH: When we start working with any new practice we spend a lot of time finding out about them. One of the main aspects is how they communicate with their clients and understanding their client base. We want to ensure that the end client feels like we are just part of the practice. Their clients should not know the difference between speaking with their internal staff and the team here at PayrollBee! We usually spend a lot of time working closely with the practice so it’s important that we’re all on the same page and we’re operating in a way that they’re familiar with.
XU: I understand that this is a white-label service, can you give us some more details on how that works?
EH: I would say that the majority of practices we work with want to use us on a white-label basis. There are a few that specifically want the clients to know we’re separate, as they don’t want to be seen as offering payroll, and this is fine too. With the white-label service however, the objective is for us to be seen as the payroll department for their practice and for the clients to not know any different. We do this by being set up on their email domain so that when communicating with clients via email it’s all coming from a known and trusted company domain. We also set up a dedicated phone line on our system for the practice that we’re partnering with. This means that the telephone number can be given to clients as the contact number for the payroll team. When the the call is received here at PayrollBee, our team instantly sees which of our partners the call is intended for. We then answer the call appropriately with a customised greeting and as a team member of the practice. This is really important as it means that we can liaise directly with their clients to answer any questions that may and will arise. This can be both from the clients of the practices we’re working with or indeed their own staff.
XU: How quickly can you turn a pay run around?
EH: We do say that we require a 24 hour turnaround time to ensure the deadline can be met. We understand however that last minute jobs/changes can come in and will also look to jump on and accommodate these wherever possible.
XU: Can you help to manage things like the furlough and the Job Retention Scheme?
EH: With the recent announcements of a furlough extension until March 2020 this means that this type of government support is starting to become a normal part of the pay run process. At PayrollBee we can help to calculate what the figures are for furlough claims, especially for those workers with flexible hours. We can then ensure that these are submitted to HMRC as quickly as possible to avoid any delay in furlough related payments to clients.
We have now started to see the first phase of furlough scheme investigations being carried out by HMRC. We take on the responsibility of dealing directly with HMRC to review the matters of concern and ensure that these are resolved in a speedy manner. Whilst this is still a very unknown area, at PayrollBee we are doing our best to understand all information as soon as it’s released to be able to offer the best possible support to practices that we work with and their clients.
As well as processing the claims that need to be made, we are also able to assist with scenario planning. When the current 80% furlough scheme is reduced again, we know that lots of businesses need to think through the various options available to them and quite often this means running various forecasts on staffing and the government support available at that time. This is something that we have found ourselves to be involved in quite heavily over the previous weeks prior to the current 80% furlough scheme level being reintroduced.
XU: As well as processing the monthly auto enrolment pension information can you also help to set these schemes up too?
EH: The management of auto enrolment from the setting up of the schemes to processing the monthly reports is something that we take care of. Depending on the complexity of the scheme we would advise that sometimes we may need to involve the specialist knowledge of a pension advisor or IFA.
XU: Do you post wage journals or can you link in with accounting softwares?
EH: The payroll system that we operate has a direct API link in with Accounts IQ, FreeAgent, Kashflow, Quickbooks, Sage One, Twinfield and Xero. This means that we can work with practices to set up this link so that wage journals can be posted through seamlessly into the accounting package. This saves the processing time of entering journals manually but also mitigates against human error with manual data entry.
XU: There are some really fast growing practices out there, are you able to keep up with their new client demand?
EH: We always ensure that we operate at a capacity level which gives us enough room to quickly bring on new clients that practices are onboarding. As part of the relationship with a new practice we really look to understand their growth plans as this helps us to understand whether we need to increase our capacity too.
XU: As well as the processing of payroll can you also help with other tasks, such as PAYE & pension reconciliations and general payroll related questions?
EH: We often find that we work very closely with members of the team in practices to assist them with some of the items they may be working on, such as reconciliations. Also, for example, if there are ever discrepancies with the figures that we hold compared with what HMRC may have, we usually manage these situations to ensure that all the information is sitting correctly at both ends. As we have all of this information at our fingertips it is usually the quickest for us to dive into that information and assist with the reconciliation or any other matter in-hand. Regarding general questions, yes and this is something that we find we do a lot of - which we love! We understand that practices can often have questions and scenarios that they want to verify for themselves to better their own understanding. We also have lots of communication with their clients and their employees as payroll can be complicated. We want to ensure that they really understand some of the deductions that may be happening around their tax code etc.
XU: Is there an ideal time to start working with an accounting or bookkeeping practice?
EH: Usually the best time to switch any payroll provider is at the end of the tax year to be ready for the April pay run. However this doesn’t mean that it can’t be carried out at other times. Our process at PayrollBee is to discover the current payroll situation and understand how and where all information is being processed. We would also look at the urgency of the switch i.e. a practice may have staff members leaving and will not have anyone to process payroll next month. We can then give an honest assessment on when the best time to make a switch would be and, if it’s mid tax year, how smooth that transition will be. We will always work to ensure that it is as smooth as possible for any practice moving over to PayrollBee, but depending on what current systems are being used, some changes can be easier than others.