We find that similar questions come up from time to time, so here’s a few questions and answers which might help.

We also recognise that everyone’s situation is unique, so if this page doesn’t provide the answer you need – please get in touch with us.

What is Market Insight?

The key aim of market insight research is to discover a fact about that market that has not previously been made use of, but when leveraged will generate increased profits. Alternatively, market insight can be defined as the attempt to discover a penetrating truth about consumers, their aspirations and motivations which can in turn be used to generate growth. The market insights delivered by research companies, regardless of methodology, should be credible, actionable and practical suggestions that will make a real difference to the client.

What is a Company Secretary?

The Company Secretary is an officer appointed by the company directors of a business as responsible for ensuring that firm’s legal obligations under the corporate legislation are complied with. His or her formal duties include (1) calling meetings, (2) recording minutes of the meetings, (3) keeping statutory record books, (4) proper payment of dividend and interest payments, and (5) proper drafting and execution of agreements, contracts, and resolutions. A company secretary is not automatically an employee of the firm and, if employed with executive responsibilities, not be its director shareholder. If a firm has only two directors, one may act as its secretary; but a sole director may not.

What is an Audit?

An audit is the examination of the financial report of an organisation – as presented in the annual report – by someone independent of that organisation. The financial report includes a balance sheet, an income statement, a statement of changes in equity, a cash flow statement, and notes comprising a summary of significant accounting policies and other explanatory notes.

The purpose of an audit is to form a view on whether the information presented in the financial report, taken as a whole, reflects the financial position of the organisation at a given date, for example:

  • Are details of what is owned and what the organisation owes properly recorded in the balance sheet?
  • Are profits or losses properly assessed?

When examining the financial report, auditors must follow auditing standards which are set by a government body. Once auditors have completed their work, they write an audit report, explaining what they have done and giving an opinion drawn from their work. Generally, all listed companies and limited liability companies are subject to an audit each year. Other organisations may require or request an audit depending on their structure and ownership.

What are Management Accounts?

Set of summarised accounting data (balance sheet, cash flow, and income statement) prepared and presented (usually every month, fortnight, or week) specifically for a firm’s management. The objective of management accounts is to provide timely and key financial and statistical information required by managers to make day to day and short-term decisions.

What is a Bought Ledger?

A bought ledger is a system in accounting by which a business records and monitors its creditors.

What is a Sales Ledger?

A sales ledger is a record of a company’s sales, showing the amounts paid and owed by customers.

What are Expenses?

An expense is the cost of operations that a company incurs to generate revenue. As the popular saying goes, “it costs money to make money.”

Common expenses include payments to suppliers, employee wages, factory leases, and equipment depreciation. Businesses are allowed to write off tax-deductible expenses on their income tax returns to lower their taxable income and thus their tax liability. However, the HMRC has strict rules on which expenses business are allowed to claim as a deduction.

What is a pricing strategy?

Pricing strategy is the tactic that company use to increase sales and maximize profits by selling their goods and services for appropriate prices.

This strategy takes into account the cost of the product as well as labor, advertising expenses, competitive pricing, trade margins, and the overall market conditions to determine the sale price. Depending on the industry in which a firm operates, there are different pricing strategies to implement, such as penetration pricing, premium pricing, discount pricing and competitive pricing.

What is the break-even point?

In accounting, the break-even point formula is determined by dividing the total fixed costs associated with production by the revenue per individual unit minus the variable costs per unit. In this case, fixed costs refer to those which do not change depending upon the number of units sold. Put differently, the break-even point is the production level at which total revenues for a product equal total expenses.

What is a Capital Asset?

Capital assets are significant pieces of property such as homes, cars, investment properties, stocks, bonds, and even collectibles or art. For businesses, a capital asset is an asset with a useful life longer than a year that is not intended for sale in the regular course of the business’s operation. This also makes it a type of production cost. For example, if one company buys a computer to use in its office, the computer is a capital asset. If another company buys the same computer to sell, it is considered inventory.

What is a Capital Reserve?

A capital reserve is an account in the equity section of the balance sheet that can be used for contingencies or to offset capital losses. It is derived from the accumulated capital surplus of a company, created out of capital profit. The term capital reserve is sometimes used for the capital buffers that banks have to establish to meet regulatory requirements and can be confused with reserve requirements, which are the cash reserves the Government requires banks to maintain.

What is Market Share?

Market share is the percent of total sales in an industry generated by a particular company. Market share is calculated by taking the company’s sales over the period and dividing it by the total sales of the industry over the same period. This metric is used to give a general idea of the size of a company in relation to its market and its competitors.

What is a business framework?

A business framework is a roadmap of what operating strategies guide your organisation in the way forward and have a strong foundation in.

What is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice Factoring is a financial transaction and a type of debtor finance. In an invoice factoring, a business sells its accounts receivable (invoice) to a third party (called a factor) at a discount. A company will sometimes factor its receivable assets to meet its present and immediate cash needs. It might also factor their invoices to mitigate credit risk.

You may also refer Factoring as accounts receivable factoring, invoice factoring, and sometimes erroneously accounts receivable financing. Accounts receivable financing is a form of asset-based lending (ABL) utilizing a company’s accounts receivable as collateral.

How Does Invoice Factoring Work?

First: Your company provides goods or services to creditworthy customers and submit correct invoices.

Second: Your company sells it’s unpaid invoices to an invoice factoring company.

Third: A factoring company verifies the invoices and then funds your business with immediate payment. You get up to 90% of the received amount the same day.

Fourth: Customers make payment directly to the factoring company according to the terms of the invoice. The factoring company then returns the balance of the paid invoice minus a fee.

Where can I reclaim VAT?


Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Republic of Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and United Kingdom.

Rest of the World:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, China/Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and United States

What is a financial controller?

A Financial Controller (FC) is a management executive who oversees the preparation of finance statements and ensures insightful data from the reports. Moreover, this officer is tasked with the authenticity of financial reports, regulatory compliance and analysis of financial data.

What is a Venture Capitalist?

A venture capitalist (VC) is an investor that provides capital to firms exhibiting high growth potential in exchange for an equity stake. This could be funding start-up ventures or supporting small companies that wish to expand but do not have access to equities markets. Venture capitalists are willing to risk investing in such companies because they can earn a massive return on their investments if these companies are a success.

What is Due Diligence?

Due diligence is an investigation or audit of a potential investment or product to confirm all facts, such as reviewing all financial records, plus anything else deemed material. It refers to the care a reasonable person should take before entering into an agreement or a financial transaction with another party. Due diligence can also refer to the investigation a seller does of a buyer; items that may be considered are whether the buyer has adequate resources to complete the purchase, as well as other elements that would affect the acquired entity or the seller after the sale has been completed.

What are R&D Tax Credits?

Research and development (R&D) tax credits are a government incentive designed to reward UK companies for investing in innovation. They are a valuable source of cash for businesses to invest in accelerating their R&D, hiring new staff and ultimately growing.

What is business modelling?

A business model is a company’s plan for how it will generate revenues and make a profit. It explains what products or services the business plans to manufacture and market, and how it plans to do so, including what expenses it will incur.

What is business process improvement?

Business process improvement is a strategic planning methodology aimed at identifying the operations or employee skills that could be improved to encourage smoother procedures, more efficient workflow and overall business growth.

What is a turnaround?

A series of planned activities/steps taken to reverse or regenerate a company’s poor performance e.g. turning around a loss making company to a profitable one.

What is cost reduction?

The process of looking for, finding and removing unwarranted expenses from a business to increase profits without having a negative impact on product quality. Many businesses engage in periodic cost reduction drives in order to make their company’s operation more efficient and to boost profits.

What is finance transformation?

A strategic action plan in which a goal is created to  improve overall finance performance within an organisation. It includes a variety of tasks, from implementing new accounting software to shortening a budget cycle to reducing overhead costs.

What is financial forecasting?

A prediction concerning future business conditions that are likely to affect a company or organisation.
Financial forecasting identifies trends in external and internal historical data, and projects those trends in order to provide decision-makers with information about what the financial status of the company is likely to be at some point in the future.

What is financial modelling?

Financial modeling is the process by which a firm constructs a financial representation of some, or all, aspects of the firm or given security.
The model is usually characterised by performing calculations and makes recommendations based on that information.

What is a KPI?

A Key Performance Indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Businesses use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets. High-level KPIs may focus on the overall performance of the company, while low-level KPIs may focus on processes in departments such as sales or marketing.

What is exit planning?

Exit planning is the preparation process for a business owner during the run up towards their eventual exit from their company in an effort to maximise the value of the business.

What is funding?

Funding is the act of providing financial resources, usually in the form of money, or other values such as effort or time, to finance a need, program, and project, usually by an organisation or company. Generally, this is used when a firm uses its internal reserves to satisfy its necessity for cash, while the term financing is used when the firm acquires capital from external sources.

Does EFM support entrepreneurs?

EFM continuously provides support to entrepreneurs and start-up companies via various platforms including business surgeries, university/ business school programs and corporate seminars, amongst others.


What is cashflow?

Cashflow is the money that is moving in and out of your business in a month. It may seem like sometimes the cash is only flowing one way – out of the business – however it does flow both ways.

Cash is coming in from customers or clients who are buying your products or services. If the customers don’t pay at the time of purchase, some of your cash flow is coming from collections of accounts receivable.

Cash is going out of your business in the form of expense payments, like rent, mortgage repayments, monthly loan payments, and payments for taxes and other accounts payable.

What is a financial diagnostic due diligence service?

The financial diagnostic due diligence service can be an in-depth financial director diagnostic/due diligence review or a limited scope review for non-execs and funders on target companies. This investigation provides a detailed report on all major financial aspects of the company, and will supply potential investors, funders and non-execs with information that will enable the validation of financial claims made by management of the businesses, and reveal potential pitfalls or missed opportunities of proposed plans. The final report will include a list of key findings and valid recommendations, as well as a detailed conclusion. A transition plan can also be proposed to enable the target company to implement some or all of the recommendations over an interim period.

This financial diagnostic service is only part of the full offering provided by EFM. In addition to this pre-due diligence support, the company also offers commercial and operational financial management support after investment (post due diligence) and ongoing support in every other phase up to exit level, where required.

What are the sources of funding?

Sources of funding include credit, venture capital, donations, grants, savings, subsidies, and taxes. Funding options such as donations, subsidies, and grants that have no direct requirement for return of investment are more commonly known-as “soft funding” or “crowdfunding”.

Funding that facilitates the exchange of equity ownership in a company for capital investment via an online funding portal is known as equity crowdfunding.

How does your service compare to that of an accountant or hiring my own staff?

We believe that EFM offers a flexible and cost-effective service. View our resource comparison table.

When do I have to file my accounts?

Private companies must file accounts within 9 months of their accounting reference date (PLCs – 6 months). This can be extended if there is overseas interest and a form is lodged to gain this extension. Special rules apply to the first set of accounts if they cover a period in excess of 12 months they must be filed within 21 months of incorporation (PLCs – 18 months).

What needs to be included in company stationery?

A Company must state its name (as it appears in its Memorandum of Association) in certain places and on its business stationery (including e-mails and websites).

Every Company must paint or affix its name on the outside of every office or place in which its business is carried on.

Company name must be shown on:

  • Business letters
  • Notices and official publications.
  • Bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods purporting to be signed by, or on behalf of, the Company.
  • All its bills of parcels, invoices, receipts and letters of credit.

On all business letters, websites,invoices and order forms the company must also show:

  • Place of registration.
  • Its registered number.
  • Address of registered office.
  • VAT number.It is also good practice to include this information on email footers

A Company does not have to state the directors’ names on its business letters, but if it does then all names must be shown.

What are the minimum requirements to register as a public limited company?

Note filing limits are more onerous and a number of exemptions are not available:

  • At least £50,000 of shares in issue of which at least a quarter must be paid up
  • At least 2 directors and a suitably qualified secretary
  • Statutory declaration must be filed
Why do I need a registered office?

The registered office of a company must be a physical location (not a Post Office box) and must have available the following documents for inspection if requested:

  • Register of directors and secretaries
  • Register of the members of the company
  • Register of the debenture holders of the company
  • Details of the interests of directors in the share capital of the company
  • Details of all mortgages and charges
  • Minute book of general meetings
  • Directors service contracts
What is the minimum number of directors?

It is permissible to have only one director of a company.  A PLC needs to have at least 2 directors appointed.

What is the minimum number of shareholders?

It is permissible for private companies to have only one share with one owner in issue although this is unusual.

What are small company filing exemptions?

These exemptions relate to the filing of accounts at Companies House – they do not relate to the accounts laid down to members in general meeting. These exemptions do not apply if at any time during the year the company is a member of a group, which includes a public company, a banking or insurance company or a company, which is authorised under the financial services act.

Where a company meets the requirements, it need only file accounts that include a balance sheet and selected notes.

It must satisfy the small company filing criteria.

There are also further exemptions if a company is classified as a micro entity. A company meets the qualifying conditions for a micro-entity if it meets at least two out of three of the following thresholds:

Turnover: Not more than £632,000

Balance sheet total: Not more than £316,000

Average number of employees: Not more than 10

Who can be a director?

Generally members can appoint anyone as a director except:

  • Anybody currently disqualified by a court
  • An undischarged bankrupt
  • Anyone under the age of 16

For a PLC anyone over the age of 70 unless specifically approved in general meeting.

The appointment of a company secretary to a private company is optional.

My company is small can you still help me?

Because our range of services is flexible, we can tailor our offering to suit even the smallest company. However our services are not generally suitable for those companies who just need a year end accounts and tax reporting service

Limited space is not an issue as we can still provide a high level of service remotely.

We can still maintain a high level of contact with a client in these circumstances, using our online accounting systems, telephone, e-mail, and the latest Microsoft technology.

Will I need to be audited?

In general, you do not require a statutory audit if your turnover and an abbreviated balance sheet fall below certain limits. This exemption does not apply in certain instances including:

  • The company is a public company unless it is dormant
  • The company is a subsidiary of an overseas undertaking
  • Members holding 10% of the share capital request an audit

Turnover <£5,600,000 (£10,200,000 from 01 Jan 2016)
Balance total <£3,2600,000  (£5,100,000 from 01 Jan 2016)
Employess <50 (unchanged from 01 Jan 2016)

The figures in brackets are the new exemptions expected for accounting periods commencing on or after 1/1/16

The same exemptions apply to the small company filing rules

For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/audit-accounting-and-reporting-guidance-for-uk-companies 

Will I still have control of my finances?

Yes. Dependent on our service agreement levels our role is to capture, analyse and present accurate financial data, maintain all statutory obligations and offer advice when required relating to the financial aspects of your business.

Why should I outsource my finance function?
  • Reduce and control operating costs
  • Improve company focus
  • Gain access to world-class capabilities
  • Free internal resources for other purposes
  • A function is time-consuming to manage or is out of control
  • Insufficient resources are available internally

In the early days, cost or headcount reduction were the most common reasons to outsource. In today’s world the drivers are often more strategic, and focus on carrying out core value-adding activities in-house where an organisation can best utilise its core competencies.

What is insourcing?

Insourcing arises when a company sees the need for professional financial management and control, but do not want to add to headcount, and certainly do not need a full time finance person.

Instead of “contracting out” to an accounting firm, you can insource the appropriate financial skillset who will be part of your team.

A specialist outside company can provide this and will back up the in-sourced resource with a team at its own base and necessary methodologies, systems and experience to give a growing company all the benefits and value of strong and flexible financial management – working from company premises, with colleagues, but without the cost and employment obligations of hiring yet another staff member.

See what is outsourcing 

What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing can be defined as “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources”.

Will my financial data be secure?

We take every precaution to ensure the security of our clients data. Some of our services are protected by SSL technology, ensuring that all data is secure and encrypted.  SSL certificates are issued by Thawte and Geotrust.

Why do I need to keep an accurate set of accounts?

Legal Requirement –
Companies Act-under the new system of self assessment, the keeping of books is a must and it’s illegal not to.
Tax- to ensure the correctness of tax amounts paid and to be in a position to answer any queries relating to tax.

Control of Business – It’s almost impossible to know whether you are winning or losing, have to pay bills, people owe you money, etc. if you don’t keep books

Finance – If you require loans or finance you will need to show a set of accounts.

VAT / PAYE– records need to be kept for inspection

Financial management healthcheck

Do you recognise any of the following signs within your business?

  1.  Increasing age of debtors/ creditors (Significant debtor balances aged over 90 days)?
  2. Goods are delivered on a proforma or cash on delivery basis?
  3. Increasing pressure from banks and finance houses to restructure or reduce facilities?
  4. Late management and statutory reporting?
  5. Insufficient or inaccurate data about product profitability?
  6. Credit limits exceeded?
  7. Arrears to Inland Revenue or Customs & Excise?
  8. Delays in invoicing?
  9. Difficulty in employing/keeping the right staff (for financial roles)?
  10. Started a new business and do not understand the basics of accounting/financial management? Need help?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, consider filling out an enquiry form on our contact us page or simply send a mail to clientcare@efm.uk.com. All information will be kept confidential.

Where can I get general business information?

The best source of general information for companies in England and Wales is Companies House

For information specific to your business, please take our financial management healthcheck and find out how your business is faring.

The information contained on our site serves as a guide only. Please, do not act on this information alone. Kindly ensure that you always seek professional legal advice regarding your particular situation before taking any action. On the other hand, you may wish to call us for a free – no obligation meeting and we can arrange to undertake a comprehensive evaluation and discuss ways to improve your particular situation.

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