The financial services sector has an enormous effect on the economy, people, and businesses.
In 2017, the financial services sector accounted for 6.5% of the total economic output in the UK. The sector added £119 billion to the economy and offered 1.1 million employment opportunities.
In the 2016/2017 financial year, the financial services sector remitted £27.3 billion in taxes. In addition to these benefits for the economy, the financial services industry has huge benefits for businesses. Notably, banks are prominent for helping both big and small businesses to thrive and guarantee their success and survival in the long-term.
Through commercial banking, banks have an array of products and services for enterprises ranging from lending money to foreign exchange, basic accounts, investment banking, and payment and transaction payment. Business bank accounts help businesses manage their finances and cater for expenses.
Benefits of Business Accounts
A business bank account is a good idea for any business regardless of size, type, or area of operation.
Whether you have a home-based, online, or brick and mortar business in whichever sector, a business account can offer numerous benefits. These include:
1. Finances management
The primary purpose of a business account is to handle business transactions and related expenses. It helps you manage your business finances and allocate money for different ventures.
With a business account, you can quickly and conveniently cater for expenses such as bills and employee salaries. For instance, if you want to pay a bill, you just write a check, and the amount is debited in your account.
Such convenience is incomparable to reimbursing employees for spending on your business expenses.
2. Establishing a business banking relationship
A business account can help you develop a good relationship with your bank to drive business growth. A business banking relationship may assist you to obtain financing with better terms to expand your business.
You may want a loan to purchase equipment, increase inventory, or buy assets. A good business relationship with your bank makes it easier to obtain other commercial banking products like business credit cards and overdrafts.
3. Financial identification
A business account offers your company financial identification and representation.
Your business is acknowledged as an entity with a financial base. A business account is among the most obvious proof of your business's existence. Also, it adds legitimacy to your business. Suppliers would love to deal with a company with a bank account as it shows stability and good faith. Customers too, especially those who buy online, will trust your business more if it has a bank account.
4. Maintaining professionalism
When you are in business‚ a startup or an established firm—image is everything.
When you write a check or use other payment methods and your name appears, it doesn't help your image. Instead, it conveys a message that your business is a few weeks old.
Having a business account gives your firm a professional appearance and image. When you write a check to your suppliers, they see it's coming from a business. The same applies to your customers; they make payments to your business account, not your personal account, which improves the image of your business. Some customers are reluctant to make payments through a personal account, and hence, a business one becomes handy.
5. Separating personal and business finances
Many people make the mistake of marrying their personal finances and business finances.
They assume that by keeping separate records, they can determine the monies for business and those for personal use. However, in most cases, it does not work, and they end up using business funds for personal expenses, which can be a big blow for any business.
It is best practice to keep personal finances and business finances physically separate in different bank accounts. A business account provides the ability to separate your personal finances from the business ones. Some business owners make a step further to use different banks for business and personal banking to ascertain separation.
6. Organise financial records
Imagine if you mix personal with business finances and it's time to file income tax. How do you determine the monies that are personal and those that belong to your business? It will be a mess that no accountant wants to handle.
However, when you have a business account, you have a clean and accurate record to offer your accountant when income tax time comes. You have a leg up when dealing with HMRC.
Additionally, a business account helps you to determine trends in business—peak and off-peak seasons—and monitor business profitability.
For example, by examining your business account for the past month, you can determine the profitability of your business. If your business earned £7,000 and spent £2,000 on expenses, your net profit is £7,000 - £2,000 = £5,000.
7. Legal reasons
A business bank account guards you against legal issues in the event of problems. When a problem arises in your business, your business account will be examined by relevant authorities.
If you merge your personal and business account, in the event of an issue, your personal finances are affected. A business account protects your personal funds in conflicting situations.
Business Banking Guide
Many businesses have an expense reimbursement strategy to cater for employee expenses. The approach allows businesses to pay back employees for personal money spent on business-related expenses.
Expense reimbursement occurs when employees incur expenses on behalf of the company.
There are three types of employee expense reimbursements, namely:
- Travel and mileage reimbursement: travel reimbursements include expenses like air ticket, meals, accommodation, and cabs that employees incur during business travels. Employees can claim mileage reimbursements if they use their personal vehicles to get to a corporate meeting or event.
- Business expense reimbursement: when employees pay for office supplies or training programs, they are eligible for a refund.
- Healthcare reimbursement: many employers offer employee health benefits whereby an employee is reimbursed for monies spent on treatment and health premiums.
Downsides of Expense Reimbursement Strategy
Finance teams spend loads of time to verify data, process claims, approve them, and reimburse employees. This time can be spent on other profitable and productive tasks.
Firms incur additional labor costs hiring finance professionals to handle the reimbursement process.
Draining on employees
Most employees dislike the process of filing for reimbursement, especially when they just returned from a business trip.
The process of getting a reimbursement is at times lengthy. At times, receipts are lost, and it is tedious and time-consuming to replace them.
Cash flow issues
When employees pay for expenses on behalf of employers, they increase the probability of experiencing cash flow issues.
A research conducted by Conferma titled America's Invisible Bank: The Real Cost to Employees revealed that employees incur approximately £1.43 billion monthly in reimbursable expenses.
38% of respondents claimed to use personal monies to pay for organizational expenses with the average expense being £99.24. This puts a strain on employees, and they lack money for personal expenses. Many employees feel like they act as a bank to their employers.
Most reporting and reimbursement processes are flawed, and delays are common.
Reimbursement delays result in employee dissatisfaction, frustration, and low retention rates. Delays emanate from approval delays and lost receipts. A typical reimbursement takes five weeks, which can have a toll on an employee's finances, including issues paying their bills.
There's a Better Way
Forget the current flawed expenses reimbursement; there's a better way for businesses to cater for employee expenses.
A business account lets you provide for business expenses, including employee expenses—quickly and conveniently without having to waste resources on reconciliation.
A bank can offer a corporate credit card or prepaid debit card that meets employees' expenses beforehand.
For example, rather than using personal monies during a business trip, an employee can charge all costs to a company credit card except incidentals and tips. This is an appropriate approach to expense reimbursement because the credit card bill documents the type of expense incurred without having to preserve receipts and fill out reports.
Alternatively, a business can pay for employee business-related expenses with per diem.
Since a business account comes with a check, a business owner can write a check for the per diem, pre-determined allowance for business-related expenses paid per day. The employee does not have to spend their money. They can use the per diem instead.
Nonetheless, whether your business uses a corporate credit card, cash, or per diem, you have to develop an expense reimbursement policy that stipulates what is catered for and what is not.
For example, if an employee takes his pet to a business trip and charges the hotel pet fee to the company credit card, will that be considered as a misuse of business funds? The expense reimbursement policy should address such a concern, and precisely determine what expenses are reimbursed and which ones are not.
Handling the financials of your business effectively is crucial to establishing a successful enterprise.
This is because accounting is the cement that holds the other departments together. A business bank account can help you manage finances appropriately as well as gain other benefits. It is a better option for paying for expenses as opposed to employees paying for company expenses then being reimbursed.
The process of expense reimbursement is time-consuming, tedious, and delays in reimbursement have negative effects on employees, including dissatisfaction and high turnover rates. Contact Forma for all your accounting needs so that you can concentrate on more profitable tasks.
Business Banking Guide
- How to choose the right account
- Challenger banks
- Starling, Revolt, Tide and Metro bank overview
- How to choose the right account
- Challenger banks
- Starling, Revolt, Tide and Metro bank overview
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Read More Guides below:
Can I expense Magazines, books & journals?
The costs of purchasing magazines, books and journals can be claimed as a deductible expense, as long as these items are required for your business (e.g. trade publications, professional journals, training materials).
Can I expense Conference expenses?
Yes, you can claim the costs of attending business-related conferences as a deductible expense.
Can I expense gym fees?
As a sole trader, you can't claim for gym membership fees.
As a limited company director, you can claim for gym membership via your company. A benefit in kind (BIK) charge will arise against the employee, and the company will need to pay Class 1A NICs on the total cost of the membership.
Can I expense Food & drink?
You can claim "reasonable" food and drink expenses when you're travelling for business, if:
- You're making an occasional business trip outside of your normal pattern of travel
- You're staying overnight, and are also claiming accommodation costs
- Your trade is, by nature itinerant
Self employed expenses & tax allowances guide
Allowable business expenses are costs that you can claim as a deduction against your revenue, which reduces the amount of tax you need to pay.
Here's an example: if your revenue is £35,000 and your allowable expenses total at £5,000, you'll just be taxed on £30,000.
The rules surrounding allowable business expenses aren't always straightforward, and this is where our guide comes into play.
In this article we will run through the most common expenses that sole trader businesses claim for, along with tips you can implement to ensure that you are keeping proper records.
Bear in mind that this isn't a definitive guide, so if you need personalised advice, it's best to consult our accountants atForma.
Can I claim personally paid expenses?
There may be times when you have no option but to use your personal funds to cover company costs such as paying by cash or if you forget to bring your company card. It's important to keep a copy of the receipt of all expenses but this is especially important when paying for costs and expenses personally. This way, a record of the cost can be kept, logged in your company accounts and then your company can reimburse you for this.
Why should I claim mileage?
As a contractor, freelancer or small business owner, it's important that you make the most of what you can claim-especially as the trips you make can add up over time. Here's an example: if you make a 25-mile round trip twice a week, it adds up to 2,400 miles a year. That's £1,080 that you can as deduction against your business revenue.
To learn more, read our guide on how to claim business mileage.
Can I expense Entertainment or Dinners?
You can't claim for the costs of entertaining clients, suppliers and customers.
Do I have to pay tax on expenses?
You do not need to pay tax on allowable business expenses. These are essential business costs that are incurred "wholly and exclusively" for the purposes of running the business. They can be deducted against your income, thereby reducing the amount of tax that you need to pay.
Can I expense Phone calls?
As a sole trader:
If you're using your mobile phone line for both business and personal use, you can't claim for line rental. However, you can claim for call costs for business use if you obtain an itemised bill. If you have a separate mobile phone line for business use, you can claim the costs incurred.
As a limited company director:
1. Mobile phone: If your mobile phone contract is between your company and mobile phone provider, and is used for solely business purposes, you can claim the entire bill as an allowable expense.
If you have a personal contract, you can claim for the costs incurred for business calls. You're also able to reclaim the VAT element of the business calls.
2. Landline: If your landline contract is solely for business use, you can claim the cost as an allowable expense. You can also claim for business calls you've made using your home phone line.
Claiming mobile phone expenses when self employed
"Can I claim my smartphone as an expense?" is a simple, but a common question for first-time contractors.
That's because HMRC's expenses rules can be confusing, and while you want to be sure that you're running your business as tax-efficiently as possible, it's just as important to be in the good books of HMRC.
We've put together a short guide so you can get a quick overview of the basics. If there are any areas you're unsure about, you may check in with our accountants at Forma so you can be sure that you're claiming your limited company expenses correctly.
How do I open business bank account?
The process for opening a business bank account will vary, depending on the bank you choose to open an account with.
Certain banks may require an in-person meeting, while others may require just an online registration to complete the sign up (we tested out several challenger banks, and found Revolut and Tide to have the smoothest account opening process).
In general, you'll need to prepare the following documents for the sign up:
- Proof of ID
- Proof of address
You may also need to provide the following information about your company:
- Full business address
- Contact details
- Companies House registration number (for limited companies and partnerships)
- Estimated annual turnover
- You may be required to show proof of your personal financial situation, and provide documents to show you have a clean credit history
How do I transfer/ change a business bank account?
Switching business bank accounts can be a tedious and time-consuming task.
But if you're a small business with less than 50 employees and an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million, you'll benefit from a simpler and quicker process-by using the Current Account Switch Service. This free-to-use service is part of Pay UK, and enables the transfer to be completed within seven days.
You'll need to take the following steps:
- Check that your bank or building society is participating in the scheme
- Get your paperwork sorted out. Use this resource to obtain a checklist of the documents you need.
- Apply for a new business bank account. After the security checks have been completed, you'll be able to choose a switch date.
- You'll be able to use the services on your present bank account as usual until the switch date-after which you can then begin using your new account.
Can I expense Pensions?
As a sole trader, you can't claim pension contributions as a deductible expense. However, you can get personal tax relief from contributions you make into your pension scheme.
If you're a limited company director, you have the option of making pension contributions through your company. This will reduce your company's profits, and as such reduce the amount of corporation tax your company pays.
Can I expense Utilities?
If you're renting an office, you can claim utilities as a deductible expense.
If you're using your home as an office, you'll need to work out the proportion of your utilities that you can allocate to business use in order to claim these costs as a deductible expense.
Can I expense Professional fees?
The costs incurred for engaging professional services-such as hiring an accountant, lawyer or architect-can be claimed as an allowable expense, as long as these services are carried out solely for business purposes.
Limited company expenses & tax allowances guide
As a limited company director, you want to run your business in the most tax efficient way possible.
One way to achieve this is to claim for allowable business expenses correctly, so that you don't wind up having to pay more tax than you are legally obliged to.
It can be tricky figuring out what you can or cannot claim for, and this is where our guide comes into play.
We'll run through the different expenses you can claim for, but bear in mind that this isn't a definitive guide. Do check out our resource hub on limited company tax topics for more information, or consult our specialist accountants at Forma if you need personalised advice.
Can I expense Training costs?
Professional development costs can be claimed as an allowable expense, as long as the course content directly relates to your trading activity.
Training courses that you attend to learn a new skill-which you can use to expand into a new industry or offer different services-aren't allowable, unless you can show that these courses are helping you build up on your existing skills or knowledge.
Can I expense Social Media Ads or Marketing Costs?
Yes, you can claim the costs of social media ads as a deductible expense.