Making debt structuring work for you in your Medical Practice

Debt structuring is something that’s easy to do but often not done well. If it’s done correctly it can add significant advantages for you and your practice.

Given the Medicare freeze, many practices are finding that top line growth isn’t where they’d like it to be this year and in the future, so they’re looking more towards reducing their expenses to increase their profit. Sometimes we need to think outside the box; can increasing an expense increase your overall profits? It can if a side effect is creating a tax deduction, but not reducing your cash flow.

What interest is tax deductible?

Interest can be deductible for a number of reasons; it might be borrowing to buy an investment property, it could be borrowing to buy shares or borrowing for business expenses. For this article we will focus on borrowing in relation to business expenses.

Interest is deductible under Section 8.1 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997:

General deductions

(1) You can deduct from your assessable income any loss or outgoing to the extent that:

(a) it is incurred in gaining or producing your assessable income; or
(b) it is necessarily incurred in carrying on a * business for the purpose of gaining or producing your assessable income.

Note: Division 35 prevents losses from non-commercial business activities that may contribute to a tax loss being offset against other assessable income.

As you can see, (b) refers to interest being deductible as it’s necessarily incurred in carrying on a business gaining or producing assessable income. Therefore, if the debt relates to a business loan, then it will be deductible under the second limb of Section 8.1.

For an Associate Doctor, borrowing for their business can be a variety of things; it might be borrowing for staff superannuation, for staff wages, for service fees, or just to pay normal business expenses. If that’s the case, and if they’re genuine expenses for the business, then that interest will be tax deductible.

What is the purpose of borrowing?

This is something that should be asked more regularly, because it’s the purpose of the borrowing that makes the interest tax deductible. If you were to borrow $10,000 to pay some of those business expenses mentioned earlier, then that interest would be tax deductible. It’s important to understand the purpose of the borrowing to make sure you are borrowing for business expenses and that it’s done correctly.

Example

If Dr A is running a business and borrows $10,000 to pay service fees, then the interest on that borrowing would be tax deductible.

Dr B works at the same practice, in a very similar situation. He spends all his money on paying his business expenses, finds he is a little short on funds for that month and borrows $10,000 to top up, which he then transfers out through drawings, or through the trust account, down to his personal funds.

Where Dr A borrowed $10,000 specifically to pay for business expenses, Dr B already paid his business expenses, so when Dr B borrowed his $10,000 it was essentially for private use, because he transferred it to himself for personal purposes. Therefore, Dr B wouldn’t get a tax deduction for his borrowing.

As you can see, they are very similar examples and both of them are in the same situation, but Dr A has structured his debt better and he has borrowed for the right purpose. Neither of these doctors have higher debt than the other, but Dr A has deductible interest, and Dr B unfortunately does not have deductible interest.

How big a difference can debt structuring make in your situation?

It might not sound like much, however it does make a big difference that can build up over time.

Example

Dr A is a contracting doctor, running a business and working at a practice. Dr A borrows $50,000 over the year to pay for his service fees. The borrowing for those service fees would then be for business purposes and therefore the interest would be tax deductible.

The same doctor has a reasonably aggressive strategy in relation to trying to pay down his home loan, so when he gets his income from the practice, he’s paying down as much as he can, through trust drawings (and structuring to get that right is important) to his personal account, to pay off his home loan as quickly as he can. Coincidentally, that might be a similar amount that he’s paid off his home loan ($50,000) and he therefore doesn’t have any higher debt exposure, he just has some debt as tax deductible.

In this situation, his borrowings for a year would be $50,000 (assuming 5% interest). If his home loan is at a similar rate, he’s probably reduced the interest in his home loan by about $2,500 for the year, but he’s also got interest in his business loan of about $2,500. In this situation, the business borrowing is tax deductible, and therefore he is getting a tax deduction on that loan. Now, that might not sound like a lot of money, but if we extrapolate that over five years, all of a sudden the numbers start building up and it works out to be a bit over $18,000 over five years (in this example).

Please note, the above example was fabricated for this article, is very specific and has controlled variables. It is important to make sure the structuring is right, the personal affairs are right and the tax advice is right, not only with the business loan but the personal borrowing as well. Make sure you seek professional advice in relation to this, to make sure you have it done correctly. It can make a significant difference, but you have to make sure you are borrowing for the right purpose and doing it for the right reasons and that it is part of a genuine strategy for your business. Please seek advice when you can regarding this.

Crowd sourced equity funding

In 2017 we are seeing the introduction of major changes to crowd-sourced funding and the ability for companies to raise capital from “the crowd”. The following is an overview of recent changes to legislation for Crowd Sourced Equity Funding (CSEF) and a look at what this could mean for private companies.

Crowdfunding has been around for nearly a decade with IndieGoGo launching in 2008. In 2015 it was estimated that approximately US$34billion was raised globally through crowdfunding. The World Bank predicts that crowdfunding investments will be a US$96billion a year market in developing countries alone by 2025, while Goldman Sachs describe it as “potentially the most disruptive of all the new models of finance”.

So what is it and how will it benefit SMEs?

To date, Australia has somewhat lagged behind the rest of the world, partly due to the inability for start-ups to provide equity in their venture with only rewards based crowdfunding available. Recent developments for how companies can use crowd sourcing will mean a dramatic change to how businesses finance growth, new product development and other strategic initiatives.

What is Crowd Sourced Equity Funding (CSEF)?

It’s essentially a financial service where SME’s and start-ups can raise money from a large number of people for a specific project or venture and in return provide equity in the company.

Local developments

A national Crowd Sourced Funding bill was passed into law recently and has provided start-ups and small businesses with an opportunity to be able to raise capital directly with investors.

It allows for unlisted public companies, with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25million, to utilise CSEF to raise capital up to $5million a year from retail investors.

Retail investors include ‘unsophisticated investors’ who will be able to invest up to $10,000 each and every 12 months in whatever ventures they choose.

There is no restriction on the amount of investment from a ‘sophisticated investor’. This type of investor is one which is deemed to have sufficient investing experience and knowledge to weigh the risks and merits of an investment opportunity.

As part of the 2017/18 Federal Budget, draft legislation was released allowing SME private companies – a structure used by the vast majority of Australian businesses – the opportunity to participate in CSEF.

This means proprietary companies will no longer need to become a public company (reducing cost and compliance burdens) to access CSEF. The legislation seeks to protect investors through additional obligations of CSEF proprietary companies including a mandatory 5-day cooling off period.

CSEF offerings must be made through eligible CSF intermediaries, who hold an Australian Financial Services Licence and are responsible for publishing a CSF offer document that complies with regulations.

When will CSEF be available?

The Federal Government has already passed legislation that will establish a CSEF regime for public companies and this will start on 29 September 2017.

The draft legislation, extending the regime to proprietary companies, is now being reviewed in light of comments provided to government. No date has been set for when the bill will be before Parliament. The current draft legislation sets the commencement date as six months after the legislation receives royal assent.

What does it mean for SMEs?

Capital raising for SMEs has been challenging, often tying up personal assets as security with banks, and for some it has involved going down the road of a costly and time consuming IPO.

CSEF allows SMEs and start-ups to by-pass the traditional methods of raising capital and to source funding from the public in exchange for an equity share in the business.

Before companies move down this path there are a number of aspects that will need to be considered and prepared, including:

  • Market Research to ensure your offer is attractive
  • Marketing Plan to validate your offer to potential investors
  • Corporate Structuring to ensure you have the most tax effective structure in place
  • Intellectual Property assessment to ensure your ideas and business is well protected
  • R&D strategies covering how you will invest the funds raised to the benefit of investors
  • Business plan which is robust and long term
  • Budgeting and Cashflow forecasts to demonstrate that the business or product is sustainable
  • Information Memorandum to set out the key elements of the offer
  • Corporate Governance requirements are in place and the business is well prepared to satisfy its obligations.

While there may be substantial upside to sourcing capital in this way, there are also a number of compliance obligations which will need to be considered:

  • An annual financial audit if more than $1million in CSEF is raised
  • A minimum of two directors of the proprietary entity
  • Financial reporting in accordance with accounting standards
  • Restrictions on related party transactions
  • Minimum shareholder rights to participate in exit events (such as an IPO or similar).

What else can SMEs do to raise capital?

Although it sounds attractive, CSEF may not be the best option for your product or company – it really depends on individual circumstances and timing.  Other forms of raising capital can provide attractive benefits too, such as:

  • Early Stage Innovation Company (ESIC) set up which provides for a 20% tax offset to certain investors that can be used with or without the CSEF concessions regarding regulation of raising capital.
  • Section 708 of the Corporations Act Capital Raising’ which provides for long-standing exemption from capital raising reporting requirements when capital is raised from ‘sophisticated investors’.

Depending on whether your product is at the exploration, validation, demonstration or launching stage, there are numerous government grants available through The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Austrade, Australian Taxation Office, CSIRO and other Government organisations.

Help is at hand

Navigating the opportunities for funding that are right for your business or product can be a time consuming task. To discover more about CSEF or other capital raising methods available, including government grants, contact Prosperity Advisers on 1800 855 844 or mail@prosperityadvisers.com.au

What is your practice worth?

There are many variables to look at when valuing a practice and if you are looking to sell you need to start planning earlier than you think. This article discusses the important factors that are considered in a valuation as well as what you can do to improve it before you are ready to sell.

Do GP practices actually have a value in the market independent of a payment for the plant and equipment and the structural aspects of a practice?

There is room for a practice to have a value, however there is a threshold. Often we find a smaller practice may only be a worth a small amount of money if anything at all, while a larger, well-run practice can be worth a significant amount of money.

A very simple way to calculate the value of your practice is if you remove your owner Doctor billings from the Profit and Loss Statement, then consider your billing the same as you would a contractor (say 35% for the practice), would there be anything left? Effectively, are you subsidizing the practice, because if you took 65% as a contracting doctor, there would be nothing left? If that is the case, then it is a good indication that at the moment your practice isn’t really worth anything.

What should we keep in mind when valuing a practice?

The value of a practice is subjective; it’s important to keep in mind that the value is what someone in a free market is willing to pay for it, and what you’re willing to take for it. As the vendor, your value may be higher than the value of buyer. Essentially the value of your practice is somewhere in the middle.

Another thing to consider is if corporates become involved, that metric can change. A trap to be aware of is, if a corporate or large entity comes in, they will often offer big numbers, higher than most GPs would be expecting. However, the devil is in the detail of the contract, so it is important to understand it and talk to a specialist about it. For example, there may be big numbers offered up front, but restraints put on you as part of the contract. This could include requiring you to work in the practice for 5 years, at a contracting rate of 50% instead of 65%, meaning essentially they haven’t bought the business per se and have tied you up generating profit for them at the same time. While there may be some big money out there, it may not always be the best option and it is always best to talk to someone who can break it down for you, so you understand the long term effect.

What is a common approach to valuations?

There are a number of different valuation methods, but to keep it simple from a GP perspective, the business cap rate (also known as an EBIT multiple) is the most common. This method is where you work out the future maintainable earnings by looking at the adjusted profit for the last number of years, then apply this multiple by that number to work out what it’s worth. That is, how many years’ genuine profits or regular profits would you be willing to pay to take over the practice? Is that 1 years’ worth of Profit or 5 years’ worth of Profit?

Profitability: what are the principals involved in working out the adjusted profit of a practice?

I would recommend looking at your profit and loss over a number of years, say 3 as a benchmark. From that profit, add back any non-genuine wages you or your family have drawn and any expenses for you personally (eg motor vehicles, superannuation, etc). Likewise, take out any fringe benefits tax reimbursements you have contributed. Once you have this core business figure, apply the contracting rate for any owner Doctors (say 65%) to the owner Doctor billings, and this profit is the adjusted profit for the year.

In addition, you might also want to add back any abnormal expenditure over the 3 year period (eg large pieces of equipment or any other expenses you don’t consider “regular”). This will “annualise” a true profit of the business over the 3 years. You then also need to “weight” each of the years. This means that you will not look at the profit made each individual year, or the average of the profit over the 3 years, rather you would consider which years were more “regular” income years and give them a higher weighting than any years which were less “regular”. This gives you the weighted average EBIT.

How does a valuer work out what multiple to use in arriving at a valuation?

This is the harder bit; it’s not something you can just come up with or guess at. As a rough guide, a multiple of 1 to 5 years profit, however it depends on a number of factors. You should speak with someone who knows the medical industry and will also get to know your practice well. Once you have a rate, you will effectively multiply it by the weighted average profit figure.

There are a number of industry factors to consider in working out the multiple, for example:

  • Changes in Government policy will not only affect the industry, but your practice specifically;
  • Changes in healthcare, for example changes to the way public hospitals are run. If it were to become an option for patients to visit their public hospital as opposed to a GP clinic, that would affect your profit;
  • External environmental factors, for example practice location. Practices on busy roads are easily accessible, ample car parking and proximity to a train station will see a positive impact on the multiple. Practices which are difficult to access, don’t have street frontage or difficult car parking will see a negative effect on the multiple;
  • Demographics, for example areas with young families who are inclined to visit the doctor regularly versus areas with more elderly patients who may be bulk billed this will affect your practice performance;
  • Socioeconomic status, for example affluent areas where patients are happy to pay more to see their doctor, versus low socioeconomic areas which may be traditionally bulk billing areas.

It’s important the process is undertaken thoroughly to get an indication of what your business is worth.

Is that the final number?

This Cap rate approach will help determine the goodwill (or value) of the business, however don’t forget that the value of any plant and equipment should also then be added to this number if a sale does occur.   This could be minimal value or it could be considerable if there was a recent fit out. The value of this equipment should always be considered at market value, not the price it was purchased for.

Is market competition important?

Most definitely. If you’re a small practice and a multi-clinic opens up a couple of streets away, that will affect your value. This may not be fully reflected in the numbers, which is why it’s important for the person making the assessment to understand the business.

What are some of the factors inside the practice that are relevant?

Growth is an important factor to consider; is there any room for growth within the practice? If you’re running a small practice with, for example, four rooms, and they’re at capacity, not much can really be done with the practice as there really isn’t a lot of room to grow.

If someone is coming in to buy that practice, they’re not going to want to pay a higher multiple for the profit of the practice if they can’t really grow it or do much more with it. Whereas if a practice is not at full capacity, has space for more rooms or opening hours, there’s room to expand.

Fit out is also something to consider; is the practice fit out current and modern, or does it need to be updated, which could cost money in the future?

Is the staff and contracting team relevant?

The team is very relevant. A practice who has doctors on contracts who are happy working in the practice, who have regular patients who visit the practice to see them specifically, will be more appealing to someone coming in to buy the practice compared with a practice where the doctors aren’t on contracts and are not tied to the practice. For someone coming in to buy a practice where the doctors aren’t on contracts, they have to consider whether the patients will follow if the doctors leave.

Likewise, with nursing and admin staff; perhaps the practice has a great receptionist who knows all of the patients by name and the reason the patients visit that practice is because they feel at home there. These types of things will affect the value of the practice, and that isn’t something which can be seen in the financials.

Is there anything Prosperity Health can do to help our clients work out where they sit in that spectrum?

A good starting point for practices is to see how they compare to other practices. Prosperity Health run an annual GP Benchmark Report which is a useful tool for practices to gauge where they sit on the spectrum in terms of how they operate, whether their expenses are high and their income low.

The next step is to work out why you want to know what the practice is worth; whether it is for your own peace of mind, or because you want to sell the practice or for some other purpose. There are rules and guidelines that are followed when determining the value of the practice and how much detail goes into it will depend on the reason you want to know your practice’s worth. Valuing a practice is not something that should be done for the sake of it.

How long before wanting to sell your practice, should you start that conversation?

Practices should start the conversation several years out because once they get to the point where they want to sell and are trying to work out what their practice is worth, the first step is looking at the last 3 years. If the last 3 years aren’t great, the practice isn’t going to be worth much. If you start planning 5-7 years away from selling the practice, you have time to implement some changes and improve the practice, and ultimately its value. Again, our GP Benchmark Report is a good place to start to see what changes and improvements can be made.

The positive side of the multiple factor is that if the practice is making more money each year, the multiple will increase, meaning the practice will be worth exponentially more. If the worst case is practices are making more money each year by starting early, then that’s not a bad downside!

 

Two Prosperity Advisers listed among Australia’s Top 50 Financial Advisers in The Australian’s Deal Magazine

Prosperity Directors John Manuel and Gary Dean have both been listed among Australia’s top 50 financial advisers in the inaugural list of Australia’s top advisers by The Deal, the monthly business magazine in The Australian in conjunction with Barron’s, a US based financial publication.

John Manuel a Director and partner of Prosperity Advisers was ranked in 13th position, while Gary Dean Director and partner based in the Sydney office of Prosperity Advisers came in at 40th position. In speaking about the recognition, John Manuel says, “Our clients are dynamic. They are attracted to us due to our willingness to understand their financial needs intimately and to deliver tailored, strategic and ongoing advice.”

Gavin Fernando, Director Financial Services at Prosperity Advisers says, “This list celebrates the leaders in the financial advice sector and we are very proud to have two of our advisers listed among a pool of very high calibre personal financial experts. Both John and Gary are the best of the best and this recognition builds on the feedback we regularly receive from their clients about the positive experience of working with each of them.”

The purpose in undertaking to rank Australia’s top financial advisers is twofold, to provide the market with a selection of quality advisers and to establish a benchmark for a high stand of client care that all advisers can emulate.

About undertaking the survey, the organisers of the list, Barron’s says, “It is to cast a positive spotlight on the advisory business in Australia broadly, by highlighting a group of leading advisers as examples of the tremendous skill, passion, and acumen represented within the industry. Our goal will be to recognise excellence in wealth advisory and educate the investing public on the value of a talented adviser.”

The survey comprised 73 questions covering everything from the financial performance of the advisers’ practices to their credentials, education and charitable philanthropic work.

“At Prosperity we firmly believe that reaching your financial goals may not always mean making more money, but rather making smart decisions with what you have”, says Fernando.

The partners and staff at Prosperity congratulate John and Gary for achieving this remarkable recognition!

Find out more about the Barron’s survey and Australia’s Top 50 Advisers listing here.

Gavin Fernando is an Authorised Representative of Prosperity Wealth Advisers Pty Ltd (ABN 32 141 396 376) is part of the Prosperity Advisers Group and an Authorised representative of Hillross Financial Services Limited, Australian Financial Services Licensee 232705. This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Readers need to consider their own financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information.

Prosperity adds SME specialist practice

  • Supplements stellar growth in Brisbane practice
  • Holistic service offering key attraction
  • SME sector not well served

Roger Ng & Co – a specialist SME Brisbane-based Accounting & Tax practice has joined the Prosperity Advisers Group.

The SME sector is the engine room of the Australian economy and Queensland has a burgeoning small business sector. A key client group for both Prosperity Advisers and Roger Ng & Co, the SME sector features prominently in Prosperity’s growth plans. Joining forces means greater access for Roger Ng & Co clients to an expanded group of services and is a boost to Prosperity’s SME and private client network.

Combining the long history of both firms in delivering quality accounting, tax and advisory services in the Queensland market made a lot of sense for Prosperity Advisers’ Founder & CEO Allan McKeown, “We’ve experienced double digit growth at our Brisbane practice in each of the last four years including 12% year to date, so when the opportunity arose to merge with Roger Ng & Co we were excited by the prospect.”

Prosperity is a leading adviser to SMEs and HNW families with specialist teams in the Medico and Hospitality sectors and possessing a well-resourced Asia Desk. Expanding its client base in each of these areas is a key factor in its growth plans. “Our project to build the Advisory Firm of the Future involves embracing technology changes in order to advise clients using the latest thinking. Being a progressive firm was attractive to Roger Ng & Co and we welcome the more than 120 client groups and the team, from Roger Ng & Co that have joined Prosperity.” says McKeown.

“We are pleased that both Karen Ng and her father, Roger will continue with our firm. Their specialist SME knowledge will be invaluable in assisting Prosperity to cater for a market that is often not well served by its advisers; many of whom are trapped on the compliance treadmill.”

Following a searching selection process, choosing to join with Prosperity Advisers was a logical next step for Partner Karen Ng, “Prosperity offers a complete service for our clients from financial planning, accounting and business management using the latest technology, through to tax consulting and structuring, employee benefits and superannuation. It’s a one-stop-shop where our clients will benefit as they grow their businesses and family wealth. In addition Prosperity’s people really stood out for us as very approachable, client nurturing, highly knowledgeable and leaders in their respective fields. We are delighted to be on board.”

Bring in the new financial year with a clear plan for success

As another financial year comes hurtling to an end it’s a great time to pause and reflect on what you can do to ensure FY 2018 is all you want it to be. Here are my top 5 tips in preparation for a new year. Tackle one a week and you will be on track to start the year with confidence and a recipe for success.

  1. Set a budget for the year

Assessing financial performance is subjective. To know whether you have succeeded you need to be able to measure your results against an agreed plan (or budget). Having a budget also allows you to make financial decisions around setting revenue budgets and sales strategies, making decisions to invest in capital expenditure and team development. Importantly, it enables you to allocate personal remuneration and drawings without fear of unexpected bills or a cashflow crisis you didn’t see coming.

Most SME owners start with a good idea, an identified market niche and a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to drive their vision to succeed. But to what end? Having a clear financial goal in mind assists in shaping your broader business strategy for the year and also provides a sense of purpose to your company.

  1. Set your top 5 priorities 

Setting clear and concise goals gives you focus and direction. By identifying the 5 most important things to get done for you to be able to meet or exceed your financial budget you will ensure that your hard work pays rewards as your activity and efforts are directly linked to factors which contribute to your goals.

Of your 5 priorities it is also great practice to identify the number 1 priority – the one goal which is the most important thing for the business to achieve. You may also find that your top 5 priorities contain longer term projects, if so, identifying shorter term milestones or actions related to each one can keep it achievable and ensure you are making progress with steps in the right direction.

What you focus on gets done. 

  1. Use an advisory board

Being in business can be lonely, and being busy can mean time passes by without stopping to check on your progress. Implementing an Advisory Board provides owners a sounding board, guidance, and an outside perspective to hold you personally accountable. It is a great way to break the dynamic from working IN the business, to working ON the business.

I recommend at least a quarterly cycle of meetings, including a meeting agenda and financial reports (compared to your budget).

The Advisory Board team may be limited to one or two individuals (depending on the size and complexity of the business and the internal skills in the business) and meetings should be kept to 2 or 3 hours maximum. In my experience, businesses with an Advisory Board more often meet their financial targets and stay on track with their strategic priorities than those without one.

  1. Streamline a process 

Like decluttering your house during a spring clean, finding an inefficient process in your business and streamlining it can reap great rewards. For business efficiency as well as staff satisfaction.

We live in an age where technology can provide solutions for all sorts of problems and you might be surprised to find an “off the shelf” solution to your process inefficiency.

Are you spending too much time entering receipts and filing them? Try Receipt Bank to snap a photo of your receipts and bills and watch it load itself into your accounting system – and no more need to file the paper. Perhaps you are sick of entering and remembering too many passwords for the multiple applications you use each day? Try LastPass and save yourself time (and frustration) every day. 

Creating a culture of continuous improvement has immense benefits. Start now with one change and see where it leads. 

  1. What to stop doing!

Time is a limited commodity. To do new things and create new habits, you need to find some stop doing activities and bench old habits. To identify some things you can stop doing, consider the following questions:

  • Do you say ‘yes’ too often?
    • Next time, pause and consider “does it need to be done?”, “can someone else do it”, “if I need to do it, how urgent is it?”.
  • Do you do things that others could do?
    • Focus on delegation. Leverage the time of others to get tasks progressed and only get involved when they are advanced to a stage where they need your input.
  • Stop being a perfectionist.
    • Ensure the time spent is commensurate with the value of the task.
  • Cease & desist from doing repetitive tasks.
    • Take advantage of technology and start automating repetitive processes.

Help is close by. Your accountant should be a sounding board for your ideas or feel free to contact Prosperity Advisers if you want a fresh approach.

Prosperity creates opportunities for professionals to thrive

Prosperity is delighted to be a finalist in this year’s Australian Accounting Awards across two categories.

It follows recent awards for excellence among our team – Hillross Adviser of the Year for Gary Dean and 2016 Rising Star of the Year for Alex Hardy. Siobhan Sellick has been announced as finalist for Partner of the Year while Prosperity’s Professional Development Program is also shortlisted for recognition at this year’s Australian Accounting Awards.

Staff feedback surveys tell us that what sets Prosperity Advisers Group apart from other firms is our collaboration, professionalism, learning culture and team ethos – especially the lengths that we go to make a difference for our clients and to support each other.

This recognition builds on firm and individual successes awarded in 2016. We have been recognised again for the contribution our people make in helping to create stronger financial futures for our clients.

In becoming a finalist for Partner of the Year, Siobhan Sellick consolidates her 20 years of business advisory, accounting and tax experience working closely with individual, family and business clients.

Siobhan says: “I like to spend time with my clients getting to know them well. I meet with a client’s team, partners, children and people who influence or rely upon them. Prosperity gives me the freedom to work with other teams and the time to get close to clients and their families. I am not restrained in my approach so that I can provide holistic solutions and not just piece meal advice.

Mentoring my team to go beyond traditional compliance accounting has reaped rewards for individuals who have stretched themselves and discovered new skills and knowledge. It’s a very satisfying part of being a Partner.”

The Professional Development Program award recognises achievement for innovation in program development, implementation and outcomes achieved. Prosperity’s Learning Organisation approach underpins how we engage with each other and how we work with clients. For us to be recognised as the Firm of the Future we are embracing technology, changing how and when we advise and engage with clients and reshaping how we build enduring client relationships.

HR Director, Tanya Craft said “Personal and career development is an important consideration when people join Prosperity and our program aims to address the balance between technical, personal and professional growth.”

Category winners will be announced on 26 May at a gala dinner in Sydney.

Government delivers good news for business to support economic growth

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There is finally good news for some businesses in the lead up to the new Federal Budget being handed down in May. Items flagged in last year’s budget are finally progressing through the Government and the Senate. This includes company tax cuts and the ability for more businesses to access the small business tax concessions.

Legislation containing the proposed tax cuts for companies – bringing company tax down to 27.5% – has now been passed however it is limited to companies with under $50m turnover.  The company tax cuts were intended in last year’s budget to apply progressively to all companies, however objection from opposition parties and deals made to pass the legislation resulted in the tax cuts being limited to small and moderate sized businesses.

For the 2016/17 year (this tax year) it will be limited to companies with less than $10m, for the 2017/18 year the threshold will raise to $25m turnover then $50m from the 2018/19 year onwards. The tax rate will gradually decrease from 27.5% to 25% from the 2025 to 2027 years.

Importantly, the new legislation also includes the budget proposal to increase access to the small business tax concessions (excluding CGT) to $10m from 1 July 2016. This means, for example, companies with between $2m and $10m turnover will be able to obtain an immediate write-off for depreciable assets acquired prior to 30 June. This is great news for a large number of businesses and should factor into business planning strategies for the 2017/18 financial year. Small business owners should contact their adviser to discuss these changes and how they can take advantage of this immediate stimulus prior to 30 June.

The legislation also progressively increases the small income tax offset for sole proprietors (eventually to 16% by 2027) and raises the threshold to $5m turnover.  Another great win for small business!

Contact Prosperity on 1800 855 844 or mail@prosperityadvisers.com.au if you would like to know how these changes can benefit your business.

The business of hospitality – using data for growth

(First published in Business First Magazine)

Tourism is on the rise in Australia against a backdrop of unease in other key tourism locations, and it’s shaping up to be a boom for the hospitality sector writes Steve Gagel, Director, Prosperity Advisers Group.

Fresh from a European holiday and close to the Nice attacks, I had a good opportunity to discuss holiday destinations with many locals in countries across Europe. The tension is palpable in the major cities. From the moment we stepped off a plane or train, we were met with multiple army personnel carrying machine guns and walking in formations up to six at a time. Understandably, citizens are nervous, and react to anything out of the ordinary in fear of another terrorist attack.

Europeans seem to be in awe of our watery boarders and in-the-main tend to like Australia’s “turn back the boats” policy. The Australian policy of not letting anyone in does disadvantage the many legitimate refugees trying to escape oppression and to make a better life from themselves, with some thinking it might keep out the extremists at the same time.

TOURISM ON THE UP
With the above in mind and the Australian dollar a long way under our previous highs of $1.10 to the US Dollar (currently A$ buying around US$0.76) there is effectively a 31% increase in buying power that international visitors now have in deciding to visit Australia.
Tourism Research Australia tells us there’s a healthy increase in total expenditure on international overnight visitors across all three eastern seaboard states – with the average for Australia up 17%. Perhaps the combined effects of safety and lower cost (due to the dollar dropping) is indeed creating more in-bound hospitality for Australia?

Domestically, it appears that Australians are turning their noses up at overseas destinations with domestic overnight spend increasing by 4.7% and domestic day trips also up by 4.6%. The scene is certainly set for growth among hospitality operators if they can leverage the current climate to their advantage.

HOW TO CAPITALISE ON THE INFLOWS
Further analysis of the data from Tourism Australia confirms the hotspot is with holiday makers who are up 20.7% year on year to June 2016, whilst the convention and conference market seems to have suffered a downturn of 10.7%. For the actual month of June 2016 these two markets seem to be gathering speed in opposite directions with holiday makers up 29.4% and convention and conference visitors down 17.7%.

So what can participants in the hospitality sector do to capitalise on the swinging tide of tourism? Data can be your friend here. Getting to know the local Hotels Association representatives in your area and getting closer to Tourism Australia and the local “destinations” organisations in your district can give you the information you need to anticipate tourism flows and to appeal to the type of visitors expected.

For example, if there are delegations from specific nations expected in your area then getting to know the organisers and promoting a tailored option to attract them to your venue may be appealing – such as a special menu, entertainment or drink. Then capitalising on these visits through social media can help reinforce your venue as a destination for that type of visitor going forward.

Data can also help you in other ways. It could be as simple as asking visitors to your venue what postcode they come from or their home country. After collecting data for a given period you can analyse to see if you could tailor aspects of your offer (food, beverage, gaming, entertainment, special events) to the standout groups.  Again, using social media to promote these changes and how you appeal to specific groups can help you target your advertising at very little cost.

Above all, briefing your staff and engaging them in what you are trying to do and why is going to have a significant impact. Frontline staff can collect valuable data at each shift such as approximate ages and gender of your visitors. They will also have ideas for how you can make the most of tourism flows in your area. If you want to make your area more attractive to local or overseas visitors, getting together with other publicans or venues in your area and jointly approaching delegation organisers or tourism operators could see a step change in the type and quality of visitor you experience.

Competing for the consumer dollar is never easy but with a lower exchange rate on your side and a greater number of visitors to our shores it certainly makes it more interesting and exciting.

Senior appointments cap Prosperity’s Bumper New Year

Award winning financial advisory firm, Prosperity Advisers, welcomes new talent in Brisbane & Sydney.

Senior leadership additions in both Brisbane and Sydney heralds continued growth for the firm and new opportunities for Prosperity’s clients. Joining the firm’s director team is Michael Mahabeer, specialist internal auditor and risk adviser and Michael Bode, business and personal taxation specialist.

Speaking about the additions to Prosperity’s talent line up, Chief Executive and Founder Allan McKeown says “The calibre of our directors is testament to the quality of work we undertake for our varied clients. Without quality clients and exciting and challenging work we would not be able to get the attention of candidates like our two newest directors. I’m excited to see the impact that our new starters will have on our clients and team.”

Michael Mahabeer boasts an impressive track record in senior leadership positions across internal audit and risk management. He led the transformation of the internal audit function at a large government owned corporation in Queensland and has held previous senior roles with Suncorp and PwC. Michael is an internal audit expert with specific knowledge and technical competency of the public and finance sectors. 

Michael Bode specialises in providing advice on Australia’s complex tax system for corporates, businesses and individuals. Having previously been director for many years in the tax consulting division of a global accounting firm, Michael has considerable experience advising on all aspects of taxation for international inbound corporate entities and high wealth private client groups, including mid-cap and family owned businesses. Michael is known for his straight-forward approach and skill at translating complex matters into every-day language.

These appointments capped an outstanding year for Prosperity. The firm picked up three industry awards; moved into fresh new workplaces in Sydney and Brisbane; and launched our Future Thinkers Program and Business Advisory Academy to ensure our people are ‘future fit’ for a fast changing professional environment.