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Engagement letters - there must be another way?!

MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All KnowledgeFMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
I hate them, they take up a million trees and postage...

Would it be ok to:

a) have a default engagement letter, give it a 'datestamp/unique reference', say ENG001, and upload it as a pdf to my website.
b) issue a 1 page letter to client saying reference ENG001 on the website, sections A,B and E apply to you. Please sign this single page to agree to the terms.

If I update my terms, I upload ENG002 to the website (as well, ENG001 remains there) and notfiy people as appropriate.

Please assume the above is logical and well worded, it's january but I had to get the idea out there before I forgot!

Comments

  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Great idea and it may well be possible although I think officially you would need the AAT's view.

    As you are aware Jenni I have my set up for electronic signing and 90%+ of my clients have electronic copies of their letter of engagement. This saves a lot of trees and money and time with waiting for post etc.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    Thanks Ian.
    Yeah, I like the electronic signing thing (and will have a look at it in the new year), but it still needs a letter preparing for each one. I'm trying to shortcut that...

    I may ask the AAT MIP team. I don't think I can see any major pitfalls with my idea...
  • anniemanniem Experienced Mentor Pewsey, WiltshireRegistered Posts: 1,326
    Love it - great idea!

    Keep us posted with the AAT view on this one Jenni; like you say it'll save a fortune in trees ..... and printing/paper/postage!
    FMAAT - AAT Licensed Member in Practice - Pewsey, Wiltshire
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    I don't know what aspects of Digita you bought but I have it set up with a few standard letters of engagement depending on organisation type. If you have the letters facility then you can generate this from practice manager and for me it takes around 5 mins to do an engagement letter for a client and another 5 mins to prepare for and send off for electronic signing.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I was going to get my husband to use his programming skills to create a simple 'tick-box' system to generate engagement letters but I like that idea much much more. THat way if someone you've done tax returns for for a few years becomes vat registered you can just write a simple letter saying 'section D now applies to you' which is much easier than re-issuing the whole letter. Will look into it more in Feb
  • RachelRachel Trusted Regular FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 349
    I hate them too.
    The ACCA sell a CD of engagement letters for £30 I have been tempted by the think they might not be any better than the one I am using.
    So if anyone develops something that will save time I would probably purchase it.
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    I'm sure with a number of selection boxes and formulae in Excel I could create a page for basic info and some selection boxes for say organisation type and then options for each service that would create a tailored letter of engagement. However at this time I don't have the time to do it.

    Jenni, what would you do with those who don't do the internet? Usual methods?
    Regards,

    Burg
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    There are people who don't use the internet? :lol:

    I guess for those few I would do it on paper, sure.

    I'm going to see what the AAT come back with, will update the thread when I know.

    right, I need to stop thinking administrative stuff and start thinking 0910 tax returns....!!!
  • T.C.T.C. Experienced Mentor Registered, Tutor Posts: 1,448
    Call me old-fashioned, but I would also use the paper version. The majority of my clients would still prefer paper, many of them not really using computers other than to email. I do try to save a little by printing on both sides of the paper though!
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    The majority of my business is electronic, I have email addresses for 98% of my clients.

    I get too confused with printing on both sides of the paper, takes too long to work out which pages to print and which way up to put them in again.....!!
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    I'm the same as Jenni in respect of most being electronic.

    You could however Jenni invest in a duplex printer for double-sided printing?
    Regards,

    Burg
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    burg wrote: »

    You could however Jenni invest in a duplex printer for double-sided printing?
    I could. I probably won't, paper is cheaper ;)
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    even though I suggest that I don't have one. Considered it last year but decided on being paperless instead. Saved much more money.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    Yep, hopefully going forwards I will need to print so few, it won't be worth while me buying a better printer. I couldn't go totally paperless but I don't like how much paper gets used at the moment.
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    I still have the odd amount of paper that goes out to the 5% or so who 'don't do computers'.

    Other than that all working papers are paperless, all incoming letters are scanned and shredded as well as supporting docs for working papers.

    Accounts and Tax Returns are mainly paperless as well as Engagement letters.

    I was wary at first about going paperless as I thought it would be hard to view things on a screen. It was a little awkward at first but getting a second screen helped loads.

    Any way back to those Tax Returns...
    Regards,

    Burg
  • FireraiserFireraiser Feels At Home Registered Posts: 91
    I'd like to find out more about electronic signatures. I've tried google but inundated with results I can't make much of. Can someone please point me at an idiot's guide?

    Thanks
  • T.C.T.C. Experienced Mentor Registered, Tutor Posts: 1,448
    Not many of my clients are "electronic". This is Norfolk....we are a little behind the times up here. Believe it or not, there are still some places in Norfolk where broadband has not yet reached.....and most of us only get a speed of 500.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    T.C. wrote: »
    Not many of my clients are "electronic". This is Norfolk....we are a little behind the times up here. Believe it or not, there are still some places in Norfolk where broadband has not yet reached.....and most of us only get a speed of 500.

    Blimey, and I thought Pewsey was a little backwards!! Apparently we're a virtual metropolis in comparison :)

    I do have a few local folk who don't do computers. Even some of them have acquired an email address in recent years! I'm happy to do things on paper for the few.

    How on earth do you cope without decent broadband?!?!?!
  • T.C.T.C. Experienced Mentor Registered, Tutor Posts: 1,448
    You get used to it! Isn't there some government promise to bring high speed broadband to all......I think they have forgotten Norfolk. I must admit though Norwich, our capital, is good - it was the first city in the country to get free wi-fi. And some towns have cable. It is just us "countryfolk" who suffer.
    So, as we began this chat, paper is still essential in some areas.
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    Getting back to the original topic for a moment..

    I use a two page engagement letter referenced to a time-stamped full list of terms and conditions on the website. So much easier and less daunting for new clients.
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    Getting back to the original topic for a moment..

    I use a two page engagement letter referenced to a time-stamped full list of terms and conditions on the website. So much easier and less daunting for new clients.

    Exactly what I'm after. Nice to see someone else using it too.

    MIP team replied:

    The important thing to note is that any engagement letter you produce must contain certain minimum information as required by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 in addition to the information on the template. You can have a standard letter on your website as long as it easily accessible to your clients. As long as all the relevant clients have access to the document and can readily obtain copies then you will have satisfied the obligation to provide information.

    I take it as a yes :)
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I'm revisiting this today - I have now uploaded PDF files onto my website which are password protected with an easy to remember password. I plan on writing to all my clients basically saying that the most up to date letter is on the website and that by continuing to use my services they agree to the terms. I'll give them the option of requesting a hard copy if they prefer but I'm hoping that most people will either view it online or print it out if they want a copy. I'm actually pretty certain that most of them won't even do that. I'm also going to say that it may be routinely updated annually but if there's any major changes i'll notify them in writing.
    I phoned the AAT MIPs team this morning and they said it was completely up to me how I did it and they don't have a problem with my plans.
    If anyone can think of any concerns with this please shout quick cos i'm starting my letters now!
  • MonsoonMonsoon Font Of All Knowledge FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 4,071
    Jodie this is my plan too. I jsut need to update the ***** letters, I hate doing them - don't know why, they are simple really, just I have a thing about them I think!
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I'm just wondering about the PII insurance - I'm sure we tick a box there to say that we've issued letters to all clients - do they expect signed hard copies in your files for everyone? i'll go dig
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    Just spoke to Trafalgar on online chat and they're fine with it - I've saved the conversation just in case!!
  • payrollpropayrollpro Trusted Regular Hampshire/SurreyRegistered, Working Together with HMRC Posts: 418
    The AAT actually encourages electronic business so has no problems about electronic LOE and agreements. The only requirement is to have it as a pdf so it remains secure and that there is a clause in the LOE stating that electronic communications are consider binding unless either party states otherwise.

    We dont have ours loaded on the website but we do all the work electronically, including invoicing. Note that you do not need HMRC approval now for electronic invoices, even if VAT is involved.

    As an aside, we did buy the ACCA templates but have not used any of them yet, enough said!!

    Payrollpro
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