Knight Accountants are specialist service charge accountants working with Block Managing Agents across the UK.

Before I begin I just need to briefly explain a little about me and why I devised the “4 Wave Approach” at Knight Accountants….I had previously worked for eight years as a Service Charge Accountant for two managing agents in the South East, both of which were ARMA members. Throughout this time I constantly strived to improve the way in which the accounts department operated. Through trial and error and year on year experience I felt that I had got an approach that worked very well. Ideas I share with my clients today!

However…one problem…the external accountant and timing…In order for the “4 Wave Approach” to work I needed a responsive external accountant who could turn around the service charge certification process quickly to fit into my timing schedule. This unfortunately proved to be difficult over my eight years working in the industry.

Therefore when Knight Accountants was born in 2006, we set out to make this process easy and seamless for agents!

It all comes down to TIMING….

NOTE: I am aware that year-ends are in accordance with the lease for ease I have assumed all year-ends coincide with the quarter dates. An assumption has also been made that the agent manages between 50-150 blocks whereby there might only be one or two members of accounts staff dependant on the size of the blocks.

The 4 wave approach diagram is at the foot of this Blog but I will briefly explain the process as an example;

EXAMPLE

Agent ABC
Working year 2015

Towards the end of 2014 budgets for December 2015 year-ends are prepared and where necessary are sent for approval. These are then sent out in order for leaseholders to arrange payment by the due date in accordance with the lease.

Once you have returned to the office after the Christmas break you are then preparing accounts in readiness for certification. This will typically include entering any final supplier invoices, prepayments and accruals and reconciling the bank account to name a few.

These are then handed over in bulk or drip fed as and when they are ready to the accountant.

This is when problems can arise! Technically the accountant thinks they have until 30th June (assuming a 31st December year-end) to get the accounts back!

Under the “4 Wave Approach” this could not be further from the truth!

In my view the aim should be, whilst working with your accountant to streamline the process, to complete all December year-ends by mid February! This is why…

For a small accounts team the ideal scenario would be that if the December year-ends are not circulated by the end of February the agent is then hit with the next “Wave” to prepare budgets for the March year-ends. So there is a conflict of where time should be spent. Of course in reality you would prioritise the budgets/demands for payment being sent but this decision does not have to be made under the “4 Wave Approach”.

Summary:

In my experience the financial year in the leases are generally run in line with the 4 quarter dates with the majority being in December (25th or 31st) or March (24th or 31st). With less financial years ending in June and September.

The idea of the “4 Wave Approach” is to clear that quarters work before the next quarters “Wave” comes along.

Below in the diagram are the 4 purple blocks where your accountant should be aiming to process all accounts within the time slots, usually lasting approximately one month. Please note this is a generic guide and this does not necessarily works for all types and sizes of agents.

The Knight Accountants team have successfully implemented the “4 Wave Approach” working in conjunction with our clients. In my view it is a great system and it works!

Contact: Any questions or comments please direct them to graham@knightaccountants.co.uk and I will be happy to explain these points any further.

About Graham Knight

Graham Knight FCCA AIRPM Graham has vast experience of commercial accountancy within the UK and oversees. Graham is a genuine specialist in the Service Charge and Block Management industry and was a Finalist at the 2015/16 National Property Awards. Graham volunteers much of his spare time to not-for-profit Hastings Sport CIC.

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