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19th September 2018

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Flammable topic back in the news Karel Thomas

In the week when it was reported that the main Cambridge endownment fund had lost some key staff, it seems like there has been some fossil fuel thrown on the debate about whether to divest. "If you aren’t investing responsibly then you are investing irresponsibly" writes Mark Haefele in an on-trend article in the Financial Times. Last week The Guardian  highlighted a new report from Arabella Advisors that claims "funds committed to fossil fuel divestment now total more than $6tn (£4.6tn), with almost 1,000 institutional investors having made the pledge". Colleagues who attended the recent Midlands regional meeting will remember that Sian Ferguson spoke about the Climate Change Collaboration, an initiative of four of the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts, and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association, and distributed copies of the second annual survey on climate risk by UK fund managers. As Finance Directors and Treasury Managers should be prepared for a discussion about this in your institution, you might be interested in reading how universities in the US are getting on. You might also do a quick Google search of the words "investment returns difficult moral decisions", in whatever order you choose.

Shine the light on universities Karel Thomas

Richard Brabner, writing for Wonkhe, trails the launch of UUK's campaign to convince the unaware, the cynical and the sceptical of the value of universities. The UUK campaign follows months of research conducted by Britain Thinks, which revealed that 31% of those interviewed were ‘net neutral’ about the value of universities and 13% ‘didn’t know’. Richard rightly observes that "[A] pessimistic reading of the UUK findings would conclude that less than half of the population really care about our universities." Richard is now Head of the UPP Foundation, whose Civic University Commission conducted a poll of 10 cities in March found "big variations [in support for universities] – geographically and between classes. This showed up in its focus groups too: better educated, civically involved people were very positive. For others, universities were at best an irrelevance, at worst a nuisance."

BUFDG has produced a series of short videos that attempt to explain the value of universities. They may not reach the unaware and unconvinced, but we hope they will inspire colleagues working in finance (and other departments) to shout more loudly about the value of what they do. No matter how good a university's marketing and comms team, everyone working in this amazing sector has a duty to promote what we do and explain who we are doing it for. No more lights under bushels and inverted snobbery, please.

Are you selling your institution short? Karel Thomas

The finale of a project funded by the UK's regional HE funders involving 10 institutions of various shapes and sizes was held last week. “Let’s talk value” was organised by AdvanceHE who used the event to launch a report by Professor Carol Adams, Let's talk value: How universities create value for students, staff and society. Appropriately, the event was well-attended by professionals from finance, HR, marketing and communications, and registry, as well as governors, student representatives and a handful of supporters of Higher Education and Integrated Reporting. The discussions involved now familiar terminology (for example, value creation, multiple capital reporting and six capitals) that was so new in BUFDG's 2016 foray into asking whether Integrated Reporting could help universities tell their stories better. We thought we were being provocative back then by saying, "when it comes to reporting, we are missing an opportunity". But Professor Adams, goes much further in saying, "[T]he sector is selling itself short". She also contends that "[R]elative to other sectors, university annual reports have historically tended to be compliance oriented, and thus largely unimaginative documents that do not follow recognised frameworks for non-financial reporting". Despite being challenging, the report is supportive and full of ideas of how universities' reports could be improved (even if Integrated Reporting is not the aim).  And if all this whets your appetite to develop your university's narrative reporting for 2018/19, when you have reread the 2017 BUFDG report on the IIRC's reviews of four HEIs, take a look at the 2017/18 reports of the ten institutions in the latest project - you'll find all the links on the BUFDG website

Deloitte Webcast: Tax Planning for a 'no deal' Brexit Amanda Darley

Deloitte is holding a webcast on 27 September at 12pm looking at tax planning in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit and what organisations can do now to prepare. Details and registration for the webcast can be found here.

Integrated means integrated Karel Thomas

The IIRC has published a companion volume to Creating Value: CFO Leadership in <IR>, aimed at CFOs, with one aimed at CIOs. Technology primer for integrated reporting: A Chief Information Officer guide. If an organisation is serious about better narrative reporting and more integrated thinking, all "Chiefs" need to understand how their part of a successful organisation cannot live in a silo. The publication recognises that, "[T]echnology is rapidly developing to enhance the way businesses analyse, use and communicate data. As the volume of data grows – alongside demands for transparency – Chief Information Officers (CIO) must be at the heart of harnessing these technological developments to identify how the organization is creating value in the short, medium and long term. A successful CIO will take responsibility for building the information architecture that feeds into the integrated report, so that the business can think, plan and communicate their story of value creation, ultimately leading to internal and external benefits for the business." It may be that this role is covered by a Chief of another name in your organisation so it is worth a read by anyone and everyone.

Introduction to TRAC course - places available Rachel McLone

Places for our 'Introduction to TRAC’ course are available for the 15th November.  The course introduces those new to Higher Education and / or new to TRAC to the key concepts and compliance requirements and explores the difficulties and challenges that might arise, together with possible solutions and good practice. Key areas covered include:

  • The TRAC returns;
  • TRAC data and how to collect it;
  • Working with academic departments;
  • Common areas of difficulty; and
  • Using TRAC data within the institution.

The Introduction to TRAC course costs £350 to attend.  For more information and to book, click here.  For any queries, please contact Rachel

Procurement Lawyers Association Event Emma Keenan

For those of you who attended the HEPA conference session delivered by Sue Arrowsmith this morning, you will have heard her mention an event in London on 11th October at where she is speaking on the WTO’s plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement.

The event is free for PLA members.  Non-members from the private sector may attend for a ticket price of £25 and all others for a ticket price of £12.50.  The ticket price includes membership of the Association for the membership year (which ends on 30 November 2018). 

For full information and to register click here.

HMRC MTD webinars Amanda Darley

HMRC is running some webinars on MTD and VAT. Dates and times are shown below with links to the registration pages:

Leeds Management Accountants Conference - 11th October Rachel McLone

Calling all Management Accountants north of the Midlands! There are still places available for our Leeds Management Accountants Conference.  It's a great opportunity to have an event in the North, so please do come and visit us in Leeds.  It's a fabulous venue and just a couple of minutes walk from the train station.    

The theme for the conference this year is ‘value’ and we will be understanding the huge value our Management Accountants can play in their HEI and how to maximise this on an individual level. 

For the full agenda and to book, click here for the London Conference on Thursday 4th October, or here for the Leeds Conference on Thursday 11th October.  For any queries, please contact Rachel.   

Welsh Rate of Income Tax from April 2019 Amanda Darley

From April 2019 all UK resident taxpayers with their sole or main residence in Wales will pay Welsh Rates of Income Tax (WRIT). This doesn't only affect Welsh employers as it is based on where the employee resides, not where the employer is based. HMRC will identify Welsh taxpayers based on information held within its systems, and employers are asked to encourage their employees to keep their address details up to date in their personal tax accounts. Employers and pension providers will not decide an individual’s Welsh taxpayer status. From April 2019, Welsh resident employees will have a tax code beginning with C. HMRC will issue further information closer to April.

Job of the week Jemma Ladkin

This week’s job of the week is for a Management Accountant at the University of York.

“As management accountant within a Faculty or Professional Services, you will perform the key role of trusted business advisor for a number of departments/directorates and be an active contributing member of the Faculty/Professional Services finance team. You will perform a key role in the management of these budgets, working with departments/directorates based across the University of York campus”.

“You will be a technically competent individual with excellent communication skills and excellent line management skills. You will have the ability to liaise with a wide range of academic, support and facilities staff across the University with differing financial understanding. You will be instrumental in the production of high quality management information and financial plans”.

Closing date for this role; 30th September 2018

There are lots of other vacancies listed as usual on the BUFDG website.


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