Five small steps to healthy company records

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Lots of limited companies are now using our Inform Direct company secretarial software to manage their company records, statutory books and Companies House filing. We’re pleased that so many people have found it intuitive and easy to use, the design of the system driven by what you want to achieve rather than by the layout of forms.

What we didn’t expect to hear are the number of stories about existing company details at Companies House that aren’t as users expect when they first review their records. As several of these tales have now been repeated a number of times, we hope it’s useful to present some of the lessons customers have learnt here. If, after reading this, you want to give your Companies House records a free healthcheck, you can register for Inform Direct, the company secretarial software that’s free to use.

If you’d like to share other lessons, contact us and we’ll publish a selection of them.

1 Make updates as soon as you learn of changes

It may sound obvious, but it’s all too easy to leave a Companies House change for another day. Maybe you don’t have the right form to hand. You’re sure you’ll remember tomorrow, but then other work comes along and before you know it several months have gone by. As Companies House reserve the right to impose fines for late submissions, a simple omission can be a costly one. Frequent late filings could result in even more severe action against the company.

Most changes in shareholders don’t need to be reported to Companies House until the company’s next confirmation statement (which replaced the annual return from 30 June 2016). However, as the company must maintain an up to date register of members it’s still important to record changes promptly. Particularly in a company where shareholders change frequently – because the shares are frequently traded or shareholders update their details – it saves a lot of time to use a system like Inform Direct that updates your register of members and register of share transfers while simultaneously saving the data in preparation for the next confirmation statement. Without an efficient system, when preparing the Companies House confirmation statement you can be left trying to excavate and re-input the details of a great number of shareholder changes that happened a year ago.

2 Are the addresses for directors on the public record the right ones?

A number of our users have been surprised at the addresses stored on the public record as their director service address. Some service addresses of directors have been out of date because no Companies House form CH01 has yet been filed. In other cases, a director’s residential address has been used as their service address, meaning that their home address is available to anyone searching the public record. This can mean a lot of extra unwanted post at home and potentially increase the risk of fraud. If you’d prefer your home address to be less public, consider changing your service address to be the same as the company’s registered office address.

3 Don't let your company records get lost in translation.

It’s easy to get confused by complicated forms and enter things incorrectly, which is why we’ve based Inform Direct on what our users want to achieve, letting the system do the hard work of filling in the forms. It’s worth taking special care when someone other than a director of the company does filings for you – so if you pass details to your accountant to complete the forms, it’s worth checking the details before they’re sent to Companies House.

4 Take care to avoid multiple identities!

A single person may be a director, secretary and shareholder of a company. Even someone who is just a shareholder might have shareholdings in different share classes or hold some shares themselves and some jointly with others. Add in a full set of statutory registers and you have a whole mass of records relating to the same person. However, in Companies House’s records and in many software packages these roles and holdings by the same person are all but completely separate.

This means that if you make a change in one place, the same change is not automatically made to other records. So you could change your name but then still find your old name appearing in your Companies House records or find that even after submitting one form to Companies House an address you vacated years ago is still appearing elsewhere on the public record. Unless you remember to update them, your statutory books can also become out of date.

In Inform Direct, you can easily group together all the roles and shareholdings a single person has in a company. By doing so, it means you only ever need to make one change and Inform Direct will do the rest, automatically notifying Companies House where required and updating the full suite of your company registers. It will also recognise when you change an address for one person that other people use that address, and give you the choice to update those too.

Remember that if someone acts as an officer for more than one company, you’ll also need to advise Companies House of any changes separately for each company.

5 Check your company details regularly

To help protect your company from the growing problem of corporate fraud, it’s a good idea to check the details Companies House hold on a regular basis. In doing so, you can check that no fraudulent filings have taken place. Better still, have the work done for you: Inform Direct does a regular comparison of your data with that held at Companies House and, if it identifies any important differences, emails you.

As a further protective measure, it’s best only to share your company’s authentication code – used to identify someone filing as having authority to do so – with those people who need to file changes with Companies House.

Don’t delay, check today!

The earlier that you check and identify any issues, the easier they will be to resolve. If you leave it too late, as well as potentially being more likely to suffer fines you can find yourself needing to re-send old annual returns or confirmation statements to correct the position. Don’t put it off: take a look at your company details today!

Give your company records a healthcheck with Inform Direct and make any updates for free.

Meet just a few of the 1000 business owners who now enjoy peace of mind that their company records are in order

  • Inform Direct is ideal if you are new to being a Company Secretary

    Inform Direct knows what needs to be reported to Companies House and what doesn’t. When you enter details of changes to your company, it automatically submits any relevant forms to Companies House electronically, saving you the effort of finding the correct ones, manually filling in all the right details and posting them.

    You’re guided through each process step by step and, although comprehensive help is available, you’ll rarely need it. Inform Direct checks the details you enter and you’ll always be given an opportunity to review everything before anything is sent to Companies House.

    If you’re new to running a company you’ll appreciate the timely reminders that Inform Direct provides of important events in your company year. The fully compliant online company books are automatically updated, which can otherwise be a time consuming task that many people find it easiest to forget!

    In short: The service from Inform Direct is ideal if you are new to being a Company Secretary.

    07/01/2014 by Linda Grave of East Green Energy Ltd

  • Easy to use service

    Such a simple, easy to use service makes corporate filing so much easier - especially for smaller companies which lack the sophistication of knowing all the rules. Great and responsive customer service - it is a bargain that no company can afford to be without.

    I have used it for one company and plan to add others as well. Its intuitive and fairly foolproof - if only Companies House used it!

    I highly recommend it to all.

    03/03/2014 by James B. Gambrell, Chairman of Silent Sensors Limited

  • This is an essential time-saver

    Inform Direct has helped our start-up in more ways than one. It has saved oodles of time dealing with Companies House as our share allocation fluctuated during early fundraising. It has helped us keep all our paperwork in order without the expense of having a solicitor to do this. The team at Inform Direct have always been quick and useful with their advice around both the system and how it links in with CH.

    In short it's been like having a well-informed, quick-to-act, vastly experienced and value-for-money Company Secretary on tap. Highly recommended.

    24/01/2014 by Triston Wallace

  • Inform Direct helps me keep track of our growing shareholder base

    Inform Direct makes it really easy for me to keep track of who owns which shares in the company. Once you have a certain number of shareholders there are always likely to be a few sales each year - often to people who are already shareholders. Inform Direct makes recording such transfers really straightforward. Inform Direct even provide a template stock transfer form that can be used to transfer shares.

    If a shareholder changes their address I only have to update one record and Inform Direct automatically records the change across each share class that the individual holds. Managing multiple share classes has never been easier.

    Lastly, Inform Direct enables me to create share certificates which include the company logo. It is easy to do, takes seconds and a handy log makes the job of tracking which certificates are active or cancelled really straightforward.

    26/06/2013 by Ben Elsom of One-Stop-Law Ltd

  • Inform Direct absorbed all the pain of completing our Annual Return

    All companies have to submit an Annual Return at least once a year. When you’re busy, it’s easy to put it off - but it still has to be done. Thanks to the Inform Direct Annual Return wizard what is usually a chore becomes a lot more manageable. It’s quick, easy and helps you get it right first time. What is more, you'll also be sent reminders as your Annual Return due date approaches so you’ll never file it late again.

    The Annual Return wizard is available to all users of Inform Direct. It takes you through step by step the necessary stages to complete your Annual Return. It allows you to review and where necessary update all records prior to submission. There is even a facility to settle the Companies House fee of £13.

    04/06/2013 by Adrian Melrose of Rosery Farm Ltd

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