End of an era

It was with a certain degree of sadness that I handed over the day to day administration of 'my baby' - aisma - to my colleague Abi Newbury at the virtual AGM of the association this year.

For those of you who do not know the background, aisma, the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants: it was conceived after a tax conference led by the late John Dean on tax planning for doctors - back in 1994. There were only about 20 attendees – some from national firms who were advertising their GP services widely at the time and some from small firms like my own who, in pre-internet days, couldn't afford to advertise widely. 

On the train on the way home, I decided to approach some of those fellow small firm specialists with a view to being able to show the GP world collectively that there was an alternative to using (remote and expensive then) national firms. I enlisted the help of John Dean (who was the leading lecturer on GP tax/finance matters and with whom I had written some articles previously) and between us we approached the founding members of aisma. Our inaugural meeting was at the offices of the current Chairman, Debbie Wood's previous firm in Derby on a snowy winter's day, that meant my train was diverted and I arrived very late!

From the initial idea of being an advertising platform, the organisation moved very quickly to include a knowledge sharing platform and an educational resource for our members. 

Today, we have over 75 professional member firms across the UK, as can be seen from the map locate on the aisma website - https://www.aisma.org.uk/find-an-accountant/ .

Over the years, some of our members' firms have grown through mergers and acquisitions, so that now we have more large firms involved in the association and this has enabled to us to spread our reach and get more involved in working with the Government, the BMA, NHS Pensions, PCSE etc to try to improve things for our medical clients. Some of the things we have been instrumental in getting change for – Annual Allowance Pension charge and Final Pay Controls relaxations, to name but two. 

Currently we are trying to improve the new PCSE system which will entail hand typing all the pension certificate entries for each doctor. The PCSE cannot see a problem with each GP spending (at their estimate) half an hour copy typing the certificates we complete for them, but they have now allowed us access so we can do it! Surely with today's technology they could develop a system to pick up the figures automatically from Excel? aisma will keep trying!

For the last 7 years, I have carried out the annual aisma survey of GP accounts – collating data of around 2-3 thousand GP Practices to arrive at statistics by partner/by doctor/by patient/by area/by contract type etc that we can use to help our clients in a much more detailed way than the initial survey which gave much less information. (Excel has developed hugely over the years and enabled us to create much more detailed analysis than was previously practical – and anyone who knows me, knows I love playing with spreadsheets!). I will carry on with this work for the time being.

Membership of aisma has enriched my professional life way beyond what I envisaged when we started and I like to think that the association has helped us help a huge number of doctors over the years in a way that wouldn't have been possible without it –nationally, as well as for our Honey Barrett medical clients. 

I am confident that Abi, as aisma secretary and Board Member, will ably carry on my legacy, assisted by our brilliant admin team here at Honey Barrett, and will continue to grow and improve the services we can offer to medical professionals.

Article written by Liz Densley FCA CTA

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