BUSINESSES in the professional services sector who do not pay the real living wage risk both their reputation and the loss of staff, according to the boss of one accountancy firm.

Ian Rankin, of Glasgow-based TaxKings Accountants, says signing up for Scottish Living Wage Accreditation has resulted in a lower turnover of staff at the company, helping to ensure clients have a regular point of contact.

“Being an accredited living wage employer is also a mark of commitment to corporate social responsibility, bringing with it reputational benefits,” he said. “In the professional services sector there exists an opportunity for companies that take the lead in this area and considerable risks for those who do not, both in reputation and in staff retention.”

TaxKings is a cloud accountancy business, set up 10 years ago to provide clients with access to real time data from anywhere and on any internet-connected device.

The business, which signed up for Scottish Living Wage Accreditation in 2015, currently employs six people.

“While the salary we would offer for a qualified accountant isn’t directly affected by our paying the living wage, accountancy firms do not only employ qualified accountants,” Rankin explained.

“We will always require administrative support and trainees and our most recent additions to the TaxKings team were, respectively, working in a mobile phone shop and composing electronic music, demonstrating the changing nature of the profession.

“One other thing that we have noted after the implementation of the living wage was the impact on relative pay scales. With the usual requirement to maintain a difference between pay grades, we have found an unanticipated impact on employees who were being paid above the living wage and had their pay uplifted. This has gained positive feedback in general from all staff.”

Rankin started the company as he felt small, owner managed businesses were not being well served by the accounting industry.

“Things are changing but more slowly than we would like,” he said. “With our help employees have greater visibility within an organisation and can collaborate more effectively. Collaborative accounting is a model that enables firms and clients to work together in real time without the traditional boundaries of time and distance to complete tasks with much greater efficiency. By using digital, online solutions to simplify our clients’ accounting, bookkeeping and payroll, we save them time, money and stress.

“By way of example, we recently helped a letting agent who was struggling with mountains of paperwork which they handed to their accountant every quarter. They had no idea how their business was performing, how they could improve cashflow or save tax.

“We set up a cloud solution for the client and demonstrated, through onsite training, how previously mundane and repetitive tasks were automated by linking real time banking information, setting basic rules and using a smart phone to automatically read and allocate receipts and purchase invoices. Now they, and we, have access to real time information which allows us to advise them and to help them make better, more informed business decisions.”

The living wage outside of London is £8.75 per hour. It is significantly higher than the UK Government’s “national living wage” rate of £7.83 which applies to over-25s only. The Government rate is based on median earnings while the Living Wage rate is based on the cost of living.