Ian Cooper

Ian Cooper and WhisperClaims driving practice growth and future strategy

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An accountant by training with an extensive career of working with business clients on financial planning and tax, Ian Cooper came to the field of R&D relief through the course of client work. 

Conscious of using his time to its full potential, Ian sought an elegant solution which could support a small but busy practice. 

Get to know Ian Cooper

As a sole practitioner, Ian worked with a small number of clients whom he believed may be eligible for R&D tax relief, alongside a firm which took over the entire process on behalf of Ian and his clients. 

“I was pulling together all the data and all the information, writing up a lot of the narratives for clients, and then they would critique it prior to submitting it to HMRC.”

However, this approach wasn’t making the most out of Ian’s time.

“At first it felt fine to me,” said Ian. “But then I thought that R&D claims were still taking up a lot of time and I lacked that control that comes with liaising with HMRC directly. 

“As a sole practitioner, I have to be cost-conscious and maximise what I can do in a limited amount of time. I work with some clients who, in my view, are eligible for tax relief but whose claims may or may not be accepted by HMRC. It seemed futile to spend vast amounts of time on claims which may not provide any recompense for the client.”

This was Ian’s situation when he approached WhisperClaims intending to enhance the way he processed clients’ R&D claims. 

“I had a month’s trial of the product following a long, detailed chat with Suz at WhisperClaims. She was incredibly supportive and helpful through that initial induction period.

“Ultimately, it proved to me that I was on the right lines when starting to work with R&D clients. It’s made me think again about some of my own processes and helped me build my confidence in my practice.”

Reducing the burden of inefficiency 

For Ian, the benefits of the WhisperClaims solution aren’t aimed at reducing his workload, but rather at making better use of his time and allowing him to focus his R&D knowledge on high-potential claims. 

“In the first instance, WhisperClaims helps you understand whether a claim is viable – without spending too much time on claims that aren’t. It’s not always immediately clear whether expenditure is R&D or not and whether HMRC will accept the claim, so it’s great that I don’t have to go through the entire process to assess viability.

“The system does this through a few stages. For example, the first stage goes through the basic eligibility criteria and helps me identify good-quality claims. 

“There is then a more detailed technical section which allows for more specific, bespoke information.

“It does what I need it to do. I’ve not had to take on any more legwork than when I was working with a specialist R&D firm and using WhisperClaims gives me far more control over that process. 

“In the situations I work with, it’s a win-win for me and the client. As a small business, I’ve got to be conscious of cost, so I’ve really benefited from WhisperClaims’s pricing structure. 

“Beyond that, there are support lines and help with the ‘nitty gritty’ details of the R&D claims process which are hugely complex, even for those working in the accountancy sector.”

Shaping a business structure

As well as allowing Ian to better serve his own clients, it has inspired him to consider the future structure of his business by making project-based R&D relief work attainable and cost-effective. 

Alongside his existing R&D clients, Ian has been able to identify additional opportunities thanks to his “intimate knowledge” of his clients’ business structures and processes. He also spoke on how WhisperClaims makes his practice more competitive. 

“I can now say to clients, ‘I think we should look at this’, and offer it as a stand-alone service which, if the claim is not successful, hugely reduces the cost to clients and myself. 

“I’m in a slightly different situation from other firms in terms of my scale in as much as I’m not really actively looking to take on new clients. 

“However, longer term, I may well migrate my business away from bookkeeping and standard accountancy as the bulk of my practice, towards R&D work. 

“Working on a project basis rather than on a retainer or doing routine work suits my lifestyle and my professional goals in the longer term.

“Whether using WhisperClaims is another string in my bow or supporting a change in my offering and strategy, it is a useful addition to my toolbox.”


Do you want something to shout about? 

If you would like to join the growing number of practices shouting about their success using WhisperClaims, we would love to give you a tour of the software and support we offer. 

Book a Demo 

If you have any other queries or questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our team to find out more about our empowering technology. 

How to write an R&D tax relief technical narrative

With HMRC’s new mandatory requirement for project descriptions on all submissions, we wanted to share our experiences to help others to write their best possible technical narratives.

Available to download here.

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