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Anyone else feel like selling up....its relentless

Small practice

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Is it just me or has anyone else had enough? I don't know how much longer I can cope.

Normal workload, Grant advise and support, Furlough claims, VAT reverse charge, Brexit etc etc

We need to be able to get back to a normal level of workload, review all of our clients and increase fees, ask others to move on.

Our two bookeepers do all VAT processing, payroll etc, but clients just seem to be getting more and more demanding and impatient - I don't think for one minute this is specific to us, as we have good working relationships with most clients, and previously, where there are issues, they are told to move on.

We feel we cannot increase our fees under the current climate, but do charge for grant and furlough claims.

Replies (55)

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By jon_griffey
15th Feb 2021 15:50

.....and we have MTD for income tax coming down the tracks. Fancy doing 4 tax returns a year?

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By SXGuy
15th Feb 2021 15:59

Oh fees will be going up for that, that's for sure!

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Replying to SXGuy:
Scooby
By gainsborough
15th Feb 2021 16:08

Looking at ways to clone myself a la Michael Keaton in Multiplicity to cope with 5 filings a year.

On the serious side, yes, have had many days of wanting to pack it in. I'm very much watching this space to see what happens with MTD, as 2023 may be an ideal time to bow out.

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Replying to gainsborough:
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By murphy1
15th Feb 2021 16:16

I might need to consider it too, but as a 48.y.o then, needs must.

Certainly won't be in mainstream practice, processing drivel every quarter to tick a box off for HMRC.

There is no way our clients, or any others will be able to do this in any meaningful manner, regardless of how much effort we put in at our end. The more we move clients to online software themselves, it takes longer to fix there errors than processing in the first place

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Replying to jon_griffey:
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By murphy1
15th Feb 2021 16:05

Given I spent 2 1/2 hours onto HMRC with a JRS grant claim issue, given three different answers, and still no further forward, I dread to think.

HMRC must delay this and get their own house in order before the carnage that this will become

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Replying to jon_griffey:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
15th Feb 2021 16:14

I thought it was to be six returns, four quarterly ones, one correcting one (stock, accruals, depreciation etc) plus one that includes all the other income.

Edit- this article today covers retirement (not that I am retired, merely practice retired)

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/practice/practice-strategy/plan-ahead-if...

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Paul Crowley
15th Feb 2021 16:45

I had it down as five
first four all in before the VAT for the quarter

Then a leisurely 10 months before filing no. 5
Interrupted only by the need for the next three

No idea how the pen and paper people will comply

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By North East Accountant
19th Feb 2021 11:02

It's 5 per income source.

1 final declaration (tax return with a new name).

So sole trader with a rental property it's.

sole trade=5
property=5
final dec=1
Total=11

If he's VAT registered add another 4.

So now the VAT registered, property letting sole trader does 5 returns per annum and under MTD it's 15.

And property runs in line with tax year quarters.

Fun times ahead.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Gone Sailing
19th Feb 2021 13:33

Isn't that the point of MTD?
Pen and paper will be banned?

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Replying to jon_griffey:
Morph
By kevinringer
19th Feb 2021 13:25

HMRC were at pains to explain that under MTD you are sending 5 'submissions' a year and not 5 'returns'. And as we all know a 'submission' is a whole lot easier than a 'return' because when we send a 'submission' we hit 'submit' but when we send a return we have to hit 'submit'. Oh, never mind. But all we have to do is hit 'submit' and what's so hard about that? After all, the clients will be importing their bank transactions and posting everything and because it is SO easy they'll have it done in a jiffy and because it's on 'puter it'll be bang on right.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
15th Feb 2021 17:18

"Anyone else feel like selling up ?"

Yes.

But I was going to anyway .......

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Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
15th Feb 2021 17:27

Hi, sorry to hear you feel like this. Maybe you need to take some time out away from the clients demands and review your clients now - don't wait for "normal workload" just pencil in some do not disturb time. Might be 2 solid days or a 3 hours every Thursday morning, but blank off the time that suits you best until you get through it.

Their demands are partly because they know you are there and can't go out (mostly) and probably as they also can't go out and have less to do, but most will not be that important or urgent in reality (except to them - there may of course be exceptions).

Your review is important to you. You may find whilst it seems client demands are overwhelming you that when you take a closer look it's just a few client's that are causing your issues and need dealing with - increase fees or ask to move on as you feel inclined. You will hopefully feel better then as you have regained some control.

And yes you can increase fees in appropriate cases - the current climate does not affect all equally.

I actually feel I am back to an almost normal workload, there are less furlough claims and I admit fortunately I only have 2 or 3 client's affected by EU VAT changes (I'm only a small sole practitioner). I am however juggling homeschooling!

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By Gone Sailing
15th Feb 2021 17:41

Plus IR35 and HMRC not answering the phone.

I don't think HMRC have a clue what they have let themselves in for, and I assume they are getting most of their input from big firms and software companies and precious little from small firms and sole practitioners.

Sole traders (SE or Ltd Co) do not know how to complete tax returns, and little by little, I think word is getting out that there are very few checks.

Slipperly slope at a time we need it least.

I'm just glad we have VAT, at least that's 20% tax paid, mostly.

Yes, and then there's the increasingly bizzare questions and requests from clients and the 30 minutes it takes to double check and politely say, "no".

Online software doesn't say, "no".

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By memyself-eye
15th Feb 2021 17:45

I've already started the process - roll on 31 March!

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Red Leader
By Red Leader
15th Feb 2021 18:45

Put the fees up, some will leave, some will stay. Probably same revenue but less work. Winner!

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By imbs
19th Feb 2021 10:09

I have had to use this tactic as well. If they leave, they leave. It has got too much for me and my staff. This is no way to live.

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By wilcoskip
15th Feb 2021 20:15

Yep, but currently mid-forties, one kid at home, one kid at college. And the money isn't bad, despite the best efforts of 2020.
The big question I face (virtually every day) is: sell up, and then do what? I honestly don't know what else I'd do.

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Replying to wilcoskip:
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By murphy1
15th Feb 2021 20:34

Indeed, and it is so difficult. Probably unemployable by now, as we are used to our own ways.

I have a 15, 14, and 13 y.o ....no easy way out anytime soon

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Replying to wilcoskip:
Giraffe
By Luke
19th Feb 2021 14:17

In a very similar boat here, late 40s with eldest having just left home and youngest hoping to go to uni next year.

No way I can give up the income now with uni years approaching but what on earth would I do instead? Re-train and earn barely above minimum wage for a few years?? Just couldn't bring myself to, even if I could think of something else I actually want to do!

As murphy1 says, probably unemployable now after 15 years as a sole practitioner too!

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Replying to Luke:
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By johnjenkins
19th Feb 2021 14:52

Luke, if one of your clients presented you with this problem, what would you advise?

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Replying to johnjenkins:
Giraffe
By Luke
22nd Feb 2021 10:49

I am really not sure, that is the issue. It would be far easier if I could think of something I quite fancied doing instead. I would be willing to take a pay cut if I had a passion for something else, I just can't currently think of anything.

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By Barbara G
15th Feb 2021 20:50

I'm nearly 60. Pandemic has taught me life is short. What use is a pension if you don't live long enough to enjoy it and you miss out on valuable family time. So, I hope to jack it in soon, which is proving difficult , I only process payroll and can't get a replacement because who would want to be a payroll processor these days?

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Replying to Barbara G:
RLI
By lionofludesch
15th Feb 2021 20:55

Barbara G wrote:

I'm nearly 60. Pandemic has taught me life is short. What use is a pension if you don't live long enough to enjoy it and you miss out on valuable family time. So, I hope to jack it in soon, which is proving difficult , I only process payroll and can't get a replacement because who would want to be a payroll processor these days?

It's not your problem to find a successor.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Barbara G
15th Feb 2021 21:00

Thanks and you're right, I know, but my bosses have it hard enough at the minute with the massive workload and colleagues off for various reasons, so I kind of wouldn't want to leave them in the lurch, and hope to have someone in place before I go, though someone once said to me "you won't fill a gap unless you leave a space" True enough

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Replying to Barbara G:
RLI
By lionofludesch
15th Feb 2021 22:11

Barbara G wrote:

Thanks and you're right, I know, but my bosses have it hard enough at the minute with the massive workload and colleagues off for various reasons, so I kind of wouldn't want to leave them in the lurch, and hope to have someone in place before I go, though someone once said to me "you won't fill a gap unless you leave a space" True enough

Plenty of unemployed at present. You are taking a job off one of them.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Barbara G
15th Feb 2021 22:33

I know what you mean, but no I'm not deliberately taking a job off anyone. I'd gladly hand mine over any day, but realistically, to take on a new employee involves training, no matter how qualified they are, and in a lot of circumstances it can't be done online, for various reasons. With present social distancing restrictions it's impractical to take another employee into the office, and the few of us in the office already don't have time to train anyone. Hopefully when furlough ends (if it ever does) there'll be more time and less need for social distancing cos we'll all have had our jabs

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Replying to Barbara G:
RLI
By lionofludesch
15th Feb 2021 23:19

Sure - your employers have got you trained.

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By Calculatorboy
15th Feb 2021 21:35

I've already sold myself

To the devil

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
15th Feb 2021 21:55

Difficult individual to work for, for starters no Holy Days and eternity is a Hell of a long time with no toilet breaks. (Damnation without relief)

Copyright- Rowan Atkinson

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bike
By FirstTab
15th Feb 2021 22:31

If done right accountancy practice makes a good life. I have no intention to sell.

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Replying to FirstTab:
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By memyself-eye
16th Feb 2021 11:50

So does being a dictator, until the coup.

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Replying to memyself-eye:
bike
By FirstTab
16th Feb 2021 12:10

?

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blue sheep
By NH
19th Feb 2021 09:51

I would say you need to remember that the last 12 months have been like nothing we have ever seen before and hopefully will never see again. Perhaps when the dust settles over the next 12 months you might feel differently.

But perhaps you could look at your business model and see if anything could be changed, get rid of a few clients, look for different types of clients, look at staffing levels.

For me, I cannot think of anything else that would suit me more and gives me the income that I need plus a bit more with the flexibility to work the hours I choose (which yes sometimes means 12 hour days but at other times means a couple of hours in the morning). But I did need to change my business model a few years ago to get away from a busy office with lots of staff, to just a small number of us all mainly working from home.

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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 09:59

I am 62 and a sole practitioner. I have been cutting down for quite a while now. Changes keep being bulldozed relentlessly and HMRC getting worse and worse. More automation does not seem to improve efficiency if something is not exactly 100% as the software expects. Anyway I think for the smaller practice the environment is getting more and more toxic. Larger firms can cope much better. I have made the decision that MTD is the last straw. 2021/2022 will most probably be my last year.

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Replying to Samsung:
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By minkie
19th Feb 2021 10:26

Being in the same position and 64 years old in a few days, I have decided to plot the same course as MTD will be the final straw. I started as a sole practitioner 31 years ago and enjoyed the work, but the stress is now becoming too much and I am permanently knackered (technical term). It is difficult to find the time to actually get some proper work done and my enthusiasm has gradually beed eroded. I won't miss the HMRC horrow show !

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Replying to minkie:
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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 10:33

My feelings precisely. My profile is also virtually same as yours except for the age! :)

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Replying to minkie:
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By johnjenkins
19th Feb 2021 10:33

Minkie and Samsung, it is a terrible shame that you have both come to this. HMRC want the demise of the one band business but in doing so they have become "not fit for purpose". Please do not give in to them. Give it another 2 or 3 years and I'm sure you will be glad you did. It's surprising that once you set a target things become a little clearer.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 10:47

Thanks for your reply. In a way I am tempted to follow your good advice as I have enjoyed working in public practice and growing the business from scratch. You are entirely right of course. HMRC/Govt does seem to want the demise of small businesses. I have actually been refusing work and the thought of trying to build up the business again and going on for another 2-3 years does not seem palatable at the moment. My wife has retired, I have other hobbies to pursue and it is increasingly becoming apparent to me that life is too short to be fighting HMRC! Perhaps the lockdown and Covid have something to do with it, but I have been feeling this way for probably the last ten years! :)

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 10:47

Thanks for your reply. In a way I am tempted to follow your good advice as I have enjoyed working in public practice and growing the business from scratch. You are entirely right of course. HMRC/Govt does seem to want the demise of small businesses. I have actually been refusing work and the thought of trying to build up the business again and going on for another 2-3 years does not seem palatable at the moment. My wife has retired, I have other hobbies to pursue and it is increasingly becoming apparent to me that life is too short to be fighting HMRC! Perhaps the lockdown and Covid have something to do with it, but I have been feeling this way for probably the last ten years! :)

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Replying to Samsung:
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By johnjenkins
19th Feb 2021 11:37

The last 10 years have seen an increase in activity by HMRC to rid the country of the one man band business (in whatever guise). So I know what you feel and are talking about. It all really started with GB coming to power at the treasury. He gave HMRC the confidence to breakaway from the "status quo" and this is where we now are. I do hope Rishi will realise that not only is HMRC in its present form (a bit like the EU) "unfit for purpose", but take on board what us smaller Accountants feel. Government have got to come up with a better way of collecting money to run the country.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
RLI
By lionofludesch
19th Feb 2021 11:43

johnjenkins wrote:

The last 10 years have seen an increase in activity by HMRC to rid the country of the one man band business (in whatever guise).

Ah yes - but they'll only disappear from HMRC's records. The businesses will still be there.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 12:06

Ha ha ha, probably true. However for us legit accountants that would be much more difficult. For myself, of course, I would not even bother with the hassle. :)

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Replying to johnjenkins:
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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 12:05

Hear! Hear!

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Replying to Samsung:
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By Barbara G
19th Feb 2021 18:38

Go with your heart, only you will know when the time is right. The furlough scheme has totally thrown me over the edge and yes, life is too short. I've had too many friends who have died before their time during the past year due to short illnesses, none of them covid related, but the vast majority because they couldn't get the treatment they needed as all the medical focus was diverted to covid. It's given me a wake up call. If you, like me, have plenty of other thing you wish to pursue, go for it. Time and tide wait for no man.

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Replying to minkie:
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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 10:33

My feelings precisely. My profile is also virtually same as yours except for the age! :)

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By johnjenkins
19th Feb 2021 10:11

72 and still going (touch wood). I love the work, always have. Yes it's a bit hairy at the moment. I think this last lockdown has dampened the enthusiasm of many. Many are wishing their lives away.
Do we have a roof over our heads? Do we have food on the table? Do we have an income (maybe we have to work a little harder for it)? Then as Sean Connery would say we have passed three of the rules of survival.

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@enanen
By enanen
19th Feb 2021 10:19

When I hear selling stories, claim backs and buyers trying to get out of paying the agreed price it is easier to shut than sell and more rewarding.

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By Samsung
19th Feb 2021 10:21

Agree entirely!

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Replying to enanen:
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By meadowsaw227
19th Feb 2021 13:31

I am thinking exactly the same thing, an orderly close down springs to mind

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Replying to meadowsaw227:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
19th Feb 2021 15:15

That is what I did, then again my practice was only part time and never my bread and butter.

I effectively found different new accountants for my clients that I believed fitted them and were appropriate to the client. I only retained one client, my biggest, where I now work as a salaried employee. I would not have wanted to sell them, they all had been clients for a long time, I would not have felt right bundling them to a firm as a joblot, I felt after all the years they had paid me fees that I owed them a little care re their destinations.

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