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Are you suffering from Corona virus burnout yet?

Didn't find your answer?

I read with interest one of the accounting web articles about HMRC and tax advice standards and had a little chuckle in light of the current situation. In the bad times (and it is bad) accountants pick up the slack between HMRC and clients. In the good times HMRC try to ignore the agents or paint them as the bad guys. 

I wondered how many fellow accountants are coming close to burnout this week. We put the SA season to bed at the end of January and breathed a sign of relief. Now we are faced with the Chancellor who has a really tough job drip feeding policies to quite frankly desparate people who've seen their livelyhoods disappear overnight. I've personally have had a steady stream of emails and phone calls asking what this means for them and how they can make ends meet in the short term. Its been a heartbreaking week - nice people with viable businesses shutting the doors, not qualifying for any grants because they are not in the correct sector when the business next door is eligible for £25k because they are retail. They don't know if they will ever open up again. Two people who've just started a business in January and put their life savings in it, left with nothing. A builder who was due to exchange next week on a house he built using all his savings, his wifes savings and maxed out credit cards. What can you say other than go through the options available to them or not as the case might be. 

Then to cap it all I've had the - "what can I claim" brigade who are still earning albeit at reduced levels "I've only got £4.5k worth of work on my desk at the begining of the week it was £9k surely I can claim 80% of my Directors salary back and can I claim 80% of my part time employees wage as well" "I'm still working from home with occassional visits to sites (essential worker) but why can't I claim a grant I know I work from home and don't pay business rates but I must be able to get something back." A handful of clients just made my blood boil, what can I make out of this crisis truely the me, me, me attitude. I bet they stockpiled all the toilet rolls too. 

This weekend I'm catching up on deadlines that I should have done during the week and bracing myself for next weeks payroll and the furough or not scenerio and the week after when subbies start to bring in tax returns early so they can reclaim their CIS to keep them going over the tough times. The limited companies will also be wanting their CIS refunds as well and filing deadlines haven't been relaxed either. 

How is it for you?

Replies (20)

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By SteveOH
28th Mar 2020 11:51

Hardly any billable time last week but I don't mind as it's a good feeling being able to really help clients. I've had my fair share of "what am I going to do" calls and emails. I've also had a few "can I up my director's salary for this month". They get short shrift from me when I explain that it's unethical and even borderline fraud. I then explain that the 80% is based on payroll as at the end of February and that shuts them up.

Keep safe out there.

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Replying to SteveOH:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
31st Mar 2020 10:40

I'm pretty sure one of our firm's clients has resubmitted their February payroll for just that reason. I suspect a member of our firm advised them to do so (and may have even helped them).

Haven't seen it, but I reckon everyone was increased to £3,100 per month salary (they only have five people on payroll - its a tightnit family firm).

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Replying to thevaliant:
By meadowsaw227
31st Mar 2020 12:14

Hopefully when your clients are hauled before the courts they will name the member of your firm as the reason for the refiling and he/she will do the time ! .

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Replying to meadowsaw227:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
01st Apr 2020 02:04

Hopefully! But it won't happen really now will it?

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By Elvis11
28th Mar 2020 12:22

Yes, difficult times. We will end up doing a great deal of additional work for zero fee income and anticipate struggling to get paid when we complete 19/20 accounts and tax returns.
We still have a significant proportion of clients who have manual records. Given the lockdown rules, it seems to me that it would be wholly wrong to allow clients to visit the office. So we shall have a spell where we are billing very little.
I am also very frustrated that we do not have the necessary detail with regard to the self-employed support to be able to to tell clients what they might get. No definition of income, how will losses be treated in the averaging calculation, might there be a clawback provision.
We need full details ASAP so that we can advise clients.

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
28th Mar 2020 14:47

What feels like an age ago now (20th March) the question as to whether anyone was going to charge for work incurred/ advice was addressed - see here:

The consensus was 'no'

In my comment I said:
"Clients who get through this will remember your help and stay when things get better."

The USP given on nearly all accountants websites is ' we care about you and your business'.. now is the time to put your money where your mouth is as they say."

I wrote an article at the beginning of this crisis about how we could help clients . Written in bullet list format with practical ideas.

"Covid-19 - helping clients through the crisis'

About manual accounts - my two assistants already work from home and I send any manual accounts to them by UPS delivery. Very efficient, never lost one yet, delivery is traceable and only costs about £5 a time. They will pick up from your clients address and deliver to your place of business/home and via versa.
Dont use MyHermes ... they take an age.

I'm lucky I suppose - none of my clients have asked me to 'fiddle'. I've spent most of my time listening.

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By johnny fartpants
28th Mar 2020 19:50

Yes, I'm a sole practitioner so this week has been about as tough as I can remember. I must have spent 80% of the time answering the calls of those in real financial peril, then had the payrolls to sort with, at the filing deadline, had very little detail on how to deal with issues such as furloughed staff (80%, yes but 80% of what)!! Thankfully that has now had clarify.

My wife is an essential worker and I have also to try to school my children. It is not ideal.

I just thank my lucky stars that (a) I still have a trade, (b) working from home isn't a big problem (apart from when I'm doubling up as an English teacher), (c) my clients, in the main, are really understanding and appreciative of the help and (d) my family are all safe & well.

I think times are tough for everyone. Imagine being a doctor right now!

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Replying to johnny fartpants:
By coops456
30th Mar 2020 14:55

I totally agree. It's been bl00dy hard this last week but we have to keep counting our blessings; we're safe at home while healthcare workers are fighting and dying.

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By Carl London
29th Mar 2020 07:46

I think the extra work we do now will show clients that our service is essential to their business and hopefully that will reduce the number of clients wanting reduced fees.

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By SteveHa
30th Mar 2020 13:13

I'm employed in practice, and started home-working last Monday (before the office shut down, but I'm T1 diabetic and wasn't going to risk it).

I've always prided myself on building good relationships with clients. Now I'm regretting being so approachable.

I put in more hours last week than I would have in the office, and am constantly having to call clients to address their concerns and questions (as best as I can as the details are trickle fed).

Unfortunately, I'm usually one of their first points of contact. So yes, the burnout is biting.

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Replying to SteveHa:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
31st Mar 2020 10:44

I'm in practice too, but I've seen nothing. But my line of work is group consolidated accounts and audit.

So most of my day to day has dried up completely. Most clients have now delayed the audit, so work due to start last week has been postponed indefinitely. Other work in April is in doubt. I'm sure they'll be back, but I expect to be furloughed myself before all too long.

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By coops456
30th Mar 2020 15:01

We tried to get ahead of the queries by creating a Covid-19 Payroll FAQ page on our website, and emailing all our clients over the weekend and pointing them to the page.

It worked to some degree. And now if they ring, the first thing we can say is, "have you read the info? If not, have a look first and then email us any queries rather than phoning."

Our priority today is getting the March payrolls finished and submitted, and supporting our largest client who is teetering on the edge of receivership :-(

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By grahamstone1
30th Mar 2020 15:20

So glad to see so many in the same boat. It feels a bit like PM's question time...and of course we are only drip fed info just the same as the rest of the nation.
I do have a little chuckle though at those Self Employeds who keep profits low to reduce the tax burden and then when COVID-19 comes along probably wish they hadn't!! Don't think many clients also realise that these grants are taxable and deferring the tax burden of 31/7 will put extra strain on finances as when 19/20 Accounts are done the double whammy of 31/1/21 payments plus the 31/7/20 payment will occur. HMRC will no doubt have to offer installment plans ( + interest?? )for those struggling to pay. Sad times...we as Accountants might ne ok now but what impact this will have in the next 12 months with possible client losses as they are unable to resume working, who knows?

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Replying to grahamstone1:
By SteveHa
30th Mar 2020 15:37

I don't see the "double whammy". They will take a step back in the tax cycle to half of year one when POAs arose, but there is no double whammy.

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By Luke
30th Mar 2020 17:51

Another sole practitioner here - my head is frazzled.

I echo the feelings of others, I feel very sorry for most clients, amazed at the cheek of others and wish others would naff off and get their accounts done by social media!

It has definitely been the hardest couple of weeks in my 14 years of sole practice, ignoring personally dealing with a teenager who suddenly has no GCSEs or direction, four of us trying to work from home etc.

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By neanderthal
31st Mar 2020 10:18

HI. like most accountants who take pride at their work, we have been working for free for more than a week now and we havent been able to bill a single penny. I am alone in the office as i sent staff home, so they should be entitled to some furloughing (no?). if it wasnt for us, small busienss accountants, to be on the front line of the financial support area, whatever support system the govnt has put (what a joke - we are still waiting to see it in practice btw!), it would have collapsed. the gvnt doesnt provide any direct support to the people (never did), we are efefectively doing their job, no phone lines, evertything (as always) impersonal, online. agree we someone that said, for the rest of the year they treat us like common thieves and criminals.

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By pauljohnston
31st Mar 2020 11:01

As we all know HMRC think little of accountants but now expect us to do the heavy lifting.

It is so appreciated when I tell a client I am very sorry but it appears you wont get anything but it is 2 months until June and I expect the Government we have issued another new set of rules by then.

As I said in another thread I suspect that there will be a lot more enquiries once the crisis has passed and those who have amended the February payroll will be first in line.

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By Cardigan
31st Mar 2020 14:13

I have been having the same conversation with different clients for the past few days. Most of them have been very understanding and are delighted with our assistance. It is so hard though, listening to people whose businesses have just stopped overnight.

I would be burnt out enough from the nice clients but we have had one absolute nightmare client. Emailing 7 times for an update on a scheme that was announced 5 minutes ago. I emailed to say I needed clarification on some items and would get back asap. When I called them they said, "so you were waiting on clarifications then. Which clarifications exactly were they, well?"

When I subsequently was talking to them about their business and whether Zoom meetings would be an option, I got "unlike your business, we prefer the personal touch."

I could write it off as panic from someone in trouble, but it certainly made my week harder than it needed to be.

And all for zero money!

I am glad that my family and I are healthy and that the business might just be able to keep afloat, but it is stressful.

Mind yourselves!

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By Sanjeev Nanda
01st Apr 2020 13:07

This is honestly uncanny! I had been fine for all these weeks, but yesterday I had gotten extremely antsy, almost on the verge of exploding. My wife had to calm me down. It was then that I realized, how utterly moot living in your home for an extended time can be. I've exhausted my share of TV shows, movies, news, etc. I demand release!

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By Eric T
09th Apr 2020 12:47

We did not have a Chancellor's Budget for 18 months. It now feels like we've had 18 budgets in 14 days.

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