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Quality of clients

Brain dead?

Didn't find your answer?

Most of my clients are barristers - a bunch of clients one would think have some intellect and a modicum of common sense. But you would  be wrong. An email today said ' I have registered for VAT but what's the process now? Do they just send me a bill?' Oh, yeah; like they are psychic nowadays. What hope is there for making tax difficult with clients like this? Anyone else got clients who are fit for the shredder? 

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RLI
By lionofludesch
28th Nov 2018 19:22

Brain dead ?

Maybe not.

That's how MTD is supposed to work.

Whether it actually does or not will depend on the free app we're waiting for.

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By Ken Howard
28th Nov 2018 20:17

Have to agree with that. I have a fair number of medical clients, i.e. GPs, dentists, etc. I have no doubt they are academically brilliant and I have to assume they're good at their jobs, but some are seriously stupid when it comes to real life matters like record keeping and taxes. It's not just a matter of not having time either - some have no concept of actually having to keep basic documents such as bank statements, P60s, etc

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Replying to Ken Howard:
Lone Wolf
By Lone_Wolf
29th Nov 2018 10:28

I can't help but smile at the idea that record keeping and taxes are "real life matters", but healing the sick and infirm isn't.

We accountant types don't half take ourselves too seriously.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
RedFive
By RedFive
29th Nov 2018 10:40

Ah, but that’s the problem isn’t it.

I’m not sure anyone on here is arguing that. I’m not, and I certainly ain’t (sic) no brain surgeon.

But some folks think they are too busy keeping people alive / out of jail (which they me be) so don’t need to be concerned about taxes as that’s for the plebs.

Ironic that those taxes pay for their services.

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Nov 2018 10:41

Lone_Wolf wrote:

I can't help but smile at the idea that record keeping and taxes are "real life matters", but healing the sick and infirm isn't.

The Government think the same.

Look no further than "Care in the Community", which was originally named "Care by Somebody Else".

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Replying to Lone_Wolf:
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By 1 2
29th Nov 2018 11:06

Lone_Wolf wrote:

I can't help but smile at the idea that record keeping and taxes are "real life matters", but healing the sick and infirm isn't.

We accountant types don't half take ourselves too seriously.


Exactly my thoughts!

For those accountants thinking their clients should already know all this stuff...don't you think you're trying to do yourself out of a job?!

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By penelope pitstop
28th Nov 2018 20:35

Just got rid of a bad batch....all from the same family.
Best thing I ever did.
Can breathe now.

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By andy.partridge
30th Nov 2018 09:55

The cleverer the client, the less they feel they have to try.

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RedFive
By RedFive
28th Nov 2018 21:16

Had a run of this.

One blamed me for ‘having’ to register her for vat. Hairdresser. Got the clearance letter today.

Another I picked the paperwork up for the vat quarter and as he gave me it he said ‘so what’s the vat bill then’?

I’ve had a bad day so will leave it there but thanks for making me feel slightly better.

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Replying to RedFive:
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By Manchester_man
29th Nov 2018 01:02

Haha, I've had precisely the same comment, from a builder client last year. Always seemed surprised when I asked for the vat records each quarter, then one time, as I was collecting the lever arch file from him, he asks "so how much do we owe?". This was the same builder client who always had around 10k vat bills, but no money in the bank. I wouldn't mind, but they were on cash accounting!

My direct debit bounced around 8 months ago and after a period of silence, I disengaged, heard nothing, now the company has applied for strike off and has received objections. One client I am actually really glad to see the back of.

On the whole, most clients are ok. Around 20% are very intelligent, 20% are as thick as pig 5h1t, and the balance are pretty average.

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ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
29th Nov 2018 07:40

I used to do lots of work for barristers. It was crazy the stuff that I found in their carrier bags - I swear each week/month/year they just emptied their car door pockets into a bag:
- dirty tissues
- £50 chq (made out to the client)
- €20 note
- hair bands
- their child’s birthday card
- a small bag of white powder (Mrs ALISK went crazy when this accidentally broke and went all over the living room carpet)
and my favourite:
- medical discharge notes from her giving birth, with rather TMI re tearing, stitches etc (well you would read it, wouldn’t you).

First rule I implemented when I started my own firm - if it comes in a carrier bag, send it bag & say “try X down the road”, where X is a firm that’s pi55ed me off / taken a client.

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By wilcoskip
29th Nov 2018 09:40

I've found doctors to be the worst, not just in general perception, but in financial management. Fortunately I've never dealt with any myself but used to share office space with someone who did the tax returns for a few.
Without exception they didn't have two pennies to rub together at tax dime, despite being on incomes of around £150k. They were also rather enthusiastic about being less than honest on any tax matters. Eventually they all left and we heard later they were all being investigated for fraud on tax returns they'd done a few years back.
Massively arrogant individuals as well.

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Replying to wilcoskip:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
29th Nov 2018 16:15

I know of a doctor client who declared bankruptcy not once, but twice! I had assumed it was due to uninsured negligence claims but no, he simply spent everything as soon as it came into his hands.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Nov 2018 09:57

I got a form back this morning, the client claims he signed it in 1966. Coincidentally, on the day he was born.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
29th Nov 2018 16:16

I had a client who signed their VAT return and dated it - with their date of birth!

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By sonoftwosheds
29th Nov 2018 10:00

I have found teachers to have been the worst, completly disorganised and unable to grasp the most simplest of tax rules

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By bernard michael
29th Nov 2018 10:02

I hate the one's who do their own inadequate research into tax matters, ask my advice and tell me I'm wrong ( which I sometimes am)
Then waste my time arguing with me.

This only happens once - then good bye.

Interesting thought - Where do all the crap clients end up ?. Are there practices that specialise in them and try to train them.

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Replying to bernard michael:
By Duggimon
29th Nov 2018 11:16

There are practices that specialise in ignoring the crap clients and their records, making up figures to get the desired tax bill and filing those.

HMRC are getting a bit better at identifying and investigating them now though, thankfully!

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Replying to Duggimon:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
30th Nov 2018 13:21

Duggimon wrote:

There are practices that specialise in ignoring the crap clients and their records, making up figures to get the desired tax bill and filing those.

At a previous firm we received the dreaded carrier bag in July, it got put somewhere for 'safe storage' until Nov/Dec/Jan and, surprisingly, promptly forgotten about.
Various denials and assertions about the receipt of said records between the partner & client resulted in us literally adding 5% to every figure on the I+E from the previous year (WPs had 3 columns: last year, 5%, this year) and tax return submitted on 31/01 on that basis. 02nd Feb, we found the records. Partner threw them in the shredder.

Duggimon wrote:

HMRC are getting a bit better at identifying and investigating them now though, thankfully!

...fingers crossed ... they were a horrible firm to work for. (shhhh - probably where all my bad habits have come from)

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Replying to bernard michael:
By penelope pitstop
29th Nov 2018 12:43

That is a very interesting point. Trouble with being a tax expert/accountant is that sometimes you've spent half a week researching some obscure aspect which goes back decades.
Then some upstart has spent a whole day looking at a brand new development which you have not had the time to notice (and won't do for another year or so) and then tackles you on it. You know nothing about it and look stupid when they try to teach you the new rule etc.
Unfortunately, a common situation.
Remember the brilliant tax partner of a big 4 firm who gave up because he just could not get his head around the myriad of tax rules/developments?
Then what chance do we have.

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Replying to penelope pitstop:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
30th Nov 2018 13:15

On may way home from work (so lets say 5:30 pm) on the day of a budget a few years ago, a client rang me to ask how change X would affect him.

Not only did I not know what we was talking about, I'd forgotten that it was budget day!

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
By penelope pitstop
30th Nov 2018 13:24

Yep. Story of my life!

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By bernard michael
29th Nov 2018 10:03

? Duplicated

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2018 22:37

My bugbear is the legal profession, I sometimes wonder if this is some Freudian issue with my parents, my problems are:

1. All solicitors believe they are correct, always.
2. Some solicitors are better at disguising this than others.
3. Of the ten solicitors who believe they are business savvy/street smart/deal makers, only two are.
4. Solicitors believe they do the deals, they structure them, trouble is they do not, the client/his agent hammer out the Heads of Terms to give to the dears simply to stop them straying into flights of fancy.

The number of times I have had to point out that getting the legals to the nth degree re a lease is very pleasant, but the tenant has not got any financial substance, the tightest clauses re him/her paying rent are all very well and good but please stop wasting time (my money) perfecting a lease which if the tenant gets into trouble I know he will not be able to pay us as there will be no funds, so an all singing all dancing three year lease is a complete waste of time.

I suspect a lot of clients have a lack of pragmatism, because that is what it usually is, but some have such a misguided belief in their abilities that they are able to display this to the world and are oblivious to the fact that their poorly formed views are risible.

Next week Architects- why are they all such arrogant *****s?

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Replying to DJKL:
By penelope pitstop
29th Nov 2018 12:52

Used to deal with a brilliant architect.
But he didn't know how to raise a fee invoice.
He became bankrupt and lost almost everything. Ruined his own and his wife's lives.
That's the trouble when your head is in the (creative) clouds.
Needed to get back down to earth.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By andy.partridge
29th Nov 2018 15:39

Yes, solicitors are curious folk to work with. I have only had a few and they were all short-lived. One didn't pay me at all, one part-paid and justified it by claiming I was useless (honest guv, I wasn't in this instance), one accused me of [***] up the accounts when I was trying to sort out the mess made by the trusted bookkeeper.

Basically, guilty until proven innocent which I thought was an odd starting point for people in their profession.

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
29th Nov 2018 12:47

Barristers belong to Chambers. Chambers have Clerks who deal with the work allocated to each barrister and who raise their fee invoices and receive payment from the clients. When the barrister registers for VAT, the Clerks apply VAT to his fee invoices. At the end of the VAT quarter, the Clerks work out the payment due and will often submit the VAT return on the barrister's behalf, pay the VAT due and deduct it from the net fees due by the Chambers to the barrister.

If most of your clients are barristers, I am surprised that you don't know this.

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Replying to Euan MacLennan:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2018 13:10

The clerks do much more than that, they plot and scheme and bend the law behind the scenes-just watch Silk.

Of course in Rumpole (a series I really like but my DVD complete set will not play properly) the clerks tend to blend into the background to in the main be invisible, merely passing Rumpole, Portia and Claude interesting briefs.

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By memyself-eye
29th Nov 2018 18:03

DVD?
Blimey, I thought those died out years ago...

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Replying to memyself-eye:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
29th Nov 2018 21:09

I am from the tangible assets generation, my kids are the ones who revel in intangible assets.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By andy.partridge
30th Nov 2018 09:55

Tried streaming once, but fell in.

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By bernard michael
30th Nov 2018 09:47

I now never work for solicitors, pubs or Indian takeaways. Past experience tells me they are trouble so best avoided. However they keep on coming. I turned down 2 pubs in the last 2 months

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By brumsub
30th Nov 2018 11:03

Of all the species of clients we had we found barristers on the whole to be the most arrogant and egotistical of the lot. They could never make a mistake or own up to making any.

They made a lot of money but constantly questioned the tax we calculated for them – as if we had a magic wand!

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By Andrew Griffin
30th Nov 2018 11:41

Anybody who has ever worked in a small firm will have encountered clients who may be brilliant builders/plumbers/surgeons/barristers/mechanics - great at their own profession - but absolutely rubbish at running a business. That's precisely why they need accountants to advise them on how to establish and run appropriate record-keeping systems.
Though it is dumbed down considerably, the guidance on gov.uk is actually not too bad. For most, it's simply RTFM !! - only they don't.

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By mkowl
30th Nov 2018 11:41

Made me laugh as the one client in our portfolio that is not quite up to speed with HMRC - yep a barrister. It would be funny but the late filing penalties, late payment penalties, determinations that can't be dislodged etc etc is going to cost him a fortune and we still spend time making sure the appropriate letters are in place to ensure none of that hits our fan

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By towat
30th Nov 2018 11:41

" barristers - a bunch of clients one would think have some intellect and a modicum of common sense."

This made me laugh out loud.

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Replying to towat:
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By andy.partridge
30th Nov 2018 12:10

Barristers, a definition: Actors who try to persuade a gullible audience that a person did something they didn't, or didn't do something they did.

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Replying to andy.partridge:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
30th Nov 2018 13:04

Architects-people who win awards at their client's expense.

Actuaries-people who should only talk with fellow actuaries.

Actors-thwarted barristers

Accountants-people who [***] about all other careers and professions.

Auditors- people who even accountants despise.

*** = b-i-t-c-h-

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Replying to DJKL:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
30th Nov 2018 13:24

I'm curious - did you put the final sentence in knowing that AWeb would * the original word, or did you do their job for them and type the *s?

Or did you edit the post?

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
30th Nov 2018 14:09

It was an edit.

The catch about censorship by computer is it does not grasp context, it is a good thing A Web is not a site for dog breeders or vets.

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By wyoming
30th Nov 2018 11:42

I deal mainly with medical professionals. For the most part, they are pretty hopeless at record-keeping and looking after their tax affairs generally. However, they are nearly always happy to acknowledge this and are very grateful when someone (me) sorts it all out for them.

When I dealt with lawyers of various hues, by contrast, I found them to be equally hopeless but generally awkward and arrogant. I think part of the problem is that they know a little bit about tax from some point in their training (mostly out of date and irrelevant) and so try to tell us our job and insist they know best. So glad that I specialise in the healthcare sector now!

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Replying to wyoming:
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By CMPACDGDB
30th Nov 2018 15:40

Odd how this has drifted to medics since medical services are predominantly VAT-exempt! Dare I suggest that the contempt shown for other professions is just that they are good at what they do and accountants are good at tax & accountancy? Not every-one is interested in accountancy and taxation I'm afraid. Apologies if this shocks some of you...

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By [email protected]
30th Nov 2018 12:17

My favourite was the retired Tax Inspector who was Clerk to the Commissioners, and who was investigated by HMRC who considered his record-keeping grossly inadequate and his expenses claims excessive (mileage claims and wife's wages as I recall). He ended up appealing to the Commissioners - and he lost!

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By penelope pitstop
30th Nov 2018 12:51

Got rid of ALL my idiot clients.
Got no clients left anymore!
Who's the idiot now :(

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ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
30th Nov 2018 13:10

farrcorfe wrote:

An email today said ' I have registered for VAT but what's the process now? Do they just send me a bill?' Oh, yeah; like they are psychic nowadays.  

To be fair (and I don't normally like to be to clients), with the way HMRC want MTD to go, they'll soon want to just draw the info from an API with your bank, pull a random liability out of the air and say "prove us wrong".

(and yes ... I know all barristers are on FRS, but the point remains)

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ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
30th Nov 2018 13:26

I love that 95% of the long thread are about how s.h.i.t / PITFA/stupid clients are.

Brightens up all of our days to know that we're not alone, I'm sure.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
30th Nov 2018 14:36

At a firm years ago the other manager I worked with had lot of Barrister clients, who although big earners were clueless to day to day tasks.

One was afraid to open brown envelopes and used to bring in piles of tax demands once a year to be opened.

Despite earning £200k + (20 years ago) HMRC made him bankrupt for non payment of tax.

I seem to remember another one who was top criminal lawyer, but going through a divorce, got one of his clients to break into his wifes house to steal some papers that were key to how much his settlement. He got caught and ended up spending much more time with his previous clients than he would have liked.

I am currently considering no future dealings with builders as I have acted for about 5/6 in last few years and they are just too much hassle and receiving payment for work almost impossible.

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Replying to Glennzy:
By penelope pitstop
30th Nov 2018 14:47

Won't touch builders.
Too much risk.

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Replying to penelope pitstop:
RLI
By lionofludesch
30th Nov 2018 15:08

My top client is probably a builder.

He's certainly in the top three.

Completely house-trained.

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Replying to penelope pitstop:
Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
30th Nov 2018 15:31

Anyone that gets bigger than 5 staff seems to lose control of the business and go bust very quickly.

Then start up again with less working capital and less chance of surviving.

They just say yes to every job but struggle to deliver them for a profit.

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