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Recurring question - how much help do you give?

New accountants seem to want a lot of help

Didn't find your answer?

Recurring question, but how much help do you give a firm who have taken over a client?

We send the basics (Accounts, Tax Comps, TB) but specifically say in LOEs and disengagement’s that once we’ve stopped, we’re not doing anything else unless we are paid for it.

Usually we never hear again, but occasionally (like today) the new guy writes a long missive saying that it’s “our duty” to explain “a” and “b” and “c” and “d” and “e” etc etc.

The purpose of all this explanation is clearly to make his life easy, because the accounts were agreed, signed and filed over a year ago and there’s no obvious reason to reopen them.

TBH I’m going to ignore him, but how much help do you give the new guy?

 

Replies (21)

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By Accountant A
08th Apr 2019 19:58

I'm not in practice but you sound as if you have done everything you are required to.

I might be inclined to offer modest further assistance in certain situations but if someone (like this person) came along demanding what they weren't entitled to I would do nothing other than refer them to your engagement letter - and cc the client.

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By andy.partridge
08th Apr 2019 20:14

Just enough for the incoming firm to be able to fulfil their duties, but no less than that.

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Replying to andy.partridge:
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By Gone Sailing
09th Apr 2019 13:55

andy.partridge wrote:

Just enough for the incoming firm to be able to fulfil their duties, but no less than that.

This is the critical point, and it cuts both ways. And if the new accountant can't get legitimate questions answered, it's the client's turn to try.

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By Matrix
08th Apr 2019 20:27

Please can you give an example of the extra info they have requested. It may be reasonable if it is a breakdown of balance sheet balances which are not obvious from the bookkeeping system.

I don’t generally get any additional requests. I just replied to a prof clearance letter and they came back and asked for the VAT certificate, their junior emailed me so I hope it is not the first of many additional requests.

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By lionofludesch
08th Apr 2019 21:17

I've never had anybody tell me that it's my duty to do his job.

If I did, I might ask him to state his authority for such a robust comment.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Accountant A
08th Apr 2019 22:16

lionofludesch wrote:

I've never had anybody tell me that it's my duty to do his job.

If I did, I might ask him to state his authority for such a robust comment.

Absolutely, which is why I would copy the client so he could see the plonker they've appointed.

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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
08th Apr 2019 22:28

I think that I’ve only maybe once been asked a follow up question, but then we provide a full breakdown of every B/S figure, control accounts etc ie most of the WPs (in PDF - don’t want to make it TOO easy for them).

I know that I provide far more than I receive from others. I just consider it professional courtesy - I think “what would I need ...”, at the very least, to know what the opening B/S is.

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By lionofludesch
09th Apr 2019 08:41

atleastisoundknowledgable... wrote:

I know that I provide far more than I receive from others. I just consider it professional courtesy - I think “what would I need ...”, at the very least, to know what the opening B/S is.

Full trial balance and pool balances on the Capital Allowances computation is, I would've thought, an absolute minimum.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
09th Apr 2019 09:08

Of course - I was focusing on the thing that bugs me the most when I receive 'handover' info. Especially comments like "as per client's Sage", when that either doesn't match the accounts, or is made up of journals 'YE jnl 2016', 'YE jnl 2017', 'YE jnl 2018'. No help whatsoever.

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By paul.benny
09th Apr 2019 08:49

[quote=James Green

TBH I’m going to ignore him, but how much help do you give the new guy?

 

[/quote]

I'm with you up to this point. I'd go back to the new accountant and mention the points you've made in this post.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
09th Apr 2019 08:54

What exactly are a, b, c. d and e ?

Hard to say whether they're reasonable requests without knowing what they are.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
09th Apr 2019 09:04

It depends what you sent. I find many firms fail to supply proper working papers so you cant do your job properly.

If you just sent some big balance sheet numbers with no break down, I would keep asking until I know whats in them.

Eg no debtors list (if not on a system), no detailed accruals list etc, then how to you release it in the following year?

I normally send a full set of working papers, I don't see what the secret is.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By lionofludesch
09th Apr 2019 09:13

Of course, the published accounts used to have much more detail.

They're so bland these days that they're utterly useless.

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By SXGuy
09th Apr 2019 09:35

I once had a hand over, the new accountants were asking the most basic of questions, which would have been answered had they understood the figures sent over.
The icing on the cake came later when they asked if they could borrow my agent login to submit their new client (my ex client) Vat Return.

It was at that point, I decided to ignore them.

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Replying to SXGuy:
By jon_griffey
09th Apr 2019 09:58

SXGuy wrote:

The icing on the cake came later when they asked if they could borrow my agent login to submit their new client (my ex client) Vat Return.

Lol! That's a classic.

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By meadowsaw227
09th Apr 2019 10:24

I always try and give as much help to a new accountant as I can as I know from experience how frustrating it is trying to make sense of a trial balance .

However I did tell the junior at another firm of accountants that I felt like I had actually prepared the accounts for another year due to the sheer volume of questions as to how to reconcile the next year figures.

I would still give as much assistance as I could .

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By busacrun
09th Apr 2019 10:30

It depends upon the quality of what you have provided and work you have done

we've taken over a client recently and we've had to go back and forth to the old firm numerous times because what they have provided hasn't been sufficient to provide a clean handover and has highlighted a variety of errors in their work and the accounts prepared.

this particular client, had various loans and assets which were missed (not sure how!) by the old firm and excluded from the accounts, without getting further info from the old firm, it was going to be difficult to see what they had done and a clear path to correct.......the only alternative was to redo the entire previous years accounts from scratch

personally, I'd give as much info as possible to the incoming firm, it reduces the chances of them coming back with further requests and I cant help but feel that withholding info or sending the bare minimum just looks like you've got sour grapes

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
09th Apr 2019 16:22

Tricky... if you don't play ball watch out for the PITA Subject Access Request which could involve you in many days' non-chargeable work.

I've found slowing things down sometimes helps - perhaps an email to say you've received the request for extra information, and will aim to reply within 14 days / 21 days / 28 days (take your pick). Stretching replies out provides some incentive for the new incumbents to stop being lazy / helpless / needy (take your pick) and figure some things out for themselves.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
By Red Leader
09th Apr 2019 15:37

Good practical suggestion. Benign neglect solves much.

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By thomas
09th Apr 2019 16:07

I'm not familiar with this... can my client use this to get a balance sheet breakdown from his previous accountants? Given my client has paid for the book keeping to be done it doesn't seem unreasonable to request a fixed asset listing, breakdown of prepayments etc. They should have all of this - and my client has paid for it!

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Replying to thomas:
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By lionofludesch
09th Apr 2019 18:07

thomas wrote:

I'm not familiar with this... can my client use this to get a balance sheet breakdown from his previous accountants? Given my client has paid for the book keeping to be done it doesn't seem unreasonable to request a fixed asset listing, breakdown of prepayments etc. They should have all of this - and my client has paid for it!

Depends on what they're asking for.

Which was my reason for asking.

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