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Should I stay or should I go

Should I stay or should I go

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Have a bit of a decision to make and need some advice....

I currently work in practice but am starting to get extremely disillusioned and unhappy where I am and have an opportunity to move into a pretty interesting in house tax role.

I have a PC for ACCA and am a member of CIOT. The practice I am currently employed by have started to discuss partnership but for a whole variety of reasons I am not keen!! Awful lot of nepotism and I feel that I will be supporting some pretty uninspiring family members in my later years if I commit!

On the whole I enjoy practice and the other option I am considering is starting up on my own, I have a fair few 'private' clients and I know that a number of the clients in my current firm will gradually migrate over. I know that morally this is not great but I have built up very good relationships with the clients and have gone 'above and beyond' for them over the years.

I also have some very good relationships with solicitors and IFA's who pass on leads to me, however they do not like the partners in my current firm and I know if I went on my own these leads would increase.

Has anyone else made the move from practice to an in house tax role and what has your experience been!?

Also, what are your views on earning potential? I have a feeling that I will earn more initially if I make the move (salary would almost double) but long term I think I would earn more in private practice. pension/benefits etc will go some way to making up for the salary gap I suppose.

My other concern is that 'the good life' once enjoyed by accountants in small and medium firms may be coming to an end. 80% of clients are constantly asking for reduced fees and taking 60+ days to pay. Is this typical!? It may be down to the way the practice I am employed by in run, all very old fashioned.

I understand that its a long question but I have been going over and over it and need a bit of advice really........everyone I have spoken to about have no real understanding of the differences.

Thanks in advance

Replies (6)

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By ShirleyM
18th Jan 2013 21:27

This isn't restricted to practice

Awful lot of nepotism and I feel that I will be supporting some pretty uninspiring family members in my later years if I commit!

I had the same experience in industry, plus there can be pressure to bend the rules. In your own practice, if a client wants you to fiddle the figures you can lay down the rules and if they don't comply you can sack them, but you can't sack your boss! 

If you enjoy practice work, and you get can get a good start by having a significant number of clients at start up, it would be a no-brainer for me.

Will small practice be non-existent in a few years? I don't know for sure, but I seriously doubt it. Can anyone see the future with certainty?

Are 80% of clients constantly asking for reduced fees? Not in my experience.

Do clients take 60 days to pay? Only if you are daft enough to let them!

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By Ken Howard
19th Jan 2013 09:27

Been there (both scenarios)

I, too, was in a good position in a town centre CA practice, with two offers on the table, so to speak.  One was the dangle of partnership in the practice, the other was the FD position at one of their clients for whom I did a lot of work (mgmt accounts, forecasts, etc).

I decided I couldn't see myself being happy, even as partner, in the CA firm if I looked forward 10 years - the place was antiquated - old ideas, old way of working - one computer between a room full of staff (in the 1990's for Pete's sake!  I know that I could continue to drag it into the 21st century, as I'd already made progress (I was responsible for insisting they bought the computer as they had nothing at all until 1992!!), but I knew it would be hard and stressful getting the other partners and staff to change. 

So I took the FD job instead.  What a mistake.  I realised within the first week that I wasn't in the right job, nor the right firm, and started applying for new jobs straight away although it took a while because I didn't want to go back to CA practice - I kept trying for industrial positions but never got far due to lack of industrial experience.  Even though I'd been going virtually a couple of days per week for the past few years, and I thought I knew the firm, their staff, etc., it was completely different in reality.  Stunned by the in-fighting, nepotism, etc that I'd been shielded from whilst I was just "doing the books" in the accounts dept!

So, eventually got back into a different CA practice, spent 2/3 years getting back up to speed, especially with tax as I'd been out of practice during the mid to late 1990s when a lot had changed (self assessment, etc).  When I regained my confidence I went alone.

So, here I am, over a decade later.  In my one man practice.  Working whatever hours I want - currently about 5 per day - having a nice walk to/from work and at lunchtimes along the canal, picking and chosing my own clients (I'm never afraid to say no when I meet a potential who I don't feel I would get on well with), bad debts only £300 in 12 years, can't remember the last time a client complained about fees, in fact, the last time a client moved to another accountant was 5 years ago.  Earning a decent living - probably comparable "take home" to a manager in practice or accountant in small industry, but considering the lack of stress, short working hours, freedom, that's a good pay-off for me!!  The key thing about my one man practice is that it's completely different to the typical old fashioned CA practices - better client communication, up to date technology (most on cloud accounting systems), monthly standing orders for all fees on retainer basis.  

So, to the OP, I'd say, start your own, but don't carry over the carp working practices from your current (old fashioned sounding) practice.  You seem to be on good terms with clients - build on that, make sure you know what they want and give it to them.  Forget the ways of your current practice.  

It's not small accountancy practices that may not have a future - it's the old fashioned small accountancy practices who don't move with the times that don't have a future!

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By Steve Holloway
19th Jan 2013 09:50

You seem better prepared than most ...

people who come on to here and ask whether theu should go out on their own!! I would say for you the biggest hurdle would be to go from £x salary per annum to next to nothing. Will your finances allow for the transition? If they do, then I would say go for it. Like Shirley I see the biggest threat is for the traditional office based, mid size practice. Staple audit work has pretty much gone and there are too many of us out there undercutting through lower overheads or the large cloud type providers who are hoovering up the low end client base.

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By taxgenie
19th Jan 2013 11:06

Working on your own ............

I worked for a big 4 company and then a local accountancy firm before being poached to work for Financial planners to set up a tax department. My clients from the Big 4 company have followed me on each occasion. Not surprisingly the spell at the Financial Planners did not work out in the way it had been anticipated on both sides and the Directors suggested that I take my clients out and become self-employed.

This was almost 2 years ago and I have never looked back. I am earning as much as I did when employed but have the freedom to set up my business as I see fit. All my new clients come from referrals from existing clients or my website. I work from home and have a whole floor dedicated to the business. My only problem is do I allow my business to grow and take a junior on or do I stay the same?

I wish that I had done this years ago and it is amazing that I get more referrals now from existing clients than I ever did when I was employed! I think you just need to know where you are placing yourself in the market, be open and friendly with potential clients as some of them are terrified when they first meet you, as well as spelling out clearly how much you charge.

I generally have fixed fees in place for all clients that are agreed at the 1st meeting. There are then 3 options for payment. They can either pay by 12 monthly payments, twice a year in June and December or alternatively when the year's work is complete.

Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss further

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By petersaxton
19th Jan 2013 13:02

Work for yourself

You seem ideal to work for yourself. You make all the decisions and run the practice how you want. You would have to accept lower money to begin with but, as long as you are willing to put the work in, you can decide your own income (within reason) long term.

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By Glenn Martin
19th Jan 2013 14:14

Sounds like my life story

I had a good job in practice from trainee up to a manager for 10 years. I was then poached to go to an old fashioned firm "as the fresh face to modernise them" hated it, as they did not want change so after 3 years of fighting moved onto  work for there biggest client. Was great for a few years then owner started introducing his family into office to learn the business with opening job title of MD at 18. Now place is a mess open fights and slagging matches in office every day. i decided i had enough and leave on 31st January. I have always retained about £15k of private work and have enough money to pay my bills for 8/9 months so rprobably not in as good a position as yourself. (Sounds mad but I would love to be made redundant by these people for added opening capital).

Although its a big step walking away from 50K job I am 41 but feel like 21 again and I am so look forward to 1st February to step out from other peoples shadows and be a success in my own right. For the last 2 years I have been playing the for/against plan. The new IT kit that is available is incredible and of a relativly small investmnet you can have very efficient systems. Speaking with the people on here has been very valuable to me in making that final decision.

You probably only need a mixed bag of around 50 clients to make a good standard of living from the start you have you are probably not that far away.

Piece of mind is where its at my friend.



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