Family Accountant

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I will no longer become a family accountant. This is because I am dragged into family affairs that are time consuming and most of the time little to do with the terms of my engagement. I now prefer to keep my distance.

More recently, I was asked to motivate a client’s son in his thirties to get himself sorted and register himself for self-assessment. This was on the basis I would be a good influence.

From my perspective the line between a personal and a professional relationship became truly blurred. This made it very difficult for me. In the end I was honest with the client and just said talking to his son was not my role.

Furthermore, due to a close relationship it becomes difficult to charge additional fees for work outside the terms of engagement.

I started to keep my distance with the client in question and tried to maintain a professional relationship. The client moved on just last week. Okay I lost some (not that much) income, but I think it was for the best.

Are you a family accountant? What is your experience like?

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21st Feb 2013 17:19

Country Cousins

Working in a rural practice if ever we had time we would like to draw a line connecting all our clients who are related however distantly and not neccessarily through marriage.

Through the famous 6 degrees of separation it is hard not to get involved in situations where we are pig in the middle.  It is part of life, tough when it happens but we feel we have to try to help where we can.

The upside is that if we are anywhere near seen to be doing our best in these circumstances it tends to lead to new business through personal recommendation.  We regard it as part (the biggest part) of the marketing budget.

As for the six degrees, well, dairy farmer Paul Dunn's mother in law is my aunties second husbands third wife.

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21st Feb 2013 17:32

What's the problem?

I have a client who is very good. She provides me with information early.

Her husband hasn't given me his very simple data for his tax for six years and HMRC just adjust his PAYE tax code for the penalties and determinations. Every six months I remind him. Eventually I'll be able to do the work and get a nice bit of money. I don't mix them up at all. If one client asked me something about the other client I'd say I can't say anything and they should talk to each other directly.

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21st Feb 2013 20:41

Greek Cypriots
My ex client is a Greek Cypriot. Their previous accountant is of the same nationality. He was their family accountant. As a result of some feud they parted company after many years.

They expected me to be their family accountant. I was invited too many dinners and birthdays that I attended. As a result i got close to the extended family. From here I started to be listening ear on divorce, problems with daughter in law and problems with son 2.

On reflection I should have kept my distance from the start.

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By Old Greying Accountant
21st Feb 2013 21:13

I see ...

... no, stay away from "Da Family" - did you never see Alfred Molina in "The Accountant"? 

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By morgani
21st Feb 2013 21:22

Too close
I think the above just sounds too close. I have quite a few clients who I have become good friends with since but although the odd party here and there might be ok but family dinners and several parties sounds a little too involved.
The problem as you say is once you have been this much involved it is more difficult to then step back.

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to bernard michael
22nd Feb 2013 10:21


Yes, it all  ended horribly for the Alfred Molina character, didn't it? I seem to remember a lethal encounter with a cement truck. And that was after he'd helped "Da Family" with their management accounts as well. There were several profit centres: drugs, prostitution and extortion. Or were they service lines? Perhaps the divisions were capo by capo.

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