Director Maximiti Limited
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The hell of tax returns: Are you ready for another January?

The busy season is here again. If you haven’t got your clients well trained, perhaps it’s time you take stock of your predicament.

6th Jan 2020
Director Maximiti Limited
Columnist
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Many accountants take January in their stride and while it may be a little bit more hectic due to that pesky HMRC deadline, they have their practice running tickety-boo and more importantly “they have got their clients well trained”.

This is a phrase that somebody once used to describe my previous business and I took it as a compliment, as it was intended. However, it was more than that, as I still remember it clearly more than five years after selling.

It is a recurring theme in my numerous conversations with small and medium practices across the country, and “training clients well” clearly resonates with many firms.

For those practitioners who have not yet mastered the art of “training clients” this is when they ask themselves whether the “game is worth the candle”.

While many sectors have a busy season, our august and ancient profession’s peak period is something of an altogether different matter.

Their angst is not the result of HMRC, it is simply the final straw for many, which makes February one of my busy periods.

The realisation that all is not well can be ascribed to two factors: internal and external. At this juncture of fight or flight it behoves accountants to drill down further and take stock of their predicament. 

Internal issues usually means too much time fighting fires. Matters that fester or are never got on top of include:

  • Staff tensions
  • Staff unwilling to embrace change
  • Billing
  • Cash collection
  • Overheads too high
  • Underinvestment in staff
  • Creaking and outdated IT

External problems usually cover a failure to thrive and expand. Stuff that requires a skillset that may not come naturally or may require a change of mindset:

  • Failing to understand the value of a strategic review
  • Not making time to formulate a strategy
  • Not understanding where to start with marketing
  • Fear of spending on marketing
  • Ignorance of the marketplace
  • Luddite attitude towards the internet and social media

Whether your problem lies internally, externally or in a combination doing nothing is not a solution. For many practitioners, they are at a stage in their lives where they cannot countenance fundamental change especially if multiple factors are at play.

They have little choice but to plod on and “look forward” to another January, but for many, they should use their experience this year as the catalyst to grasp the nettle.

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