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Take a breather and be a little kinder this Christmas
iStock_Covid Christmas party_AleksandarNakic

Christmas: A season of goodwill


A smile and kind work can pay big dividends.

22nd Dec 2021
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First, an apology to any auditors who excitely rushed to read this column. This is not a piece about the kind of asset that arises on the acquisition of a business, nor will it contain a deeply considered analysis of appropriate methods of amortisation.

Instead, at the end of what has been another truly horrible year, I would like to call for a period for reflection and kindness, in spite of the criticisms I might dished out to third-rate politicians, hopeless auditors or those who have made themselves wealthy by propagating dodgy tax schemes.

Accountants are busy at the best of times, but working all hours from home to make ungrateful clients happy has escalated the office experience into a recipe for 24/7 gloom.

Equity partners who have led by example might feel it isn’t wholly unreasonable to demand similar commitment from all of their employees. My first message for them is to stop expecting those earning a generous but not excessive salary to put in the same hours as principals who own the business and get rich by doing so.

The past couple of years have been very tough on younger accountants and traineers who may have had to work at a shared kitchen table in cramped conditions, while trying to study for exams that will make or break their lives.

Having risen to the top of our particular tree, it can be all too easy to suffer from memory loss and completely forget our own experiences as juniors, trainees (or for the very, very old, articled clerks).

Kindness is a good investment

Being kind to your workforce can be the most fantastic investment. Having foregone Christmas parties or watered them down to the point where they weren’t enjoyable, this is the moment to take a little trouble to tell your workers how much you love them (but not in a ski chalet if you work for EY).

At some point in the dim dark days of winter, this will pay huge dividends when you need a massive favour from someone who is already exhausted and at the end of their tether.

This will be particularly obvious to those spending what should be our Christmas and New Year holidays preparing tax returns for clients who couldn’t be bothered to provide information until months after the final deadline that we set.

That brings me on to the next class of person to whom we should be showing kindness. This is our poor, long-suffering clients and the members of their staff with whom we interact.

All too often clients or their accountants make our lives hell. They don’t deliver on time, ask stupid questions and don’t seem capable of doing their jobs to even a basic level.

As a result, we end up tearing our hair out, incurring additional costs and then getting into unpleasant arguments about the extra fees that they refuse to pay.

Once again, a little bit of generosity during the season of goodwill could once again make all the difference next year and, all being well, into the future.

Many of our clients have had the most horrible experiences, seeing loved ones fall ill and, in some cases die, while watching their businesses wither on the vine and discovering that government support measures either didn’t apply or stopped way too soon.

The way that we generate businesses is to keep clients happy and wait for or encourage them to give us more work, agreeing healthy fees for high quality projects along the way. If things go particularly well, they might even recommend their friends, which is undoubtedly the best and most satisfying form of marketing available.

While we’re at it, if it isn’t too much of a push for these difficult times, try offering a smile to all and sundry.

Happy holidays and here’s to the best year ever in 2022.

Replies (2)

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By Hugo Fair
22nd Dec 2021 16:56

My goodwill extends to assuming that the wording in the sub-title was intentional
... "A smile and kind work can pay big dividends"
... although I'm not sure I've encountered kind work outside of a caring environment.

Also, I endorse the philosophy - but without the need to look for payback ("this will pay huge dividends when you need a massive favour"), which reduces us to the level described in Richard Dawkins' 'The Selfish Gene'.

Having said which I've heard theologians claim that a mere human is incapable of a truly unselfish act - as the resultant warm glow is a reward that is not wholly unexpected!

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By Mayert69
27th Dec 2021 05:45

Happy Christmas to Everyone!!!

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