Dr Liam Fox has outraged many in the business community with his suggestion that the average executive would rather spend Friday afternoon on the golf course than out trying to generate export contracts.
I have to say that this is a bit rich coming from an MP, a group whose members can choose whether to turn up to work or not on any given day and get longer holidays than many university students. I would also like to see attendance records for the Houses of Parliament on Friday afternoons throughout the year. My guess is that far fewer MPs turn up to work than accountants.
Even when they turn up at the “office” they spend most of the day insulting each other rather than doing anything that most of us would regard as worthwhile.
The primary question that Dr Fox asked might need to be altered slightly to get the correct answer from the average accountant. If the term "play golf" was replaced or supplemented by alternative pastimes such as relaxing into a leisurely lunch, a spa visit or watching England's attempts to win the World Cup, that might be more representative.
In any event, I would wager that while most of us might enjoy entertaining influential clients on a Friday afternoon rather than sweating away at the metaphorical coalface, in the vast majority of cases we are not exclusively doing this for the craic.
Typically, when I entertain clients the intention of an exercise is to maintain fees or generate more. I am happy to accept that I have had the odd colleague over the years who seemed to spend more time drinking than working but they were very much the exception to the rule.
If you have a client that is loyal, pays your firm a six-figure sum every year and has been known to recommend their friends, surely it must make sense to do whatever is necessary to keep the relationship sweet. While this will include dealing with important business calls on a Sunday afternoon, it also stretches to a Friday afternoon out on the golf course or at Cowes, if that’s what floats their boat.
Dr Fox also conveniently ignores the possibility that your golfing companions might represent influential overseas organisations who could therefore either be prospective clients or help you to reel them in.
Ultimately, the only logical conclusion that I can draw from the statements of the minister is that some MPs have little idea about how business is carried on in the 21st-century and, I hate to suggest it, but perhaps they ought to think or consult before they speak. Then again, they wouldn't be MPs if they did that.
About The Imprudent Accountant
Someone who should know better, but can't resist the occasional rant about the more exasperating aspects of the accountancy profession.