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Making your clients 4 Dimensional

21st Jan 2019
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A couple of years ago I had a ProActivTax accountancy member phone me shortly after joining us. He had received a call from a client who wanted inheritance tax advice as the client believed his Estate to be worth approximately £5 million. The accountant wanted to know what the advice should be.

Questions are key

I could easily have put our array of IHT specialists at the disposal of the member and his client but before I did I wanted a bit more meat to the bone. So I asked a series of random questions: 

“Is the client UK resident and UK domiciled?” Response: “I think so but not actually sure.”

“How old is the client?” Response: “Not sure. He looks late 50s.”

“Is he married?” Response: “Don’t know.”

“Any children?” Response: “Don’t know.”

“Does he have a Will in place?” Response: “Don’t know.”

“Is he in good health?” Response: “He looks ok.”

“What is the make-up of the £5 million?” Response:” No idea. I didn’t know he was worth that much.”

“What are the client’s hopes and aspirations going forward?” Response “I’ve never asked him that question.”

“How long has he been a client of yours?” Response “9 years.”

The accountant clearly did not know his client.

Transactional or transformational?

I see providing tax planning/advice as not only transactional but also transformational. In this particular case an opportunity to mitigate the client’s IHT liability, to be able pass on more of his Estate to his loved ones so that their lives can be improved after his death, which is an emotive goal but something many of us can buy into.

In order to provide the holistic advice you need to know your client. This means turning your client from a 2-Dimensional cardboard cut out to a 4-Dimensional human being who has a pulse, hopes, aspirations, fears, challenges not just around their business but around themselves personally and their families. Potentially each facet of their lives can impact upon the other. Likewise, the tax advice given in one area of that client’s life, if implemented, can have a knock-on effect, positively or detrimentally, on others.


Obviously, this process of getting to know your client should preferably start on day one of your relationship with them. That particular ProActivTax member and his team have now turned it around. They carry out year-end reviews for all their clients on their businesses and on them personally using ProActivTax’s two sets of Year End review resources.  These are run alongside a resource we call ARQ LYFE which aims to Ask the Right Questions, to find out not just about the business, their assets and liabilities but also their family, their health issues, their hopes and aspirations as well as providing an IHT calculation. Of course, the process must be GDPR compliant and permission obtained from the client to collate this information and keep it in a secure place. But the vast majority of clients will be happy to grant this permission as you are clearly demonstrating that you are in their corner.

Our members use it as a reference point when providing either proactive or reactive tax advice. The beauty of the resource is it caters for the fact that people’s goals, aspirations, and circumstances can change overtime due to such things as marriage, divorce, change of career, kids, grandchildren and health issues to name but a few. A resource like the ARQ can keep track of those changes not just for you and your team but also the client.

You can create your own ARQ LYFE or maybe you already have something similar within your set up. Although it’s not an overnight process, please use it as both you and your client will find it very rewarding.

It shows an interest in your client above and beyond the veneer and turns them into the 4-Dimensional client and you into a 4-Dimensional accountant. You never know you may even quite get to like them.

ProActivTax help accountants across the UK

ProActivTax was set up to help accountants around the UK to develop their tax offering to their existing client base and to build up their tax profile within their local community and beyond and take away that feeling of loneliness.

We do this through tax resources (such as ARQ LYFE), tax marketing, tax specialists, tax training/webinars/seminar programmes and us. We are running a series of half day tax events around the country in February and March. Why not come along and bring your team with you if you have one. To register please click here.

If you would like to find out more please click here to access my online diary or simply drop me an email with some provisional dates and I’ll set up a conference call.

Paul Flynn

Email: [email protected]

Tele: 01246 488 200

Mobile: 07903 799091

Turning Tax Technical issues into commercial reality

ProActivTax Ltd (09540555) 7 Midland Way, Barlborough. Derbyshire. S43 4XA