Mark Lee ponders the secret desires and ambitions that accountants may be harbouring at this time of year.
There’s an apocryphal story that has featured different politicians over the years. One version references the British ambassador to Mexico. Apparently, back in the 1980s he was asked by a local TV station what he would like for Christmas. After debating the ethics of such a gift with his questioner he decides upon a small box of chocolates. On Christmas day the newsreader announces: “…and finally, we asked the ambassadors to our country what they would like for Christmas. The French ambassador said he wished for world peace, the Canadian, a cure for cancer, and the British? A small box of chocolates.”
There are evidently different ways to answer the question “What do you want for Christmas?”
I’ve attempted to identify a dozen things most accountants probably would welcome this Christmas. I have expanded the list to include a range of other gifts and scenarios that I am sure many accountants would welcome but which are unlikely to happen in 2015, if ever. I have also included some wishes that are almost impossible to imagine could ever be granted.
Can you spot the 12 serious items in the list below? How many of the others do you think are feasible? Is there anything else you would want to add to the list?
All I want for Christmas is…
- All the remaining information required to complete clients’ tax returns to come in before Christmas; so there’s no need to chase this up in the New Year
- Clarity as regards how best to advise clients affected by the new VAT rules that apply to digital services provided in the EU from 1 January; and to know which clients might need to be told about this to avoid them inadvertently breaking the law
- HMRC to notify me that my own 31 January tax bill is being waived as a simple thank you for getting so many clients to pay their tax bills on time
- Fewer spats that go on and on between regular commentators on AccountingWEB discussion threads. You know who you are!
- To appear at the top of page one of Google whenever anyone anywhere simply searches for an ‘accountant’
- A complete absence of anyone proposing a repeat of the same old tips as are published every year to supposedly help accountants complete clients’ tax returns before the 31 January deadline
- To get more ideal clients referred to us by existing clients – without having to prompt those clients to do so
- To be able to leave the office at a reasonable time every night in the run up to Christmas - without feeling guilty about the work left to complete
- For HMRC to announce that all taxpayers and businesses will need to use a suitably qualified accountant or tax adviser to file their returns from April 2015
- The opportunity to act as the tax adviser to Santa Claus and to explain to everyone that he doesn’t have to pay tax anywhere in the world, because he doesn’t make a profit
- Public funding to be available for accountancy and tax advice given to new business start-ups from April 2015
- To be allowed to continue running my practice my way and without anyone telling me what I MUST do differently in 2015
- To get more Twitter followers without posting anything interesting and without paying for them or following loads of tweeters hoping they will follow me back
- To be paid in full and promptly by clients with a smile (and a cheque or bank transfer!)
- To feel more in control of the work that needs doing and to be able to resist distractions
- A fully integrated CRM, bookkeeping, accounts prep, time recording, billing and practice management system that costs less than all of the existing software I have
- Spam, promotional and unimportant emails to auto delete from my inbox after 72 hours if I’ve not dealt with them
- Clients to apologise for unreasonable behaviour and for not replying more promptly to my requests for information
- Staff and contractors to take more responsibility for their work so that I don’t need to spend so long checking it
- A majority of prospective new clients to accept my fee proposals are reasonable. No complaints that I’m too expensive
- To be approached out of the blue and featured in the local media as a top local accountant for specific local business people who say how great I am
- To feel more confident when talking to prospective clients about how I can help them and how much they will need to invest to get my best advice
- To rationalise the conflict between my desire for a simpler tax system and the knowledge that if this ever happened I’d have fewer clients needing my help and advice
- Public funding for accountancy and tax advice for new business start-ups from 2015
- To find a group of like-minded accountants from whom I can learn what works and what doesn’t work in real life as regards building my practice
- To stop getting random connection requests and spam messages on LinkedIn so that I can focus on using it for lead generation as do so many other accountants
- To find and connect with key target business owners on LinkedIn who will then decide to appoint me as their accountants without even bothering to meet with me
- Someone to wave a magic wand and tidy my office without anything being lost or impossible to find afterwards
- To get even more ideal clients through my website even though this doesn’t reference my name, photo or anything about me
- No one to publish any more top 30 lists like this one ;-)
As I suggested earlier, some of these wishes are reasonable, some are fantasies and some are wholly unrealistic. Some also contain a hint as to what you might choose to do differently to feel more successful in 2015.
Which ones resonate with you and what else would you add to the list?
Mark Lee is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and a speaker at conferences and in-house events, helping accountants who want to STAND OUT from the pack. He also facilitates The Inner Circle group for accountants and is chairman of the Tax Advice Network of independent tax specialists who provide support to smaller practices.