“I went forth last night on compulsion, and I learnt a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by it.”
With the ghost of accounting Christmas past a distant memory, Richard Sergeant is visited once again. This time he takes a look at the gifts under the tree and the reasons why accountants should be thankful today.
There was nothing very cheerful in the MTD and Brexit climate for some, and yet there was an air of cheerfulness. For, the people who were shovelling tax returns during the festive self assessment season were jovial and full of glee.
What’s inside the box?
AccountingWEB’s annual what to buy an accountant this Christmas list reveals much about the fractured times in which we live, where supportive technology vies for attention with stimulants (coffee and beer), underlined by both the highly seasonal and strained comments.
For some, the proposed death of the tax return might not come quick enough. Even our favourite self-styled debunker Mark Lee asked to sum up this year’s Christmas spirit suggested “blaming clients for the January tax return rush” (with winking emoji for context).
The big Christmas adornments
But it’s not all downbeat humbug. We still have MTD to look forward to and the official guidance note for Accounting and Audit if there is a no-deal Brexit provides the comfort of a hot toddy, Christmas slippers and Strictly on the telly for any accountant in practice this year.
And who doesn’t like to sit down on Boxing Day to watch that must-see blockbuster movie? But it really doesn’t have to be a feel-good classic to be a great Christmas film, and I would imagine settling down to ICAEW’s slightly paranoid android can you trust a robot? would be a good example if ever commissioned by Netflix. The streaming giant would actually be a good news story for accountants wishing a change in role and climate, as this accounting job description attests.
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And although there is always much talk of technology baubles, the ACCA (in Scotland to be specific, but one presumes in general), is keen to suggest that there is in fact value in being human after all. Of great comfort in these times
But it is a time of year when the profession also thinks of others.
The spirit of giving is alive and well
A notable indicator of the goodwill to all men and women is from the Loan Charge Action Group, who have created a whistleblower portal for those kindly elves at HMRC who might be tempted to divulge their secret Santa lists (in complete confidence of course).
But it can never be underestimated actually how much money for good causes is generated by firms up and down the country. This example of Oswestry based firm Welch and Ellis being a wonderful and typical example of giving, and by no means unique.
Fun and games
And Christmas is also a time for fun and games, especially after a feast for dinner and Her Majesty. It's a chance for the children and grandchildren to dust off the Accounting Monopoly board game, or perhaps the Cogital Group can play a similar version with a list of the remaining accounting practices they'd like to purchase around the board.
And there is plenty more good fun to be had.
Thanking our blessings
Like how Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas present stopped to bless Bob Cratchit's dwelling, we must bless Cornwall with the sprinkling of our torch. In particular, the Cornish Accounting team who took up in full spirit (and perhaps after much spirit) a carpool karaoke rendition of Slade's Merry Christmas Everyone.
Laughing just as heartily, Lambert Chapman LLP sent a Christmas card to their clients in the guise of a festive edition of Only Fools and Horses.
It would be fair to say that others take tradition a little more seriously.
A little panto, a little wine
Of course, it’s all about the pantomime, or as Sage's Cameron John devilishly declared: “I'm running the risk of being offensive here but the ghost of Christmas present is an echo chamber of "industry thought leaders" all talking to each other and not accountants! And for the record, The Muppet Christmas Carol is my all time favourite version of the Dickens classic!”
While Della Hudson of Hudson Business stretches from the sofa for another round of yuletide cheer as only a hard-working accountant can. “I’m an optimist. I’m also a pragmatist: if my glass is less than half full I’ll get off my backside and get another drink.”
But what of times to come?
Reflecting on his lit tree once more, Telfords Accountants' Mark Telford celebrated his recent 2018 Xero Award and sung: “Without question, good cheer! It’s never been easier to start or scale up a practice. Huge opportunities await if you're prepared to change”.
And that dear reader is the cautionary ending to this chapter, as our hero falls asleep unaware that they will be awoken for the final time by the Ghost of Accounting Christmases to Come.
About Richard Sergeant
Specialist insight and business development support for accountants and their vendors. Cloud advocate with a pragmatist eye.