How to overcome post-tax return blues

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Making Tax Digital concerns, tax on dividends, flat rate scheme changes; accountants are having a bit of a hard time as of late. It’s not hard to see why some accountants have spiralled into a bit of a professional existential crisis.  

The time of year has only inflamed this mounting feeling of discontent. Accountants have not long since escaped the grips of SA season. Although the constrained schedule and deadline pressures may have lessened, in its absence some accountants are now without structure and impetus. The post-tax return depression sets in.

And the February malaise is only intensified by more clients chasing. Instead of tax returns information, some accountants are now chasing clients over payments.

AccountingWEB member Sarah P is one of the accountants burdened by this crisis. “Would you give it up if you could afford to?” she wrote in an Any Answers post entitled ‘Why do we bother?’ She’s not the only one. Accounting member bigmuggsy, also downtrodden by the raft of changes, admitted being tempted to throw in the towel. And Lionofludesch has found his advice is falling on deaf ears.

Why bother

In times like these, it is important for accountants to remember why they do bother. Steve Pipe, the founder of AVN and author of the world’s most inspiring accountants, believes accountants suffer from this crisis because they don’t understand the value that they bring.

“It is a fact about the profession that we don't understand the difference we can make,” said Pipe. “We don't understand the power at our fingertips to make a really profound difference to our client's businesses.”

We don't understand the power at our fingertips to make a really profound difference to our client's businesses.”

The effort communicating legislative changes beyond your control to clients and dealing with this change feels burdensome. However, joy can be found from this change and pain. According to Pipe the attraction of knowing you’ve made a difference can be greater than the effort.

When accountants can see the rewards of their effort, whether that is emotional or financial rewards, then they will want to overcome those obstacles. But when they don’t receive emotional or financial rewards, says Pipe, that’s when they start thinking: Why do I bother?

Remember the difference you make

But accountants don’t have to feel this way. AccountingWEB contributor Jennifer Adams, for instance, defended the life of the accountant: She can work the hours she chooses, doesn’t have to commute and can sit behind her desk in her jeans and sweatshirt looking out the window across the hills of Dorset: “I am not under the thumb of an employer or manager and sometimes...just sometimes...a client says 'thank you' with a bottle of wine or a lunch with no time restraints,” she wrote on Any Answers.

Don’t worry if the tranquil hills of Dorset are not outside your window. A shift in your mental perspective can help accountants enjoy life more and realise how they make a better world. According to Pipe, accountants should remind themselves of the profound differences that they have made to their clients’ businesses, and, through that, to their communities and society.

Write it down. Capture it and share it with your team and build this library of the positive stories about the difference your firm has made.

“Look back at the clients you've served. Which one did you make the greatest difference to? Write it down. Ask your team members the same question. Pull back out your correspondence file the letter that client sent you when he said: that was absolutely fantastic. Thank you,” explained Pipe.

What you should ask yourself

Through his research, Pipe heard stories of accountants using their number skills to turn businesses around, which in turn, created jobs and pulled family businesses from bankruptcy.  

But don’t stop. Pipe encouraged accountants to continuously ask themselves: “What have we done this week? What have we done this month? What have we done this year that's made a difference to clients? What did they say about it? Write it down. Capture it and share it with your team and build this library of the positive stories about the difference your firm has made.”

It’s only when accountants recognise the difference that they make then they will stand taller and their self-belief will flourish.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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28th Feb 2017 13:21

But I do think the clients attitude has changed. I have been in practice now for 30 years and clients now expect everything yesterday- I think it's more of a immediacy culture and there is often little respect from you as a professional. I have discussed this at some length with a solicitor and she too has seen a big shift in client expectations. Add to this the increased HMRC burdens and deadlines and I would not advise any newly qualified to go the sole practitioner route.

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01st Mar 2017 08:48

Beat the post tax return blues by booking a February holiday every year, a year in advance.

Works a treat and gives you something to look forward to all year.

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01st Mar 2017 11:25

Just blame it all on the weasel that is George Osborne, you know the one who repeatedly told the house he will balance the books, he just kept on moving his expected date further and further into the future, then bailed out after Brexit, what a weasel.

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