Practice Talk: Caroline Harridence from Max Accountants
Apps and technology play a key role in a typical day for Caroline Harridence, a director at fully digital firm Max Accountants.
For Caroline Harridence, living in Australia for five years opened her eyes to all things cloud accounting. While many return from a stint down under with a cork hat and an Australian inflexion, Harridence came back fully converted to Xero and its app ecosystem.
Before she had even unpacked her bags in Blighty she had accepted a job at Xero-friendly firm MacIntyre Hudson, heading up their outsourcing team in Peterborough.
There, Harridence helped integrate a cloud culture but acknowledges the challenge of converting 84 partners across the firm to go in the same direction.
This prompted a move to her current position at Max Accountants, which she joined earlier this year after one of their partners had left. With the firm's enthusiasm for Xero, Receipt Bank and the wider app ecosystem, the two appear a match made in digital heaven.
“As a practice, we use Xero, Receipt Bank, Soldo cards, you name it" she told AccountingWEB. "It's not like we're advising clients to do it, we do it ourselves. All the partners can go out and talk the talk. We know how it works. We know it works.”
I try to arrive in the office between 7 - 7.30am. I like to get in early but not always coming into the office. Some days I will work remotely or go out and see clients. The drive to work takes around 45 minutes, so I make use of the time by listening to podcasts.
I then log into Xero and use a range of apps such as Receipt Bank, Fathom and Soldo every day. As part of my role, I advise clients on apps to use to help them run their business more efficiently and effectively.
During the first hour of the day, I deal with emails, admin and updates on Linkedin. One of the roles I have taken on here is marketing for the firm, as this is an area I enjoy. This could be writing articles or blogs, attending networking events or meeting new contacts.
For the rest of the morning, I am often doing client-specific work such as reviewing management accounts and writing commentaries, updating cash flow forecasts and working on R&D tax credits.
I will also return phone calls in the morning and I try to have my client meetings in the morning where I can. This will be either at their site, in our offices or via webinar. This could be to meet a prospect, a monthly/quarterly review of their accounts or for specific queries.
I have a client meeting coming up where I've put all their information for the last couple of quarters into Float, so I will produce a quick cashflow forecast for them. For me, it's about using the tools to be a little more proactive, and then going out there to have a meaningful meeting with them.
I do try to go out for a short walk at lunchtime and eat my lunch at my desk. If possible, I will have a quick look at LinkedIn and update posts.
In the afternoons I try to do work such as reviewing statutory accounts and VAT returns but the work will vary depending on what is left from the morning. I will also call/email the apps or have webinars with them in the afternoon.
Commonly, this is about how to address specific areas of work which are client-specific or to get an overview of a new app or an update on their new features. I'm usually researching apps for a specific area (eg cashflow management) so I am always keeping my knowledge up to date.
I try to catch up with the other directors once a week if they are in – either the three of us together or one-to-one.
I will always fit exercise in either before or after work as this is my time and I enjoy it. It is usually spinning, which I do about four or five times a week, but I also do other classes or the gym so there is variety. This will either be a very early session three times a week or one right after work two times per week while the children are in a sport/activity after school.
I go home and be mum… If I am in early then I try to not to leave late so I can collect the children and spend time with them. Although I occasionally log on at night I try to not work in the evening if I can as this is family time and time to get everyone organised for the next day. We have lots of clubs over the course of the week for the children so it is a busy time. I will draft my to-do list for the next day at work though so I am organised.
I try to make sure I have a good night’s sleep and I am an early riser. I have just started to make sure I read a novel before I turn off the lights at night – even if it is just half a page – as this is a good way to switch off.