Practice Talk: Chris Barrington from Harold Sharp

Chris Berrington
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Joining Practice Talk this week is Chris Barrington, who is the newly appointed tax planning partner at Manchester-based Harold Sharp and a member of Lifecycle. 

Barrington recently joined Harold Sharp after working 17 years at his previous firm. He decided to leave because he hankered for a firm that was a little more progressive and he was looking for a new challenge. 

His decision to start anew coincides with his children flexing their independent muscles, which led to Barrington stepping down from eight busy years coaching junior football at his youngest’s team Sale United. 

Though he admits it was a wrench leaving the dugout for the last time, he now had the time and motivation to inject his 30 years of experience in the profession and tax advice into growing a business. 

Now working three minutes’ drive from home, Barrington has both the motivation and the time to give this business development the full effort and attention it deserves. 

“I've found it easy rolling in here at 6.40am every morning and going home at 6.10pm in the evening and not noticing it because what I am doing is building a platform and relationships, reading what I want to read, meet who I want to meet, and so on. That's been really enjoyable.”

What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?

I do a little bit of tidying up admin when I get in. In the first half an hour I clear down any loose straggling emails that might have come in and I tidy up my inbox, making sure I respond to everybody and in good time, which is a constant challenge. The inbox is everybody's burden. 

I might file a few papers and update my workbook and do a few general admin tasks in the first 40mins. If I haven't done my timesheet the previous day because I had been in an appointment, I will make sure it is done in the first 45 minutes. I don't like having to do timesheets on a Friday night or even worse on a Monday morning.

How do you plan out your day?

I produce a hopeful worklist for the day. I never manage to achieve everything I might have scribbled down for that day. That would help me bring forward things and prioritise things. By 7.30am I feel like I am in control of the day and I know what I am endeavouring to do. In the course of the day, I lose a bit of that control as events tend to overtake you. People start phoning and visiting.  

From 7.30am to 8.30am, I read news that are relevant to our profession and clients. It keeps me up-to-date with the key things which might feature in conversations I might have with clients during that day. I am expecting to do a weekly missive to clients and contacts in September so as I am reading the daily tax news, I am keeping a log of the news items that I might go back to and say a couple of lines on. 

How much of your day is spent meeting clients?

What I have been trying to do is to resist appointments from 8.30am to the afternoon. It might be a naive and forlorn prospect. I don't expect to be successful in that in all ways but I am trying to book appointments 2pm-4pm whether it's onsite or off and leave as much of my best thinking hours from 8.30am to 2pm. It's lovely meeting people and talking. It is much easier talking than it is executing the work. If it runs through to 6pm then that is no problem at all.  

Do you eat your lunch at your desk or do you make sure you escape the office?

I walk probably 100 yards to the local sandwich shop. I'm far too impatient so I will always buy one of the prepared sandwiches. I would then have 45mins of downtime and have a chat with colleagues and plug into social media and look at the news. Where I was based for the last 17 years there was nowhere to go so I've got used to not going anywhere at lunchtime and it’s become a bit of a habit. 

What time do you usually finish the day?

We use a car park where the barriers come up at 6.30pm. I did get locked in once and I never want to repeat that experience. So I know at 6pm I need to be tidying and getting in my car to be going. But what I am saying to my market place -- and I mean it -- is that I am open for business 24/7. It might seem glib and nobody is calling me in the middle of the night but I am happy to be available.

What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?

After 12 months of enjoying the freedom from the football management, which was a proper investment in time and responsibility, it has been nice to be able to go home and watch the television but I now need to replace that recreational time with something new. 

I don't play golf but I have lived within 250 yards away from a golf club for 20 years, so I might fancy playing after pitch and putting many decades ago. I'd quite like to do English Literature and read some books I need to read and discuss them with people who are interested. And I still hanker for the courage to try my hand at amateur dramatics which is something my wife has done all her life. Because she's done it her whole life I am nervous at being hopeless.

Chris is a member of Lifecycle, the accountancy network provided by Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group.

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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