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Practice Tips - PDF it

15th Jul 2005
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If you’re like me you normally supply your clients with at least one copy of their tax return in addition to the two you need signed for your records and the Inland Revenue. And you supply them with two or three sets of accounts on top of those needed for filing purposes as well.

Then, almost invariably, a few months later, they ask for more copies (especially of the accounts) because they need them for the bank, a lease or something else and have lost the originals.

I admit I find this whole process time consuming and tedious. So this year I have changed my policy on supply of copy documents having done a little prior research. First of all I asked some clients if they really wanted fancy bound covers on things. The feedback was clear an unambiguous. They don’t. The reason is simple; it makes it harder to file things and therefore increases the chance of losing them.

Then I asked the sample if they would mind having the copy documents electronically so they could print as many as they wanted as often as they wanted. No one objected, and nor has anyone I’ve since sent them to since.

Now, of course there’s a problem sending clients master documents they might amend. And there’s also a problem sending documents produced by tax and accounts production programs which the client does not have. But there is a simple answer. Make a PDF file from them and send that to the client. Just about everyone has Acrobat Reader now – and if they haven’t it is easy to tell them how to get it. The result is a quick and effective supply of documents.

Now, I know I have the advantage that I only deal with clients who will use email communication so I can send these copy documents electronically, but even if I used snail mail I would still send a CD with them on and save more in postage and hassle than the supply of paper copies would cause.

Which just means you need some PDF creation software. I use PDF Factory available from and think it’s stunningly good value for money (especially if you buy FinePrint too, which I recommend). But if you want a free PDR creator one is available from and I’m told by those who use it that it does a good job.

As Practitioner’s Diary has recently discussed, the choice now is between CDs and paper, and electronic documents are winning, and impress clients. I suggest you give it a go.

Richard Murphy
AccountingWEB contributing editor Richard Murphy is a sole practitioner chartered accountant but was previously senior partner of a firm for 11 years. He has also been chairman, chief executive or finance director of 10 SMEs. A collection of previous articles by Richard on practice management themes is available in Practice Management Zone



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