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Welcome to Small Change, a weekly catch up with someone from the world of practice where we find out their daily routine and ask them about the biggest trends in the profession.
In this week's edition, Alex Lundy who recently joined tax relief firm Catax as the new operations director talks about work/life balance, business rates and making friends out of clients.
Before Catax, Lundy climbed the ranks in business rates firm CVS, starting in an entry-level position and eventually becoming their client service director.
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What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office? Look at my calendar and remind myself what I've got for the day ahead to make sure there are no surprises.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts? I've got a young family: my partner, Lisa, and two young boys, three and one years old. So weekends I try to spend as much time as I can with them. We always try and plan a day out to make sure that we are not stuck in the house, and then on the other day, I almost always play golf.
What have you done to improve your work-life balance? This move has helped my work-life balance a little bit because the travel is easier. I've gained about an hour a day through travel.
I just try to make sure when I get home in the evening I spend as much time with the kids because I am conscious that they don't get to see me through the week.
What KPIs do you obsess about? It's early days here at Catax but we're looking at the number of reports we've submitted to HMRC on a weekly, monthly basis, the revenue generated from those reports we've submitted, and things like efficiency gains: can we improve particularly parts of a process by 5% or 10%? That's really one of the reasons why I've been brought into Catax from an operational perspective.
Do you check your emails outside office hours? Always. It's been bred into me through my previous role. When you come in the next morning there is nothing worse than opening up your emails and finding something that's happened that you weren't prepared for. So I much prefer knowing about it straight away.
How many unread emails have you got? 24.
What do expect to be the biggest trend this year? In the business rate industry, there is a huge amount of talk about the new process being introduced to actually submitting a claim or appealing against your business rates. A new three-stage process has been introduced. It feels on the face of it to the ratepayer like a tactic to discourage appeals going into the system.
The Ralph memorial question: Can you remember your first calculator? Yeah, I can. It was a scientific calculator. I think it was a Casio but I certainly don't remember the model.
You can make a friend out of a client but you can't make a client out of a friend. I think you can make a friend out of a client. The great thing about the service Catax offers is that it is mutually beneficial in the fact that we can only earn a fee where we are successful. So there is a clear alignment of interest there. If we do a great job for a client and we just have a spark or a relationship with them then I think you can make a friend out of a client and ultimately that can lead to friends referring clients as well.
What have you got for lunch, and does it cost more than £5.50? I am going to go to small independent place in Altrincham called Kaizen. I am going to have a protein box which is chicken, brown rice and a choice of fresh vegetables and no, it doesn't cost less than £5.50.