Welcome to Small Change, a weekly catch-up with an accountant in practice to find out their daily routine and ask them about the biggest trends in the profession.
According to Carl Reader’s Linkedin job title, “he owns some businesses, written some books and likes to talk. A lot”. That aspect of Reader's description qualified him for another role in his varied CV: an AccountingWEB Small Change victim.
Reader’s entry into the profession started after he briefly flirted with a hairdressing apprenticeship before ultimately deciding to complete his GCSEs to train in an accountancy practice.
Soon after Reader moved to Dennis & Turnbull, a firm where he would become a partner in 2010 and then buy-out and rechristen as D&T in 2014.
From there Reader’s career path has veered from TaxGo (the online accounting software he launched with Accounting Excellence alumni Aynsley Damery) to newspaper columnist and penning business book The Startup Coach.
So how does he find the time to fit all of this into 24 hours? As he says in this week’s Small Change: “I am the worst possible person for working 9-5.”
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What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
I actually don't base myself in the office. I tend to work from home and that's because I am too disruptive in the office. I've not even got a chair in the office, let alone an office anymore.
Because of the stuff I do, I tend to be based in London rather than our Swindon offices. There was no point in me taking a seat that could be used for a billable staff member, and I'd probably knock productivity completely out of the way.
The first thing I do day-to-day is to spend time with the family.
Making tax digital or making tax difficult?
It's absolutely needed. There will be difficulties. I know that the profession, in general, thinks HMRC is going to mess it up. But you need to start somewhere. There needs to be some 'ready, fire, aim' on this.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
I'm really fortunate that I would choose to do what I do. So it all blends into one. I am the worst possible person for working 9-5 or having any set regime, as you can imagine. So I let life happen. I go to football with my son, mess around on the PlayStation.
Do you check your emails outside office hours?
No, I can't. I would openly admit that historically I was obsessive over them and if I didn't have a notification I would convince myself that I felt the blackberry buzz. So I'd go in and check.
But they're now held away from me to not just improve my productivity but to also allow me more free space. But I do incessantly check my social media and try and engage with as many people as possible. Once one thing has gone, another thing has come in.
What's the biggest change in the profession since you qualified?
Cloud accounting. We took it on in 2002 so it feels like old hat to us, but cloud accounting is a big thing sweeping across the wider profession.
I don't think it's being used properly. Traditional accountants are using it as online software rather than truly becoming an online accountant. But that's a big change in the right trajectory.
Also, I think that the move away from time billing to the acceptance of value-based billing, and the acceptance of fixed fees have been a really big change in the commercials of the business.
The other change is the way team members are trained. I was trained with a big pad of paper and a pencil doing extended trial balances. You speak to nine out of 10 trainees and they wouldn't have a clue what an extended trial balance is nowadays. That's really positive, you don't need to know.
Do you remember your first calculator?
My first work calculator was actually one of those adding machines that had a little receipt roll. We had one computer between 10 of us. So we had to use these things. But my first personal calculator was an old Casio watch.
Do you actually understand blockchain?
So. I've written articles on it. I've got a very high-level understanding that has helped me write articles for the Daily Star but I don't know much beyond my articles (laughs).
Carl Reader stopped by the AccountingWEB towers last month to join the No Accounting for Taste podcast. You can listen below where Reader and AccountingWEB’s editorial team chew over what the ubiquitous term ‘advisory services’ means for accounting practices.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.