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.
This week Claire Smith, the new client manager at Merseyside firm Jon Davies Accountants (JDA), runs the Small Change gauntlet.
Smith has 23 years’ experience as a chartered accountant, starting her career at Glasgow’s Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte. Smith is the third client manager at JDA since the firm launched last September, and AccountingWEB spoke to her about the firm’s 150 clients, her love of movies and her cockapoodledoo...
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What's the first thing you do when you get in the office?
I switch on the computer and get a cup of tea to drink while I read my emails. I respond to the ones that are a quick and require immediate responses and make a note of any to-dos that come out of the remaining ones.
What's been the biggest change over the course of your time as a chartered accountant?
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It would have to be technology. When I first used to go out on audit I'd have a large audit key, paper files and in some cases, what they classed loosely as a portable computer - which was basically the size of a small microwave. Trying to carry both of those around was a real challenge. At one point, because where I was parking in Liverpool was a distance from the office, I bought one of those collapsible luggage trolleys so I could stack it and literally pull it to the office.
Making tax digital or Making tax difficult?
I do think it is a natural progression for clients. Many are already using accounting software to manage their business. I think it is going to be a challenging transition for some of them, but ultimately that's where a good accountant will be really valuable to them.
What are you and your firm doing to ensure you have a work-life balance?
I'm fortunate because I live and work locally so I don't have a long commute, which really cuts down on any travelling time. I also work four days a week. While I am in the office things are fairly busy, but most of the time my work-life balance is quite good. That is something that is important both to the employees and also to the firm because you need that to be most effective in the office. You need to have that downtime and time with the family.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
I like to spend family time with my husband and two teenagers. We love watching movies, although as they've got older it's sometimes a bit of a challenge to find something that everybody wants to watch. Living in south Liverpool there are lots of parks and green space. We have a five-year-old cockapoodledoo called Jake, so quite often if the weather is dry and sometimes even if it is very wet, we wrap up and go for a walk in the park.
You mentioned there how you enjoy watching movies. Have you got a favourite fictional accountant from the silver screen?
Erm...The only accountant I can think of was in the Sean Connery/Al Capone movie with Kevin Costner, The Untouchables. But I wouldn't say it was a very positive image of an accountant, either physically or professionally (laughs). However, that's the one that sticks in my mind.
Can you remember your first calculator?
You know I can. It was a scientific one at secondary school. If you presented it to me now I wouldn't have a clue what any of those little buttons at the top did, but I remember at the time it was solar powered, so it felt very high tech.
Do you check your emails outside office hours?
I try not to unless I am waiting for something specifically urgent to arrive. I like to keep work in the office so that when I get home I've got time with my family and they're my focus.
Do you eat at your desk or escape the office for your lunch break?
It depends. Sometimes I'll head out for a walk, but with the weather being so cold and me being in my work clothes, it’s not very appealing in the cold weather. At the moment I am eating more or less at my desk but we're expanding the office so we will have a lunch area which will be nice. We'll be able to chat over our lunchtime break.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.