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.
The Small Change team had the pleasure of speaking with Kylie Fieldhouse at the recent QB Connect event. Fieldhouse is not only the owner of the Essex-based firm KFH Accounting, but she is also an award winner – bagging the New Firm of the year gong at the 2016 Practice Excellence awards.
Away from the keynotes and breakout sessions, Fieldhouse ran the Small Change gauntlet tackling subjects as varied as Making Tax Digital, tap dancing and the bewildering beast known as Blockchain.
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What's the first thing you do when you get in the office? I update my QuickBooks and check my financials. That's the great thing about cloud accounting, it only takes about five minutes to have a quick look and then I start with my to-do list. I always start around 8am because then I've got a nice hour window where I can get a few key things done before I have a stream of calls.
Making Tax Digital or making tax difficult? I attended a talk that HMRC did in Brentwood, and that made it less scary (laughs). I think for us, we haven't got a huge number of clients transitioning first so that's going to be quite helpful. I'm glad they've started with VAT because if they rolled out sole traders first it would have been an absolute nightmare and of course, with VAT businesses are used to submitting things quarterly anyway. So I'm hoping that it shouldn't be too much hassle.
What do you do to escape the world of accounts and tax? I do tap dancing every Tuesday. Plus, I love Portugal and I am learning Portuguese. So I have lessons fortnightly.
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Do you find tap dancing helps focus the mind after a long working day? Yes, massively! It is nice to focus on something that has nothing to do with work, and I think it is important to have that commitment, leave on time and see people from outside accounting. We spend a lot of time on our computers or with our work colleagues so it's nice to have a life as well, otherwise what's the point of doing it? I did miss a few sessions because of self assessment season, so it is nice to get back into it.
Do you check your emails outside office hours? Yes, unfortunately, on the weekends or at 10.30pm. I always feel terrible but I do have a lot of email traffic, so it does help to keep on top of it. I find that replying takes a couple of minutes, otherwise, if you leave it until the next day you lose track and think 'oh, what about that email?' Not great for work-life balance, I know.
You could always reply to emails while tap dancing? I don't take my work to tap dancing! (laughs).
What is going to be your practice’s focus this year? My practice has grown tremendously over the last couple of years and I think a lot of it is down to having nice, consistent marketing from day one - it has made a massive difference. We've got a few new service lines that we'll be rolling out, so we'll be creating some new content marketing and letting our ideal clients know of course. We'll be starting our advisory service soon, looking at rolling out probate towards the end of the year.
Can you remember your first calculator? Yes. Mine was a scientific one. I've got a Casio now, but I still like using a good old calculator - you can't underestimate the whole bang, bang, bang action [of inputting numbers on a calculator] as opposed to on the computers now.
What KPIs do you obsess about? That is a very good question - probably not enough KPIs to be honest with you. But debtors and overpayments is a big one for me. You have to keep an eye on that regularly, like any business. We have a lot of clients, and we have a lot of billing arrangements. So that's one I have a look at.
Do you actually understand blockchain? (Laughs) Of course not! I've just got my head around AI. I have been sent a few links about blockchain but when I read through it I'm still bewildered (laughs).
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.