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.
Speaking from the practice trenches this week is Lisa Newton from Boogles bookkeeping services. Newton graduated in 2003 with a degree in accountancy with marketing and studied her masters in investment management.
After studying, she saw a gap in the market to become a bookkeeper. When she is not coaching or writing, Newton manages a team of 10 part-time workers.
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Hi Lisa, first question: what's the first thing you do when you get in the office? Every day is different. If I am working from home, the first thing I do is probably put on YouTube and then I put on conspiracy theories (laughs!), and that will be running in the background.
After I’ve checked my emails, I'll open my spreadsheet because I like nothing more than a spreadsheet. It's got my days from morning until midnight planned for the next ten weeks - I am a bit of a planner!
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Making tax digital or making tax difficult? I can see HMRC wanting to move everything online, and it's moving in that direction. It's good that HMRC has put the timetable back because a lot of people weren't ready.
What does the future look like for bookkeepers? I think a lot of bookkeeping could become automated. Where I am finding my little niche is in setting up systems. I was with a GP practice yesterday. They're moving from IRIS to Xero, and I was helping install their systems. For me, bookkeepers can carve out a niche by helping people onto a system and looking it over with them.
So for bookkeepers to thrive in the future they have to diversify their services? I think you should always be adding more services. Multiple streams of income are important, as a normal bookkeeper will sell their time for money and never get anywhere because at the end of it all they can't sell their job.
What are you doing to improve the work-life balance for you and your team? My strategy is that at the beginning of the year I always think where I want to travel, and what I want to do. I then book in my holidays and everything else falls in around that.
Next month I am going to Jamaica for ten days, then Columbia for two weeks and then for my birthday (because I never have my birthday in the UK), I am going to Thailand to volunteer and teach English for two weeks. So I've never built anything around me, Lisa, having to be there.
What do you do to escape the world of accounts and tax? I'm not in it full-time. It's interesting but it's not my life. Even my degree was a hybrid; I majored in accounting but I did it with marketing, so there's a part of me that likes to wear my marketing hat.
Last night I was at the launch of the Afro hair and beauty association at the Jamaica High Commission because I sell hair products online. I'm also a treasurer for a housing association called Yellow Brick Road. We're all about getting sustainable housing sorted out.
Can you remember your first calculator? Yes, my dad gave me one. I remember having a scientific one for GCSE maths, and then buying one of those calculators with the receipt when I got my first clients… I was so excited I bought one from Viking because I wanted to get one (laughs).
Do you check your emails outside office hours? Yes, I've got an iPhone so everything comes through that.
How many unread emails have you got? My inbox is actually quite organised, so there is ten in the inbox.
What have you got for lunch today and does it cost less than £5.50? I've actually just put a jacket potato in the oven. So I'll be having that with a bit of cheese and roasted beetroot.
Lisa Newton's business is profiled in the latest Pandle industry insight.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.