Small Change: Michele Coe-Baxter from Duncan & Toplis
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.
Michele Coe-Baxter started at Duncan & Toplis as a trainee. Some 22 years later she has now been promoted to director after having been associate director at the Skegness, Spalding and Boston-based firm. Duncan & Toplis has 11 offices across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
Coe-Baxter is hoping to use her new position to build on the firm’s commitment to clients. “I’ve always loved seeing my clients succeed and knowing that I’ve played a part in supporting them,” she told AccountingWEB.
In this week’s Small Change, Coe-Baxter discusses checking emails outside office hours, her first calculator and how the profession has changed over the last two decades.
What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
I work part-time, so I may not have been in the day before. I check what's been happening with the team and what's in my post tray.
Do you check your emails outside office hours?
(Laughs) Constantly. I'm always on my emails on my phone. I think it's because I am part-time, I like to know what's happening. I want to make sure the clients get the service, rather than waiting around for me to be back in the office - I don't think that is necessarily fair. So if I can deal with it outside of the office, I will do. I try and do a big batch of emails at certain points of the day.
What's been the biggest change in the profession since you qualified?
When I first started in practice we didn't have a computer, it was pen and paper. Now everything is electronic. Obviously, we didn't have emails. But also we are no longer just compliance, as clients want extra services like business advice.
How different is being a trainee now compared to when you started?
I think we expect trainees to progress a lot quicker than when I was training. We expect a lot more of them very quickly (in terms of picking up the basics). I think the market has changed: because the industry is competitive we have to be on top of our game.
How do you think your role as an accountant will change in the next five-to-ten years’ time?
Because of the way technology is improving all the time and clients think they can buy an accounting package and it will do everything for them and they don't need an accountant, it is more important that we're giving the client the extra value-added work and the advice, as opposed to “here is the tax return, just sign here”.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
We have a house in France in a very rural area, so it is similar to where we are in the UK. We've been renovating that for years. But the plan is not to move there, it's too quiet for me.
Ralph memorial question: Can you remember your first calculator?
I do. It was a tiny Casio calculator that I got at junior school and I still have it. That's so bad, isn't it?! (laughs) I've got a really basic calculator now, not a scientific one. I don't need it, I use Excel.
In this period of cloud accounting, do you think spreadsheets still have a place in the profession?
I do. I do. We have electronic files for audits but we still use Excel within those programmes.
What have you got for lunch today and does it cost less than £5.50?
We are having a meeting and I got a feeling it will be an egg salad sandwich because that is what our secretary always organises for me.