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.
Mike Hutchinson is the founder of Cornwall-based firm The Peloton. When Hutchinson (or Hutch as he’s known in the firm and to friends) stopped by the AccountingWEB towers to record April’s Accounting Excellence webcast on tech selection (watch on-demand here), the Small Change team jumped at the chance to ask him about his first calculator.
Hutchinson has led quite the career, spanning from newspaper boy to financial historian, and in between, he had time to start a dental consultancy business and train as a neuro-linguistic programming practitioner.
In this week’s Small Change Hutchinson enthuses about the benefits of meditating in the morning and his love of kite surfing.
What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
The alarm goes off about 6 in the morning. Before I get sucked into the work stuff I try to meditate for 12-15 minutes. There is a lot written and said about meditation but there is absolutely no shadow of doubt - in my mind at least - about how it squares you up for the day.
I always think of it like if you had spaghetti bolognese and the spaghetti is everywhere - it's just the straightening of the spaghetti, so you can have clarity about what's happening. You don't feel fitter or stronger, you feel focused. I like it.
Do you check your emails outside office hours?
Yes, sadly - but I've made a change. I'm just about to dump my office email account because we’ve employed an executive assistant. Her title is executive assistant with gladiatorial skills.
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She has access to all my emails and then filters them; she gets rid of the dross and actions the stuff that I need to do, and she puts the stuff I only need to read into separate folders. Then she creates space in my diary to do my actions.
The reason for that it sucks up so much time and it is always the displacement activity - you should be doing something really important and looking at emails is a lot easier so you tend to look at emails. By taking that out I can stay more focused on the important stuff.
What are you and your firm doing to ensure a positive work-life balance?
We provide the best of everything for our team. Our floor is different. We have Herman Miller chairs to sit on, a lovely Italian desk, iMac computers but the most important thing we do is probably the lunch that we do - home cooked lunch everyday for everyone.
We always have fruit available, we always have loads of biscuits, people make cakes and bring them in. We get clients to bring in cakes - someone came in yesterday for meeting and brought the most amazing lemon and raspberry cake that was just phenomenal.
We try to do lots of outside stuff as well, there is a crowd of us that are about to do an ultra-marathon.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
I love anything to do with the water. I've got a number of boats - I've got an old 1935 gentleman's launch that I cruise around on in the summer, and I've got a racing catamaran, also I love kite surfing.
If I can spend my entire time kite surfing, I would spend all my time kite surfing. I utterly, utterly love it.
Beaches are just twenty minutes away. I've been lucky enough to kite all over the world and they're some of the best beaches I've ever kited on.
What’s the biggest change in the profession since you qualified?
Taking your tie off is one. I think it is actually technology as it's changing the profession and the work you do. There has been a lot of talk about what happens with compliance with less emphasis on it. It has to be automated, it has no value.
Making Tax Digital or Making tax difficult?
From my own perspective, I don't think it's going to make it any more difficult. It's an education piece with your client about what's going to happen. It's been in Poland for the last ten years, and we're way behind. We've just got to get up to speed. All the tech guys are ready to go - we're ready to go. So if they brought it in, flat out tomorrow - boom- we're ready to go.
Can you remember your first calculator?
Yes, I can. My dad went to America and brought it back. That would have been 1968/67 and it had a fixed decimal point. So it always had point-zero-zero. Whatever you did that decimal point was always in the same place - it was so annoying.
But my favourite was my Mickey Mouse calculator which I always used to keep in my drawer to impress clients when they had a complicated tax calculation. I'd get a Mickey Mouse calculator out (laughs).
Watch Hutchinson on the AccountingExcellence panel of tech-first award winning accountants here. With Alex Falcon-Hueta and Olly Evans, the panel discuss how they’ve integrated tech into every facet of their firms and processes.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.