Small Change: Olly Evans from Evans & Partners
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.
Fresh from bagging the 2017 Small Practice of the year Practice Excellence award, the director of Evans & Partners Olly Evans stopped by the AccountingWEB towers to record April’s Accounting Excellence webcast (Watch the webcast here and listen to the podcast here).
As you can imagine Evans is a busy man, but in between sharing his firm’s tech tips, he squeezed in a chat with the Small Change team.
Evans trained at Evans & Partners at the end of the 1980’s before going off to work with KPMG and then Ernst & Young. He moved into management consultancy for ten years before rejoining Evans & Partners as partner in 2006.
As he describes in this week’s Small Change, the profession hadn’t changed that much in those intervening years, until cloud accounting arrived and changed all that.
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What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
I get up at about 6 am, check my emails about 6.30 am, deal with all the easy stuff and get myself ready for the day.
Do you check your emails outside office hours?
Yes - all the time. It's not a very healthy habit. I think there is an increasing demand from clients to talk on a more regular basis. They're expecting us to respond faster and it's outside office hours as well.
I don't think it is a great way to be working, it's not very sustainable, so if I can find a way of changing that, I'd love to do it.
What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
I'm quite lucky because I am a qualified accountant but I don't do much technical tax and accounting work, so I kind of escape from that anyway.
Outside the office walls, I spend time thinking about the business and where we're going, what our strategy is and I like to walk in the countryside between Bristol and Bath - I love doing that, it clears my head. It keeps me healthy.
What are you and your firm doing to improve your work-life balance?
I got back into accountancy 12 years or so ago because I was doing project work and it was taking me away from home for a long time. So I exchanged stressful projects for stressful running a business.
But my work-life balance is better as I am closer to home. I don't tend to get into the office until 9.15 am or so and I leave at 5.30 pm, so I get time with the family both ends of the day, which is really important to me.
Although my head is always in the business, which means I'm always feeling a bit stressed and I've got things to do, my work-life balance is better than it's ever been.
Making tax digital or making tax difficult?
I was quite disappointed it was delayed. It was delayed for the right reasons; HMRC wasn't ready, the profession wasn't ready and isn't ready probably, and the business people (our clients) have no idea it's coming.
It's going to push the accountancy profession forwards and help us provide services clients really want: the day-to-day help and support of getting stuff done and getting information about their business.
I think the profession finds it really challenging and lots of people are saying it's not going to happen and they're ignoring it. I can see a lot of people retire early, see firms merging, and we might see the franchises doing quite well because they'll work out how to do this and attract a lot more vendors.
What's been the biggest change in the world of accounting since you qualified?
I qualified over 25 years ago. I left the profession because it was paper-based and backwards looking and we were doing a lot of work clients didn't value. It was number crunching and producing accounts at a cost that the client didn't know what it was going to be.
When I came back 12 years ago it hadn't changed very much. The biggest change was then cloud accounting. That revolutionised the whole profession. It's given us the option to do things differently, to serve clients differently. I think the profession hasn't caught up with it.
We’re increasingly finding the right people with the right skills – more people skills. That stuff has changed, but it needs to change faster.
Do you remember your first calculator?
I think at school I had like everyone a scientific Casio. I didn't know how to use it and probably used it for writing rude words.
Watch Evans on the AccountingExcellence panel of tech-first award winning accountants here. With Alex Falcon-Hueta and Mike Hutchinson, the panel discuss how they’ve integrated tech into every facet of their firms and processes.