Paul Miller from Cornish Accounting Solutions joins us for the inaugural episode of Small Change, a weekly conversation with an accountant in practice. Miller talks about why accountants should embrace technology, body boarding and why fish finger sandwiches are essential for marketing.
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Hi Paul, how are you? I'm really good. Business is really good.
What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office? One of the first things I do is plan my day, and try and do some preparation. Like most professionals I will have a certain amount of appointments; some days they'll be more, some days less. But it's the five Ps: proper planning prevents poor performance.
Making Tax Digital or Making Tax Difficult? When the government changed the timelines for Making Tax Digital I felt they gave the professionals on the bus who haven't prepared a second chance.
Digital information, real-time information is really what clients need to do to make accurate and correct financial decisions based on current information. You wouldn’t drive with your eyes closed, why should you make business decisions based on out-of-date information?
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What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts? One of my passions is bodyboarding. We live in Cornwall, one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we are surrounded by coastline and sea. The good thing about bodyboarding is all you are concentrating on is catching that wave. Your mind is completely blank. You're just trying to paddle as fast as you can to make sure you make the most out of it.
What’s the biggest change in the world of accounting since you qualified? I think the technology has changed the world we live. Technology has reduced a lot of the mundane tasks for automation. And therefore, as accountants, we need to reposition ourselves. Whereby we are not undertaking clients work, preparing accounts, tax returns, and VAT, we are actually interpreting the data and making sensible comments and solutions as a result of it.
What KPIs do you obsess about? What are my fees, what is my cash position, what are my leads and what's my prospects/what's coming in? At this time of year, one of the ones we are obsessed about is how many tax returns we have left before 31 January.
Do you check your emails outside office hours? Of course.
How many unread emails have you got? Three.
What’s your favourite cheese? I don't like strong cheese so Philadelphia is my favourite.
What was your worst self assessment season and why? The good thing about the mind is that it tries to convince you that bad wasn't so bad after all.
Have you booked a holiday for as soon as self assessment season is over? Between Christmas and New Year we always close the office for a time of reflexion. What I like to do during this time is sit down and look at the year ahead, what I want to achieve, what my goals are and part of that process would be to have debrief relatively quick after the self-assessment deadline when it is fresh in your mind.
The other thing we always do is start a file that says: things to do in February. Part of the idea of things to do in February is to give some clarity over goals and achievements for the forthcoming year. And yes, I would go away for two-three weeks in February.
Have you got anywhere in mind? I haven't yet. But it's on my mind. Most of my recent holidays have been in the Far East. I've been to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia... I find long-haul flights and holidays are good. It takes you out of your own environment.
The Ralph memorial question: Can you remember your first calculator? Yes, I had a Sinclair ZX, a black one, which was quite big and was quite novel for its time.
What did you eat for lunch, and did it cost more than £5.50? I had a fish finger sandwich. And yes, it cost more than £5. But I was entertaining because I believe, as Chris Frederickson used to say, God made lunches for marketing. So you go out, you meet people, you network, and you talk to people. One of the reasons why we've been successful in getting new work is because we network. Most weeks I have two or three lunches with bank managers and contacts, referrals, IFAs.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.