Small Change: Psyche Coderre from Death and Taxes

Psyche Coderre
Psyche Coderre, Death and Taxes
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Each week, AccountingWEB’s Small Change series catches up with a different accountant in practice. This week, we speak with Psyche Coderre about her firm, Death and Taxes.

Psyche Coderre and her band, the Memepunks, were playing at a festival. They had tried for the past few years and they'd finally bagged a slot.

As the band was waiting for their sound check, Coderre received a Facebook message. She checked her phone, assuming it was related to the gig. Not quite – it was somebody wanting to know their tax code.

It was one of those moments that could take the wind out of the sails of being a rock star. But it’s just an example of the duality Coderre treads as a goth who offers accounting services.

“I enjoy the contrast between the stereotype and my actual self as someone who wears lots of black and has purple hair and plays in a band as being the last person you'd expect to be an accountant,” she told AccountingWEB.

Coderre is the owner of Death and Taxes, an accounting firm that has a range of clients but for obvious reasons it also attracts clients from the alternative scene. She talks more about her practice in this week’s installment of Small Change.

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What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?

I work from home. So generally, I get up, make coffee, make breakfast and I go through my emails and social media as I am waking up. I start by clearing my emails and then I start on the actual work: the VAT returns, the quarterly accounts, the year-end accounts.

Quite often, I will have a meeting with a client. Not every day, but a few days per week I will get on my bicycle and meet the client locally. Sometimes I will do that during the day or sometimes there are meetings in the evening.

It’s a common issue that keeps cropping up on Small Change: do you check your emails outside office hours?

Since I work at home I don't really have office hours. Every hour is my office hours, and every hour might not be my office hours. I'm just as likely to be doing my errands on a Wednesday at 1pm as I am to be in the office.

It's not so much the emails that I find intrusive but when clients - especially younger clients who use their phone for everything and they don't have a mental separation between a text, a Facebook message and an email - contact me via text or a Facebook message. I find that intrusive.

What steps are you taking to maintain some semblance of work-life balance?

One thing I did was to realise that I got to the maximum number of clients that I could comfortably have whilst still having a work-life balance. I am now referring additional clients on to a colleague, which has helped instead of feeling I have to say yes, I have to take them on, I have to help them.

I am not the only accountant in the world and they can find another one. If I have too much work on, I'm not going to do a good job and that's not good for them or for me. 

So, what do you do then to escape the world of tax and accounts?

I play keyboards in a band. My band is called the Memepunks. We play covers and mashups.

If I meet someone at a gig with a lot of make-up on or if I am at some sort of festival, it's always amusing to tell people "I'm an accountant". They look at me funny because they weren't expecting it.

Since you qualified what's been the biggest change you've seen in the profession?

The biggest change is the change that hasn't quite happened yet which is Making Tax Digital. Because I have quite a few clients who are in the creative industry - clothing designers or makeup artists or musicians - and they don't have much of an income and they're so used to once a year bringing in their receipts and their bank statements. Some of them even bring paper bank statements to me.

So far, we've been able to continue on in that 20th-century style of preparing accounts. But with MTD on the horizon, they're not going to have any choice but to modernise; to start using software, to start using apps and do things online. I think that's going to be the biggest change.

Enough about this modern tech, do you remember your first calculator?

I do remember turning it over and writing rude words but no, I'm afraid I don't have a sentimental attachment.

I do have one of these numeric printing calculators where you type and there's roll of paper it types the numbers on. I only purchased that so I could dress for Halloween one year as my logo, which is the grim reaper holding a calculator.

Speaking of which, you have a very unique brand and logo. How has this helped you win more clients?

My brand is more distinctive and memorable than what you typically see. I had that branding early on. I was struggling along without a brand and then I found a logo and more interesting branding and that made a difference.

(Image source: Death and Taxes)
(Image source: Death and Taxes)

But most of my business has come from personal referrals. Obviously, I think if you're one of the thousands of accountants who aren't as unusual as I am, you're not necessarily doomed.

Your clients will recommend you to other people who mention that they are looking for an accountant and then, your logo can be as boring as you want, as long as you have a personal recommendation.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.