Small Change: Simon Kallu from SRK Accounting
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.
You never know who you will bump into at Accountex. When the Small Change team attended the annual accounting extravaganza, we had the pleasure of catching up with an Accounting Excellence alumnus.
In 2016 Simon Kallu’s firm SRK Accounting picked up the small firm of the year award. What impressed the judges about SRK’s entry was the firm’s continuous improvement. Speaking with Kallu, it is clear where this growth and development ethic comes from.
Kallu is a driven guy. He packs more in his Dwayne Johnson-like morning routine than many do in their whole day. From meditation to yoga, it’s obvious why Kallu doesn’t have the time to be a slave to his emails outside office hours.
As well as his firm’s daily huddles and WeWork lunch and learn workshops, Kallu’s firm specialises in strategic advice, which is why he took to the podium at the Futrli’s Accountex theatre to discuss advisory services.
But while Kallu’s morning routine and the crossfit prowess is impressive, what every keen Small Change watcher wants to know is whether he can remember his first calculator. Find out below.
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What's the first thing you do when you start your working day?
I get up, make coffee, hydrate and then I go through a morning ritual: I meditate, I read affirmations, I journal, I visualise what goals I want to achieve, I have yoga exercise routine, and I read for ten minutes. I wake up at 4.30 am and do this routine until 5.30 am and then I am ready to go.
Some people think I am mad, but that one hour means I am so much more productive for the rest of the day - it is unbelievable.
Do you check your emails outside office hours?
I don't. I recently went on holiday for a week with the family and didn't touch my emails once. When I am in office hours I only check emails twice a day. So I batch check them, make sure I get something done productively before I even look at my emails, so I don't look at them until midday. That's been a massive productivity hack for me.
What should practitioners do if they want to break the email habit?
I think you should pull the plaster off and see that there is not much damage. If you're really worried, put in an email management tool like Moneypenny. It is an awesome service. You can use something like Moneypenny or another virtual PA to respond to all your clients straight away, answer simple queries and let them know that you're out of the office, but you'll get back to them by this time.
It's that but it then gives your clients the expectation that they'll always get a quick response. Whereas what we've bred in our firm is the culture that clients know that they'll get a same day response or they can call us; otherwise, they won't get an instant email response and they shouldn't expect one.
What else is your firm doing to ensure a good work life balance?
We constantly track how many hours people are doing because we don't want people to work more than 35-40 hours a week. We offer flexible working when the person has qualified. So if they're ACA or ACCA qualified, they can choose to work from home or work from wherever. If they've got an internet connection and its stable, we offer that.
We like to call it work-life integration, so we're talking to each other Sunday morning because we've had an idea and we're excited - that's cool because everyone is so integrated in the business. As opposed to a work-life balance where you switch on for work and you just want to switch off for home.
So, what do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?
Six months ago I started doing crossfit. It's something that's physically hard enough that you can't think of anything else other than the exercise, so it's a form of mediation.
And I have a young family, I have two boys, three and a two-year-old, so all of my time outside of work is spent with those guys.
What's the biggest change in the world of accounting since you qualified?
I think the biggest change is the one we're still in, and that's the move to cloud accounting. Although in my bubble, I think everyone is in the cloud, actually only 10-15% of businesses are, so we still are within a massive revolution.
The next revolution will be AI and machine learning taking over some of the compliance which will remove some of our revenue. So you'll see accountants moving into advisers.
Making Tax Digital or Making tax difficult?
I mean for accountants it's amazing. It's a massive revenue generator of opportunity. It shouldn't be looked at as a headache, because the flipside is that it is a massive opportunity to help people move into the cloud, so it is going to generate revenue for accounting firms.
Can you remember your first calculator?
It was a Casio. I don't remember the model. FC930 - I am making this up now (laughs). It was a Casio-something. That was when I was 12 but I don't have a calculator now. So every time I go on my Mac to Finder to use the calculator, I think I should really buy a calculator.