Practice Talk: Katie Bladen from BDHC chartered accountants

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Each week, AccountingWEB’s Practice Talk series catches up with a different accountant in practice. This week, we speak with Katie Bladen (she's standing to the right in the picture above) who was recently promoted to practice director at Cheptow-based firm BDHC chartered accountants.

Some people spend their whole life never really knowing what they want to do but Katie Bladen was set on accountancy when she was just 15.

Her recent ascension to practice director started back when she undertook a week’s work experience at the Chepstow-based firm. It was work experience that never really ended. She went back and forth between school and university, doing more work experience during the summer holidays, before starting full time once graduated (in accountancy, of course).

Through exams and training, Bladen stayed with BDHC and in April this year she was promoted to director. The workplace surroundings may remain familiar but her new role has brought some changes, mainly in the form of being more aware of cash flow and time.

“As an employee if you don't get it done in the time it's not really your head on the chopping block, so to speak,” said Bladen. “It's different when it is your responsibility.”

When Bladen stopped by AccountingWEB towers to record the latest No Accounting for Taste podcast (click play below to listen) she also took time out of her new busy schedule to answer questions on her daily routine and of course her first calculator. 

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

I tend to check the bank and the emails but that's before I've got into the office. I do that in the morning when I wake up, so I know what's going in. That means when I get into work I know if I have any emails - I always used to switch the emails on in the mornings and found that I get distracted. So I tried to stop doing that recently so I can get on and do some work before I do anything else.

Has this routine changed since becoming a director?

That's always been the way. I've got work emails on my phone so I've always checked that before I get in. I find that I know what to expect. Even when I am on holiday I tend to check them before I go back into the office to see what's happened, so I've got no surprises like hundreds and hundreds of emails.

A common issue we've seen in this series is practitioners becoming a slave to their email outside the traditional office work hours. With a young family too, do you find this aspect of modern accounting life difficult?

My son is only two and a half so he's not aware of me sat on the sofa checking things but I try and not do it on the weekends if we are out and about. It's difficult though when your smartphone is your office phone. You hear a ping and you're not sure what it is. But I think checking emails outside traditional hours is just the nature of the beast.

What's been the biggest change you've seen in the profession since you qualified?

When I started we got carrier bags of records. If you had a written out cash book, that was quite a good set of records to work from. But you don't see that so much anymore - it's online and instant. It's a lot easier to get jobs in quicker.

How cloud is your firm?

I'd say about 30%. We use cloud for our accounting records. We use Xero and its the one we are pushing because it's what we know and the one we like.

We haven't used data capture tools. We're aware of them but we've been using AutoRec to scan in but not necessarily the automatic ones. We still got a long way to go.

What steps have your firm taken to be MTD-ready?

Initially, we were doing it on an ad-hoc basis, looking at the VAT clients and moving them across. A couple of months ago we sat down and went through our client-base. We've now got a list and timings when we need to move clients across. We've got a plan now.

What do you do to escape the world of tax and accounts?

I'm going to sound really old now but I do crocheting and knitting for the Octopus for a Preemie cause. That's my relaxing in the evening. But it's still counting stitches, so it's still numbers.

Can you remember your first calculator?

The first one I remember is a scientific Casio, but it died quite a while ago. I still use a scientific calculator because I can't use a normal calculator. It sounds funny, but I find it really awkward. Everybody else has got one of those desktop ones and I can't work it out.  

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

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