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The rise of the nomadic accountant

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With remote working becoming increasingly common, some in the accounting community have begun setting their sights further afield than their home office.

13th Jun 2022
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Unshackled from the constraints of office life and the daily commute, many have found the remote working revolution to be beneficial. And with the shake-up of the 9 to 5 not looking like slowing down any time soon, it seems that this new work dynamic is here to stay.

While some have relished the opportunity to change to a remote or hybridised work schedule, others are beginning to push the boundaries of just how remote they can truly be. 

In a recent Any Answers post, regular user TaxTeddy announced that they had “a mind to spend several months each year living and working outside the UK,” and asked the community about their own nomadic experiences.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the comments revolved around the intricacies of tax and dealing with HMRC while living abroad. TaxTeddy admitted that their worry lies in “whether the HMRC system can differentiate between a UK and non-UK ISP address – and whether it cares.”

Luckily, the community was on hand to offer their thoughts, with users who have taken the plunge giving useful advice.

Smooth operators

One theme that users reiterated was their recommendation to invest in cloud and remote computing in order to promote a smooth transition.

“We have a villa in Spain and have set up two computers with twin screens that link directly with our three computers and server in the UK via TeamViewer,” user 4b4 wrote, adding that “the upside is that no data is held on the computers in Spain.”

In an older post on the same subject, users were also keen to remind the AWEB user FirstTab of how such changes can affect both staff and clients and highlighted the importance of ensuring operations ran smoothly. Veteran poster ireallyshouldknowthisbut said: “I’d be more worried about the staff and how you are going to keep them close, so as not to end up in their own little bubbles.”

Taking the plunge

As an expert on all things digitally nomadic, Alex Falcon Huerta of Soaring Falcon knows all about travelling abroad while at work. With freedom of movement at the heart of her business plan when she set up shop back in 2015, Falcon Huerta was more than prepared to take on the challenge in order to escape the drudgery of the 9 to 5.

“Being sat at a desk, you’re on a production line. Things come in on the left, you process it and then it sits on the right,” Falcon Huerta said. “My feeling back then was: ‘Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like – am I stuck now?’ And that’s when I made the decision that there must be more to it.”

Changing the mindset

While Falcon Huerta was adamant that travel would be a central part of her working life, she admitted that there was a steep learning curve at the start. “It was definitely a bit of a mindset change,” she said. “I had to ask myself: ‘How is this going to actually work? When I leave the country, how is my business going to run when I’m away?’”

Fears over team efficiency were realised during Falcon Huerta’s first trips away, with staff members finding the transition difficult to begin with. “I had a couple of employees in the UK who were panicking about me leaving. I think it was the people that made it the most difficult in the beginning,” Falcon Huerta said, adding that she found herself flying back for relatively minor issues, such as payroll.

However, through an investment in new tech and a change of outlook, Falcon Huerta was able to find the perfect groove in which to operate while abroad. “I made sure that I had every bit of software so that I didn’t need to be in an office. Tools like Dialpad for example, to talk to my team and HMRC at any time,” she said. “I also did a full migration from Microsoft to Google so that I could avoid the constant updates and downtime.

“It was the culmination of these changes that allowed me to think: ‘Okay, everything’s going to be fine; there isn’t anything that I can’t do abroad.’ So then it allowed me to strengthen up my processes and build systems that were strong enough that it all works seamlessly.”

A positive move

While the beginning was undoubtedly bumpy, Falcon Huerta said that it’s been one of the best decisions she has made when it came to her overall wellbeing. “I love the life I’ve created,” she said. “This change has had a massive impact on my life. I want to get to my deathbed and know that I’ve done everything I wanted to do.”

The move has also allowed her to broaden her horizons, which in turn, has helped her to better understand and connect with her clients. “I love going to different countries to network and to meet amazing, worldly people who I can learn a lot from,” Falcon Huerta said. “By going out and building that network, I can understand and learn what other people are doing on the global stage. That valuable knowledge can only help me to give better advice to my clients.”

Finally, Falcon Huerta was keen to point out that if living a nomadic lifestyle is something that interests you, taking the plunge will be a life-changing experience. “My advice is to just do it! You’ll never look back and regret it, trust me. Don’t just say it – take action on your dreams.”

Replies (8)

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By Hugo Fair
13th Jun 2022 11:33

Before this turned into a paean to Alex Falcon Huerta, there's a comment that users reiterated their recommendation to invest in cloud and remote computing in order to promote a smooth transition.

Not consistently true. Indeed the very next quote demonstrates how Cloud can be irrelevant ...
“We have a villa in Spain and have set up two computers with twin screens that link directly with our three computers and server in the UK via TeamViewer”!

Thanks (2)
FT
By FirstTab
13th Jun 2022 12:01

Please have the courtesy of mentioning my AW name, rather than "original poster".

Is there some ruling by the Editorial team, not to mention my name?

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Replying to FirstTab:
me
By Will Cole
13th Jun 2022 15:46

Your name has now been added. Sorry for the accidental omission.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
13th Jun 2022 13:34

How does Money Laundering Registration work for an Accounting Service Provider within the UK tax market if the person/entity is say not UK resident?

I struggle to see how say HMRC could regulate such a person/entity and have no idea how the various professional bodies would sit vis a vis their members in such a circumstance?

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Replying to DJKL:
Tornado
By Tornado
13th Jun 2022 16:17

" struggle to see how say HMRC could regulate such a person/entity and have no idea how the various professional bodies would sit vis a vis their members in such a circumstance?"

Indeed, would such a person become a high risk themselves for AML purposes in a number of counties at the same time.

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Profile
By indomitable
14th Jun 2022 12:16

I have for many years until the last few years spent 5 to 6 months a year outside the UK in a property I own in Asia.

I tried to build my practise this way. I had a great lifestyle but my advice to anyone trying to build a practice is don't do it, you need to be here in the UK. That is why I don't do this anymore as I wish to build the practice

Once it's built and you have reached the level that you want to reach maybe then yes you may be able to manage it from overseas, but ONLY if you have a fantastic management team in the UK.

It is very difficult for obvious practical reasons to manage a UK business from outside the country

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Replying to indomitable:
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By whyowhy
14th Jun 2022 20:21

I agree. I love the idea of being remote in the sun but all of my clients except one have all come from relationships of some sort, social, members of a sports clubs I belong to Etc. If I wasn’t here I’m not sure how I’d grow the business. I’ve not been that successful with on line marketing etc. I’m sure it’s possible to build an accounting business this way but in 15 years I’ve only ever got two clients from my website.

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By Silver Birch Accts
14th Jun 2022 12:23

Meanwhile, in the real world.........

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