Similar experience as John Di Mambro
Clients have really dragged their heels this last year. Apart from a few clients who are not on payments on account not wanting to pay the fees until they have to, I think anyone in business generally is having to work much harder to earn their living. Certainly in a lot of cases this year the client's excuses for delays in getting hold of client records have mainly been that they have been so immersed in keeping their business running and keeping their customers happy that everything else has just been shelved until absolutely necessary.
I got off to a bit of a late start myself this season due to being taken poorly in October and things did get pretty squeezed because of the time I needed to recover and attend ongoing medical appointments and the delays in getting client records in.
What I would like to do differently this year is to try and achieve an even spread of the tax return based work from April forwards. I was just about on my knees by the end of January, and still not feeling much better, but having achieved what we did in the circumstances was pretty remarkable.
The jury is still out as to whether I want to go through another tax return season next year, but I think that is just tiredness talking. Hopefully a week off and some quality time with friends and family will soon get me back on top form again. The recession bit pretty deep in 2012 and from all the doom and gloom accounts, it does not seem that 2013 will be much better so I am not complaining that I had a lot of work to do in January, just glad that we have work to do.
Scraping into Yorkshire !!!
I nearly choked on my tea when I read that!
I was born a Yorkshire lass and never did embrace the half hearted attempts by the powers that be in the 1970's to create the now defunct Humberside.
The Humber did a great job of keeping the Yeller Bellies and the Yorkies apart for centuries. The only means of crossing the river was on an old ferry running between Hull Pier and New Holland, and it was always touch and go whether it reached the other side. We now have the wonderful bridge that provides no real economic benefit to either county, and has been described as the bridge to nowhere in particluar, but in the 70's we all watched it's construction with avid interest - not much on the telly in those days. I still have photos of when the concrete sections were dangling from the cranes - awww!. Locals regularly walk over it and back again, run half marathons over it occasionally, have created a nice little park next to it and generally "ooh" and "aah" at the view down the river from it's midpoint on a summers night - just to show willing like. But at the end of the day we always come home to YORKSHIRE.
Hull born, bred and bound. I love Yorkshire and it's people. My other half is not a Yorkshire native and is convinced Hull is where you fall off the end of the Earth.
Nowt wrong wi t'Ull.
S.O.S - Lost Mojo!
Lost - 1 mojo - last seen around 6pm on 31 January. Think it escaped when I opened the door to my office and blinked out into the night. Not seen it since. If anyone finds it please send it back to me - I just can't get on without it!
First Tab I hope you are soon feeling better.
PS Born and bred in Yorkshire and very proud of it!
@ Paul Scoles
Thanks for the conversation. It is good to have a debate on these things.
The dog walking sounds really tempting at the moment, as much as I enjoy the cut and thrust of January, I do confess to feeling a bit work weary at the moment. A long walk might just get my mojo back.
@ Paul Scholes
Thanks for your response, and I can fuly appreciate what you are saying. I can't agree with your sentiments on traditional offices, I think they still have a place. Having said that I agree that the role of the "traditional" accountant has changed and that change was imminent as soon as self assessment came into play in the late 1990's and it has been an ongoing movement since then. However perhaps where you and I see things differently is that I don't always see some of the changes as being positive ones, or even necessary ones. I am not a dinaosaur or a luddite - far from it, but I do think that the push for electronic solutions has had a devastating effect on our society, our high streets and our communities - we seem to have lost sight of the ethic that work equals worth and from that self worth. By sitting at computers and pushing buttons all day the skills that we used to use have disappeared so some find the compliance aspects of our work as you put it "soul destroying". There are always things that you can do to help clients - it is not all just compliance. How many of those clients who prepare their own accounts and prepare their own online submissions will have more than a basic understanding of the complexities of tax and VAT rules. Helping clients with compliance is not just about ticking boxes and filling out forms, it is also about understanding the nuances of their businesses and situations and how they affect their compliance situation.
@ Paul Scholes
I don't find compliance work boring and soul destroying, quite the opposite in fact. I like the challenge of compliance work. Perhaps I may be in the minority, but compliance work is a big part of the client's expectations of us when we discuss the package of services they wish us to provide.
Clients, above all else are human beings, who have their own issues, their own skill sets, abilities and most of all their own agendas. Some are quite happy to do as much as they can and are very pro-active with the accounting side of their business, others are either just so busy working in their business to acquire the knowledge and the skills to understand the processes required to be fully compliant, others just do not have the mindset or the ability for record keeping. I see it as my job to support and assist my clients as much as they want me to with regards to their record keepingand compliance processes, and not to alienate clients because they do not keep a perfect set of records.
I am sad that so many independent practices have either been swallowed up by larger firms or have just disappeared from our towns. Not because I wish to return to the old days - they have gone and we march on with what we have to deal with today, but it is sad from the perspective that once our towns were full of industry, commerce and merchanting, now our High Streets are bare and our communities are suffering badly because of it.
There will always be a need for the generalist practice, but the achilles heel is always the inexorable upward trend of the contractual fixed overheads which seems to blight both large and small practices who employ staff and operate from rented premises.
That has always been the issue for any manpower based service provider, and continues to be so to the extent that smaller practitioners are being forced out of the High Street. When I first came into accountancy some 30 odd years ago there was an area in the town that was populated by accountants and lawyers. Sadly they are all gone now but a few.
I like the fact that my office is right on the market place of a small town, my niche is the area where I am situated, most of my clients are from the locality I serve and because we are local, people do use our services. We are not the cheapest, but we do a lot of hand holding and give good service to our clients. A lot of people are fazed by the myriad of accounting and reporting documents they need to produce and submit, the compliance service we offer is appreciated. However, I cannot say that it is easy, and as for the future - well who knows what is around the corner. Over the years there have been many changes in the accountancy world. Learning to ride the waves is what keeps things from being boring. However in my view the accountancy profession generally is becoming too de-personalised and is moving from being a service to an internet resource or in the case of larger firms a service available only to wealthier clients. Those of us who are old hat in the profession find it hard to drop the service ethic, and I think there are still a lot of people out there who want that little bit extra TLC and approachability from their accountant.
I have a farming client who took out a loan with a very well known bank for a new tractor for his farm, certainly not a cheap peice of machinery. PPI was sold to my client along with the loan - it was very well documented in the paperwork. His PPI claim is what I had in mind in my reply to you. I don't doubt what you are trying to say, but in my clients case the PPI was correctly charged to the business as it was shown as a separate item on the tractor loan documents. The loan documents stated the purpose of the loan was to purchase the tractor. He is a sole trader so whether the bank set it up as a personal loan is another matter indeed.
I have also seen instances where sole trader clients have obtained loans from banks/financial institutions to purchase vans for their businesses and again PPI has been shown on the loan documents so I don't think it is just one particular instance.
I appreciate what you are saying, but of the loan is linked to a business then you need to consider whether the interest originally paid was claimed in earlier years returns and whether a credit adjustment should be made in the accounts in the year of repayment. One scenario I have seen is the refund of the original loan interest, a compensation payment, plus interest taxed at source on the amount repayable due to the bank not meeting the settlement date, there are lots of things going on in PPI claims so each scenario needs consideration.