Member Since: 20th Feb 2007
23rd Jan 2015
The bells tolls
Well this will be my last ever January assessment season. Next year I hope to be enjoying the sunshine in New Zealand or Australia in January and my successors will be trying to transition from my "well we'll give it a go" approach which leads to a lot of midnight oil being burned to a world of "tough, we'd rather file our nails than do stuff that comes in late". The transition may happen slowly.
But in terms of therapy, I do like to wall off one day each weekend and one weekday evening when I get away and do nothing work-related. That's enough for me. And I do thrive on the buzz of doing the whole thing even if it is a little like Sisyphus pushing the stone up the hill. I enjoy being in the office late at night with music so loud you can hear it in the street outside and another three returns rolling off the printers (pdfs just don't feel the same).
Not convinced about the eating healthily - my son-in-law bought me a 3Kg bag of Jelly Babies for Christmas which was proved a boon in keeping going and then producing a sugar dip in order to get to sleep. But I've got the rest of my life to live healthily. Even so, roll on next Saturday.
3rd Dec 2013
"The hard work is not over yet". Oh good grief. As a father of two daughters now in their twenties I'm sure I echo a number of parents smirking out there. Parenting does not get easier simply because the kids are bigger. What happens is that the problems become fewer and less frequent, but a lot more intractable. Not to belittle the exhaustion of younger days but tired and unco-operative 8 year olds, stroppy 13 year olds and angst over relationship issues of older teenagers are all there ahead of you.
My brother once said that in hindsight he wanted a child who was a girl from 0-10, a boy from 10-20 and then reverted to being a girl.
But having painted a black side, I can't express what a joy it is when your daughter buys you lunch out of money they've earned and which they can afford. I'm infinitely proud of my two, and all the effort, lack of sleep and hair-tearing is worth it 100-fold.
2nd Oct 2013
Dunno about the accountants, but getting worthwhile tax staff in the East Midlands is a bit of a slog. I'm told this is a bad time of year, but not exactly overrun with applicants - just people who you think "they'll do". Picking people always seems like a bit of a crap-shoot.
18th Sep 2013
Good but not perfect
Placing the shares gets the advantage of putting more shares into the market and the very fact that the government has easily placed those shares at 75p means that they are probably going to open at 80-85p because the market will anticipate further rises. People will then whinge and say "but you could have got 10% more for the shares if you'd waited". But by placing 6% they will increase the value of what remains - 33%. They will also increase public appetite for a major share sale to the public in 9-12 months time, pitching it as a response to public demand for the shares you missed out on last time.
My only grips is that they placed more than they needed to in order to soften the market up for a flotation down the line - 3-4% would have been perfectly adequate. I can only assume that there is some significance in reducing the government shareholding below 33%.
31st Jul 2013
It's all about deniability. The lenders want to be able to point to a paper trail which is compliant with a series of hurdles that have been FSA (or whatever) approved. They don't actually care whether or not someone is capable of making particular mortgage repayments but that they pass pre-determined tests. So someone in the industry has decided that because the info on an SA302 is coming from an unimpeachable source (ie the Revenue), that it is a document that can't be faked.
I'm sure we all know how it would be possible for Joe Public to forge an SA302 showing their £250K earnings by simply online filing figures, getting the SA302 and then revising the Return. However this doesn't seem to have entered their heads because someone at the Building Society Association has said it's the bee's knees as far as verification goes.
The mortgage system troops just apply the systems they've been given - it's not their fault that those who designed the systems are fools.
28th Jun 2013
On the ball there Telegraph
Not sure why the government would be 'officialising' this, why the Telegraph would think this was news and what the fuss is about it. Within most social situations, one half of a lesbian couple refers to the her other half as her wife and between two blokes, it's usually "my husband". It's pompous to say spouse and ambiguous to say partner. But God knows why this needs to be officially mandated.
10th Jun 2013
2? A mere child!
I'm rolling around to 30 next year and it's still been a delight (well mainly). I think those who go into practice do so for all sorts of reasons. To provide you with a sense of purpose and to grow something seem to be top of the list. For me it was actually because we wanted to start a family and have my wife return to work and hell, having a few clients wouldn't conflict with raising our beautiful first-born would it? Bonkers in hindsight of course....
But what I do identify with is the client list. I still have those lists of 30 clients dated April 84, and then when the list fitted neatly onto a sheet of A4. Now it's nearer 900 and it's all databases, but pleasingly I still have around half of the initial clients (well those that are still alive). Make sure you keep momentos of these early days, they'll provide hours of endless fun in your dotage.
10th Jun 2013
It all makes work for the working men to do
As a passing cowboy I have the luxury of regarding engagement letters as utter hogwash, providing no real protections for us and very little for them. The sheer time and effort inherent in planning, editing mailing and progress-checking letters of engagement has a cost and that cost is borne somewhere. A letter of engagement will strengthen the case for sueing people for unpaid bills? Hasn't been a problem for us - we sue very reulctantly and win. It regulates and defines the services which we provide? But as you say, we all get around this and I have advised clients about relationships, mental health issues, abortions, you name it.... It commits clients to provide information in a timely fashion? Yeah right; and when they don't, we either let them get away with it or we up their charges or we kick them off the ranch, but none of these actions is governed by LoE's.
My only conclusion is that most firms have LoE's because ICAEW of whoever, tell them to. And because it's the way it's been done before. From the point of view of the clients you could write a commitment in there for the client to provide cake at all future partner birthday parties and no-one would notice. Try it next time - insert a paragraph that says failure to provide information in a timely fashion will result in the death penalty. Bet you get it back with a signed 64-8 by return.
21st May 2013
I realise what you say entirely, I'm just trying to think the way punters think and I know that the lack of a guide to pricing is something that would encourage me to look down to the next one in my Google search list if I were looking for help with something. The hotel room thing is just an example. Maybe I'm the odd one, but I think people using websites rather than ringing up are going to be alienated by something that requires them to pick up a phone to find out more.
20th May 2013
I stick our fees up on the website but only really for straightforward compliance and then in terms of saying that our bog-standard client pays us £X for this, £Y for that and £Z for the other, but then qualify by saying that it can be a little higher or lower depending on whether records are tidy and organised or in Sainsburys bags.
The reason for this is because I put myself in their shoes and when I'm shopping for stuff, nothing bugs me more than having goods and services described but not being able to find out how much I'm likely to pay. Would you book into a hotel room that said nothing about prices? Some people might choose to ring up the hotel and ask, but the majority would just click on a different website in the hope that it might be a bit more informative.
Giving them some info helps them - if they know you're charging £100 for a Tax Return they can anticipate what you'll be like for other things and that you won't then charge then £500 for a VAT Return.