I fully understand that most of you, who aren’t accountants, have only a sketchy knowledge of taxation and don’t really fully understand what an accountant’s job entails. This is perfectly fine by me, because if you did, then in all likelihood, I could well be out of a job!
That being said, I repeatedly get asked the same questions and get the same requests from individuals and I have to admit, this makes me a little frustrated and a tad grumpy, which I accept is unfair on the innocent individual asking the question.
So to save my sanity, I posted a question on an accounting forum I belong to. The level of response surprised me, and apart from one comment that I clearly qualified for membership of the grumpy old men’s club, most responses were positive and I realised that I’m not alone.
As a result I’ve compiled a list of the top three questions that appear to have raised the blood pressure of other accountants. The top three were:
- 39%: My friend down the pub says……….what do you think?
- 24%: Why is my profit so much more than what’s in the bank?
- 21%: I’ve done my own bookkeeping and accounts, I just need you to do the statutory accounts/filing; which I assume won’t be a problem will it?
Of course, clients are always going to ask questions and the fact that they feel comfortable enough with me to do so is a positive thing. I’m a great believer in encouraging open dialogue; after all, accountants are the first point of contact for business advice for the majority of small-to-medium-sized business.
So, whilst my first reaction is a tendency to feel mildly annoyed, I now realise that whilst the answer to the question I’ve been asked a thousand times before, is blindingly obvious to me, for my client it’s the first time. So to head the problem off at the pass, as it were, I have devised a cunning plan.
Firstly, I am in the process of compiling a fact sheet with FAQ’s page on my website, where I will explain key terms in a few words – such as cash flow, profit and loss, and explaining in laymen’s terms, the key questions that trouble people most often. This will hopefully make any reader realise why, taking tax advice from your mates, may not be a good idea.
I have regularly in the past compiled commonly asked clients’ questions into Blogs, which with the help of my digitally-savvy son, will be linked to the new webpage in future.
1. My friend down the pub says………what do you think?
What qualifications does your friend hold?
What relevant experience does your friend have in this area?
Are you 100% confident that your friend is correct?
2. Why is my profit so much more than what’s in my bank?
3. I’ve done my own bookkeeping and accounts, I just need you to do the statutory accounts/filing; which I assume won’t be a problem will it?
I am more than happy to quote a fee for your statutory accounts/filing. My concern is that I am obliged by HMRC/Companies House to check your workings, which means there won’t be as much of a reduction in your fees as you think you may get.
It is great that you have been able to put together your own accounts. I assume that you’ve done your research and they’re up to the statutory requirements and standards expected by HMRC and Companies House?
The old adage: “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”, is still true in this context. The client asking the question either doesn’t know the answer, or has picked up misconceptions from amongst others, their mate down the pub. In most cases they’ve clearly got reservations, which is why they’re asking me the question in the first place.
If any of you would like to annoy please send an email, and ask how long it took him to lose his Mancunian accent.