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Accountants

The Secret Accountant: Why accountants are hypocrites

In this brand new regular column, our well-connected anonymous accountant will be taking over to share everything from industry gripes and bugbears to candid client stories and tips for winning business.

This week, the secret accountant introduces themselves (without hopefully giving too much away), talks covid heroes, cloud adoption and excuses and urges you to put your money where your mouth is…

So I’m the secret accountant…

I’ve been in the industry for many years, worked at the small firms, worked at the big ones and now somewhere in between.

Back in the day I’ve used everything from the old red ledgers through to Sage, QuickBooks and that one I heard is quite decent called Xero (not sure it will ever catch on!). 

It’s all about the cloud for me

I’ve helped businesses and other accounting firms with cloud adoption not only across the UK, but across the world – Ireland, Spain, USA, Sweden and even places as exotic as the Isle of Man. (Side note: did you know that they have no cat’s eyes anywhere on the Isle of Man because of the TT races, and it only has ONE McDonald’s… Which was why I didn’t stay long). 

I’ve heard every excuse (and they are excuses) for lack of cloud/app adoption in the book. 

“We’re too busy”

“We don’t have the resource”

“Our firm is too big for cloud”

“We don’t have the right type of clients”

“Our clients won’t pay for this advisory service”

“Our clients don’t ask for cashflow services”

And, in the words of TV and radio legend Karl Pilkington, all of the above is “bullshit” (that’s actually the technical term). 

A few home truths

I agreed to write this column as a real chance to call out a few home truths, and just to share some of the weird and wonderful (mostly weird) experiences I’ve had over the many years I’ve been an accountant.

I’ve worked with some real luddites that only really care about coining in as much as possible from clients, but it’s not all bad. Much like in Star Wars… There is Hope (in that sense maybe I’m the Yoda/Obi Wan of cloud accounting).

There are some wonderful people that want to better the industry and improve accounting as a whole and I’ll be sure to give them a shout out too.

Over the coming months I’ll be talking about the pains and pitfalls of cloud conversions, some of the craziest conversions I’ve been involved in, how accountants are winning clients these days, and why cashflow is still the most underrated service (Fluidly paid me a MASSIVE amount to say that but it is actually true) and much much more.

Last month was tax return season which (even with the extension) really topped off a crazy manic year for most accountants. 

Normally I’d be throwing the book at accountants that have left the bulk number of tax returns until December/January but this year I think to some extent they can be forgiven. 

A quick shoutout 

It’s been all hands to the pump for the decent ones among us throughout the pandemic. We’ve had to dig deep, ride the rollercoaster, keep that stiff upper lip and any other overused cliché you’re already sick of, but we’ve all worked tirelessly to help keep our clients heads above water.

And on that note, my first shout out has to go to Sharon Pocock of Kinder Pocock, the blogs and info provided around Covid support were second to none (in fact they were so good we kinda pinched them a bit when it came to doing our own blogs and videos). 

They are a go to resource not just for her clients but many accountants too!  

Putting your money where your mouth is

So now I’ve got the introductions out the way, let’s move on to my first bugbear of the industry. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard an accountant say this I’d be a millionaire already (especially in Matt Flanagan’s accounting facebook group – who is another of my Covid heros btw).

I’m talking about when accountants say that clients won’t pay for extra value and support, and that clients push too hard on fees. Or that they’re stupid for not realising the support they’re getting for the money. 

These same accountants then have a moan at paying say something like £4/month for tools as amazing as Xavier Analytics or one of many other fantastic apps (and my very wealthy backers Fluidly obvs in that category). Normally because they have… wait for it… Excel!!!!!!

LOL

How can anyone preach value, but not be willing to invest even a few hundred pounds a month themselves in something that could be game changing, as we cool cats say? You have no idea how many times in Matt’s facebook group or even dare I say on LinkedIn, I’ve wanted to call people out for that. 

Spend some more money (yes I’m an accountant)

Sorry guys and girls but many accountants are the biggest hypocrites in the book when it comes to value for money and chancing your arm on app spend.

And so often it’s because they’ve got Excel (and think that’s sufficient). 

I’ve been quite fortunate in that respect that wherever I’ve worked I’ve managed to get most app spends over the line to give them a go. And these days it comes out of my pocket… quite literally when I forget to update the billing from my own personal card! 

So if I could give you one tip and maybe a resolution for 2021 – spend more money (you must be thinking there’s no way I’m really an accountant saying something like that!). But seriously, give the apps a chance, and a proper chance. Three months minimum before you can even hope to get any kind of return. 

I can promise it will pay dividends, but more on that to come next time.

Stay safe everyone! 

 
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