The Practitioner: winter blues

THE JANUARY DEADLINE has passed. Those accountants who still have some money left on the overdraft are probably on the ski slopes while they read this on their iPad.

What’s your secret guys? (Or gals, of course).

I despise January. It is the month where accountants neglect the good clients and bend over backwards to look after the bad clients. What other industry would dedicate a whole month to dealing with no-one but late, unreliable customers?

To rub salt in the wounds, the bad clients never thank you for it, and also take an unacceptable amount of time to pay you.

It is the neglecting of the good clients though that really gets me cross.

Every year I say I won’t get dragged into actually doing a tax return myself and I will continue to concentrate on the client care and business development tasks.

But every year when the office manager breaks down under the pressure and begs me to assist I give in and roll my sleeves up. It is when this happens that I really start to feel like I am neglecting the worthy clients.

Maybe the real problem is that my feeling of client neglect has been present for the past three months, not just January. We lost a senior member of staff last summer and never replaced her.

It is in busy times such as January that you really start to notice the staff shortage.
I have a very guilty conscience even if I am innocent, but recently when a major client has been on the phone I have sensed in his voice that he feels neglected – and I fear he is only a breath away from cutting his £5k a month retainer in half.

This is my worst nightmare. Disaster would strike the office in a big way! There would be no more Friday donuts, or water cooler. Serious cuts would have
to be made!

Surely the bad, late, unreliable clients are not worth spending any more time on?
If the alternative is losing the good clients, why do we bother?

Maybe cancelling January and tax returns is the way to go?

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England

Related reading

aidan-brennan kpmg
The Practitioner