PracticePeople In Practice2020 Vision: Advisers and clients ingrained into 31 Jan deadline

2020 Vision: Advisers and clients ingrained into 31 Jan deadline

Despite the myriad of reasons for advisers and clients to break out of the January gloom that is filing season, the will has to be there to make the changes, suggests Carl Reader

2020 Vision: Advisers and clients ingrained into 31 Jan deadline

AHH, IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. The time that small and medium firms dread (or do some perversely look forward to?): risks of snow and weather disruption; illnesses spreading through the office; and stacks of tax returns to do.

It’s also the time that people with opinions (including me) like to share them. I’ve seen this whole process happen year after year, and have the following observations. Some might seem tongue-in-cheek, but you never know, some might touch a nerve…

Accountants love the January ‘crunch’

For someone trying to manage the workflow of a practice, the simple truth is that there are some strange individuals who live for the January pressure. Despite the fact that it lets down clients due to late notification of tax, it puts pressure on all staff members (from administrators through to the very top), it can cause cashflow issues… it’s the one month of the year where they feel truly needed. Like ice cream men in August.

It will never change from our own efforts, anyway. HMRC might have a different plan though…

Every year, the same mantra is repeated – ‘we won’t let it happen again next year’. You will, and it will. You can try threatening deadlines, penalties, service levels, competitions, even free hugs for information coming in on time. The underlying problem is that the client knows that in the end, it will all get done. 

There. I said it. I’ve never known an accountant to not complete their pile of tax returns by the end of January.

The biggest problem is, because both the client (as alluded to above) and the accountant know this, there’s insufficient motivation to change, on either side. Together with some of the team loving the pressure, any solution won’t be strong enough or radical enough to do the job.

Some might have expected me to come up with yet another magical solution to this workflow issue. Instead, I’ve just reinforced what we already know deep down. And if our ‘we won’t let it happen again next year’ actually works next year, I promise to let you all know!

Carl Reader is a director of Wiltshire-based firm d&t, which won the 2013 British Accountancy Award for Independent Firm of the Year-Wales and South West England

Related Articles

ICAEW president: We must adapt to add to our heritage

Accounting Standards ICAEW president: We must adapt to add to our heritage

1y Richard Crump, Writer
Champion Accountants agrees Southport office MBO

Accounting Firms Champion Accountants agrees Southport office MBO

1y Richard Crump, Writer
Social pressures from management causes accounting fraud, research claims

Management Social pressures from management causes accounting fraud, research claims

1y Fraser Simpson, Reporter
AAYP: Online accounting qualifications - a smart option for employers and staff

Management AAYP: Online accounting qualifications - a smart option for employers and staff

1y Acccountancy Age
AAYP 2016: The new breed of accountant

Accounting Standards AAYP 2016: The new breed of accountant

1y Acccountancy Age
Best Practice: Saffery Champness managing partner Rob Elliott

Accounting Firms Best Practice: Saffery Champness managing partner Rob Elliott

1y Calum Fuller, Reporter
Best Practice: Wilson Wright’s Michael Lerner

Accounting Firms Best Practice: Wilson Wright’s Michael Lerner

1y Fraser Simpson, Reporter
Enter the British Accountancy Awards 2016

Accounting Firms Enter the British Accountancy Awards 2016

1y Richard Crump, Writer