17 years old - and still ‘wet behind the lugs’, as one future client would soon proclaim upon first meeting me - my default response was “errrm, they deal with ‘numbers’ and they do accounts and tax returns and VAT returns???“
I wasn’t totally sure of the answer I’d given, but I was sure that my future employers knew I still had a whole lot to learn!
Flag bearers for the historical stereotype.
“Accountants are boring”
I can’t dispute that there are plenty of boring accountants out there.
Flag bearers for the historical stereotype. A desk-bound safe and steady pair of hands who relishes peeling through the numbers, and gets a subdued kick out of ensuring they file their clients’ accounts and returns on time. Tick, tick, tick. Task completed. A job done is a job well done.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.
If that keeps those accountants and their clients both compliant and happy, that’s totally cool.
Some folk out there are only looking to have the bare minimum done for them. Payroll processed, bookkeeping done and VAT filed, accounts and tax returns processed and a once-a-year letter summarising it all, sent out along with the annual fee. Maybe an annual meeting, at a push.
If that keeps those accountants and their clients both compliant and happy, that’s totally cool. Whilst tech solutions are closing the net, I think these traditional accountants might well last for a wee while yet.
For me though, I’ve always needed a bit more in order to feel challenged. To feel satisfied and fulfilled.
seeing them develop, and become better versions of their previous selves was incredibly rewarding.
Harking back to my coaching days
I was an athletics coach for many years. I loved it. Not only did I have a huge amount of fun with my gang of athletes – that alone would be a great reason to have done it - but seeing them develop, and become better versions of their previous selves was incredibly rewarding.
From a performance perspective, athletics events are very objective; you focus the training to improve in all the necessary ways, and you see a measurable improvement in performance.
Sounds easy, eh!
Taking that into the office
I think from quite an early stage in my accountancy career I realised that I was able to draw the same satisfaction from helping clients as I did from working with my athletes.
As a trainee, my role was initially focussed on the simpler tasks – such as a client needing bookkeeping training. Seeing them improve and learn, and in turn reduce the stress the books posed them with, was a neat reward for my time spent with them.
As my professional training progressed, I gained exposure to more complex areas; such as ensuring a business was structured in such a way so as to minimise tax liabilities. Drawing on a now-higher level of knowledge, I was like a dog with a bone trying to find ‘bulletproof’ tax planning solutions.
The first time I designed a plan to save a client over £10k was incredibly rewarding. The client was very grateful - after all, it's a nice chunk of extra money in their pocket which they could use as they pleased!
Oh, man, how I wish I could have told people about what I had done! But it’s confidential; so I had to accept the thanks from the client, and the inner-satisfaction at the victory.
Helping clients get these 'wins' within their business gives me a feeling that I’ve continued to strive to feel again, time after time. The bigger the win, the better the feeling. It still never gets boring.
to help others build something that works around their lives – emotionally, and financially.
Business to business
Nowadays, as a business owner having gone through the process of starting up, and now growing my business, I’m able to draw on my own ongoing experience, as well as that of current and past clients, to help others build something that works around their lives - emotionally, and financially.
Of course, the payroll, VAT, accounts & tax returns all get seen to along the way – after all, I have to put the traditional accountancy training to good use somehow – but it’s no longer the focus of the engagement with clients.
I think I now get the most enjoyment from sitting down with a client, and discussing the issues that they, and their business (or soon-to-launch business), is facing. I feel very fortunate to be allowed to put myself in their shoes for that time, to borrow their position, and think about how I would overcome the issue if I were them.
With enough perseverance and creativity, things usually have a nice way of coming good
Time for action
Discussing the collective ideas and solutions with them, deciding on the best way forward, and then working closely with them over the coming months to put the plan in place, is very rewarding.
Even more so when the plan works exactly as, or better than, expected, and the benefits (wins) can clearly be seen by the client, their business and everyone else involved.
And ok, sometimes it doesn’t go to plan. That’s ok. Like when I was a coach; we accept it, we learn from it, and we get back to the drawing board and design the next, better plan.
With enough perseverance and creativity, things usually have a nice way of coming good eventually!