You can only do so much

Accountants in practice help their clients, it’s what we do after all isn’t it? We make ourselves available and we help as best we can.

We make sure that all compliance aspects are covered but we do more than just calculate year end accounts and tax we give the best advice we can to our clients throughout the year often instigating the dialogue based on work we are doing at any particular moment such as year end accounts or quarterly vat returns but of course in response to questions put to us by the client.

Whether the client actually pays any attention to what we say depends on the client themselves. Are they just seeking clarification, are they minded to do something and they want you to concur with their predefined actions or are they genuinely looking for help? if we instigate the conversation are they open to the help?

We cannot make them listen nor can we make them do as we propose all we can do is offer the help and advice it is after all down to them and they must ultimately make their own minds up what they do.

That being said what about those instances where the business is struggling and the clients ask for advice, you consider the situation the client is in and then proffer the best advice you can whether charged for or not only to find they ignore the advice. Do you bite your lip and keep your own counsel and leave them to their own devices or do you push the matter?

If you leave them to act and they don’t and the situation gets worse and back they come for more advice, you know where I’m going don’t you?

When and how do you take a pause and tell them that you can’t keep handing out help and advice if they honestly aren’t going to follow it because its simply not what they wanted to hear or worse still that in your opinion the business is in such a state that no amount of help and advice can save it and the time has come to limit the financial damage they may or may not suffer.

This is the advice they often don’t want to hear and they sometimes say “Let’s see what the next year or next quarter brings” because they have invested so much into the business and for them it’s hard to hear someone say categorically they have failed.

Every accountant will face this dilemma at some stage in their career and how they handle it is personal to them but having been in practice for so very long and having faced this dilemma many times I can say I never liked doing it and I’m thinking post Furlough and post Covid I think I’ll have a few such cases to face up to don’t you?

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