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Accountants in Practice

Simplify your language and improve communications with your client

By Laurence Vogel

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Accountants speak their own private language: CGT, liquidity ratios, GAAP, breakeven points et al. It is interesting to consider how much more effectively we could communicate if we filtered out the jargon when talking, especially with clients.

For example, you could say:

Let’s consider the possible advantages if we could engineer a transfer of your high income generating assets into an arrangement where we could leverage equity, by increasing debt to asset ratios, and broaden your footprint in the market.

Or you could say:

You could use the equity in your property portfolio as a deposit to buy more properties.

The problem with professional jargon is it’s only effective as an aid to communication if the other party knows the terms being used. Otherwise, the person you are speaking with will quickly glaze over and start backing towards the nearest door.

Consider this when you are next pitching a service you would like to offer. Less of the “we are going to fall foul of GAAR unless we adopt the more traditional approach that an LLP offers” and more of “in our opinion the tax office will quickly challenge this sort of scheme, whereas using a tried and tested approach, for example a Limited Liability Partnership, would be a much safer bet”.

And if you consider that dressing up your language with impenetrable “words” is going to make you look good – really?

Give you clients a break and make your services more accessible – reduce if not eliminate jargon and promote plain speaking. It may just pay dividends.

Published October 2015