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“My mate in the pub says…”


I hate it when I receive a call from a client that starts “My mate in the pub says…” As a general rule whatever follows next will be answered: no. The best example I had of this was many years ago and the call went like this:

Client: My mate in the pub says he doesn’t pay any tax. So why do I pay tax?
Me: Where does your friend live?
Client: Switzerland
Me: And where do you live? [I already knew the answer to this question!]
Client: Bradford
Me: Well, if you want to go and live in Switzerland then a Swiss accountant might be able to help you achieve the zero tax goal but if you wish to stay in the UK and earn what you are earning then there will be tax to pay.

Choosing the right adviser is important. Your family and friends may be knowledgeable and good in their chosen field but paying for independent and professional advice from an expert is an important investment.

We were recently asked what one piece of advice we would give an entrepreneur, our answer was get good advisers. Good advisers should be good value for money but they might not be cheap and will probably not be free.

We set up many limited companies and charge for it. I have met individuals who only approached an accountant after they had incorporated their businesses themselves. Sometimes this was perfectly done but two incidents stick out in my mind. The first was the company where the shareholders decided they would put their £8,000 redundancy into the company. Instead of having a small share capital and lending the company the balance, it all went in as shares. The second was the company where the husband was a director and the husband and wife were both company secretaries. Neither of these cases were necessarily wrong they were just unorthodox and when I asked them why their company was structured the way they had chosen they could not answer the question.

In life you usually get what you pay for. Following cheap or free advice may end up being the most expensive decision you ever make. We are not the cheapest accountants but we do look after our clients and give advice. One client who left for a cheap accountant soon came back to us. On another occasion we lost the informal tendering process on price but once we pointed out some of the errors their current cheap accountant had made (and we later discovered even more mistakes) they decided we would be good value for money and another client was won.

Be friendly, go to the pub with your mates, but choose your advisers carefully. We love questions and want our clients to approach us if they have a worry about anything and because of that we have many wonderful and varied discussions. But we do not advice clients after an evening in the pub!


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