How have you built your tax practice?
My practice started back in 2003 when I was working part-time from home. Over the years, using advertising and client referrals, I have grown my practice and currently there are 2 permanent offices and I have 5 fulltime employees. The reason my practice has grown in this manner is the heavy emphasis I place on client relationships built on trust and how these relationships have developed over time.
What is your focus and business model?
Our business focus is to do more than simple compliance. We offer all the traditional accounting services but in addition, we partner with our clients to provide business advisory services and help them to grow their businesses. We make use of cloud-accounting software and tax planning software such as TaxFitness to help our clients meet their obligations and to aid in decision-making and value-adding activities.
My clients value my knowledge and my professional judgement as an accountant with over 25 years of professional experience. As accountants, our clients rely on us for guidance and support in addition to preparing paperwork for them to sign. We offer training on software and on-going support as we aim to be valued assets to our clients rather than just another expense.
Over the past couple of years, I have been focussing on developing my business from simply an accounting firm to a one stop shop for financial and business advisory services. We have inhouse financial planners and mortgage brokers in order to offer the best possible service to our existing clients and also have opportunities to engage with new clientele.
What are your views on the future of the accounting industry?
It is clear that the accounting industry must change in order to remain relevant in this digital age. It is also clear that there has been a steady decline in individual tax returns lodged in recent years. With the development of cloud accounting software and government platforms such as MyGov, it is so simple for clients to do their own bookkeeping and lodge their own tax returns. This is understandable as the relative low-cost and accessibility of accounting software makes it much cheaper for clients to just do it themselves and save them from paying costly accounting fees.
But this is also an opportunity. The accounting industry is capable of much more than just processing data and this digital disruption gives us the opportunity to perform at a higher standard. With the assistance of cloud accounting software, we have the ability to provide specific business advisory services and the tools to measure and review performance in real time rather than relying on information that is a year old. We have the chance to help our clients add value to their businesses and teach them how to be more business-savvy. Furthermore, this is an opportunity to help these small clients grow into big clients that we can upsell more services to. The digital disruption is motivation for accountants to step up.
How do you approach tax planning with clients?
Tax planning needs to be applicable. In order to do a tax plan for a client, you need to understand the client’s business and motivations. Each client is different and requires a different approach, therefore my approach to tax planning is very much case-by-case. I use the Tax Fitness software as a tool to review their performance and identify opportunities. Beyond that, it is a matter of using my professional judgement and knowledge of my client to devise tax planning strategies that will suit their circumstances. We aim to have a suitable plan in place by June so that our clients can implement these strategies by end of financial year and benefit from these tax savings.