David Hancock and Lucy Parry reply to your Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can we have a free initial meeting?
- I have difficulty getting away during the working day. Can our initial meeting be out of working hours?
- Do you do evening meetings?
- Our current accountant gave us a fee estimate last year – but the actual bill came out way higher. How do I know you won’t do this to us as well?
- I am terrified of phoning my accountants for advice, or just a brief bit of help – every time they pick up the phone, they send me a bill!
- Hold on. Let me get this right. I can phone you as many times as I want and it will cost the same?
- How long have you been in practice?
- I’m not happy with my Accountant – Can we meet up to talk about it?
- Everybody bends the rules. I like to put the odd “extra” purchase invoice through the books, and of course the cash from my “weekend jobs” doesn’t go through the books. My mates all do the same. Everyone fiddles a little bit. It is well known. But my accountant won’t let me do this, when he spots it. He is too straight.
- I’d like to change accountants, but I’m worried about what will happen.
- I have just realised that my Accountant is not qualified. I have heard that anyone can call themselves an Accountant. I am generally quite worried about what has been done for me, lots of little things over the years, my relationship with HMRC etc…….. All I want is a straight forward, professional service and I am worried this is not what I have been getting from my Accountant.
- My Accountants are a respected, well-know firm with plenty of staff. I am sure they are very professional, but I cannot understand why they are charging so much – and they constantly make me uncomfortable by their attitude. Whenever I need to discuss something about my business that is even vaguely technical, I end up speaking to a different person (sometimes even in a different office!) each time.
- I’m in a complete mess. The bookkeeping is way behind. I’ve lost track of how much tax and VAT is payable. I’ve kept my business going but neglected the admin. It really is a nightmare – are you prepared to take me on?
- How much do you charge?
- How do I know you are technically up to date with all the latest tax and accounting developments?
- Do you sell pensions and investments?
- When I needed a Confirmation of Income for a new mortgage, my accountant took ages and we nearly lost the deal.
- Do I really need an accountant? I’m sure I can do a lot of this stuff yourself.
- Why should I choose you as my Accountant?
- I have come across your website and am interested in using the services of a Chartered Accountant, but unfortunately I am not in your area.
- Can I drop off your paperwork anytime?
- How do I know my data is secure when we send messages back and forth?
- Do you have parking?
- Will I get to speak with the same person every time I phone with a query?
- Will you charge me every time I pick up the phone to you?
- I’ve never dealt with an Accountant before. What sort of things will you ask me when we first meet?
- Do you deal with CIS tax?
- I just need some help with my Tax Return.
- I haven’t declared all my income to HMRC in past years. What do I do?
- Do you provide Bookkeeping or Accounting Software?
- Do I need a separate business bank account?
- Do you carry out audits?
- Our turnover is below the current audit threshold, but it has been suggested that we have a voluntary audit of our accounts. Why would we do this?
- We would like the accounts of our business to be audited, but would also like to retain our current accountants to continue with the day to day accounting and tax work.
Running my Business
- I am trying to grow my business. Do you have any business consultancy services that can help with this?
General - Answers
“Yes, of course. Please just phone 01489 885772 to arrange a time.”
“We can meet on a Saturday morning if you wish. Click here for details.”
“In emergencies, yes. But as a general rule we try to keep our evenings free.
“We will give you a fixed fee Quote in writing. Note, you will receive a fee Quote from me, not a fee Estimate. If anything additional needs to be done, this will be dealt with by mutual agreement. You will not be charged anything above the original fixed fee quote unless you have explicitly agreed any additional fee in writing.”
“Our fixed fee quotes include “unlimited ad hoc queries”. In other words, we make an assessment of the degree of support you will need during the year and, on a judgemental basis, build this into our fixed fee quote. This means you can phone (or email) me at any time and it won’t cost you anything extra.”
“Yes. Actually, most clients prefer to email – and this works better for us too. But this is not as strange as it might seem. It is in both our interests to nip problems and uncertainties in the bud.
And, oddly enough, while clients can phone or email whenever they like, in practice this facility is used sparingly. The important thing is that our clients have the reassurance of knowing that they can contact me whenever they like without it costing anything extra.”
Call us today on 01489 885772
Got a question?.......email us here.. firstname.lastname@example.org
“David Hancock started this practice as David Hancock & Co in 1988. Before that he trained, qualified and became a senior manager with Price Waterhouse. Lucy Parry (also an ex PwC senior manager) joined in 2011 and became a partner on 1 January 2015. We changed the name of the practice to Parry Hancock in July 2015.”
“Of course! It is a competitive world and we are in business to work for all the local people and companies who need our help.
But please do one thing for me before arranging a meeting. Talk to your existing accountant about what is troubling you. Sometimes a misunderstanding can be easily cleared up if you talk it through rather than bottling it up.
Everybody bends the rules. I like to put the odd “extra” purchase invoice through the books, and of course the cash from my “weekend jobs” doesn’t go through the books. My mates all do the same. Everyone fiddles a little bit. It is well known. But my accountant won’t let me do this, when he spots it. He is too straight.
“Well, you won’t like us then.
Your accountant is behaving exactly as he should do. And your attitude will land you in serious trouble. You must stop it immediately, and go back to your books and correct them. HMRC are not daft. Their wheels turn slowly, but they turn inexorably.
Have you thought about your responsibility to your fellow taxpayer and to society generally? One of the reasons that honest taxpayers have to pay so much tax is that dishonest taxpayers are not paying their fair share into the pot.
Also, next time you sign your Tax Return or VAT Return, have a look at the words in the statement just beside your signature.
Our role, as professional accountants, is to ensure that our clients' exposure to taxation is kept to the absolute minimum within the law. Failing to declare income and claiming false expenditure play no part in this strategy”
“The process is completely straight forward. All professional accountants will abide by the ethical guidelines of their professional body, which essentially means that they will hand over whatever information is required by the new accountant – subject of course to your approval.
The only difficulty which could arise is when you are currently with an unqualified accountant who is not a member of a professional body. In those circumstances the handover process can be unpredictable, and you would not have the sanction of reporting the accountant to any professional body if normal accepted standards are not complied with.”
I have just realised that my Accountant is not qualified. I have heard that anyone can call themselves an Accountant. I am generally quite worried about what has been done for me, lots of little things over the years, my relationship with HMRC etc…….. All I want is a straight forward, professional service and I am worried this is not what I have been getting from my Accountant.
“Some of the best accountants we have come across have been unqualified or part-qualified. So don’t jump to conclusions too fast. The job of an accountant in practice is not just about being technically competent (which should of course every accountant should ensure), it is also all about tact, understanding, empathy, ethical standards, honesty, forward-thinking etc – all of which we have seen amply displayed by non-qualified accountants.
However, it has to be said that over the years we have had to clear up a number of shameful, disgraceful messes caused by unqualified accountants who were out of their depth. As well as downright dishonesty and malpractice perpetrated by people who are operating outside the discipline of being a member of a professional body.
If you are worried about the service you are getting, please come in for a no-obligation chat.”
My Accountants are a respected, well-known firm with plenty of staff. I am sure they are very professional, but I cannot understand why they are charging so much – and they constantly make me uncomfortable by their attitude. Whenever I need to discuss something about my business that is even vaguely technical, I end up speaking to a different person (sometimes even in a different office!) each time.
“This is why we are set up in a small office – run on friendly and informal lines, yet technically up to date.”
Call us today on 01489 885772
Got a question?.......email us here.. email@example.com
I’m in a complete mess. The bookkeeping is way behind. I’ve lost track of how much tax and VAT is payable. I’ve kept my business going but neglected the admin. It really is a nightmare – are you prepared to take me on?
“You bet. We’re here to help. One of the most satisfying aspects of our work is turning a mess and muddle (if you will allow me to call it that) into a tidy, well-organised set-up that runs like clockwork.
There is absolutely no reason why we cannot get your affairs up to date and running smoothly within a few months. One proviso….. if you want things to be different, you may have to do a few things differently yourself.
Read a few of our Xero case studies to learn more about how we help our clients improve their administrative systems.”
“Because we operate on the basis of a written fixed fee quotation, tailored to your specific circumstances, we cannot tell you what our charges will be until after our meeting.
We believe that in this day and age we should give a quote for the job, which you can rely upon. That is why (except for a handful of jobs that do not fit the “norm”) we do not operate on the basis of hourly charge out rates. We think this is fairer. The danger of Accountants charging on the basis of hours spent, rather than a fixed price for the job, is that it can promote inefficiency.”
“As Chartered Accountants, our firm has to comply with the published guidelines for Continuing Professional Education.
(And don’t forget…. admittedly some time ago now…. David and Lucy had to pass some pretty tough exams in order to get their qualifications in the first place!)”
“No. So you can rest assured, we are not going to twist your arm and try to sell you a pension – our advice is restricted to the taxation aspects of such decisions – if we feel you need investment advice, we will refer you to an Independent Financial Adviser.
(And, by the way –we do not take commission from any such referrals. This means that our sole motivation when referring you to an IFA is to steer you towards someone who we believe will do a good, professional job for you.)”
“Our policy is that confirmation of income letters are dealt with on the same day the request is received.
Warning. Play fair with your Accountant on this one. Property transactions can take months, yet it is strange how often we receive a Confirmation of Income request which has a massive urgency simply because the parties have left it to the last moment to ask the Accountant.
Warning. Accountants who are acting within normal professional guidelines will be reluctant to take on a new client where the client’s first request is a Confirmation of Income.
Warning. We have encountered few topics that are quite so fraught with misunderstandings between lenders, brokers and clients about what is required. Especially where the client is running a business through the vehicle of a small limited company where the “Income” has to be interpreted by reference to a combination of share ownership, business profits, director’s salary and dividends to shareholders.
Warning. If both partners are out of the office the Confirmation of Income cannot be signed until one of us returns.”
“We can add value by ensuring you consider all expenditure that might legitimately be claimed for tax purposes, as well as suggesting the most tax efficient structure for your business taking into account your personal and family circumstances.
Our fixed fees also include Unlimited Ad Hoc Queries, so you always have professional advice at your fingertips.”
“This is our Mission Statement:
“Our aim is:
To provide outstanding service and value for money for our clients, thereby giving our clients Peace of Mind, so that they can get on with their lives and businesses free from worry about financial and business problems.
To ensure that every client and all people should feel better after every contact with us.
To provide our partners and staff with secure, well paid jobs, working in a stimulating, equal opportunities environment.
To be profitable to ensure our long term growth and survival.”
If you ever fall down a hole, we will there to get you out. Read this Blog post.”
“Location isn't really a problem in this day and age - although it is nice to actually meet face to face to start with. If you really want an Accountant on your doorstep, I suggest you use the “Find a chartered accountant” facility on the Institute of Chartered Accountants website www.icaew.co.uk .”
“Yes, of course. There will always be someone here during normal office hours. Most clients send information electronically these days.
Many of our business clients use Xero Accounting Software, so nothing needs to be sent in as we are working together in the Cloud.”
“We use a fully integrated document management system and portal called “Virtual Cabinet”, which gives our clients peace of mind about the security of document transfer, accessibility and storage.”
“We have designated parking spaces at the back of our office. When these are taken there are places in Park Gate close by where you can park.”
“We have a very stable staff with virtually no staff turnover. Therefore the same people will be dealing with your affairs from year to year.”
“No. We give fixed fee quotes which include unlimited ad hoc queries.”
“Firstly, our discussion will be confidential.
We will need to build up a picture of your tax and (if relevant) business affairs so that we are in a position to send you a proposal to act and a fee quote.
When you become a client we are required to ask for ID documentation and we have a legal duty to keep this information securely and confidentially on file.
Having said all that, the most important element of our first meeting is having a chat and getting to know each other. We are particularly interested in hearing about your longer term ambitions and plans so that we can tailor our support accordingly.”
“Yes. If you wish, we can run the entire Construction Industry Scheme paperwork for you.”
“That’s perfectly OK.
While some of our business clients have a multi-million turnover, we also have plenty of “Tax Return Only” clients – some are pensioners, some have complex personal tax affairs – also, a modern trend is the increased number of individuals with “buy to let” properties where it is important to keep records of capital costs, understand the long term rules re Capital Gains Tax, while making the appropriate entries of annual letting figures in the personal Tax Return.”
“We need to make an urgent start on a damage limitation exercise by making an immediate disclosure to HMRC with a timetable for providing all relevant details.
Prompt disclosure and cooperation with HMRC will reduce any penalties you may incur for the omissions that have been made.
The way this works is that you deal with us and we will deal with HMRC on your behalf.”
“Yes. Click here for details of our approach to Bookkeeping, and here for our thoughts on Accounting and Financial Controls.”
In order to ensure that HMRC cannot “break” your accounting records (and thus have the excuse to trawl through your personal banking records) you should open a separate business bank account and then ensure that you have perfect bookkeeping records which analyse and reconcile the business transactions in your business bank account.
“Yes. Parry Hancock is a Registered Auditor.”
“We have a number of business clients below the audit turnover threshold who have decided to retain the annual audit on a voluntary basis. Some of the factors involved in this decision are as follows:
• Expectations of lenders
• Compliance with banking covenants (often require audited accounts)
• Reassurance to shareholders
• Minority shareholders
• Review and reporting on the company’s systems
• Deterrent against fraud
• Attitude of HMRC to the company’s Accounts
• Sale of the business – track record of audited accounts
• Good governance – increasingly important for directors to show this
• Growing businesses – soon over the statutory audit limit – so may as well start now
• The additional fees for an audit are less than you might expect (where we are already helping the directors prepare the annual accounts in compliance with the Companies Act and Accounting Standards)”
“No problem. We would be delighted for Parry Hancock to quote for the audit on the basis that your existing accountants will continue with their role and we would be appointed as auditors only.
If you wish, we will also enter into a written “no poaching” agreement – so that your Accountants can be assured we will never “pinch” their work.”
Running my Business
“We have a Business Development Programme designed to help ambitions business-owners such as yourself become as successful and profitable as possible.”
Have you got another question which you think might be of general interest? If so, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add the reply to this FAQ section.