As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to finish the animated version of The Lord of the Rings! Did you know there was an animated film of the first half? I used to draw comic strips at home, so I went to art college after sixth form to become a graphic designer (the only reason my dad let me go to art college). But there was no graphic design tutor when I was there so that plan fizzled out.

Where had that got to during your later studies (or not, as the case may be)?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do after art college, so my dad sent me to secretarial college. I hated every minute of it! But then I went travelling for a couple of years with a friend. I only came home to save enough to go away again.

When did you move into accountancy; why, and how?

When I was home, a temporary position came up to cover a secretary’s maternity leave at a local accountancy firm, and I grabbed my chance. I even included in my cover letter that I’d only be around for the six months’ cover to save up to go away again! I was about 21. Seven years later I was still there and offered partnership. I still managed to go away on my travels during that time, but shorter trips. Then we moved to Bath and I took a role in a larger firm.

How important is accounting in your role – and how has being an accountant helped you develop in your career and as a person?

Accounting was always seen to be dull when I was studying, and a conversation stopper (not in a good way) when I said what I did. I think my art college start has really helped me in my role now, as I love the visual aspect of a lot of the software we use, and my creative and curious brain is always looking for quicker and better ways to do things.

I was brought up in a hospitality business (we literally lived above the pub up to age ten) and helped out serving bread rolls in the restaurant from about six years old. So, it is in my nature to want to help people, and make things easier for them, and I really understand what it’s like to be a business owner.

Being trained in a small firm, then moving to a larger one also inspired my need to help people. The larger firm in Bath were just focused on high wealth clients and pretty much ignored the small businesses, so I felt the need to support small businesses.

Catch the full article in the XU Magazine here

Kinder Pocock

Q: How have things been for your practice?

A: It’s been tough going. We’ve done so much for clients and lost a lot of chargeable time – but some are grumpy because we’re either looking to charge for support or they think we’ve not been in contact enough. We’ve done good things but it’s been forgotten by some. We have all clients on a monthly package and we did a lot of work for them to get through this year. We then charged for furloughing in July and perhaps we should have communicated the value in that service better. Some team members have found it easy working from home and others haven’t. And while we trust our people we’ve improved monitoring of workflow, using Karbon, to be better organised.

Q: How do you see the next few months, particularly lockdown/SA filing season and more government initiatives?

A: We’ve had everyone coming in for Monday planning meetings – these go on for a long time because of dealing with all the issues and the week ahead. Afternoons have been more for training sessions – this has involved grading clients and allocating them to our two new senior team members. Obviously, with new lockdowns and tiers it’s been difficult to get to know them and integrate as quickly as we would have liked.

Q: Longer term, how easy is it for you to plan? Where do you see the firm in the planning cycle, both long term and next 12 months? What is in your thoughts?

A: We have new offices, new people and new processes. I know what the team structure will look like and what our ideal client will look like – and it will involve us providing much more advisory; certainly with two seniors we can build deeper relationships.

On the tech front, it’s making sure you get the best out of it. We’ve been using Xavier every day; there’s competition for who has the highest Xavier score and then we build that into our analytics – but there’s so much more we can do. Take VAT returns; we can now do a pre-VAT check that picks up that clients’ bookkeeping is up to date – either they can sort it or we can do it for them with a charge.

Karbon’s my favourite thing. It sends out notifications, automates tasks and is helping with workflow for enquiries as well – we can even send a potential client a task list of what they need to do and have before they sign up. Practice Ignition sorts out the proposal and Karbon sends it.

Get in touch with AdvanceTrack here