How confident can you afford to be?

By | 2013-10-15T08:27:37+00:00 October 15th, 2013|Professional Negligence|

Not all accountants are full of confidence. And some of those who come across as confident are not - or should not be. There's an understandable desire to come across as confident in our profession. After all, who would want an accountant who seems unable to give confident replies to questions and requests for information?

How to reveal all to the taxman

By | 2013-09-17T08:23:09+00:00 September 17th, 2013|Professional Negligence|

I was reminded recently of an article written a few years ago by Mike Thexton and published by Taxation magazine. In the article Mike explained how he helped a friend who needed his help to 'come clean' re undisclosed earnings. Mike said it all started with "the dreaded question". This happens when someone asks for help in

Watch out General Practitioner Accountants!

By | 2013-08-13T09:04:55+00:00 August 13th, 2013|Professional Negligence|

This salutary item is drawn from my talk and ebook on risk management and how to avoid professional negligence claims. The 2013 professional negligence case of Mehjoo and Harben Barker effectively endorsed the advice I had already been giving for years -  even though many other commentators believed otherwise. Assume for a moment that a client

What do you do when clients are divorcing?

By | 2013-02-25T09:28:48+00:00 February 25th, 2013|Professional Negligence|

Two husbands withholding information have been jailed in recent divorce cases.  David Thursfield, previously head of Ford, went down for 2 years* and Scot Young for 6 months.   So failure to cooperate in court proceedings can seriously mess up your life. You may have clients whose marriages breakdown and where one party or the other

Five key tips if you are the subject of a complaint

By | 2012-11-15T09:44:38+00:00 November 15th, 2012|Professional Negligence|

I had the privilege of attending the ICAEW Support Members' annual conference yesterday. I was there in my capacity as vice-chairman of the ICAEW Ethics Advisory Committee. I thought it would be helpful to share a few of the learning points that may be of interest and value to accountants who find themselves the subject

Ten tax mistakes that could result in professional negligence claims

By | 2012-10-26T09:19:39+00:00 October 26th, 2012|Professional Negligence|

Omitting to consider the VAT implications of significant property transactions; Loss of tax credits as entitlement not claimed early enough – eg: when unincorporated business client suffers a loss; Missing the deadline to claim research and development tax credits or property related capital allowances; Omitting to reorganise group companies to reduce ‘avoidable’ tax charges; Failure

An easy way to avoid giving negligent advice

By | 2012-10-16T14:08:47+00:00 October 16th, 2012|Professional Negligence|

One of the pressures that all ambitious accountants endure is the need to advise on issues that do not arise every day. The more experience you have the more confidence you gain to know whether or not you have enough knowledge to give the advice without double checking it's right. Double checking might simply involve

Accountants discouraged by ICAEW from advising on aggressive tax schemes

By | 2012-07-04T13:25:49+00:00 July 4th, 2012|Professional Negligence, Tax related|

Although Tax Avoidance is no longer headline news we continue to see the repercussions of recent media stories. Last week I referenced the comments of the CIOT President. He suggested that there may be a need to consider toughening up the financial services mis-selling rules to attack the promoters and sellers of tax schemes that have no real prospect

Do you ensure your clients get the best advice or just your advice?

By | 2011-07-11T09:40:17+00:00 July 11th, 2011|Professional Negligence, Tax related|

Accountants are naturally cautious about involving third party advisers. They don’t want to be forced to bill their clients more than last year. They also don’t want to bear the cost of seeking a second opinion. This atitude means that some accountants muddle along and avoid admitting to clients that they have limited experience in

Engagement letters for accountants

By | 2009-06-09T16:56:02+00:00 June 9th, 2009|Professional Negligence, Uncategorized|

It's almost a year since the professional bodies published their updated guidance on engagement letters for tax work. This was the culmination of a thorough review by a working party that I was proud to chair on behalf of the contributing bodies: ICAEW, ICAS, ACCA, CIOT, ATT, IIT, CIMA. I wrote a number of articles

What is it that can go wrong?

By | 2009-04-29T09:55:56+00:00 April 29th, 2009|Professional Negligence, Speaking|

Over the years I have collected dozens and dozens of stories of what it is that has led to problems for accountants. Such examples help inform my talks about how to avoid negligence claims. It's also worth recognising how easy it is for things to go wrong; after all they do say that forewarned is forearmed.

Disengagement letters

By | 2009-04-27T09:54:13+00:00 April 27th, 2009|Professional Negligence, Tax related|

Let's face it, few accountants have detailed procedures in place to ensure they do all they need to do when they lose a client. The simple reason for this is that it doesn't happen often enough to warrant a detailed procedure and even when it does occur there's rarely a problem. The larger firms lose

Do you treat clients like lab rats?

By | 2009-04-14T09:42:39+00:00 April 14th, 2009|Professional Negligence, Tax related|

Probably the most sensible thing any adviser can do is to recognize their limitations. Most accountants are like GPs. Great at dealing with day to day issues. Every now and then though when you visit the doctor they recommend you see a specialist. Indeed you’d be very worried if the GP suggested you hop up

If in doubt – imagine you’re advising a loved one

By | 2008-11-18T10:31:40+00:00 November 18th, 2008|Career development, Professional Negligence, Tax related|

One of the pressures that all ambitious accountants endure is the need to advise on issues that do not arise every day. The more experience you have the more confidence you gain to know whether or not you have enough knowledge to give the advice without double checking it's right. Double checking might simply involve

That key term in PI policies

By | 2008-11-02T16:19:35+00:00 November 2nd, 2008|Professional Negligence|

One of the key points I invariably highlight during my talk on 'Avoiding negligence claims' concerns a pretty standard term that appears in PI insurance policies. Indeed it's as important a term in PI policies as the 'Don't admit liability' clause is in motor car insurance policies. All drivers are well aware that if they