So much has changed over the last ten years. On the other hand the essentials of good advice are largely unchanged. I first created the list below in 2008 by reference to elements of a talk I had presented over the preceding few years. I am now presenting an updated version of the talk as part of the ICAEW Practitioners’ Essentials Roadshow on ‘Practice Protection‘. These ten practical tips bear repeating:
1 – When providing tax advice always state the known facts on which your advice is based – in writing;
2 – Equally state any assumptions you have made – in writing;
3 – Create contemporaneous notes of all material advice and of the assumptions you provide during meetings and telephone conversations;
4 – When advising, ask yourself whether you’d be happy for a close friend or family member to rely on the advice. If you’re not sure, do additional research, get a second opinion or involve a specialist colleague or trusted third-party (such as a member of the Tax Advice Network)
5 – When advising clients of forthcoming deadlines, focus their attention on the date that you need to the information to beat the statutory deadline;
6 – Avoid under-pricing work and introducing time-pressure that could exacerbate mistakes;
7 –Stick to what you know. If a client requires or requests advice on subjects outside of your comfort zone, involve a specialist colleague or a trusted third-party;
8 – Stop working for those clients who are more trouble than they are worth. These are the clients who resist paying decent fees, don’t contribute to the growth of your practice and who are most likely to complain, given half a chance.
9 – Manage client expectations and avoid over-promising and under-delivery. Remember that a client’s perception of these may be very different from yours.
10 – Keep uptodate – eg: with the weekly practical topical tax tips for accountants in general practice from the Tax Advice Network.