Each February I hear tales of woe from accountants who have worked late into the night during the weeks leading up to the tax return filing deadline.
Many are resigned to this and some even seem to enjoy the adrenaline rush. Most though resent the late hours and the pressure they feel as the deadline approaches.When I ask why they work such crazy hours they tell me they have no choice. Their clients routinely ignore requests to submit tax return data earlier in the year.
When I ask why they work such crazy hours accountants tell me they have no choice. Apparently their clients routinely ignore requests to submit tax return data earlier in the year. And the accountant doesn’t want to let their clients down. This is admirable but it doesn’t change the facts. I’m sorry to be the one to reveal this to you. You only have yourself to blame if you have loads of client tax returns to complete and file in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline.
I’m sorry. But it’s true. You have a choice. No one is forcing you to continue acting for dilatory clients. No one is forcing you to work late into the night. And no one is forcing you to keep your fees low. And yes, your fees are too low if dilatory clients pay no more than the prompt ones despite the extra hassle and problems they cause for you. Accountants tell me that late submitted data causes more stress and strain – and probably lowers the quality of service you can provide.
Have you done all that you can to persuade clients to supply their data on a more timely basis? Really? And yet they are not responding positively? If that’s the case then, it seems to me that they are, effectively, bullying you. And you are letting them do this. Would you accept that bullying is an acceptable form of behaviour in any other aspect of your life? I hope not.
You can choose whether to continue acting for bullies, for those clients who take advantage of your good nature and of your desire to please. Or you can take control. Be professional and firm. Set down the conditions that apply to your service. What can clients expect from you and what do you expect of them? Your fees are clear and transparent. Equally so are the additional fees paid only by dilatory clients. And these additional fees need to be paid before you will do last minute work for them in December and January.
You don’t have to do this of course. You’ve never had to. It’s always been an option though. The alternative is to look ahead to next year and to know that it will be the same as the last one. Again. If you want things to be different, YOU need to take action and to communicate effectively what will change. Stop letting clients bully you!