I must admit that I would like to have this accolade but on virtually any metric, I don’t think I would qualify. The former owner of the first accountancy practice that we bought used to turn accounts around very fast. There was a farm where the year end was 5 April. The accounts were signed off on 7 April.
You maybe think this is pretty good but, the accountant completed the vat returns and did these up to 31 March. This was also where the numbers for the accounts came from so the cover said 5 April, but the accounts were actually for the year ended 31 March. There were no accruals or prepayments with the exception of the accrual for the accountant’s own fees. The accounts were therefore just receipts and payments accounts. So, you must always look behind the initial headline story.
The title of the world’s fastest account has nothing to do with how fast he can add, type or even run up the office stairs. It is held by Amo-Dadzie who is 30 and just happens to work as a full-time accountant. He only took up the sport 4 years ago but he ran a 9.93-second 100m in Graz, Austria, last week which means he is now the quickest 100m runner in Europe this year by some margin and one of the fastest 100m runners of all time.
Speaking of titles, I was listening to a report on the radio this morning about so called loan sharks. These are unlicensed lenders, who typically do no background checks on the borrower, produce little or no paperwork and probably do not declare the true source of their income, if at all. They typically charge very high rates of interest and have various ways of enforcing payment.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, there is the threat of violence. However, another apparently unpalatable method, according to the report, was turning up at people’s houses or their place of work. That set me thinking. Isn’t this one of the tactics threatened by HMRC? If you don’t pay your tax debt we may come around to your business premises or your home. Does that put HMRC on the same level as loan sharks? Merely an observation!
Loan sharks typically charge high rates of interest. Now, some of us who are a bit long in the tooth will recall interest rates in the high teens and inflation at over 10% for a very long time. We have had low interest rates and inflation for long enough that some people think the current rates of interest are very high. Well, they are getting higher. The Bank of England has raised the base rate of interest for the 13th time. They say it is because inflation is being stubborn.
Can inflation be stubborn? I know what they mean but it seems a very funny way of summarising the current situation. Being stubborn suggests a personal attribute. I have known some pretty stubborn people over the years. I suspect we can all be perceived as stubborn in certain situations. But can a rate of price increase in the economy, i.e. inflation be described as stubborn? You cannot reason with it, discuss options etc. You could describe various suppliers as stubbornly refusing to lower their prices. You can say that government stubbornly refuses to do certain things, but inflation cannot be stubborn in itself. Just a thought.
Anyway, Helen and I have been together for a long time. We have worked together for even longer. So, yesterday being our wedding anniversary, we thought we would take the day off. This does not happen very often. We had a fine relaxing day together, did not get up at the usual Tuesday time of 4am. But a client needed some issues with their projections sorted in a hurry, so we sorted these out together in the morning before going out to lunch. Came home with some cake and some nice cheese to have for our tea. Once home, had a cup of tea and some cake, before finishing the projections. Then cheese, nice bread, some oatcakes and a bottle of wine. Just a perfect end to the day.
I know what you are thinking. How can doing projections on our day off be a perfect day? What’s the problem? Our business looks after and supports hundreds of other businesses in the north of Scotland and further afield. We are all trying to make our way in a pretty harsh trading environment, so helping just one of them get over a problem, even if it means spending a little time on our day off, is rewarding in itself… and I was not doing anything else at the time. However, I did tell them, once we had opened the wine, that we were not doing anymore. That was our time and we felt that we had done enough.
When you are in business you never switch off completely. You might do things to take your mind off it for a while, but it never goes away. I have often said that you know when you are self employed because you wake up at 4am worrying about cash flow. You have to have a certain type of character to make your way in business and if you are not toughened at the start, you will be over the years, just from all the experiences, good and bad.
So, have a good week in business, but always remember to have some “cork out/me” time. They can spare you for a few hours at least. Where’s that cork screw?
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership