Professional Tax Advice

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Mark_Mc

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No I work in very specialised "boutique" tax practice and am only outlining my own experiences of the queries that come in. Can't comment on Top 20 Accoutancy Firms, but many of our clients - mid level Accountancy practices based countrywide are only now looking at recruiting qualified tax people.

I agree with a lot of Mark Mc's comments.
Perhaps we should team up MandaC and form our own tax practice?

Out of curiosity which comments do you agree with MandaC?
 
M

Mark_Mc

Guest
Sometimes even tax consultants seek specialist legal opinions, or in some cases VAT specialist advices for certain projects.
Are ICAI members running practices telling me that they do not employ an AITI to deal with tax queries? They most certainly do, they do it by getting the info from the AITI on the cheap as an employee and then they package it to the well off client as "their" tax advice. The well off client knows nothing of the identity of the AITI. It's an "I scratch your back you scratch mine relationship" when it comes to the accountant and well off client. I have seen it time and again myself. The reason they (the ICAI member) is running the practice is because of the regulatory audit framwork that professionals in government have put in place. Yes that is needed for consumer/investor confidence but it's a barrier to trade in certain sectors because the person uses the accountant (doing the audit etc) for tax also. The sectors should be broken up and regulated indenpendently of each other.

Have you any evidence to support this assertion, particularly in relation to your use of the word "most".
Yes he has evidence - his/her experience through his/her work just like me. Don't discount that.

If an accountant can only answer "the most very basic" tax questions asked by their clients, they will not last long in business. (Nor will they make any money, given the kind of fees that tax consultants charge for queries) Do you take their clients for fools?
Why shouldn't AITI members charge the fees that are charged for the work they do? I mean AITI qualified members have studied something which accountants have not (if the accountant has not also studied the AITI also) and are qualified to do something that the accountant is not so why shouldn't they be rewarded for the hard work it takes to attain the qualification? Sometimes I think accountants look down their noses, in public anyway, at AITI qualified people so that whomever they are talking to don't think of using the AITI instead of the accountant. It's all about money. The Accountancy profession jealously gaurds it's position when it comes to tax - why because there's so much money to be had.
 

ubiquitous

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Why shouldn't AITI members charge the fees that are charged for the work they do? I mean AITI qualified members have studied something which accountants have not (if the accountant has not also studied the AITI also) and are qualified to do something that the accountant is not so why shouldn't they be rewarded for the hard work it takes to attain the qualification?
Ironically, this sums up my entire argument much better than I could have put it myself. AITI members can command premium fees and salaries as they are specialists who can offer an important value-added service to their clients. In contrast, general practice accountants offer less specialised services but covering a wider range of areas. The lack of specialisation means that their prices are normally lower than those charged by the specialists.

Sometimes I think accountants look down their noses, in public anyway, at AITI qualified people so that whomever they are talking to don't think of using the AITI instead of the accountant.
If anything I would have thought that this was the other way around. Even on these pages, I have seen at least one tax advisor recently contend that an AITI registered advisor, rather than a general practice accountant, is the only suitable person to handle a query in relation to tax registration for a new business. :)

It's all about money. The Accountancy profession jealously gaurds it's position when it comes to tax
Does it really? Why then is accountancy one of the few open professions, where unlike law, pharmacy & medicine for example, a person can trade as an accountant and call oneself an accountant regardless of whether they have any competence, training, expertise or financial resources to do so? And at the end of the day, if a client wants to do their own tax returns, no accountant in the world can stop them from doing so.
 
M

Mark_Mc

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Ironically, this sums up my entire argument much better than I could have put it myself. AITI members can command premium fees and salaries as they are specialists who can offer an important value-added service to their clients.

I think your missing the point of what I said. It is accountants who are the first point of contact for joe public. Joe public pays the tax fee to the accountant and it is the accountant who employs the AITI to do the tax work. Joe public will not necessarily know that the AITI is in the background so, the next time the same joe has a tax issue who does he/she think is the person to go to - the AITI? - oh no it's the accountant because that is the person joe had his last tax dealing with, not the AITI. That's not how it should be when it comes to tax.


AITI members can command premium fees and salaries as they are specialists who can offer an important value-added service to their clients.

Perhaps this is the case with AITI's in Dublin where there's a shortage of them but outside Dublin there is an oversupply without the matching numbers of quality jobs (being a job where the taxpayer client is dealing with the AITI and not the accountant who is not also AITI) so the premium is not necessarily always commandable. There are too many AITI's being churned out these days.

In contrast, general practice accountants offer less specialised services but covering a wider range of areas. The lack of specialisation means that their prices are normally lower than those charged by the specialists.

But yet it's the accountant who employs the AITI under a contract of service (and who judges the quality and ability of the AITI when they know less tax than the AITI) and charges the tax fee to the client for what the AITI does without the client knowing and meeting the AITI doing the work! The fee paying client and the AITI don't meet cos the employing accountant is afraid of his/her life of losing the fee. Very understandable I know but the wrong dynamic for the fee paying client.

It should be the AITI charging the fee but it’s not. That was the context of my comment when I said why shouldn’t the AITI charge what they feel they are entitled to – because in fact it’s the accountant doing the charging not the AITI. Ironic isn't it. The accountant has their sphere and tax people should not stray into that sphere, nor should the non-AITI qualified AITI stray into the tax spehere. All matters tax should be left to those best qualified to handle them.

In contrast, general practice accountants offer less specialised services but covering a wider range of areas. The lack of specialisation means that their prices are normally lower than those charged by the specialists.

This wraps up everything I said – accountants deal with tax matters (in the eyes of the client) even though they are not always qualified to do so. Would you let a GP do brain surgery? An extreme analogy I know but the same principle applies.

...I have seen at least one tax advisor recently contend that an AITI registered advisor, rather than a general practice accountant, is the only suitable person to handle a query in relation to tax registration for a new business.

I would agree with that tax advisor. Why is it that you ask - well I have outlined it in my first paragraph above - because the first point of contact for the unsophisticated client (the client who is having his/her first dealing with an accountant etc - the more affluent clients with regular requirements for tax advice will be well aware of AITI's) when it comes to their affairs is the tax registration so naturally at a later point they go back to the "accountant", and not the person better qualified when it comes to tax, to deal with their tax affairs. So again the accountant employs the AITI instead of referring the enquiry to the AITI qualified person. Furthermore if Joe public comes first to the AITI with a tax registration what other tax mitigation opportunities can the AITI point out that the accountant dealing with the tax reg cannot? The so called value added that the AITI can provide is lost in such circumstances because the accountant does not want to lose the fee to the AITI.

Does it really? Why then is accountancy one of the few open professions, where unlike law, pharmacy & medicine for example, a person can trade as an accountant and call oneself an accountant regardless of whether they have any competence, training, expertise or financial resources to do so?

I agree with you on this ubiquitous.

I don't agree that people not qualified as accountants should be able to call themselves accountants. I am not an accountant and would be the first to say so but I do agree that accountants should be able to preserve the integrity of the qualification. It’s just a pity that every accountant doesn’t have the same integrity that the profession is perceived as having. I have seen accountancy practices hire AITI’s on the pretence of permanency only to dispense with the AITI as soon as the pressing need for the AITI disappears.

When I say the "accountancy profession" I am using that in the context of some of the people within and not the collective noun. I have come across some right accountants in my time who extract valuable tax info from the AITI and then they pass that to their client as if it's them (the accountant) and not the AITI who has the expertise. That's exploititve but it's motivated by fear of losing a fee.

The dynamics when it comes to tax are all wrong. Presently accountants by and large are those who employ AITI's in relation to tax matters but in reality, if it should be anything at all, it should be the other way around when it comes to tax matters. All matters tax should first and foremost be overseen by AITI but it's not. But why is it that it is the accountant that is employing the AITI? Because Joe public thinks the accountant is the messiah in relation to tax and joe first approaches an accountant. What does the accountant do - he/she acts as a clearing house for the AITI, passing the tax work to the taxpaying (hopefully not with a good AITI) client without necessarily telling the client that it's actually say "Pat" the AITI who did this and not me. I have worked in practice for long enough to see this going on at first hand.

And at the end of the day, if a client wants to do their own tax returns, no accountant in the world can stop them from doing so.

Yes, there is nothing that the accountant can do – I never said otherwise but my point is this – how many tax practices are there? This contrasts to the number of accountancy practices that handle more tax work than accounting work?
 
M

Mark_Mc

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Ubiquitous - What is your definition of a tax consultant and what qualifications should that person have in your opinion?
I must say that the following comments are very facetious in response to the above.

Once again the issue of who can PROPERLY (forget about the law, after all accountants hire AITI's left, right and centre to do tax work that they pass of as their own to the client) describe themselves as a tax consultant has been skirted around.

Come on all the AITI's reading askaboutmoney it's time to circle the wagon's just like the accountants are circling theirs!!


A tax consultant is someone who describes themselves as such
there is no legal basis for the term.
This next bit is a real insult to those AITI qualified and validates how I feel about accountants looking down their noses at AITI qualified people. It's belittling the AITI qualification in my view. The mods should remove those as members who make such degrogatory posts as this - to say that auctioneers etc are doubling up as tax consultants (if the auctioneer etc ain't AITI with it) is an insult to AITI qualified members and fails to take the question seriously.

Most so-called "tax consultants" have no qualifications whatsoever, some actually double up as auctioneers, mortgage agents and overseas property salesmen!
The above and the below is straying from anwering Galways question!! I think there is a politician answering the questions. =:D He was on with Vincent Browne last Wednesday evening on TV3 at 11.

Reminds me of one particular guy with a national media profile who describes himself as a tax consultant, and who has been described as such by others in the media, despite the fact that he has neither a tax nor an accountancy qualification to his name, and also the fact that his work is regulated by neither the ITI nor any of the accountancy institutes, nor anyone else.

The same guy was asked in a public forum some years ago for his view on the effects of technology on accounting and replied with the immortal comment "double entry bookkeeping is a thing of the past". :D
Whomever that guy is with the media profile is wrong and so too are the media. It's only AITI's who can correctly and validly claim to be tax consultants irrespective of the lack of legal protection of the term.
 

Vanilla

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MarkMc- is there anything preventing you from advertising/dealing directly with the public?
 

ubiquitous

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No, there is nothing to stop an AITI or other tax consultant advertising or dealing directly with the public.

On a more general point, this discussion is getting very long-winded and tedious. As far as most readers are concerned, it must be starting to sound like a "Judean Peoples Front v Peoples Front of Judea" argument.

All I can say to sum up is, to repeat

If your own business or industry sector has a marketing or branding problem, its up to you to address this. It won't be solved by blaming others.
 
M

Mark_Mc

Guest
Yes, you can but what you invariably hear off someone then is I feel a sense of loyalty to my current "accountant" - yes they say "accountant". So the non tax qualified individual is the person with the "access" I mentioned earlier in this thread to the client due to the lack of understanding in the mind of the public about who is doing the tax work.

The Institute could be doing more but I suppose the way they see it is that they don't want to cut the hand off that feeds them and so they don't push what they do more prominently. It's probably an attitude of the system is so inbedded that we (the Institute) are not going to be able to change it so they don't push things harder. 1 supplement per year, in the Irish Times of all places, is not enough. It should be done intermittenly in all publications so that all walks of life get exposure to what AITI's do etc. They should also be pushing the regional radio stations to bring on exclusively AITI's at Budget time to review the budget etc but that doesn't happen either. You hear "accountants" on the radio so Joe public thinks accountant all the time.

Changing the perception of Joe Public is therefore very expensive.

MarkMc- is there anything preventing you from advertising/dealing directly with the public?
 

MOB

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I think a huge part of the tension which has arisen in this debate is due to a failure on the part of Mark_Mc to understand a few basic points:

1. The fondly imagined 'wealthy clients' with silver spoons who just dole out money to 'the accountant' without really knowing what it is being spent on (i.e. specialist advice, whether AITI or not) are, largely, a figment of the imagination. Good clients who need tax advice will usually also be informed and discerning clients (because if they are not, they just won't want to pay for top level advice)

2. The notion that accountants act as a 'barrier' to stop the AITI (or other specialist adviser) forming a direct relationship with the customer is misguided. The specialist tax adviser's customers are the solicitors and accountants who refer matters to him\her for advice. This is the only way that a good tax adviser can prosper. The market for high level tax advice is marked by a huge information assymettry between the service provider (i.e.Specialist Tax Adviser) and the ultimate consumer. It is perfectly understandable that the business model is, in effect, that somebody entrust their affairs to a solicitor and accountant who will in turn go out and buy the specialist advice when it is needed. That is why we have solicitors and barristers. That is why we have doctors and consultants.

If you want to have a happy and successful career as an AITI-qualified tax adviser, you need to stop seeing accountants as competitors and start seeing them as customers.
 
M

Mark_Mc

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I'll say one thing, you're not talking to a fool. I worked in practice for nearly 8 years (quite successfully at senior level toward the end of those years) and saw at first hand plenty of wealthy clients. I never said they just doled money out to the accountant. What I said was that they thought the accountant was the be all and end all and made the accountant the first point. This meant that although I was doing all the work the accountant was getting the substantial fee and more often than not the client recognition. In one case a fee was €25K - how much of this did I see? Not alot you can be sure. So why should I not resent that fact?

I think a huge part of the tension which has arisen in this debate is due to a failure on the part of Mark_Mc to understand a few basic points:

1. The fondly imagined 'wealthy clients' with silver spoons who just dole out money to 'the accountant' without really knowing what it is being spent on (i.e. specialist advice, whether AITI or not) are, largely, a figment of the imagination.
I would agree wholeheartedly with this next part. I have seen it with my own two eyes but they still tend to gravitate to the accountant first who employsunder a contract of service the AITI. Why should it not be the other way around. Read other posts by people in this thread and you will see a similar theme to me.
Good clients who need tax advice will usually also be informed and discerning clients (because if they are not, they just won't want to pay for top level advice)

2. The notion that accountants act as a 'barrier' to stop the AITI (or other specialist adviser) forming a direct relationship with the customer is misguided. The specialist tax adviser's customers are the solicitors and accountants who refer matters to him\her for advice. This is the only way that a good tax adviser can prosper. The market for high level tax advice is marked by a huge information assymettry between the service provider (i.e.Specialist Tax Adviser) and the ultimate consumer. It is perfectly understandable that the business model is, in effect, that somebody entrust their affairs to a solicitor and accountant who will in turn go out and buy the specialist advice when it is needed. That is why we have solicitors and barristers. That is why we have doctors and consultants.
I wish it was as simple as this. I have worked with many accountants in my time who have acknowledged my technical skills and who would have been calling me regularly with tax questions when I was no longer working with them (when I had moved elsewhere as an employee). I always had no difficulty in answering those questions without charge - I looked upon some of these people as friends so I thought why not - but when I decided to only answer those calls for payment and told them so they dried up - they, my so called accountant friends, were happy for me to deal with their questions when they were not being asked to pay but when they were they moved elsewhere for the free answers so you tell me why I should not see them as competitors. There are plenty of genuine accountants out there, don't get me wrong as I don't want to paint them all with the same brush but I have just come up against people all the time who try to exploit But the point I am trying to make in this is that whomever was asking the accountant the tax question thought that the accountant could provide the answer, they did not realise that they (the person asking the accountant) could easily ask the AITI directly and probably get a better level of service than having an intermediary.

If you want to have a happy and successful career as an AITI-qualified tax adviser, you need to stop seeing accountants as competitors and start seeing them as customers.
That's what I have a problem with. But the reason it's this was is due to the public's image of the accountant. Like this illustrates it. I was listening to liveline lately and they were referring to the changes to the VAT treatment of service charges in hotels and restaurants. Derek Davis was the presenter and what did he say "perhaps an accountant [YES accountant is what he said] can come on air and outline it" so Joe public listening to liveline (there are plenty of listeners) thinks oh, accountants are the experts on such matters and they go to the accountant who in turn is employing AITI's.

That's what AITI's are up against - the widespread misconception among the public that the accountant is the tax messiah.

This is the only way that a good tax adviser can prosper.
 

MandaC

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MOB, I agree mostly with your post.

MarkMc also has a point. I have seen cases where the Accountancy practices do try to keep the client separate from theTax Advisor and in certain cases not tell the client the work has been outsourced. From my experience, it happens in more basic cases like the OP (very basic rental computations/CGT queries) for people who might even happen in off the street/golden pages/local town and not be a regular client of the Accountants. It happens more so in smaller Accountancy practices that do not have a designated tax department and absolutely everything is outsourced.

I also agree that some people think they can just "bounce" a tax question and are quite surprised when they get a bill. Again, smaller practices, who could not justify our charge out rates to their clients but still want the top end advice. Ultimately, we had to stop dealing with them and concentrate on a higher level of client/accountant.For the same reason (costs) we do not advertise in golden pages or take basic cold calls from the public. People with very basic queries do not require the level of expertise of our practice. The doctor and consultant scenario.

One time at a Seminar, one Accountant(who dealt with our firm donkey's years ago) showed up and sat with one of our tax people at breakfast and proceeded to take out an A4 sheet with a list of questions for his clients on it. Despite not hearing from him in years, he thought he was getting a freebie" and was more than surprised to get a bill a couple of weeks later.

We now deal with a core list of clients, and for the most part do not charge if they call to just bounce a very basic question because there is an ongoing relationship.

I agree with MOB. Higher net worth clients are more astute and Accountants are more than happy to introduce their "specialist tax advisor". These clients are aware that they are paying for premium service and have no qualms in doing so.
 
M

Mark_Mc

Guest
Alot of what you say MandaC is correct but there is one point which is being overlooked entirely.

As I keep saying, in my attempts to build up a client base I keep hearing "I have too much loyalty to my present "accountant". Most of these people are only high net worth people with a large investment portfolio, parhaps stocks/shares and a large number of investment properties whose only need is tax and wealth management advice and the tax return. Now, that really is and should be the preserve of the AITI but in large cases (there are alot of them clients of big 4 - I should know - who don't need to use big 4 but do for snob value) they gravitate day one to the "accountant" so when the issue is basic at the outset yes the accountant is dealing with it and not telling the client he is outsourcing but what is happening is more criticial - he is developing a relationship with the client that the AITI who is trying to establish a business cannot break when he/she targets the person (the tax client of the accountant - the majority of clients in accountants, unless they are sole traders with complex sets of accounts or companies needing audits, can be just as better served by the AITI). This is the point being overlooked, the early day opportunities to build a bond that accountants have a strangehold on due to the mistaken assumption of the public about who they should go to with tax issues.

I will give you a prime example of why accountants should not be handling tax work. In my last position as a tax manager an accountant was handling a sole trader cessation case. Two sets of accounts were done and the relevant adjusted profit computations were done by the accountant doing the day to day work (and crucially building a relationship with the client). The tax return relating to the first period of accounts had not been filed with Revenue and I stumbled (literally onto this fact shortly after joining the office) I looked over the figures and was alarmed at what was being done. I suggested to the partners of the practice that what should be done was to merge the accounts and take advantage of the cesstion rules. This saved the client €40K and I wanted the firm to charge a higher fee for this premium work but a minor 3 figure fee had already been agreed with the client. Now what happened there is that the partner (accountant) met with the client, outlined what they were doing for him (my work) and the client thought that the accountant they were looking at was great. Now, the next time that client has a big tax issue to deal with it who does he go to? Me, no, it's the accountant he was looking at across the desk. Where does that leave me? There are plenty of accountants out there handling this type of scenario and they don't have the expertise to realise they should take a different course of action like I did but they would never think of even referring it to an AITI for fear they would lose the client to the AITI. So the outcome for the client by this approach is that they could be suffering too much tax but do they have the knowledge/education to spot they paid too much tax? No they don't understand the cessation rules etc so are they ever going to catch out the accountant? Unlikely, so everthing proceeds as normal as if it's being done right and the client thinks he/she is getting great service from his accountant. This does, I'm sure, go on all over the country. MandaC, would you have thought that this case was a basic case and should be handled by the accountant? Look at what it would have cost the client if it weren't for me!!

It's the early relationship building days, when things might be basic, that are the most important in professional services and it's those days that the accountants get a strangehold on because they package those things as minor but they are the most important things. People who start out as small clients can become higher net worth clients but when they reach that stage their loyalty is with the accountant, not the AITI because of the so called early, minor days.

I am only trying to establish myself as an independent now but unless you are seen as part of the club it doesn't matter how good you are, you don't get anywhere in tax.

MOB, I agree mostly with your post.

MarkMc also has a point. I have seen cases where the Accountancy practices do try to keep the client separate from theTax Advisor and in certain cases not tell the client the work has been outsourced. From my experience, it happens in more basic cases like the OP (very basic rental computations/CGT queries) for people who might even happen in off the street/golden pages/local town and not be a regular client of the Accountants. It happens more so in smaller Accountancy practices that do not have a designated tax department and absolutely everything is outsourced.


I also agree that some people think they can just "bounce" a tax question and are quite surprised when they get a bill. Again, smaller practices, who could not justify our charge out rates to their clients but still want the top end advice. Ultimately, we had to stop dealing with them and concentrate on a higher level of client/accountant.For the same reason (costs) we do not advertise in golden pages or take basic cold calls from the public.
 

ubiquitous

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3,782
As I keep saying, in my attempts to build up a client base I keep hearing "I have too much loyalty to my present "accountant".
Hi Mark_Mc,

I think that this may have more to do with the dynamics of typical client/professional relationships than the structural differentiation between tax consultants and accountants.

Put simply, a client who is happy with the service provided by their current provider will not change to another provider without good reason. In setting up and developing my own practice, I learned quickly that it is largely pointless to ask people directly to become my clients if they already had someone acting for them. Accounting and tax services are "relationship services", ie built on the ongoing relationship between the professional and the client, and when the relationship is good, why break it? On the other hand, if they want to move, they will do so in their own time.

All one can do in building up a client base is to be patient, promote oneself as best one can (without being too pushy) concentrate on doing ones best for the clients that come in the door, build up a reputation based on quality of service, keep plugging away and before too long you will have a decent-sized client base.

I will give you a prime example of why accountants should not be handling tax work. In my last position as a tax manager an accountant was handling a sole trader cessation case. Two sets of accounts were done and the relevant adjusted profit computations were done by the accountant doing the day to day work (and crucially building a relationship with the client). The tax return relating to the first period of accounts had not been filed with Revenue and I stumbled (literally onto this fact shortly after joining the office) I looked over the figures and was alarmed at what was being done. I suggested to the partners of the practice that what should be done was to merge the accounts and take advantage of the cessation rules. This saved the client €40K and I wanted the firm to charge a higher fee for this premium work but a minor 3 figure fee had already been agreed with the client.
My approach there would have been to go back to the accountant, propose the bones of your solution, emphasise the additional value-added to the ultimate client, but make the detail of your solution conditional on them paying you a decent fee based on the value you have provided. Its up to them to decide whether to pay this from their own resources or renegotiate their own original price to their client, on the basis that the nature of the original assignment has changed drastically in the meantime.

I know this is easy for me to say as it wasn't me who was in your position at the time, and believe me it is hard to get one's negotiation strategies right all the time, or even most of the time :)

Hi MandaC
I also agree that some people think they can just "bounce" a tax question and are quite surprised when they get a bill. Again, smaller practices, who could not justify our charge out rates to their clients but still want the top end advice.
...
One time at a Seminar, one Accountant(who dealt with our firm donkey's years ago) showed up and sat with one of our tax people at breakfast and proceeded to take out an A4 sheet with a list of questions for his clients on it. Despite not hearing from him in years, he thought he was getting a freebie" and was more than surprised to get a bill a couple of weeks later.
You're 100% correct there. Unfortunately the country is full of people who love to rip you off if they think they can trick you into giving them something valuable and useful (in this case expertise) for nothing. The only solution there is to say the magic word "But..." :)
 
M

Mark_Mc

Guest
Now, this is the type of constructive view that I appreciate and is helpful, albeit on the surface. When I say on the surface what I mean is that patience is all well and good but patience does not put food on the table or keep the table there, i.e. the mortgage. I personally believe that I am a very good tax advisor but get fed up with being seen as outside the cosy club that I sometimes see. That's disheartening and you end up feeling like just walking away from it because, despite putting in alot of hard work you tend to get nowhere when not looked on as part of the "club" - the old boys club so to speak.

I certainly appreciate your comments though ubi. Although, on the point of going back to the accountant to re-negotiate etc it is impossible to do that in an employer/employee situation because you have to toe the line even if you know better than your employer. Sometimes the employer doesn't like (as he/she sees it anyway) being "told" what to do by the "employee" but sometimes that's not what the employee is doing. He/She only wants what's best for the firm but that is not often recognised. In a contractor situation you can but again your often cutting off the hand that feeds you so the dynamics of the situation work against you but that's the way of the world unfortunately at times.

You can just picture the situation: I go to the employer in the office and say I can save that client €40K, employer says how and I say I'll tell you if you agree to charge the client an extra 10/20% of the tax saving and then you give me 25% of the extra fee. You can imagine the reaction from the employer - he/she will damand to know how because he/she holds the power in the relationship (the need by the employee to be paid) and so you end up just providing your solution to avoid confrontation etc so that you don't get hassle and potentially sent packing by the employer. That's a tought situation for any employee to manage.

What did you do in the early days when you started without a client and had to pay the bills that wouldn't keep, i.e. mortgage, car loan, etc? It's these practical things that I have always wanted to ask an established operator because sometimes I think their family must have some financial resources to back them in the early days.


Hi Mark_Mc,

I think that this may have more to do with the dynamics of typical client/professional relationships than the structural differentiation between tax consultants and accountants.

Put simply, a client who is happy with the service provided by their current provider will not change to another provider without good reason. In setting up and developing my own practice, I learned quickly that it is largely pointless to ask people directly to become my clients if they already had someone acting for them. Accounting and tax services are "relationship services", ie built on the ongoing relationship between the professional and the client, and when the relationship is good, why break it? On the other hand, if they want to move, they will do so in their own time.

All one can do in building up a client base is to be patient, promote oneself as best one can (without being too pushy) concentrate on doing ones best for the clients that come in the door, build up a reputation based on quality of service, keep plugging away and before too long you will have a decent-sized client base.



My approach there would have been to go back to the accountant, propose the bones of your solution, emphasise the additional value-added to the ultimate client, but make the detail of your solution conditional on them paying you a decent fee based on the value you have provided. Its up to them to decide whether to pay this from their own resources or renegotiate their own original price to their client, on the basis that the nature of the original assignment has changed drastically in the meantime.

I know this is easy for me to say as it wasn't me who was in your position at the time, and believe me it is hard to get one's negotiation strategies right all the time, or even most of the time :)

Hi MandaC

You're 100% correct there. Unfortunately the country is full of people who love to rip you off if they think they can trick you into giving them something valuable and useful (in this case expertise) for nothing. The only solution there is to say the magic word "But..." :)
 

Graham_07

Frequent Poster
Messages
2,891
What did you do in the early days when you started without a client and had to pay the bills that wouldn't keep, i.e. mortgage, car loan, etc? It's these practical things that I have always wanted to ask an established operator because sometimes I think their family must have some financial resources to back them in the early days.
Hi Mark_Mc, hope you dont mind me jumping in on this. I'm in practice (as an accountant) almost 20 yrs. Started with a couple of clients and in first month made £200. At that time had mortgage/young kids(one a baby) so yes it was tough. There were no family resources, I think very few to be honest have such a "silver spoon" start. It took time and effort and word of mouth. The one thing that I believe never helped was the Golden Pages. The call from Joe Bloggs who says " I got your name from Mr X , one of your clients", is what I loved to hear. It meant we were doing something right. There is a lot more competition from a variety of angles today. Promoting yourself as Ubi I think said is the thing. I know my limitations when it comes to tax. Yes I have had to do tax exams and tax courses as part of CPD but they do not cover those intricate situations where a highly qualified tax mind comes to the fore. I use the services of 2 firms of tax consultants ( AITI qualified tax consultants I mean ) and have never been let down by the service I have had so far from either. If situations arise which I consider demand a high level of tax expertise then I tell the client, get the consult and they pay for it. I have had such an instance only today. Get yourself known to the accounting/legal professionals in your area and beyond. If you are good, it will show rewards. ( I gotta say eventually :) )
 
L

Lord Byron

Guest
I have read this thread with great interest particularly as I am considering starting the AITI course. Having spoken to a few contacts, solicitors and accountants, (I am neither, I am a Financial Adviser) the implication from them is that AITI is just an 'add on' for those in the accountancy and legal profession. Is this the case or is it a justifiable qualification for someone like myself? your thoughts would be appreciated.
 
M

Mark_Mc

Guest
if anything it's the other way around. But if that is the consensus you have been greeted with elsewhere it just adds weight to my view that accountants look down their noses at the AITI qualification. If anything it's the other way around for me. Acountancy, whai I am doing, is an add on for me due to the public belief of speak to your accountant regarding tax.


I have read this thread with great interest particularly as I am considering starting the AITI course. Having spoken to a few contacts, solicitors and accountants, (I am neither, I am a Financial Adviser) the implication from them is that AITI is just an 'add on' for those in the accountancy and legal profession. Is this the case or is it a justifiable qualification for someone like myself? your thoughts would be appreciated.
 

MandaC

Frequent Poster
Messages
1,784
Hi Mark, do you have your own practice or do you work in an Accountants office? And are you Dublin based, or provincial?

You probably know already but there is a shortage of (good) tax consultants in Dublin. There are good salaries on offer (six figure sums)

The tax world is not as sewn up as it used to be, so keep at it and good luck.
 
M

Mark_Mc

Guest
I'll p.m. you on this one. There are posting guidlines which i don't want to fall foul of.

Hi Mark, do you have your own practice or do you work in an Accountants office? And are you Dublin based, or provincial?

You probably know already but there is a shortage of (good) tax consultants in Dublin. There are good salaries on offer (six figure sums)

The tax world is not as sewn up as it used to be, so keep at it and good luck.
 

InfoSeeker

Frequent Poster
Messages
459
I have been an interested party to this thread as I hope to become a qualified AITI in the next month when the results are released. I am in my early thirties & have moved into this area after 10 years in IT. My experience in sitting these exams was that there was a large number of qualified accountants doing likewise & the general feedback I received was that the AITI exams were not pleasant vis-a-vis the ACCA, ACA, CPA, CIMA. Therefore I would assume that these accountants would hold the AITI in high regard which can only help to promote the merits of the qualification.

Mark_Mc, my long term goal would be to move from being an employee to having my own "one man show". Unfortunately I cannot add any value to your predictment as I have no experience but my perception on how I would achieve my goal would be to build good relationships with solicitors & accountancy firms. The logic for this is that the service I would offer is one where, many people's perception, is that the contact person would be an accountant or solicitor (eg succession planning). Also I would have a lot of friends who are self employed but I probably could not even count on them as possible clients as they might not want me to be privy to their financial affairs. The relationship with the accountant/solicitor means that I would not have cold calls to deal with and in essence would be more of a consultant initially. If, over time, these high net worth clients appreciated the value of the service, ie that it was saving them money, then I am sure that they would feel no remorse in moving as that is why some of them are high net worth individuals. Perhaps, as you seem to have experienced, the reality in practice is far different from the theory highlighted above.

I wish you all the best in your venture, I hope things work out & if they do, then I hope to be asking for your advice in a number of years.
 
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