It has been a gruelling six months since lockdowns spread across Europe and then England. Accountants have had to play catchup with one coronavirus scheme after another, advising their clients on everything from Job Retention Scheme to Bounce Back Loans, CBILS, SEISS, and so on.
Just reading the list of schemes itself is exhausting, not to mention:
- Understanding the intricacies of each one.
- Then understanding how it might dovetail (or not) with your client’s needs.
Just as accountants were preparing to deal with complexities of tiers of lockdowns, Boris J. went and announced yet another nationwide lockdown, adding to the strain of accountants who have fought right along with their clients to prevent their finances from imploding and their businesses from collapsing.
Add to the above that many accountancy owners themselves are also facing the same problem their clients face, wondering if they shouldn’t just cut their losses and run.
We all want to do good by our clients. To that end, Accountants have gone above and beyond in advising clients on the different schemes, assisting them in applying for one if it was a good fit, advising them against another because of their debt profile, and so on.
The task is both mammoth and exhausting. Here are some things you can do to reduce that exhaustion.
Realise you are not a therapist
Times are tough for everyone. The in-thing on LinkedIn these days is to show your vulnerability and that you’re human as opposed to letting everyone think you’re a superhero.
As with everything in business, a little goes a long way, but too much can make you nauseous.
There’s nothing wrong with being a sympathetic ear every now and then. But your job is to ensure your clients’ businesses do not collapse due to a mishandling of their finances and their accounts, not because of their emotional state.
Taking on other people’s woes will only burden you more. Give good, professional advice but draw the line there. To do otherwise is exhausting.
Triage? Maybe not.
Here’s the hard truth of it: Some businesses are going to go down unless concerted, dedicated, full-time effort is made to keep them afloat.
The burden of that effort falls on the business owner, not you.
Unless you are personally responsible for someone’s failures in accounts and finances, you need to let them bail themselves out. Your job as their accountant is to give them a bucket without holes in it, perhaps even a bigger bucket. Your job is not to sit in that sinking boat and bail.
If you have a hundred businesses in dire straits, but three of them (who also happen to have the least amount of employees) require almost full-time attention to rescue at the expense of the others, who do you tackle first?
You tackle the other ninety-seven first. Or, maybe, tackle ten or twenty, then address one of the problem businesses. Then another twenty of the “quick-fixes”.
Perhaps you’re tired as an accountant because you’re sitting there bailing water out instead of giving advice on how to do it.
Call a daily timeout, install boundaries
Again — it’s tough.
Some business owners might find it difficult to call a timeout for various reasons:
- They’re afraid to lose a big client.
- They’re genuinely concerned for the client’s welfare (the more usual concern amongst professionals).
- A combination of the above.
But your accountancy firm is also important. If you go down, your clients will likely be able to find another accountant — the accountancy industry is glutted. But you won’t have anywhere to turn.
There’s a difference between working late into the night to help the occasional client, and never calling a timeout.
We’re professionals. Work must be done, and it is rare to find a pro who never works after hours during stressful times.
But that doesn’t mean your clients need to have your personal mobile number, WhatsApp number and a direct 24/7-line to call you at their whim whenever they want to.
You need to call a daily timeout for your emails and your business calls.
Part of the problem is that WFH has blurred the lines between what is work and what is play. It’s vital to define these boundaries. Although it’s not possible for everyone, try and ensure that your home office space is located somewhere else from your family/relaxation space.
There are phone apps around that block notifications/usage of other apps after certain hours. Decide that there will be no more work, say, after 20:00 and stick to it.
Then spend time with your family, a good book, or just sitting on your couch and recharging. In this day and age, it’s crucial to work smarter, not harder, and an exhausted executive is no good to their clients. Make sure you get your rest. Your service to your clients will be all the better