Taking the Stress Out of Accounting: An Interview with Rob Smith (ATT)creative77
To give you a bit more insight into Appleleaf Accountancy, every now and then we thought it would be useful to bring you an interview with a member of the team.
This time around, though, we took some time out of a busy morning to talk with another of our directors, Rob Smith.
We began by discussing how he ended up in Grimsby…
ROB: I grew up in Birmingham and was at college there for three years, which is when I first began studying accounting.
But after a while I decided to change tack a little and that led me to Grimsby.
At the time, the inland revenue, or I should say HMRC these days, were well represented here and I worked as a tax inspector, for my sins, for many years.
APPLELEAF: We’ll forgive you. And so eventually you decided to go it alone?
ROB: Yes. In my family there seems to be something that triggers an entrepreneurial spirit later in life and we decide to become self-employed.
The same happened with me in my forties and I went for it, setting up with a few clients and quickly found my feet.
APPLELEAF: And before long, you teamed up with Matthew too
ROB: I did. We’d worked together locally; I remember the first day he started at Weaver Wroot, with his lunchbox, ready for his first day. Ha.
But yes, we got on well and discovered we had a shared philosophy about a lot of things, so we always stayed in touch.
Then, when Matthew decided to go self-employed too and was looking for some office space, we figured it was a good idea to put our heads together. And here we are.
A sense of satisfaction
APPLELEAF: You’ve been in accounting for many years—
ROB: Too many to count.
APPLELEAF: I didn’t like to say. So, what’s kept you in it so long? What do you enjoy most about the job?
ROB: It’s the client side of things, I’d say.
I do enjoy knowing that we’re making people’s lives a bit easier, taking some of the stress away and that is satisfying.
So many people come to us and are worried or concerned and don’t understand what they need to do about their accounts, and we try to help them and show how it needn’t be a stress.
That’s our mantra, I guess – if that’s the right word. We want to help people understand how the accounts work so it demystifies it a bit.
The appreciation you get from the vast majority of people in return is really what makes it such a nice job to do.
APPLELEAF: I know what you mean. On that note of clients finding things challenging when it comes to understanding their accounts, what would you say is the biggest challenge you find people face today, with their accounts?
ROB: The move to digital has been tough – and still is – for a lot of people.
I’m not a complete dinosaur and can handle most new technology, but even I find it a little tough.
Many clients really do struggle, though, and they feel intimidated. They don’t understand a lot of the changes and the requirements and it’s important we help them on that front. That’s our job.
When I think about it, such a large part of being an accountant is really about establishing trust. We have to make sure our clients trust us to do the work and to guide them when they don’t fully understand what’s needed.
I hope we’re able to do that effectively.
APPLELEAF: What’s the best piece of advice you have for people who are worried, or are struggling with their accounts?
ROB: Little and often.
APPLELEAF: Little and often?
ROB: Yes. I know for most people sorting the books is a nightmare. After a day of work, the last thing you want to do when you’re at home is the accounts.
But then people do tend to leave things and what can be a quick job grows and grows until it becomes a real chore.
It’s frustrating, I know. But it is best to do a little bit here and there just to stay on top of things. You’ll thank yourself in the future.
APPLELEAF: Good advice.
A Middle-Aged Man in Lycra
APPLELEAF: When you’re not balancing the books for people, what do you like to get up to in your spare time?
ROB: I’m afraid to say I’m a middle-aged man in Lycra.
APPLELEAF: A what?
ROB: Ha. I cycle. A lot really. I’ve got a road bike and must do around 100 miles a week. It’s my therapy, I love it.
APPLELEAF: Do you cycle locally?
ROB: We go through the Wolds a lot, which is great. It’s nothing too competitive, it’s just nice to stay fit and chat with friends while we do.
It also gives me a lot of space to think, which is good and, like I say, keeps me ticking over. I like a lot of sport, but I’d say cycling is my real hobby.
APPLELEAF: Nice. And before I let you get back to work, as I know you’re busy speaking to clients today, I wanted to ask what’s next for Appleleaf? What’s on the horizon?
ROB: Really, I see it that we just want to keep providing a good service…well, the very best service we can, to all of our clients.
In turn, that seems to send more clients our way.
We’re always busy and no one is ever twiddling their thumbs here as there’s always ways we can be doing more for our clients and keeping on top of all the changes that the government like to make.
If we can carry on providing a good service to our clients, I’ll be happy.
APPLELEAF: Sounds like a good plan. Thanks for your time, Rob. It’s appreciated.
ROB: My pleasure. I hope people enjoy reading.
As Rob says, I hope you found our chat useful and interesting. We’ll be back again before too long with another member of the team.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for support with you accounts, we’re still working as usual and are more than happy to talk about your specific needs.
You can contact us by completing the form below or call us direct on 01472 287387.