I was in a client meeting a few days ago when he told me, “I like coming in to see you as I feel comfortable talking to you and you take time with me to explain things.” A rare compliment but one sufficient to make you think you must be doing something right in these fast changing times.

But that’s the thing. When you are acting for a range of clients some who are big, some who are small, you come to recognise those of them who need the reassurance that they are doing things correctly as they develop their growing business or those who need support in grasping a point that may change their fortunes for the future. Of course others have directors or partners around them to feed off and they need less, but that’s the point of financial mentoring.

I recognise that some of my clients might feel, “I can’t ask Nick that as we’ve already discussed it” or “he will expect me to already know it” but I also appreciate that without getting it clear in their minds, doubts will develop that might prove to be harmful in the medium term. For this reason I have a willing team behind me who are extremely able in supporting clients on the more transactional elements of the job and these days when it comes to the technology, know more about than I do anyway.

If the client is happier to ask them, they either get the answer straight back or find their way to me either directly or indirectly, as it wasn’t such a silly question after all and I might have to give it some thought before answering. The key is encouraging our client to ask rather than suffering in silence.

Of course some clients don’t fancy asking because they fear an item on their annual accounts invoice and they don’t like the idea of additional cost. This is really the wrong approach but I would say that, wouldn’t I? But let me make clear what i mean when I say that…

As you probably appreciate, we make our money from charging our time so we do log a charge on the time card, but this doesn’t always make its way to the bill. I’m keen to tell new clients how we view these things. Ask a couple of questions during the year that are easy to answer and we are more likely to pick that up in your annual accounts invoice without a mention – but call us every week and expect us to undertake research and that won’t be free of charge. I don’t think that’s outrageous and in many cases the number of questions are low so it works well for both parties.

But if you have a specific area of concern then our mentoring support can be invaluable to you as it allows you to make a balanced decision with the aid of a listening ear guiding you towards the right answer and if dealt with correctly, should allow you to make more money or pay less taxes in the short term from a smartly timed investment into plant or machinery.

Financial Mentoring doesn’t have to be a set programme of meetings or regular attendance at Board Meetings. In my mind, it’s an opportunity for you as a sole director or trader to dump out some of your frustrations to get an impartial view as to whether things should be changed. But don’t feel it’s mandatory to speak with us – after all there are thousands of books in the Amazon warehouse waiting for you to buy them. Unfortunately, all too often after being delivered they do no more than gather dust proving that even the best thought out present does nothing more than give world domination to Amazon.

And why is that? These days we’ve got out of the habit of reading and besides we’re far too busy for that with work and with Premier League action promised 7 days a week morning, noon and night shortly – frankly there just isn’t the time. On top of that I’m still not sure about the point they were making on page 5 so I must be an idiot and I now don’t like the book.

Look, I’m with you on that one having got a library of books on golfing technique that I’ve read a few pages of and then failed to become the next Justin Rose. But some of us still practice the art of conversation and prefer to do our learning that way and what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all. As they say “A problem aired is a problem shared” and most of us feel so much better for having done so – I know I do.

I should also say at least a couple of times a week I sit down with Nigel or Sean and discuss some issue or other that I have. Normally over a 6 o’clock cup of tea as the day comes to an end and it feels good. You bond with your colleague and often they can’t come up easily with a better answer. As a practice, we have some clients that pop by regularly to have a cuppa and talk through an issue and others who are further afield telephone in to pick our brains.

We believe that some of our success is down to this availability and for our London clients, the lack of a London weighting on our charge out rates allows us to spend double the time than a city based firm would be able to with them developing a strategy.  So if you have a nagging doubt or an issue that you want some certainty on before implementing, give us a try. As I say in my quotations, all of the Lambert Chapman partners are able to act as a sounding board to their clients and I don’t say these things lightly.

Financial Mentoring is an important aspect of our work and if you don’t feel that you are benefiting from it then please get in touch the next time you have an issue. 

Nick Forsyth

 

Posted by Nick Forsyth

 

 

 

Disclaimer
The views expressed in this article are the personal views of the Author and other professionals may express different views. They may not be the views of Lambert Chapman LLP. The material in the article cannot and should not be considered as exhaustive. Professional advice should be sought in connection with any of the issues contained in the article and the implementation of any actions.

Lambert Chapman Chartered Accountants

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