Archive: AVN Insights

Why do we enter awards?


As a company we encourage our members to enter awards and as company we practice what we preach! So AVN entered the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards UK.

We encourage our members to enter awards because its a great opportunity to reflect on what you have done. We are often too involved in the day to day dealings of our business to appreciate the efforts our teams put in everyday and the impact we can have on our clients.

A reflection of 20 years

As part of the process we got to apply and recognise not only what we have done over the last 12 months but reflect on almost 20 years. We have been changing Accountancy practices to achieve the aspirations of their owners. Deliver better and more transparent services to their clients and in turn their families.

Whilst some decisions are never easy we have helped some of our members actually understand why they are in business and what it means to them personally. A very different journey for them all, a journey that constantly changes. Helped them get the most out of their teams and work out who is right for the journey.

A personal journey

Whilst some of our members may look for practice growth while in their 20’s. This may change into their 30’s as young families come along and time is a more precious commodity. During their 40’s they may start to look to their future and design a practice that can let you do what you enjoy. Into their 50’s they may start thinking about passing the practice on to up and coming team or family members and starting to take it easy.

The reality is a personal journey, one member I work with is in his 70’s and not thinking about retiring, its not about the money it is about a sense of pride, ownership… its what he wants from his practice and gives him enjoyment everyday.

Having been around for nearly 20 years, it is nice to see people come back. They take the ideas and practices we have shown them and build a successful business, but they want to be challenged more and develop new skills. They raise the bar time and time again and turn to AVN to support them in their endeavours. It with a sense of pride we see these practices change and can be their to support them.

Why did we choose Lloyds Bank National Business Awards?

Well, it has been described as the “Oscars for Business” by David Cameron. Looking back at the previous entrants we are truly in prestigious company and to be a Finalist is a mighty achievement, completely down to such an amazing team we have. Including a few that have moved on to new challenges, but have supported us and wished us well in the “Enabler of the year” award.

So on the eve of the awards dinner it felt right to reflect. Awards are great for raising your profile. Making you stand out from the crowd and giving you a great marketing angle. But to be honest its about making a difference day in day out to your clients.

Good luck to all the entrants for the Lloyds Bank Business Awards 2017, The Vonage Nexmo Business Enabler of the Year.

The finalists

  • Altia-ABM @altiasolutions
  • Avalara Europe @vatlive
  • Volo Commerce @volocommerce
  • Gatwick Airport @gatwick_airport
  • Close Brothers Retail Finance @closebrothersrf
  • Give A Grad A Go @giveagradago
  • Mobysoft @mobysoft
  • DCSL Software @dcslsoftware
  • Radius Payment Solutions

The sponsor

And also a big thank you to the sponsors Vonage @vonage @nexmo.

Article Source: James Miller

Benchmarking Your Accountancy Clients


I recently had a conversation with an Accountancy Practice about our benchmarking software (no this is not a sales pitch!).

Whilst the software is intuitive, easy to use, gives great visual reports and highlights the areas you can really add value that your clients appreciate, this is just obvious value… the real value comes from what it enables.


It enables conversation, easy subjects to start with. But by using your skills of observation, listening and sometimes asking the damn stupid questions, you connect with your client. If you are really good you find the answers to questions you have not even asked.

Why does a client want to talk about their family, the fact they’ve just got an MBA or the location of their next holiday, when they have a super successful business? Is this information a waste of your time?

The most valuable use of your time

I would suggest this is the most valuable use of your time.

By relating to them as an individual and not just a company, you are creating long-term relationships that can last years, decades. Be a trusted individual to disclose hopes, dreams and fears.

time-2860031_1920You may find out what is driving your clients? Maybe money is not enough, but the gift of time to spend with a child or a loved one could be more valuable than you could ever perceive. By helping them systemise their business or delegate responsibility to their team or even by you taking on some of the business tasks.

I have used many accountancy firms over the years and the ones that stick in my memory are the ones that cared about me as an individual. Of course they did a great job with our audit and accounts but what I really valued was the personal touch.

The smallest things can make a difference

Sometimes this is easier with a small firm but the smallest things can help.

I worked with KPMG for a while and the fact that they knew how I took my coffee and the partner was willing to have a chat about what was going on made a big difference.

coffee-2714970_1920With smaller firms I like how they had this holistic view of my company. They can look at the audit, accounts, tax, my plans for the future of the company and personally as well, all in one stride. There is no inter department squabble for my hard earned cash.


So make time for your clients, forget the timesheets. Invest in them and allow yourself to show what you can offer. Rewards may not be instantaneous but the benefit to your practice could be huge. Often clients just see the compliance work you do as a quasi tax, something they have to do for HMRC or Companies House. Unfortunately its something that often they do not value and push you on price because somebody is always cheaper, undervaluing themselves and the profession.

Make time and understand your clients

By making time and understanding your clients on so many levels, you have the opportunity to add value that not only they perceive, but makes a real difference to them.

The added bonus is that when clients discover this about you they are more than happy to tell their friends and other business contacts how you are different. Allowing you to stand tall in your market place.

The stupid questions

If you do not understand what a client is saying, push them on it. If they cannot sell an idea to you as being the right thing to do, then I would argue it is the wrong thing to do.

mindmap-2123973_1920I argued with a non-exec for two years that we needed to keep a division open. I would explain but he did not get why, he continued to question, pry and query my logic. But he did not give up.

In the end I ran out of illogical reasons. I eventually started to question my own logic, analyse what we were doing and saying.

We closed a department where we were loosing £100k a year, but we had to keep maintaining sales in other areas. The result was that we didn’t lose sales in other areas. By shifting the departments operations to a couple of key suppliers, they were able to drop their price to us. The end result was that we netted an extra £350k onto our bottom line.

Now that non-exec was a really valuable trusted advisor.

If you are inspired by this blog and want to find out more then drop James Miller an email at

Article Source: James Miller

Awards – Why Bother?


I was asked recently why we win awards and the simple answer was because we enter them. So if you’re sitting on the sidelines here are 3 very good promotional reasons to make 2018 the year you enter awards and a there is a bonus 4th…

Reason 1: Media Proof

Industry awards allow you to be acknowledged by your industry. It’s important to raise your profile and awards allow you to do this in a few ways with the media from: Press Releases with the possibility to be published or broadcast and get a wider reach with their readership, listeners or viewers; with producers, journalists and researchers as you are now on their radar even if they don’t react the first, second or third time so keep at it.

Reason 2: Peer Proof 

Your peers recognise you as an industry expert and the judges independently endorse this proof. Obviously this is most applicable when you’re shortlisted, a finalists and a winner. This then allows you to raise your profile with the media as one of the experts in your field thus supporting reason 1.

Reason 3: Social Proof

Clients as you know when you help them they just love it and are more open to give you testimonials so make sure you ask for them. These can then be shared with other clients in many ways and everyone one in social media. Typically when you win or are a finalist your chance to share in social media is invaluable as well as getting lots of likes often with FaceBook they encourage you to share and increase your reach with their promotional offers and the opportunity for more to follow you and get to know, like, trust.

AND the Big Bonus?

Reason 4: Progressive Proof

We’re members of AVN Inspiring Accountants and the 2020 innovation Group so by being proactive in what they offer we naturally call ourselves innovative, inspirational and progressive accountants and business advisors. By being members of both we can punch above our weight by getting access to some excellent CPD for the team, use some innovative tools, techniques and systems to streamline our operation and future proof our firm as attending the conferences allows us to get the vibe of the moment, be more inspired and innovative from learning from others; pat ourselves on the back for a good job well done; and look to 2018 with a refreshed horizon on how we can improve ourselves to make the clients love us more by helping them be more successful.

So best advice? Become a member of both and enter the awards to get the opportunity to mix with other members and peers and learn more quickly what others are doing to keep ahead of the game and punch above your weight!

AND you’ll find it is so much more fun when you get out more ;-))


Gerry Murray 

Marketing Director

Murray Associates Accountants


Article Source: James Miller

HMRC to issue 400,000 auto-completed tax returns!


Why does such a statement fill me with dread? While I can see the appeal for HMRC to gather data from different sources to validate it and make the life of the taxpayer easier, there are three things I am sure of:

  1. There will be an unacceptable number that are incorrect, inaccurate or just completely wrong returns.
  2. Taxpayers will be confused and unsure- or worse, still convinced HMRC must be right.
  3. Accountants and business advisors will be left trying to pick up the pieces for their clients who will not want to pay for this work.

So where do you start? Education. Your clients need to be aware what could be dropping through the letter box and that you still need to see them and validate the information. Plus give you plenty of time to be able to assess the data correctly.

You need to enquire whether new clients have received them.

This is also an ideal time to reinforce the value of the work that you can do, and by having the information early it gives you the greatest opportunity to help.

HMRC say, “Millions will benefit”. In theory, they will read, comprehend and agree the figures…. oh and then pay the bill!

How many clients look at tax calculations, let alone comprehend the workings? This will lead to mistakes and misunderstandings that then have to be sorted out.

The initial group is limited to two relatively small groups, which is a good thing!

  1. New state pensioners whose income is about £11,500.
  2. PAYE Taxpayers who have underpaid by a relatively small amount.

But the net is widening and this type of data gathering is going to increase- meaning that it really starts to impact on some of your clients. In theory it will only be where HMRC has all the taxpayers income information. But, how can they truly know what a self-employed person will have earned? Plus, situations do change.

Let’s see how this develops and remember that clients only have 60 days to challenge the simple assessment.


Article Source: James Miller



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