Are you your own best client?

2020 will undoubtedly go down as the year of the unexpected that tested all of us in terms of not only assisting our clients but running our own businesses and practices. The question we need to ask is … Are you your own best client?

We are all very good at running around and helping our clients when they need help, but do we take time to stand back and look at what is happening in our own practice? While cashflow is certainly king at the moment, how are your debtor’s ledger and work in progress looking? Clearly, you do need to focus on getting jobs out the door, but also to collect payment for work that you have already done. When we are running around like blue-arse fly, often we just hope that money comes in. In difficult trading times like the present, it is vital to get on the phone and start collecting that money earlier than later.

Over the last month, I have been dealing with a situation that has also brought home to me the fact that accountants are not their own best clients. Sadly, a sole practitioner chartered accountant passed away suddenly. Not unusual overall but he did trade using his own name and not through a company.
What is supposed to happen, is the practitioner should have a power of attorney (POA) in place in case of death or disability, and a copy lodged with CAANZ. By lodging, the POA means it can easily be found and instigated when there is a problem. Sadly, in this case, despite practice reviews happening over many years, no power of attorney could be found.

A fellow chartered accountant and friend has stepped in to assist the widow running the practice, along with a couple of competent staff. However, passwords for online computer access have been challenging to find, and this has meant many things within the practice have been difficult to manage.

The thing that did really startle however is that following the death, the IRD was very quick to point out that there was no longer a chartered accountant operating the business and that the agency list would be shut down forthwith. The deceased practitioner was hardly even cold in the grave before they took this very cold and clinical approach. Some decent notice period of a month or two to enable the practice to be tidied up and sold would be more appropriate, particularly when a more than competent fellow practitioner was running the practice pending the sale of the fees.

Fortunately, we have been able to get involved and assist in tidying up the practice and to have the fees sold to a competent and capable chartered accountant who will take over these particular clients going forward.

It does, however, remind me that we all need to be careful and check that we are our own best clients, that we do have powers of attorney in place, and that there is somewhere a piece of paper that tells everyone else when we are gone how to log in and do things. Maybe it is time you should check these things yourselves as well?

So, when you stop running around like a blue-arse fly trying to look after your clients, make sure you put some time aside to check that you are indeed your own best client. If you are unsure, we always here to assist you in terms of succession planning, practice valuation, and above all else, a practice health check.


Nigel Smith
+64 9 307 1777
+64 21 377 280