Things are quietening down after self-assessment, and we are now nearly at the end of another tax year. I therefore thought I’d write an article telling you a bit more about me, Stuart Harris, and how I run Stuart Harris Associates.
Originally, I’m from South London where I trained and was a partner with my father’s firm. It was there that I learned not only the technical stuff which comes with being a qualified accountant, but how to provide a good service to clients. In the main, my experience is with small/medium-sized owner managed businesses. I’ve also acted for a number of larger companies, plus I am a Registered Auditor (ask me about the phrase ‘professional scepticism’). I emigrated to North London when I married the lovely Mrs Harris and I now have two equally lovely daughters.
I aim to provide a friendly, personal and professional service to all my clients, and you will find that my fees are reasonable and transparent. I try to offer what I think is a realistic indication of what my fees are likely to be and exactly what work I do to earn those fees. If anything does crop up, or if a particular task or project arises, then I will discuss this with a client – I won’t steam on regardless, and present them with a big bill at the end of it. By the same token, if work takes less time than anticipated, I always pass this on.
I always encourage clients to contact me whenever something crops up. Yes in essence, you are paying for my time, but I’m not the sort of accountant where the clock is always running. Sometimes, I can resolve a problem with a 5 minute phone call ! I am also good at returning calls – even when I am tied up, I usually manage to send a message letting people know when they will hear back from me.
Apart from my own hard work and that of my staff, the one thing that really helps me to provide a good quality service at a reasonable price, is the technology. I have invested in state of the art systems and software : I use Iris professional software (some of it now cloud-based), I run a paperless office and I back up everything securely (again to the cloud). (NB If you need an excellent IT guy, my systems are maintained by Ben Riley of Mister Geek). The bottom line is that the technology is so good and ever-improving, that I am able to run an efficient home-office, which helps keep my overheads down, and is then reflected in my fees.
It is noticeable, especially during the recession, how many people are working from home. Again, I can provide useful practical hints and tips so that you too can make a success of it.
As you may be aware, I am a keen networker. If anybody ever needs any services, then I have some terrific contacts who I can recommend. Likewise, if anybody ever wants to visit one of my meetings, let me know and/or click on the following link : www.lbsn.co.uk . There is no obligation whatsoever, but you will find it interesting to see how it works.
I have learned a lot from my networking activities, and in particular about marketing and promotion. Indeed, and I make no bones about it, this article/blog itself is me promoting myself and my business. By updating my website in this way, it gets picked up and processed by the search engines. The other good thing about networking is that in building up good business relationships with people you genuinely know and trust, everybody promotes and recommends each other.
In conclusion, you can see that I market myself as a ‘friendly accountant’. I am confident that I won’t get caught under the Trades Description Act. I’m not just a number cruncher – I see it as my job to explain technical matters clearly and succinctly, so that my clients can manage their businesses properly and keep the tax bills down.