Despite being an avid football fan (did you know that?), I don’t think I’ve ever indulged myself by devoting space in my blog to this passion. But an article I read a couple of weeks ago, about the recent tax fraud trial of Messi and his father in Spain, struck a chord.
In brief: the Spanish tax authorities claim that Lionel Messi and his father defrauded the Spanish taxman of £3.2m by using tax havens to conceal income from his image rights.
Lionel Messi’s defense was that he personally had nothing to do with the tax arrangements that were being made on his behalf and that when he signed documents and contracts, he had no understanding of what he was signing, putting his faith 100% in others.
Regardless of the actual facts in this particular case, it made me think of the relationship between accountant / tax adviser and client in general.
Our clients rightly put a lot of trust in us and value our professional experience and expertise. They pay us to keep up-to-date with legislation changes and current practice and to advise accordingly. But I often come across cases, particularly when we inherit new clients from other accountancy firms, where our clients seem surprised when we insist on going through, say, annual accounts in detail with them, or ask “Is that clear? Do you fully understand?”. Because I suspect that all too often, accountants are rather snooty, don’t like to explain and do not invite challenges, and clients lack confidence with numbers and are too afraid to ask for explanations.
That’s not how we operate. You’ve probably all heard me say, upon reviewing accounts with you, that it’s not me signing that everything is correct, it’s you. And that is precisely the point where Messi has come unstuck. It’s all very well entrusting others, but at the end of the day, if you are signing something, you need to understand exactly what you are signing and why.
So hopefully you feel that we are approachable enough for you to want to learn and understand more about your accounts. I like to think that as well as being accountants we are also teachers and that through your association with us, your accounts become something you embrace and enjoy , rather than fear!