Telling your clients they are wasting their money

Aug 16 2011 028A lot of my work with clients is helping them get out of a mess. Usually that is because they have made mistakes in dealing with their taxes or have “forgotten” to declare certain income or gains.

Sometimes there is a question of the law and whether we can debate with HMRC, with a prospect of getting a good result for the client; in other words, proving that they have a lower liability to tax, or perhaps none.

At other times it is a question of negotiating lower penalties for the client, and making the case that a client’s guilt is less than HMRC contends. Perhaps the client has been involved in a tax “scheme”, and it is my job to decide whether it is worth resisting HMRC’s attack. Frankly it is often not worth resisting, especially if HMRC is not pressing for serious penalties or claiming negligence or carelessness on behalf of my client.

Sometimes clients feel very strongly that they are being targeted unfairly. They will want me to resist at all costs whatever attack is launched by the tax man or woman.

“At all costs” is all very well, but sometimes it is my duty to advise my clients that they really have nowhere to go, and that they have no chance of success, or very little, however much they spend on my fees or those of someone else. Quite apart from raising false hopes, I think it is quite wrong to take people’s money while believing that they are wasting it. That would be quite dishonest.

We all have our particular areas of expertise. We should all know when our customers or clients are wasting their time. If we “sell” our services knowing that they will be of little use, it is no different from the DIY store selling you a lawnmower they know will not do the job for you. It would be mis-selling.

Don’t you agree that to preserve our integrity, sometimes we have to advise our clients to save their money because they are “on a loser”?

 

Guarding our precious reputations

I guess we can all think we know better than to say unwise things which can get us into trouble, but whether we are on-line or out in company, or even on the telephone we have to be so careful what we say.

Before Christmas we had the Vince Cable affair known on Twitter as #cablegate. Actually, without getting political, I quite like the man from the general impression he gives and his knowledge on a number of important issues, plus of course the way he is able to put his case. (For the sake of balance I could name a number of people from all three main political parties for whom I have respect).

Mr Cable made some very unguarded comments to some undercover reporters and whether you think he was duped by their pretending to be constituents of his, nevertheless, genuine constituents could have reported his remarks to the press. Had the Coalition not been so fragile I feel he would have had to resign rather than suffer the humiliation of having responsibilities taken from him. To suggest to the reporters that he had prejudged a matter on which he was the final arbiter without listening to recommendations gave an impression (no doubt a wrong one) of a distinct lack of integrity.

In the end when we speak in a public arena we must guard our words carefully. We must be careful what we say to our fellow networkers. We must be careful what we say to our colleagues. We must be careful what we say on-line. A careless word can give a totally wrong impression of what we are like, especially if it is just bravado and vanity, and few would realise it is not what we really believe. A clumsy retort can damage our businesses and our reputations very badly.

I feel sorry for Mr Cable. Do you? I think that there but for fortune go you or I. Which last sentence reminds me of a song…

Related posts:

Online reputations again

Do not speak ill of the dead or the living

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