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A COFA’s New Year’s Resolutions

It’s this time of year again and Financial Eye have come up with some suggested New Year’s resolutions that may strike a chord with some or all of you!

Lose some weight

A bit rude I know. Sure we’ve all put on a few extra pounds but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the actual weight of all those files lying all over the office floor with zero balances that are waiting to be closed and sent away for archiving. Carrying this amount of open matters will clog up your accounting system making running reports incredibly tiresome and makes the whole office look messy and disorganised. This is not the impression we want to convey to our clients, our staff, our auditors and our regulators.

Do something for charity

You may volunteer for charity work all through the year and if so, give yourself a big pat on the back. But charity begins at home and in the case of the COFA, the finance department. How often in 2020 were you identifying residual balances where you could not promptly return the funds to the client? How frequently were you then passing qualifying balances to charity? Make 2021 the year where a charitable donation is made at least every 3 months until you have no more residual balances left.

Learn a new language

I don’t mean the “How to speak French in 12 weeks” type of resolution. I mean the language of sound financial management. One lesson that COVID 19 has taught us all is how important cash flow forecasts are to enable us to plan for the future upturns and downturns in new business. A huge increase in new conveyancing matters for example will invariably be followed by a rapid decrease leading to some real resource planning issues. Never has there been a better time for building an integrated financial model that includes forecasts and meaningful management accounts. This will allow you to properly plan for the future.

Read more

We all wish we had more time to read more but the only time we ever seem to be able to is on a beach in Spain. Sadly, it doesn’t look like any of us will be doing that anytime soon. What I still find staggering is how many firms have purchased some really nice case management systems that are designed to talk to their accounting system. But they have been set up only to carry out basic functionality. By investing a bit of “reading time” you will surprise yourself how much time you can save and how efficient you can become by eliminating manual tasks and utilising the software sitting on your desk.

Stop being late for appointments

This can be very annoying for your friends if it is always you, arriving late, when you are due to meet up for drinks or dinner. If this describes you then there is every possibility that this trait follows you into the workplace. The new Solicitors Accounts Rules did away with things like the 14-day rule which is nod bad thing. The only problem is that  firms now have to set their own rules as to when money should be transferred. And this has to be reasonable, written down and tested. And then your reporting accountant will come in and test it too and qualify your AR1 if they detect you are not meeting your own deadlines. And the same applies to producing 5 weekly Client Account reconciliations and all those other non-SRA regulatory deadlines like VAT and PAYE Returns . Make 2021 the year that you never miss a deadline or leave your friends waiting on their own at the bar.

Learn a musical instrument

There is a good chance that you have made this resolution more than once before but have never actually got round to it. The chances of you doing so are remote. You know it and everyone else knows it. Instead how about learning something that will actually help the firm you work for and your own career progression. The ILFM has a huge number of courses and diplomas that will make you better at what you do. If you are reading this then you are more than likely already a member. Why not take a bit of time out to plan what you could do this year to better yourself and save you the effort of buying a second-hand piano?

Be kind to people

Now this can be easier said than done. Leaving behind a chaotic household for a chaotic office can be stressful. We have all found ourselves working in a busy office trying to meet deadlines and release payments with people all around us losing their patience. Screaming at each other is never the answer and nor is silently fuming. The only way to deal with this is to stay calm and begin talking to each other. Try to understand how it gets like this and then work out how to change processes so that these recurring problems are eliminated. It is much easier to demonstrate acts of kindness to co-workers if you are not actually shouting at each other!

Whatever you resolve to do, I wish you the best for 2021 and let’s all hope that we return back to some sort of normality soon.