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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, a Graduate Accountant, to Identify one recent job they completed where there was a significant write-off and consider: (a) what were the causes of this write-off?  and (b) what could they have done differently?

Learner Reflection

A recent job I worked on was a couple’s individual tax returns.  there was a significant write off on the husband’s tax return.

My charge out rate is $100 per hour. With the information and going back and forward it took me approximately 3 hours to complete. The client’s wife assisted with her return, but the time I spent was more than we usually charge for this type of return – around 2 hours for a simple tax return including review and admin time.

The main problem I was having was in communicating effectively with the client. Certain claims had changed which I had to explain to the client a number of times. I struggled to clearly communicate what I needed and why. For example, they kept sending me pictures of blurry bunnings receipts and when I asked for clarification they kept sending closer pictures when I needed them to write it down.

What should have been done differently was for me to explain better what I was seeking explicitly  instead of wasting time with the back and forth on the receipts. I am working to write better more professional emails as I am aware this is not a strength of mine and in this case caused significant write offs.

Feedback from our experts

The learner in this case, a graduate accountant, has encountered issues familiar with anyone who has worked with clients on tax compliance matters. Clear up-front communication in relation to requirements is essential to streamline workflow, otherwise pick-up and put-down of work is assured and this will lead to write-offs.

Of course, a graduate accountant without experience is not going to anticipate all requirements of the job – this comes with experience. However, even a simple checklist could have helped both the client and the accountant to deal with the matter efficiently.

The learner has also identified written communication skills as an area of focus for professional development. To begin with, someone needs to be reviewing email communication from a graduate accountant. AI applications such as Chat GPT can also be helpful in providing guidelines for effective written communication based on specific requests.

Hopefully, in this example, the graduate accountant will quickly learn how to take control of a job and manage it effectively within the time cost budget. A time cost review should be completed at the end of every job to ensure constant learning takes place.

Key take-away

Empower your client relationships by setting clear expectations up front. This will reduce the chances of back-and-forth exchanges which can lead to potential write-offs.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Graduate Accountant Induction eLearning Course. Click here to explore this course

Also, take a look at the Proactive Accountant eLearning Course

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