It’s not what you know it’s who you know

I often find myself quoting my old boss. One of his favourite sayings was “it’s not what you know Tony, sometimes it’s who you know that’s important.”

This often came up when we were discussing some sort of tax query that each of us had a different opinion about – many a time we both had an answer but were not 100% certain we were right. I’d give my opinion and say, “what do you think, sir?” The answer was often along the lines of: “I agree with you Tony, but if we get this wrong we’re in trouble. Sometimes it’s not what you know it’s who you know.” He’d then pause, often to extinguish his cheroot – yes, this was a long time ago. Then he’d look up and say: “Let’s get in touch with Ted (or George), this is right up his street, he’ll steer us straight.”

Now my boss didn’t just have contacts; he had advisers that he trusted and they covered all manner of specialisms. I never knew if they were paid – I was too low in the food chain for that – but I’d put the calls through and get the answers.

Today, as an accountant in practice, dealing with a tax code that seems to grow almost on a daily basis, I find having advisors more and more important (add to that the myriad changes in reporting, payroll and HR, and that’s without liquidations and insolvency).

That comfort blanket of a second opinion that hopefully verifies my approach or conclusions is worth more and more, and that’s why at the ICPA we do everything we can to put advisers in place for out members. This January, as part of the usual filing deadline hiatus, our ICPA member telephone helpline took hundreds of calls from accountants who needed help and advice and needed it in real time. The team at Vantage handled all the calls and, you know what, we didn’t have one complaint from one of our 1,140+ member practices. I think this speaks volumes. Sometimes it’s not what you know…”

• Tony Margaritelli Chair, ICPA

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