We’re all different but what motivated you to choose your line of work?

A recent survey by the University of Law found that nearly half (49%) of prospective solicitors said that they wanted to become lawyers so that they could help people. And some 61% of aspiring barristers said the same thing.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an accountant should be a detailed-oriented, analytical thinker with good communication and organisational skills.

I don’t personally know all of the tens of thousands of you who receive my weekly bulletin. But I’m willing to bet that a desire to help people is a key element of what drives you on. Or it should be.

How badly do you handle your phones?

I was interested to read about how badly accountants handle their phones. Last Friday, Chis Warmoll wrote in AccountancyAGE that although accountants may be good with the numbers and making sense of “Gordian tax knots”, their telephone manner is leaving their clients less than satisfied, a new survey has shown – less than a quarter (22%) of the 1,000 British consumers quizzed in the survey, are happy with the way accountancy firms handle their phone calls. This is much the same as Arthur Daley-esque car dealers (21%) but on a par across all British businesses at 23%.

Now, perhaps this is a bit controversial but I’m willing to bet that lawyers aren’t all that good at handling phone calls either. Strangely, dentists are pretty good at it – whether it’s a phone or a drill, they do it well.

You could handle your telephone better couldn’t you?

To help, why not ask for our free publication: ‘Using your Telephone’s Full Potential‘ – more information here.

Are KPMG after your clients?

A few weeks ago, I blogged about KPMG stealing all your clients. Well, I didn’t mean “stealing” in an unprofessional or illegal way, but offering something which your clients might find more appealing than your current offering.  A torrent of defiance and disbelief has been unleashed by accountancy practices across the UK after KPMG’s recent vow to disrupt and dominate the SME market by telling small businesses “you can pay us the same as your current accountant, but we’ll give you more”.

The Big Four firm plans to take on high-street accountants and the mid-tier accountancy firms focusing predominantly on the SME market. It follows KPMG’s £40m investment in its enterprise programme, which includes subscription-based cloud accountancy support for small businesses.

Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week:

Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

5 Steps for Social Success

Your marketing and PR teams only have so much time to devote to the all-important task of engaging with your customers over social. So what if you had a tool already at your disposal that could significantly improve your ability to reach your customers on a personal level?

Download 5 Steps To Launching An Employee Advocacy Program to discover how your employees—those who interact with your brand every day—can help engage your customers and strengthen your brand via social. This comprehensive guide outlines the key components to launching a successful employee advocacy program that will benefit your business today and over the long term.

Courtesy of Dynamic Signal, download this FREE this guide now to learn:

  • Why an employee advocacy program is important to your social strategy
  • How to identify and target the right employees
  • How to establish goals and KPIs
  • The keys to adoption and long-term success

Download this FREE guide from: www.marketingprofs.com/store/free/2255/5-steps-to-launching-an-employee-advocacy-program

The world’s worst passwords

Jessica Morris writing in CITY A.M. asked: Is your go-to password a mish-mash of “password” followed by a random sequence of numbers? If so then it could be time for a change.

SplashData has released a list of the world’s worst passwords that expose internet users to being hacked or having their identities stolen. Simple numerical passwords should be avoided, with nine of the top 25 passwords comprising numbers only.

Other passwords to ditch include anything related to a person’s favourite sport, their birthday or year of birth as well as common names like “Michael”, “Jennifer” or “Thomas.” Swear words and phrases, hobbies, famous athletes, car brands and film names are also a no-no.

“Passwords based on simple patterns on your keyboard remain popular despite how weak they are,” said Morgan Slain, chief executive of SplashData. “Any password using numbers alone should be avoided, especially sequences.”
Read more: www.cityam.com/207526/here-are-25-worlds-worst-passwords

Windows 10 to be free for Windows 7, 8 users

Via Reuters, Posted 21 January: Microsoft has said the upcoming Windows 10 operating system will be offered as a free upgrade to users of the most recent versions of Windows and Windows Phone software.

The announcement by Terry Myerson, who runs Microsoft’s operating systems group, is a marked change for the company, which has charged for new versions of Windows, one of the main profit drivers.

Windows 10, expected on the market this autumn, will be available for one year as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, Myerson said.
Read more: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Windows-10-to-be-free-for-Windows-7-8-users/articleshow/45971611.cms

Microsoft shows off more of Windows 10

Microsoft has revealed some more details about what its next operating system will look like. It appeared that its digital assistant Cortana would play a pivotal role. Windows 10 will focus on bringing harmony to the diverse array of mobile gadgets in people’s lives. The US tech company said its new operating system would make it easier to interact with devices.

“The number of devices is exploding around us,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson said during the presentation. “It should be easy to put one device down and pick up another where you left off; technology needs to get out of the way.”
Read more: www.dw.de/microsoft-shows-off-more-of-windows-10/a-18208078 

WhatsApp launches desktop messaging option

In BBC News, Messaging platform WhatsApp has announced that users can now send messages from their desktop web browsers.

However, in a blog post announcing the feature, the company says that messages will still live on users’ phones. The desktop messaging option is also not available to users who access the app on Apple devices.

“We will not be able to provide [the] web client… due to Apple platform limitations,” it wrote.

Last February, Facebook paid nearly $19bn (£12.6bn) to buy WhatsApp, which recently reported that it had around 700m mobile users. The acquisition was completed in October.

WhatsApp is one of the world’s largest messaging platforms, but concerns have been raised about how it plans to increase its user base in addition to how it will make money.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30926333

BBC News app revamp offers personalised coverage

Leo Kelion, BBC Technology desk editor wrote: The BBC’s News app has been given a major overhaul with the goal of offering a more “personalised” service. In addition to pre-existing sections – including Top Stories, UK and Politics – users will be able to add specialised feeds of their choice, for example: Apps, Taylor Swift, Genetics, and Oban.

The revamp is part of a wider shake-up, which will also involve major changes to the look of the BBC’s news website.

One expert warned the update was likely to upset some users. But the executive responsible said the switchover would provide a better service. “We know we have got a very large number of people who used the existing app and they really like it,” said Robin Pembrooke, general manager of news products at BBC Future Media.

Users can choose to follow topic-specific indexes, including ones about specific companies. “But we also know that a number of users express frustration at things they can’t do – there’s no local news, it’s not the full range of stories, and there’s little ability to personalise. It will be a big change for a number of people, so we are trying to provide a warning up front. We’ve got easy guides on how to use the new app, and there’s in-app tips to help people use it.”

The app is being rolled out to Android and iOS devices in the UK this week. An app for Amazon devices is set for release within three weeks, and global editions will follow.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30894674

Hands On With Microsoft HoloLens

Seen in UK.PCMAG.com, written by Dan Costa: It is safe to say that no one in the audience at the Windows 10 launch event expected Microsoft to announce a Holographic platform.

When Alex Kipman, a technical fellow on Microsoft’s OS team, first said the word holography, the author of this article thought he had misheard him. His mind flashed back to when holograms made their way onto charge cards as a security measure.

Microsoft’s plans are much more ambitious. Redmond showed a video that demonstrated how holograms will be incorporated into our everyday lives, which looked a lot like the augmented-reality demos we have seen for years.

Then the company brought out a prototype headset, which looks more like Oculus Rift than Google Glass. HoloLens isn’t quite ready for sale, but Microsoft let the assembled press into its development lab to take it for a spin anyway.
Read more: uk.pcmag.com/consumer-electronics-reviews-ratings/39112/feature/hands-on-with-microsoft-hololens

Drayton Bird’s 51 Helpful Marketing Ideas

“Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone else in the world”, said David Ogilvy, advertising legend.

Get Drayton’s 51 Free Helpful Ideas now.
From: draytonbird.com/51/marketing_for_business_owners.html

KPMG’s SME move is part of a worrying change to small practice landscape

Kevin Reed (editor Accountancy AGE) asks: Is your practice scared that KPMG is looking to widen its nest and provide a cheap (for them) service to smaller businesses? Probably not. And you’re probably right to think that way. It’s unlikely that vast swathes of your clients are going to up sticks for a Big Four firm fluttering its eyelashes at them. And the range of commentary from the small practice community has veered between indignation and incredulity.

KPMG’s move, however, is indicative of a number of interesting issues. For the firm itself, it is suggestive that its core markets are becoming increasingly tough in which to grow. Audit and related services are being strangled, while driving value in tax is a tricky area – and that’s putting it lightly.

So the firm is spreading its wings. But will it succeed? It’s hard to imagine it not, despite the clear hurdles it faces: building a brand i.e. convincing clients that they will ‘care’ in the same way a ‘local’ practice would; and achieving a margin.

So will KPMG take your clients and kill your practice? No, but the firm’s move is part of a bigger, worrying change to the landscape in which smaller practices operate.
Read more: www.accountancyage.com/aa/opinion/2391501/leader-kpmgs-sme-move-part-of-a-worrying-change-to-small-practice-landscape


Martin Pollins
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