Willie Jack
Associate dentist, Ludlow and Scotland

Forever grateful

Case Study Forever Grateful

Linda Giles has worked with Willie Jack for thirty years, their professional relationship dating back to the days when he was a dental associate at an Oxfordshire practice and she was a newly qualified accountant with a local firm. The words “worked with” are important here. Linda is a dental business mentor who guides her clients to sound decision-making to ensure a profitable future. She does not belong to the category of accountant whose objective is simply to get tax returns in on time, important though that is, and send the occasional email.

From the outset, Willie relied on her. What inspired him to trust the prosperity of his practice to Linda, when they were both still young and new to the dental world? “Faultless accounts” he says, and goes on to say:

I am someone who has always been on top of my figures and I could never find fault with her work. There were never any surprises. I trusted Linda completely.”

Willie Jack
Willie JackAssociate dentist, Ludlow, Scotland

With awe in his voice, he recalls the time in 1992 when a tax inspector, a Mr De’Ath as it happens!, announced he was opening a tax enquiry into Willie’s finances and he called a meeting. By this time living and working in Wales, Willie had borrowed £220k to refurbish a four-surgery practice. This had naturally increased his turnover, and downsized his profits and, of course, his tax bill.

The meeting was in a rented room. Having voiced his concern, Mr De’Ath began to go through Willie’s tax return, asking for explanations. At every turn, Linda tactfully directed him to the relevant page and paragraph number in the accounts. Linda had travelled across country for hundreds of miles to be there and Willie estimates the meeting was over in ten minutes. It’s possible to feel some sympathy for the tax inspector who had been sure that profits were being hidden from HMRC. No chance!

A second tax investigation in 2008, once again because of a substantial change to his profit and losses, got no further than a letter from HMRC which was swiftly dealt with by Linda.

Other significant events of his working life include:

  • moving away from the NHS in 1990, largely because fees did not allow for periodontal treatments or prevention

  • two practice sales, which went through profitably and seamlessly with Linda carrying out the negotiations on his behalf

  • downsizing dramatically after building up his first practice and Linda pointing out he was earning less than his associates – she helped him make 12 people redundant, fairly and sensitively

  • Taking the decision to become an implant practice in the 1990s. The move worked so well that by 2000 he had sold for a handsome profit to a corporate chain

  • Building a second business a few years later to operate as a specialist referral practice.

  • Within a week of opening the practice, the appointment book was full and in the second full year he turned over just over £1m. The next year he sold the business and returned to working as an associate again.

For the last fifteen years Willie has worked peripatetically as an associate implant dentist. In 2012 he moved from Wales to live in Scotland but continued to travel down to work in Ludlow, where he is now based.

Thirty years ago the last thing on Willie Jack’s mind was his retirement. Now retirement is closer and he feels eternally grateful for that moment, three decades ago, when he engaged Linda as his accountant. They still meet annually so he can update her on the health of his business and discuss his long and short-term objectives. Willie explains: “The ‘profit-and-loss’ meeting is not some afterthought. It is an important part of the year and we spend a lot of time reviewing, and where necessary, revising my plans for the future.”

He continues: “She makes me aware of what my true financial situation is and that in turn gives me confidence to plan and build so I will end my career at the right time and with enough savings for a good retirement.”

To describe Linda as his Chartered Accountant feels wrong. Right hand woman also feels wrong when his right hand has been fully occupied with dental treatment! Trusted advisor reflects more accurately the depth of a relationship which has brought him to the brink of a very rewarding retirement for which he will be forever grateful.