The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales wanted to publicise the growing use of accountants to prepare Probate applications. Huw was chosen as one of the practitioners in view of his expertise in providing probate services. Here is the article reproduced below:
Sole practitioner Huw Roberts: Building a probate practice
Authorisation for probate has changed the nature of Huw Roberts’s business.
Cardiff-based sole practitioner Huw Roberts had been an accountant for 30 years when he decided to apply for probate authorisation. He had helped close someone’s affairs and had enjoyed the work.
When ICAEW announced its probate application I thought: I’m doing this,´ he says. Studying again after such a long gap was inevitably a challenge, but Roberts says he learned a lot from the SWAT course.
´By the time you’ve passed the exam, you’re ready to start work,´ he says. ´There’s a learning curve when it comes to the various forms involved, but you soon get the hang of it.´
The first year after he was authorised, probate and related services accounted for about 10% of Roberts’s workload. Just a few years later, the proportion is rising to nearly 40%. In addition to the probate work, many clients ask him to review their wills and inheritance tax position. Part of the reason for this growth is his clear passion for the service.
´You’re dealing with a family in grief and helping them. It is important to ensure that their financial matters are dealt with in a personal and professional manner,´ Roberts says.
Passion alone is not enough to get the service out in the public domain, and Roberts has dedicated a lot of effort to marketing. The main method that works for him is a monthly newsletter emailed to everyone on his mailing list, which covers tax and other financial matters as well as probate.
´This means I’m in front of the client 12 times a year, so they are constantly reminded of what I can do for them,´ he says. An up-to-date personalised website is essential to provide prospective clients with information on the services available. He recommends targeted local advertising. ´Build recognition of your firm as a probate practice in your local community.´
Practitioners who are serious about building a probate practice need to create time to build this new business line, Roberts advises. ´There’s always other work that needs attention. But you have to say, I’m going to spend the next three hours developing the probate practice.´ He credits his success to providing a professional service, promptly and at a competitive price. ´There are huge opportunities out there for firms that do this right. But above all, clients need to be made aware that the probate service is available.´
In recent years Huw has provided instant comment for BBC Radio Cymru on major events.
24 June 2016: Brexit broadcast the day after the result
November 2016: Chancellor's Autumn statement
March 2017: Budget statement
June 2017: General Election
November 2017: Budget
October 2018: Budget
Other topics on which Huw has broadcasted include the British Steel pension fund, reasons for making a will and what happens when no will is made, an analysis of the economy 10 years on from the demise of Lehman Brothers and threatening scam telephone calls supposedly from HMRC.