Thursday, March 24, 2011

And the award for best budget night commentary goes to.....

I've long been critical of the 'me too' type of overnight budget commentaries. Indeed, these days 'overnight' is slow and many commentaries appear online within hours.

I have seen dozens of such identikit commentaries since the Chancellor sat down yesterday. Almost all contain pretty standard lists of the headline measures, cut and paste extracts from the budget press releases and sundry similar 'commentaries' containing the initial views of the author or a 'senior tax partner'. There are a few that contain bog standard 'advice' and a few firms have provided commentaries on specific measures - although most of these note that we don't have enough detail yet to know how the proposals will work in practice. Others reference what the writer would like to have seen or how limited the proposals are in specific situations.

Of course there will be many more such commentaries that I haven't seen. There's a limit as to how many I can pick up through the email lists I am on and through links contained in tweets on twitter. Still, two very different budget commentaries stand out and deserve an award*

Runner up - and with a special commendation for dividing up the announcements: Informanagement

  • Budget Summary March 2011 - New tax changes announced today
  • Budget Summary March 2011 - Future changes announced today
  • Budget Summary March 2011 - Changes previously announced for 2011-12, now confirmed

And the winner is.........

....Elaine Clark of Cheap Accounting for her blog post: Not A Budget Newsletter!

It won't suit everyone but I love it!

* 'Award' in this context simply means to be acknowledged on this blog with an online link! ;-)

If you've come across any others that are clearly distinctive do please reference them in the comments section below and provide links if possible. Many thanks. I'm also keen to receive feedback challenging my view that the effort devoted to these overnight commentaries is a waste of time. By all means share your experiences of how and why you feel differently. Any evidence of the value would be great too.


  1. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for tweeting this post so I had the good fortune to pick it up. We had at least a dozen emails over the last 36 hours and I imagine some hard copy reports will come through the door. Much of the information is, of course, provided to us by our own accountants and financial advisers, so this method of proving oneself is rather ineffective.
    I think the answer to ubiquity is always differentiation! Your post has shown that – you’re looking for the unusual in an increasing sea of noise. Perhaps your readers will be inspired to think more specifically about the types of clients they have and how to tailor their information specifically to their needs.
    A tax advice budget report just for shopkeepers, or just for solicitors, perhaps?
    The Budget is always a bit of an anticlimax as the waiting turns into more waiting, but at least there were some interesting announcements for the construction industry this year, which is why we produced a blog post just on these for our clients.
    If they have property development clients, perhaps they’ll have suitable advice to add to our post about budget 2011 for planning and construction? I’d welcome their expert opinion.

  2. Hi Mark,

    I picked up this post via Twitter and wanted to add a couple of thoughts.

    As a firm of Chartered Financial Planners, we are conscious of the risk of 'information overload' when it comes to providing Budget commentary. We do feel it is important to provide to our clients and professional connections, so we focus on the measures are they relate to personal financial planning.

    This year we set up a Twitter account (@informedbudget) in an attempt to segment our Budget tweets from our usual tweets, so as not to overload our regular followers.

    As we have done in previous years, we put together a 10-page PDF summary of the main PF measures within a couple of hours of the Budget finishing, uploading this to our website and distributing it by email to our clients. The feedback we get from this each year is that it saves our clients working through hundreds of pages of sometimes dubious editorial in the papers to get to the point.

    Yesterday morning we wrote a series of more detailed blogs for our website, each looking at some of the specific personal financial planning measures (e.g. changes to EIS, entrepreneurs' relief, inheritance tax, etc). This morning we broadcast a 30 minute live webcast with our summary of the main PF measures.

    Whilst I agree that identikit Budget commentaries are as dull as dishwater, in our experience most of our competitors are not producing any of their own Budget commentary, instead redistributing material from others at best. If the output we produce causes a) our existing clients to have greater confidence in our knowledge and responsiveness, b) other professional advisers to consider introducing their own clients to us for Financial Planning services, and c) new clients to contact us directly, then all of this work is definitely worth the (considerable) effort.

  3. It's great to see a different perspective on the budget. These releases are usually very bland and predictable, following the familiar format but Elaine's certainly unique.

    Emma Simpson // cheap uk accountants