Tuesday, 21 June 2016

6 tips to a killer letter of advice


The tax profession can provide you with a rewarding and satisfying career. However, with the rise in technology and software advancements, it has become much more than just crunching the numbers or dictating the legislation. To become successful and desirable, you must differentiate yourself in the profession and do what a computer cannot. Within this blog, we provide 6 helpful tips to help you craft your letter of advice to satisfy not only your client and employer but your job satisfaction.

1. Who is the reader?
Put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask yourself, “What do they need to know?” Your task is to write a letter of advice: to a client and for a client. Understanding who you are writing for is the difference between a letter of advice and a good letter of advice.

2. Tone of voice: formal vs informal
A letter of advice is not the same as an email or internal memo. It’s more formal than that and represents your advice to your client, as well as the brand of your company or firm. Though to clarify, formal doesn’t mean stuffy! It’s still all about effectively communicating in a digestible way for your client. When in doubt, err on the formal side – it is a business document after all!

3. Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation
Typos, incorrect syntax and long-winded sentences never helped anyone. It means your letter lacks a discernible point. When in doubt, insert that full stop and start a new sentence.

4. Paragraphs and sentences: keep it short and sweet
Write short, concise paragraphs and short concise sentences. Don’t confuse your client.

5. Use headings, subheadings and bullet points
Don’t be afraid to use headings, subheadings and bullet points against these paragraphs. A letter of advice is not an essay and it’s perfectly acceptable to break up your text with intuitive headings. Creating white space on a page or screen is easier on the eye and gets your point across to your client quicker.

6. Choose your words. They matter!
The power of words cannot be underestimated here. For example, what would your client do if you wrote: you ‘are’ running a business vs you ‘may’ be running a business. Is there a potential risk issue for you to write in definitive language? Consider words like ‘should’, ‘may’, ‘probable’ and ‘reasonably arguable’ instead.

The main thing to remember is that you are writing a document for your client to enable them to make sound business decisions. Ensure that your client can easily digest the information you are providing to ensure they do not miss or misinterpret any valuable information.
 How to Reason, Research and Write webinar
For further information, view the free How to Reason, Research and Write webinar, produced by The Tax Institute.