Reflections on Year End

It’s that time of year again. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and accountants are stocking up on chocolate and caffeine. Because, let’s face it – we need to.


Yes, it’s year-end. Once again, we start brandishing our calculators and spreadsheets like Harry Potter battling a Dementor. Exceliarmus!


The problem with year-end is that nobody quite knows what it is. Even its origins are shrouded in mystery. The oddity of the fiscal year starting in April dates back centuries – to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the Julian Calendar (named after Julius Caesar) should be replaced by a Gregorian calendar, named after – surprise – himself. The new calendar reduced the length of a year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days – making the year 10 minutes shorter.


All fine, except the British empire didn’t start using the Gregorian calendar until 1752, by which time we were 11 days out of synch with the rest of Europe. A bit like now, with Brexit border queues.


On the old calendar, the fiscal year had started on 25 March (the old new year’s day). Keeping this would mean the treasury would miss out on 11 days of revenue. So they decided to shift it back to April, where is has remained ever since.


History lesson over. On a personal level, here are my top tips for dealing with the year-end – some more serious than others.


  1. Don’t assume everyone knows what it is, when it is or why it is. Make your life easier by explaining things to the Muggles in words of one syllable. Use dolls if necessary.
  2. Don’t assume people will know you’re busy. Everyone understands that A&E staff get antsy in winter and football managers freak out when the transfer window opens. Protect your time. If you’re a team manager, help your people protect their time. Nice-to-dos can wait.
  3. Celebrate your strengths. This time of year sets you apart from mere mortals. Here at NHS SBS, we have breakfasts and pizzas together. You could plan a FYE party (Fiscal Year End) with cocktails like VAT-tini and Capital Gains on the Rocks.
  4. You are not alone. Year end can be frantic and confusing for even the most experienced professionals. Our teams handle year-end for hundreds of NHS organisations, and may be able to help you too.


Stephen is a qualified accountant, leading the largest F&A shared service in the world. He can be contacted at


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