“Knowing Where To Knock”


Image courtesy of sdmania at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Knowing where to knock.”

I know that is a weird title for a post in a blog dealing with taxation, but it relates to an issue faced by us tax practitioners (for that matter, anyone providing services)  practically everyday in our work.

Clients often complain how expensive our services are, for putting together “a few pieces of paper (ie. a report or a tax computation) and charging (in their opinion), an arm or a leg” for them.

I must concede, in our line of work (ie. provision of services), there is little tangible that an individual can ‘hold on to’ (eg. a phone or a handbag ) for the money he has paid for. I feel that’s exactly the reason why the software providers like Microsoft will package their products nicely in a nice box containing only ONE CD so that consumers will have something tangible to hold on to for the money they have paid. What has the person actually bought, ultimately?

The same fact between them (ie. people like Microsoft) and service providers like us is that we have invested A LOT (man-hours of research and development and education) to come out with a SOLUTION that meet the needs of the consumers. I have no qualms in paying for the CD containing the software, because it fulfills my needs.

The funny thing is; why do the clients complain when when we present them with our bill for services rendered?

That’s why I always like to quote the following joke when illustrating the value of our service to our clients, hence the title of this blog, “Knowing Where To Knock”:

A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix the engine.


Then they brought in an old man in his eighties who had been fixing ships since he was a young man. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully from top to bottom.

Two of the ship’s owners were there watching this man and hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently knock something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for $10,000.

“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”

So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

The man sent a bill that read:

Knocking with a hammer…… …………………$ 2.00
Knowing where to knock………. ……… $ 9,998.00

Now, without people like us, DO YOU know where to knock?

About Richard

Richard Oon Hock Chye has more than 25 years of experience in taxation and business advice, with particular expertise in Malaysian property law. He began his taxation career with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a ‛Big Four’ accounting firm, before starting his own practice, ConsulNet Tax Services Sdn. Bhd., in 1996. He is currently the National Tax Director of TY Teoh International, one of the leading consulting service providers in Malaysia. It is a member of the MSI Global Alliance, a global network of more than 250 independent legal and accounting firms, in over 100 countries. Richard sits on the board of two companies listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia, as an independent non-executive director. He is also a regular contributor to several magazines and publications, and has shared his tax expertise on numerous occasions with organisations and property developers. As well as being a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), Richard is a fellow member of both the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia (CTIM). He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and holds a tax agent licence issued by the Ministry of Finance. Richard is also the author of the book, ‘Every Property Investor’s Guide To How To Pay Less Tax Legally’.

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