Jan Post Tells The Story of RIFT
Monday July 13, 2015
It was the sight of an old Irish construction worker on a caravan site which prompted Jan Post to launch tax refund business RIFT.
“I remember going on a cold, muddy caravan site and this old Irish man was up at the crack of dawn, carrying over a jacket potato to nuke it in the microwave in the kitchen and then take it back to his caravan,” said Ms Post, who founded her company in Ashford in 1999.
Hundreds of labourers descended on the town in the late 1990s while the Channel Tunnel Rail Link was constructed, most of which were clocking up lots of mileage for their commutes but not claiming back the tax relief they were entitled to.
“We saw there was an opportunity with a lot of people,” she said. “We knew they were eligable because they were travelling to their workplace and we fell into it.”
Since then, RIFT has helped more than 35,000 clients claim tax relief. Today, the firm employs nearly 150 people, up from about 50 just three years ago.
The company has diversified into will-writing, accounting and offering help claiming research and development tax credits. Its growth was recognised at this year’s KEiBAs, winning the Customer Service and Commitment Award. In this video Jane Ollis, MD of RIFT Accounting, talks about what winning means to us.
“The older I got, the more I wanted to grow a bigger, more successful business,” said Ms Post. “I just kept saying to myself ‘one last chance to grow it a bit more’ and I’ve never stopped.
“I do have a passion for helping people and small businesses. When you see a success story, it is rewarding.”
Ms Post caught the business bug young, watching her father run Hellery and Lane estate agency in Ashford for 30 years, selling the business to Mann & Co after he passed away in the 1980s.
“I grew up in a family where my father always ran his own business. It seemed second nature to me. It was just natural to work for myself.
“I’m not sure I’d call myself an entrepreneur. Once you’ve done it for so long, and I’m quite old now, you don’t want to work for anyone else.”
What are small businesses most worried about?
“Businesses are worried about masses of red tape and legislation. I saw a small employer in the construction industry who wanted to have six sub-contractors working for him. He has to report monthly what he pays the guys using real time reporting and if he falls foul of any of his obligations, the chances are he will lose his status with HMRC. As a brickie, he might see a potential opportunity for his business and want to take on workers but has no idea how to run it with all the red tape. Hopefully, we take away all those problems for him and free him up from accounting so he can do his job.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to set up a business?
“Be brave and take the chance. Business is pretty scary and it can be quite lonely. We tell our clients to contact us as much as they like to allay any fears. There are a lot of people new to business who get a fear of brown envelopes. I’ve done it myself. You have bad cashflow and you’re scared to contact the accountant as they run the clock. We tell people to just ask the question and we’ll just bat it back to take away some of that fear and loneliness.”
Does the firm exploit tax loopholes?
“Absoutely not, although people may have that perception. That has become more prevalent since PPI. If we introduce ourselves to a new client, they say ‘you’re like those PPI companies,’ which we’re not. This is not a loophole. It is a legitimate tax refund anyone working at a temporary workplace is entitled to.”
Is the UK tax system fair?
“It’s OK at the moment but I was worried before the election. Damian Green came in and talked to us about apprentices. That is how I would like the UK to become. We should be looking after the worker and the small businesses who are taking the risk. I didn’t like the idea of the mansion tax or putting up corporation tax. If we have people taking a chance and putting their houses up as security, leaving good jobs to set up a business, we should encourage them.”
You set up RIFT in your 40s. What would you say to someone considering a second career?
“There was a time when people got to 50 and maybe considered retirement if they worked at a bank. But at that age you have loads of years and experience to set up a second career. I would love to help people set up second careers. They’ve got life experience and their children are grown up so they are looking for new interests. If we could set something up to major on that it would be fabulous.”
Live: Kennington, Ashford
School: Highworth Grammar School for Girls, Ashford
Marital status: Divorced but in a long-term relationship
Family: One grown-up son, Bradley Post is sales and marketing director at RIFT
First job: “My parents came down from London in 1967 and they took the Colt pub, which is now a Co-op and my first job, while I was underage, was there, behind the scenes.”
First salary: “Peanuts.”
Salary now: “I’ve paid myself a nice salary for the last seven or eight years but I prefer to keep most of the profits in the business to try and grow it.”
Car: Range Rover Evoke
Favourite book: The Da Vinci Code
Film: “I don’t watch many films but I like Pretty Woman.”
Music: “I like reggae.”
Gadget: iPhone 6 and iPad
Last holiday: “My last big one five years ago was the Seychelles,”
Charity: The Lighthouse Club and the ABF
Jan Post gets up at about 6.30am and usually walks her labradors. Her 88-year-old mother lives next door and the pair usually have breakfast together.
She gets to work between 8.30-9am and spends most days in the office in Ashford, attending meetings.
Several days she will travel up to London and back for appointments and she leaves work at about 6.30pm.
Most evenings she will spend about an hour reading work documents to prepare for the next day’s meetings.
She likes to spend time with her two grandchildren and goes to her holiday home in Hastings, where she enjoys walking on the beach.
Being a Kent Based family business we understand the local challenges faced by all small businesses.
Give us a call us on 01233 653006 and see how we can help yours today.