Are you a traditional or a forward-thinking accountant?
How exactly do we define a ‘forward thinking’ accountant?
When you see as many accountancy firms’ websites as I do, it soon becomes apparent that everyone has their own definition of what the term ‘forward thinking’ means. Often, ‘forward thinking’ or ‘proactive’ are just labels for an accountancy practice that actually does exactly the same as the traditional practice next door.
As I discussed in my previous article, business owners need your help. They want an accountant who understands their business and can help them with the challenges they face; someone who is genuinely forward thinking. But it’s not enough just to say it, you have to live up to the label. Business owners will soon realise it’s just the same old compliance service unless you can show them you really are different.
So, are you genuinely forward thinking? Or are you really a traditional accountant? Let’s find out...
Forward Thinking Accountants…
Simply deliver a commodity by performing a legally required function for a business.
Deeply involved with the business as a whole. By seeking to understand their clients’ goals, they’re able to spot and to present opportunities to make sure they achieve them. The forward-thinking accountant is a vital component of the business they work with.
Performing a Job
Focus on delivering the core service of compliance work and are either deeply involved in doing this themselves or in double-checking the work their employees do.
Making a Difference
Help clients to grow their business and as a consequence change lives. That’s why they’re able to spring out of bed every morning knowing they’ll be making a profound difference
Performs a function that anyone (or at least any accountant) can do and is easy to replace. Business owners will always seek the cheapest alternative.
By raising both their online and offline profile they’ve become known, liked and trusted – including by business owners they haven’t yet met in person. Their reputation for making a difference means that business owners will do whatever they can to remain one of their clients.
Default position is to take on any client, however large or small, and allow themselves to be negotiated down to rock-bottom fees. They then have to work with a high volume of clients in order to achieve an acceptable income. In short: they’re overworked.
Choose Their Role
Their clients aren’t interested in which of a forward-thinking accountant’s team physically produces the work; they’re interested in having the meaningful conversations that result from it. That’s why forward-thinking accountants are always happy to delegate work – it frees them up to deliver business advisory solutions to clients.
All Things to All People
By taking on any client, traditional accountants are forced to accommodate so many different wants and needs that they run themselves ragged – and all for very little appreciation or respect.
Rigid on Ideal Client Profile
Take time to work out who they most like to work with, the type of business or circumstances their skills are best suited to and – most importantly – the type of personality they prefer to work with. Once they’ve done this, they can choose to work only with those who fit the bill and to refer on any others.
Reluctantly catching up with technology, but they’ll always be several steps behind. (And not only with technology. They also lag behind with the types of services and support they offer.)
Keep up to date with new technology. ‘Making Tax Digital,’ for example, was something that forward-thinking accountants readied their clients for early on.
Fear the Future
The future looks bleak for traditional accountants. The rate of change for technology, legislation and the environment in general is rapidly increasing. The new strains of entrepreneur want – and need – a lot more from accountants.
Embrace the Future
Forward-thinking accountants are excited about what the future holds – for both themselves and their clients. They’re tapping into the likes of AVN because they know it will help them develop an accountancy practice which is able to thrive in the years to come.
Where do you stand now and, more importantly, where do you want to be in the future?
This article is based on Chapter 3 of my book, Putting Excellence Into Practice – you can download a copy here.