Lloydbottom urges accountants to join the 21st century

The accountancy profession needs to make a quantum leap into the 21st century, according to practice development consultant Mark Lloydbottom.

Speaking to AccountingWEB ahead of the Practice Excellence Conference on 6 November, Lloydbottom cited the old saying, “If you continue to do what you’re doing, you’ll continue to get what you’re getting.”

He continued: “The internet is redefining people’s expectations. As a profession we need to make a quantum leap to providing 21st century service, where many firms are perhaps still rooted in the practices of the 20th century.”

The net has already had a huge impact on accountancy, but Lloydbottom expects to see even more changes in the five years to come.

“Technology enables clients almost at a fingertips to get a rough guide how they are doing financially,” he said. That poses some interesting challenges to firms who have traditionally produced 3-4 page accounts packs for unincorporated businesses.

“We have to look again at value. So much of our work addresses historical issues as far as the client is concerned,” he said. “Companies like Xero have made a huge impression and given accountants the ability to enhance the P&L accounts.”

As well as meeting client expectations for financial information at their fingertips, face-to-face time with them will hold the key to delivering the kind of service they want. Mark will be leading a marketing workshop at the Practice Excellence Conference to focus more closely on those client needs and adapting your practice to evolve with them.

The interactive session will begin by looking at the kind of clients you want to serve and how to understand what matters to them. The challenge for practitioners moving into a more advisory role is to pick up on the issues that cause clients the most problems - and remove that anxiety.

Success in this area relies heavily on gaining insights into your clients, and uncovering their problems. Mark will draw on his Deeper approach to practice development and consulting to give you a few practical ideas how to do this.

To hear more of Mark's suggestions and take part in his practical workshop, buy your tickets now for the Practice Excellence Conference on 6 November in London. See below for the full video interview with Mark Lloydbottom:

 

Comments

Quantum Leap eh?    1 thanks

MattG | | Permalink

"...we need to make a quantum leap"

So the smallest possible change in energy levels then? Gotcha!

Call me a pedant but I hate it when people misuse that phrase.... (though it's note quite quite as irritating as "shifting paradigms", "pushing envelopes", "blue sky thinking" or a number of the other hideous phrases that consultants seem to love).

TaxTeddy's picture

Ah...    2 thanks

TaxTeddy | | Permalink

.. So it's 'blue sky thinking'. I thought it was 'blue cheese thinking' - no wonder I'm putting on weight.

Cheese puns, I Camambert them!    2 thanks

MattG | | Permalink

TaxTeddy wrote:

.. So it's 'blue sky thinking'. I thought it was 'blue cheese thinking' - no wonder I'm putting on weight.

I understand that no Gouda will come from that sort of cheesy thinking, indeed one may well end up a little Feta.

so what is the    2 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

'21st century service' I am intrigued (I assume the practices rooted in the 20th century use BBC and commodore computers, dot matrix printers and chalk boards for presentations...)

Bob Harper's picture

Change    1 thanks

Bob Harper | | Permalink

As usually, you are right.

However, change is only required if firms want to grow and develop. Most can probably maintain their current results for at least the next five years. 

Firms that want to grow have two choices a) keep the same business model and scale to maintain margins as prices fall on compliance b) change their business model and focus on added value.

The first requires investment in terms of money for systems, resources and promotion to win new clients. The second requires less money but more time and energy taking on new knowledge and developing new skills.

That presupposes mandatory cash accounting and simpler reporting doesn't wipe out compliance services.

Bob Harper | Crunchers - Improving the Numbers

Locutus's picture

I fear Lloydbottom thinks ...    2 thanks

Locutus | | Permalink

justsotax wrote:

'21st century service' I am intrigued (I assume the practices rooted in the 20th century use BBC and commodore computers, dot matrix printers and chalk boards for presentations...)

I fear Lloydbottom thinks we still record transactions in bound ledgers, type accounts out using a typewriter (maybe even an electronic one) and send everything by post.  Perhaps a few modern ones even use telex.

Lloydbottom's talk would have been prophetic 15 years ago - before the advent of the cloud, cloud bookkeeping and before the internet / e-mail had really taken off, but those clients that want to know immediately how they are doing financially have probably been using something like Xero for the past couple of years.

|'m intrigued about these monumental changes that are set to engulf us in the next 5 years - that are even bigger than the whole of the past 25.

EDIT: Sorry Bob, your post crossed with mine.  I'll leave the discussion now otherwise we will be arguing until the weekend.

Bob Harper's picture

Business model    1 thanks

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@Locutus - 99% of accountants have not changed their business model over the last 25 years. But, 99% will need to change over the next 25 years.

Accountants have been (and most still are) engaged in providing a fairly basic service, swapping time for money delivering compliance. The only value/complex element is tax.

Firms have managed to launch and grow over the last 25 years using on the old/current business model. However, I don't think that is possible going forward. To grow firms need to either reduce prices and scale or change their business model and focus on added value.

Firms that do not want to grow do not need to change, just yet. But, I think they will find that they will be increasingly attacked by firms that decide to scale or add value.

Good luck.

Bob Harper | Crunchers | Improving the Numbers

 

 

@Bob of Crunchers.

Manchester_man | | Permalink

@Bob of Crunchers.

Are you part of Crunch Accountants aswell? Both websites / logos look remarkably similar. Just to satisfy my own curiosity.

ShirleyM's picture

Do you honestly believe that?    3 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Bob Harper wrote:

@Locutus - 99% of accountants have not changed their business model over the last 25 years. But, 99% will need to change over the next 25 years.

I have seen massive change ... where have you been?

Bob Harper's picture

What specifcially?    1 thanks

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@Shirley - yes, I do mean it.

No doubt you have seen change....but new technology and offering fixed fees isn't a change in the business model - 99% of accountants still base their business on providing a compliance service.

The truth is that anything extra (e.g. tax planning or a bit of advice) is only there to help justify the fee.

@Manchester - no we are not part of Crunch. The logos are similar but the product is VERY different..they are low cost, we are high value. They are a corporate, we are a network. They have built software, we have built a sales and marketing system based on the new business model for accountants. 

Bob Harper 

The Crunchers Network | Improving the Numbers

a consultant    1 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

suggesting we need his help 'shocker'. 

Bob Harper's picture

Help    1 thanks

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@JustSoTax - I am sure you (and many others) don't need any help. My guess is that you are very proficient at what you do.

The question is do you and others want help doing what you are not doing?

In terms of motivation. The reason to want help is when you are not happy with the situation. That could be financial (e.g. lower than desired recovery rates) or non-financial (e.g. not feeling respected and/or valued). 

Most accountants don't need help doing traditional accounting. But, most would benefit when they take on something radical like changing their business model. That is because there are some really big lessons to learn and it's usually much more expensive doing it alone that paying someone to help.

Bob Harper

The Crunchers Network | Improving the Numbers

.    1 thanks

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

@Bob, You seem to be in a long forgotten time-warp along with Mr LLoydbottom.

I have not stumbled across one of those 'old style' accountants for a very long time.

Your "management speak" sales babble simply does not bare any scrutiny, as discussed on here time and time again. 

You simply do not understand the business to which you purport to advise on.

 

@manchester man  I imagine the "other" business doesn't bother to contest copyright over the er how should I put it, "co-incidences" between the names and logos, "Fancy That!" as Private Eye might say. I doubt Bob's declining franchise presents much of a threat to their business. 

I don't pretend to know

justsotax | | Permalink

everything - that's why I keep an eye on AW for tips etc.  But with age comes a cynical view on people selling utopian solutions or warning of impending disaster...I always look for their 'angle' and whether the advice/opinion they give is truly impartial or sufficiently so to be taken seriously.

Bob Harper's picture

Time warp

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@YouReallyShouldn't - I don't know where you stumble on a day-to-day basis but old style/traditional accountants are around us everywhere. Just do a Google search and read the Websites - they are all the same.

As regards Crunch and Crunchers...both have rights to exist and although the name/logo looks similar we are VERY different to the other 25,000 of you.

As regards our network numbers, we've gone over that one before - it's a 24 step back strategy before taking 200 steps forward. By the way I heard that sliced bread took 15 years to take off and as the saying goes, that was a great invention!

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Alternative Accountans

 

johnjenkins's picture

I really am glad    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

that 99% of us still have ethics, Bob. When you have a vehicle serviced, Bob, do you want a mechanic or someone who is proficient at selling you a lawnmower? No, Bob, they can't do both.

Bob Harper's picture

Clarity

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@JohnJenkins - I just want to check...are you suggesting that accountants shouldn't sell? Or, selling is unethical? Or, both?

@JustSoTax - being cynical is neither good or bad. It can save you money but it can also cost you money. I would suggest you be cynical about the traditional ways accountants work, their mindsets and business model.

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Alternative Accountants

.    1 thanks

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

@John when you have the vehicle serviced what should of course happen in Bob's mind is that is free.

What you pay for is the advice on how to drive the vehicle, and what one to buy next time around, and how if you only paid a bit more in fees to Bob you could have ten vehicles. 

 

 

johnjenkins's picture

@ireallyshouldkn    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Thankyou for the clarity.

@Bob. You should well know my feelings of selling within our profession by now. What I am suggesting, for your clarity, is that in order to do our job properly selling shouldn't come into our minds because it takes the emphasis away from our work. Of course you don't believe that because you are a salesman not an Accountant. No Bob, you can't be both.

Bob Harper's picture

Chargeable time

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@John - no John, I can be both because I don't have your limited view of the world.

I come from the position that selling is all about helping clients see new possibilities through effective questioning? If they come to the conclusion that they want something that I can help them with I will offer my support. 

@YouReallyShouldn't - are you trying to be carstastic?

In my world the garage would understand that a bog standard service would be a commodity so (assuming the garage owners wanted to improve their numbers )they would need to innovate. This would a) differentiate and b) add value so they could increase prices and margins.

This could be done in many ways e.g. offering options like picking your car up at your office and returning it so you don't have any hassle. They could then target accountants - they could show them that it is a better option to pay a little more for this higher level car service because they can do more chargeable work.

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Improving the Numbers

.

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

@Bob, nope its satire.

I think you will find your earth shattering "innovation" is exactly what garages do.  Well mine does. The "pick up" service is £20 for an MOT, or free with a major service.  Most garages will do it if you ask for it nicely and you are local.

Perhaps you are too busy telling them how to run their business and they don't offer this to you?

 

Bob Harper's picture

Most

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@YouReallyShoukldn't - there is no need for innovation to be earth shattering, just ongoing and measured...which is why and where accountants can help. 

If business was all about one big thing it would be easy to copy...it's about the 100 little things. And, innovations like the "pick-ups" are crucial to the success of a business. 

If you agree why isn't every small business keeping an innovation record? These could be reported and reviewed quarterly/annually...much better than discussing last years accounts which are a) out of date b) cannot be changed c) do not help create better results.

Alternative Accounting is about measure alternative things, not just the traditional numbers. I think that is what Mark is really talking about.

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Alternative Accountants

 

 

 

 

johnjenkins's picture

@Bob

johnjenkins | | Permalink

No Bob, you can't do both, because you are focusing on making sure they see your point of view rather than you seeing theirs.

s for limited view of the world, Bob, my views would probably blow your mind because they are so open.

Bob you really are quite

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

Bob you really are quite amusing.

An "innovation needs to be ongoing AND measured"

No Bob, an innovation (or I would say any business tactic) needs to WORK (!)

End of. 

Measurement matters little, implementation is what counts. 

Moreover something is not an innovation if it is common practice

Bit like accountants using cloud software. Not an innovation. Regular business for 5+ years

Efiling accounts. Not an innovation. Regular practice 10+ years (and now of course all but compulsory)

Email. Not an innovation. Regular practice 20+ years

Computerised accounts: Not an innovation. Regular practice 30+ years

Fixed fees. Not an innovation. Regular business for generations but goes in/out of favour

Advising business owners. Not an innovation. Regular business for all time.

Tax planning. Not an innovation. Regular business for all time. 

 

 

 

 

ShirleyM's picture

Anyone can promise anything ... for a price.    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

The 'crunch' comes (excuse the pun) when you deliver, or don't deliver.

Anyone can promise to increase profit by 200%, or reduce tax by 50%, and then when it doesn't happen, you blame the client for not following your advice. Simples! You've got the money anyway. Pretty much like lots of the tax avoidance schemes being touted around.

It doesn't do much for your reputation though. Forget the referrals, which is the mainstay of many accountants.

.

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

@Shirley, exactly 

Bob fails to understand the cornerstone of a successful accounting practice is trust.

Its what makes 'em come back for 10, 20 or 30 years in a row. 

Without that you don't have a business. 

 

 

Bob Harper's picture

One at a time

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@John - your understanding of sales is seriously flawed....sales is all about seeing the world from the clients perspective. Only then helping them see things from a different perspective. 

@YouReallyShouldn't - innovation (or use of a new tactic if you prefer) needs to be a) implemented and b) quantified to know it works. There is nothing (apart from energy and knowledge) to stop accountants making suggestion and helping quantify results. 

@Shirley - if you don't deliver you don't get paid...like lots of other businesses. But, who said guaranteeing the actual results?

Offering business advice is really about the client trusting you to help them achieve their goals and delivering more value than you charge.

As regards 10, 20 or 30 years...most accountants don't have a business - they have a job based on a compulsory service. Hopefully, the law will change soon and free businesses up from having to spend money on a service that doesn't need to exist.

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Alternative Accountants

.    2 thanks

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

Bob, bob, bob you are too funny.

I really am not getting any work done.  My assistant is in stiches. 

 

Bob Harper's picture

Gerber

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@YourReallyShouldn't - I'd suggest your assistant read the E-Myth and/or click here.

My guess is that you don't rate Gerber...if you did you'd agree with me.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Accountants

 

.    3 thanks

ireallyshouldkn... | | Permalink

Sorry Bob to busy upscaling our deliverable output matrixies to expand our dynamic thought tunnels right now.*

 

*To the non-babble speakers, I really must bang out this set of accounts and lob them a bill rather than reading more nonsense. 

 

Bob Harper's picture

Says it all

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@YouReallyShouldn't - I guessed that as well.

Bob Harper

Crunchesr Accountants

 

Locutus's picture

Comment of the day

Locutus | | Permalink

ireallyshouldknowthisbut wrote:

Sorry Bob to busy upscaling our deliverable output matrixies to expand our dynamic thought tunnels right now.*

 

*To the non-babble speakers, I really must bang out this set of accounts and lob them a bill rather than reading more nonsense. 

 

I'll temporarily break my self-imposed ban on commenting further, as that has to be the comment of the day. "Dynamic thought tunnels" - pure genius :-)

Unbelievable

Manchester_man | | Permalink

Bob Harper wrote:
. Hopefully, the law will change soon and free businesses up from having to spend money on a service that doesn't need to exist.

Bob Harper

Crunchers | Alternative Accountants

You just posted the above on a forum full of accountants! I conclude that you're only here to cause trouble. Probably through boredom.

There's a word that begins with T and rhymes with Droll.

Ahh, that's it. It's Bob Harper. ;-)

Bob Harper's picture

Believe it

Bob Harper | | Permalink

@Manchester - me, trouble?

Bob Harper

Crunchers Accountants

Seeing the world from the clients    1 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

Perspective - that's a new one on me. You sound more and more like a global warming fanatic of a few years back telling us that the world was about to end but failing to provide us with the achievable steps. Shame you don't listen to your own advice and look at things from 99% of accountants who quite clearly still use an abacus to do the more complex calculations. It's not your ideas/innovations that are absurd - it's the way you sell them....

Not this old chestnut again    2 thanks

Bikegirllisa | | Permalink

Hey, I've got a new game for us to play.  It's called ignore people trying to flog us their tired old business improvement models.

Neither Lloydbottom nor Harper are breaking new ground here, nor are they breaking news. 

Let's move on shall we? 

johnjenkins's picture

@Bob    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

There's the con, Bob, trying to make people see things from YOUR perspetive irrispective of what THEY really want to do.

You have no place in Accountancy, Bob, and never will. You would do well in the States as one of these "Gospel Merchants". They earn a good living out of conning people.