Accountants are lazy. There, I’ve said it. It’s something I have thought for a long time, certainly since I started my practice.
It was a key driver in starting my practice, the fact that there were so many accountants providing a really poor and inadequate service to clients. Yes, they kept them compliant but they weren’t really ‘helping’ them.
I’m talking about the accountants who provide the ‘traditional’ year-end only sausage machine compliance services – they are the ones who are inherently lazy and selfish.
Let’s face it, running this type of accountancy practice can be a very easy business. Clients come back to you year-after-year, many will refer new business to you and business continues to grow. No effort is needed with selling or marketing – just rely on referrals for a steady trickle of new clients.
And you don’t really need to provide a very good level of service. Most clients, unless they have changed accountants recently won’t know whether the service they receive is good, bad or indifferent.
But is this really the level of service clients deserve?
Yes, on the face of it, you submit their accounts and tax returns on time and tell them how much tax they need to pay – but it really is the bare minimum.
There’s no interest in how a client’s business is going, whether he’s struggling or if business is booming. How many times do we hear stories of clients exceeding the VAT threshold or directors loan accounts being massively overdrawn with insufficient profit available to clear with dividends – the accountant only finding out when they come to prepare the accounts months after the year-end?
It’s just a case of wait for the books to arrive after the year-end and prepare the accounts and tax return. It’s a reactive, backward looking service with little value to the business owner.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Accountants are in an ideal position to support business owners and to help them succeed. They need to care and show an interest.
But this requires effort – to learn new skills, use new technology which will take them out of their sedentary comfort zone of desktop software, spreadsheets, and paper records.
How many accountants have never been to an accountancy trade fare, conference or institute meeting to learn about new developments in the profession and share experiences and ideas with other practitioners? You can’t rely on AccountingWEB for everything…
There are often murmurings of pressure on fees, but this is pressure on compliance fees, not on business support, advice and development services – AKA advisory.
Accountants only need to talk to their clients and show an interest to identify ways in which they can help, do additional work which has real value and will help clients achieve more.
Business plans, cash flow forecasts, management accounts, quarterly business reviews are just the start.
And do you know what? This work is actually interesting and adds real value.
End result the client is happy and the accountant has more enjoyable work. Tell people about this and show them what you can do and more will naturally follow.
If you’re the type of accountant who is moaning about being “too busy in January” and “stressed out” because of work, with clients leaving everything until the last minute. The reality is you only have yourself to blame.
Most of the problem is down to poor client education, a lack of communication and outdated work practices.
Just make the effort to embrace a little bit of the changing landscape in the professional and take yourself outside of your comfort zone.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about taking the first steps to make the move towards business support and advisory services.
Well now is the ideal time, leave it too long and you may get left behind.
So which accountant are you? The lazy compliance sausage machine accountant? Or are you the empathetic, resourceful accountant who adds real value to a client’s business?
You may not think it’s this black and white, cut and dried – but it is.
About Mark Telford
I am an Award Winning Chartered Accountant and work with ambitious business owners to help them achieve their goals.
I do this not by submitting accounts and tax returns on time - that's the bare minimum, but by helping them achieve more. This can be business growth, business sale, succession or retirement planning, business improvement and most importantly personal goals.
All businesses should have a plan and its important to measure performance and make sure you are on track to achieve your goals. I will work with you to achieve this.
I founded Telfords Chartered Accountants as I could see that many small businesses were not getting the business support and advice they needed from their accountant. Regular financial and commercial support throughout the year is essential to help a business achieve the results the owners want.
By using cloud software from the very start we have been able to provide a year round service which helps businesses be the best they can.
We have been using Xero since 2010 and encourage all clients to use it as we believe it is the best accounting software to help them run their businesses.
I have now started working with other accountants to help them run a more profitable, efficient and enjoyable practice, providing a higher level of service to their clients - not just accounts and tax returns.