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
Building Better Practices and Lifestyles for Ambitious Accountants - Coach | Accountant | Xero MVP 2018
I help accountants to build better practices.
To run the practice they want, the way they want.
Focus on what it is you want personally – enough money to enjoy the lifestyle you want, enough time to do the things with people that you care about and to be less stressed. Work out your personal goals and then put a plan in place to achieve those goals using your business to help you get there.
Running my own successful accountancy practice means I see the real issues facing accountants on a daily basis. Working too many hours, too much inefficiency, poor pricing, not attracting the right clients, not converting clients, not having the right team, not having a plan to address it all and get them back on track.
I’m able to provide practical coaching, advice and support based on real life experiences I’ve faced. I won’t try and sell a solution that hasn’t either worked for me or worked for another client.
It’s your business – you decide how to run it on your terms.
Alongside this I run an award-winning accountancy practice that works with ambitious business owners to help them achieve their goals.
The approach is the same help them achieve money, time and mind freedom.
Earn enough to enjoy the lifestyle they want, have enough time to spend it doing the things they want and having peace of mind through knowing their accounts and taxes are being dealt with.