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Accountants chew over their ‘why’

24th Nov 2014
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Understanding and then articulating to your clients why you do what you do is fundamental to winning new clients or business, says Raoul Monks of Flume Training.

Speaking at the Practice Excellence Conference, Monks explained Simon Sinek's 'Golden Circle' theory and encouraged delegates to start thinking about their ‘why’ first, then their ‘how’ and finally ‘what’ they do.

“The principle of the golden circle is very simple but it’s not used by many people,” Monks said.

“Apple communicated in a very different way - their ‘why’ was to challenge the status quo, they messaged from the inside out.”

Turning his attention to the accounting profession, Monks got attendees to think about the purpose of their practices.

He gave the example of a typical client, called Derek, who cares about is his business and growing it.

“People in business like Derek want the best outcome, not just price,” he said. “Your role is to help your clients get better results and they need to know that you care.”

The thought-provoking and practical session allowed delegates to discuss in smaller groups the why/how/what methodology and how it applies to their own firms.

Example: Understanding your ‘why’

· Why: “We believe that our role as an accountant should be focussed primarily on helping you grow your business and increasing your profit.”

· How: “We provide all the standard fundamentals an accountant should, such as year-end accounts and tax saving advice, but we also spend time helping you grow your business”

· What: “We do this by offering regular structured phone calls to develop your strategy for growth, in addition to the standard accounting services we provde.”

In particular the issue that "it’s not just about price" rang true for many of the accountants in attendance. They said trust, vision and rapport were often more important factors when clients selected their accountant, and vice versa, when accountants choose which clients they want to work with.

Monks explained that accountants also needed to teach clients what they're doing wrong, and that will create differentiation.

He added that finding your ‘why’ can help improve client and prospect conversations to bring both clients and you more value.

Paul Dunn, Accountants' Boot Camp founder and a fellow advocate of Sinek’s philosophy, also recently urged practices to find their ‘why’ at a 2020 conference in Birmingham.

Dunn said accountants should be able to reach the clients they want to reach, i.e. those who share your passion and enthusiasm. He added that having a purpose and renewed passion for what you do and why do you it rubs off on staff with everyone feeling switched on due to being part of a bigger purpose.

Realising you have the ability to pick up and work with your ideal clients – the ones who resonate with your firm’s why will lead you down the path of picking them up,” he said.

What is your firm’s 'why’? Can you articulate your mission and why you do what you do?

Replies (13)

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By JCresswellTax
24th Nov 2014 16:58


Bob Harper(ish) this article...zzzzz

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By johnjenkins
24th Nov 2014 17:31


yawn. I listened to Raoul at the conference.

Joking aside, Derek does not conjure up self-employed, business minded (sorry to all the Dels that are). In fact I do not know a Derek who is. I know a few Dereks who work for other people. To me Dereks and Duncans are all good at their jobs and caring people but don't really have what it takes to go it alone.

So all you Dereks and Duncans out there that have made it come forward please.

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By TaxTeddy
24th Nov 2014 17:42


That's the why. If I didn't need the money, I wouldn't.


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By thomas34
24th Nov 2014 17:48

Ah - the Golden Circle Theory

Somebody, somewhere thinks up a new name for a theory and pretends that they have answers to non-existent problems. Somebody else actually gives lectures on the aforementioned non-existent problems. I don't know if this stuff counts towards CPD points (do people still need points?) but if it does it brings the system into disrepute.


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By Jekyll and Hyde
25th Nov 2014 06:24

At first I thought this to the usual rubbish, however...
... After thinking about it for a while I think the OP might have actually focused me on how I can deliver a better networking pitch.

why is my business here. - simply for me to earn a reasonable wage (not excessive), having long term security, whilst dealing with the work and clients that I wish to work with.

How -
With this question in mind? I realise I am opinionated, which is a strength as well as a weakness, and it channels the type of client I want to work with and indeed those people that I do not wish to. With this in mind I choose to work with businesses and individuals that want to work within the system and help then sustain a long term career pattern. I have chosen not to deal with charities and other non business organisations so that I can focus my CPD and resources on the small business cimmunity. I will provide the noreal acountably and tax service, but will also focus on becoming the trusted advisor to that business.

What - by listening to the client, undertaking to produce quality and correct figures and advising the clients on the current regulations and hurdles we face in the small business community.

In essence I will follow the same business pattern that enabled me to grow a practice from 2004 - 2012 and successfully sold in 2012.

by starting again in a new region 12 months ago, I have come accross a few hurdles and challanes. Over the last 2 wees I have sacked 2 clients, which represents about 15% of my GRF, one because they were not very good payers and enough was enough and the second (yesterday) because they dI'd not fit the profile of the type of client I wanted or to put another way I could not help them. How many other small start up practices would let go of 15% of their GRF?

my growth will always be a slow burning growth as I decide who I wish to act for and I will not act for every client that comes along. This is pretty much the reasons I decided to leave my limited employment in 2013 to start another practice.

I suspect that mine, just like some other practices isn't necessary about maximising my profits, it's about sustaining reasonable long term profits.

I may have misunderstood the why, how, what but even if I have it has allowed me for focus positively on what I am looking for Inew my bubusiness. I just need to focus on getting those clients within the region that I work in.

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By StuartJones
25th Nov 2014 08:45

Really Raoul?

"People in business like Derek want the best outcome, not just price".

Most of the business owners I meet assume they are receiving the "best outcome" anyway and are looking for the cheapest price. Dare I say that most don't care about "best outcome" as long as their tax return is submitted before January 31.

Sorry about the cynicism.

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26th Nov 2014 00:29

Accountancy marketing gimmicks...

My gimmick is if someone looks like they're struggling I adjust my rates downwards accordingly, and quote an honest rate where I can look people in the eye for everyone else..

I can't afford a fancy car though!




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By johnjenkins
26th Nov 2014 10:25


That isn't a gimmick that is common sense and is what an Accountant should be doing.

You may be able to afford a caravan/motorhome though and enjoy weekends away.

My hat off to you sir.

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By MattG
26th Nov 2014 11:45

Find your why

I think if somebody asked me to 'find my why' I'd ask them to find the exit before I boot them through it!


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By Bob Harper
26th Nov 2014 15:28


@JCresswellTax - "why" is one of the things I suggest people think about; accountants and business owners.

It is not easy to articulate your why but it can be very powerful it terms of motivation (even inspiration) for the business owner, employees and customers.

If you are able to link your personal "why" to your business then it can transform your life and your business. It can give your life meaning outside making a living.

You don't believe me so I won't put a link to a video example. Anyone interested can PM me

This is the touchy-feely stuff that traditional accountants don't believe in, don't like, don't use and don't tell their clients about.

We're finding lots of really useful stuff in the field of positive psychology and neuroscience that really can be applied in practice by accountants and their clients.

Off to a meeting to build an App that does something amazing. 

Bob Harper 

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By johnjenkins
26th Nov 2014 15:44

Hey Bob

I see you're at it again. Positive Psychology and Neuroscience. I like it. How about an app that makes you disappear. That would be pretty amazing (just joking).

So we have touchy-feely, positive psychologistic neurons. It's not that new art form with all the furniture turned over is it?

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By Bob Harper
26th Nov 2014 17:08


@John - the research shows accountants need to be careful...all that looking for mistakes and saying "no" can create undesirable habits and behaviours!

I'll let you know when the App goes live...designing it now.

Bob Harper

Crunchers and The More Network


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Richard Sergeant
By Richard Sergeant
12th Jan 2015 12:01

'Why' and 'Why choose you over another firm'

I can appreciate lots of the comments above, and the money one is perhaps the most obvious (dare I say stereotypical?) answer.. but thinking about what the firm is about, and how it is there to help, shouldn't be sniffed at. It's pretty important for clients and potential clients to know what it is they are getting themselves into by choosing you over another firm, and if you've got something that's going to resonate over the "timely, accurate, cost effective" line, then it's good to use it!

Money might be the reason for you to be doing it, but clients don't use you on the basis that they want you to get rich quick. Being on the side of someone who is effective and successful might however make them increase in confidence.

There's been some really good rebrands of firms lately that are steeped in thinking hard about their propositions. Ones that stand out to me are:


So maybe the way Raoul put it didn't quite float your boat, but there's stuff in that there 'why'.


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