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Being a proactive accountant

It’s your job as an accountant to give clients advice about how to make their business better. Being truly ‘proactive’ may require a shift in mindset. It’s similar to what you would expect an internal CFO to do.

The trouble is you’re already super busy doing the compliance work – it makes sense because this has been the profession’s role in the past. Times have moved on. What you need is to stop doing tax returns and annual compliance work. If you can, hire someone to do the reviews and desk work for you. Sure keep an eye on this, but you don’t actually need to do it. Then, leave your desk armed with a tablet and a smartphone and get in front of your clients.

Giving sensible business improvement advice is natural for an accountant, given the right circumstances. Have you ever been at a BBQ and someone asks you a business question and you just instinctively know the answer and the advice just flows? That’s gold and it’s what your clients want.

How do you actually do it?

  • Prepare management reports either monthly or quarterly for clients. Identify a few things they could do better, write them in the executive summary of the management report. Simple.
  • Set up advisory boards with your clients – these run like a normal board meetings.
  • Come up with ways to improve cashflow, profit and capital.
  • Run one on one or group strategy development sessions. Do this with six clients, each paying say $250 each for a four-hour session. You want a basic business plan as a net result. This will lead to regular management reports and the advisory board meetings as above.
  • Two or three times a week have breakfast with clients. No charge in fact you pay for breakfast. Just ask them how everything is going.
  • Every week do several, 30 minute coffee meetings with different clients. Again just ask how everything is going.  Introduce them to management reports.

The face-to-face interaction with clients should be part of the regular services you offer. Besides, being a virtual CFO and focusing less on compliance is much more fun.

 

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5 comments

Tim C – FGS
28 November 2011 #

Great post Hamish
This is exactly the type of work that Accountants who embrace the shift in philosophy that Xero allows them, can offer to their clients

We have an Accounting Firm that we are working with right now who made a list of their Top 20 clients, took each one of them to lunch, asked 2 questions and picked up over $250,000 in advisory work.

The capacity to be able to do this (both mentally and time-wise) was created because they embraced Xero

Cheers
Tim

Jonathan
28 November 2011 #

Great post, this really is where the future of the industry is, it’s hard for some of those traditional accounting firms to take the leap but you can really see the benefits both for the accountants and their clients. This sort of up to the minute technology is providing greater opportunities every day.

Richard Francis
28 November 2011 #

Good post. This is the future.

Emily
29 November 2011 #

This is a great post and music to my ears.
“Have you ever been at a BBQ and someone asks you a business question and you just instinctively know the answer and the advice just flows? That’s gold and it’s what your clients want.”
I couldn’t agree more.
One point to add – don’t assume your clients know the small things, like what you can and can’t claim VAT on, or what you can claim as costs of your business. As an accountant you know this inside out. Your clients don’t. Honest. And if you tell them they will love you!

Hamish Edwards
30 November 2011 #

Great comments, thanks guys. @Tim an additional $250k from 20 lunches? What the heck were the two questions they asked? I am amazed. Make me want to have lunch with a client every day of the week…bye bye desk.

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