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Rebranding the accounting profession

As cloud accounting becomes the norm we’re seeing the positive impacts of accountants truly becoming business advisors to their clients. An indicator that the profession is moving in this advisory direction can come from a quick review of accountant websites out there now. When a firm moves to the cloud, streamlines their core compliance work, frees up time and starts offering advisory services, they’ll often re-brand not long after. A couple of examples of the new breed are shown below.

Brand has been a strange thing to talk about in the past within the realms of the accounting profession. Only 36 years ago it was considered unethical for accountants to advertise to clients on the basis that it encouraged the business side to overstep the professional side.

Given this history, it was a big ask a couple of decades ago for the profession to change tack and become business advisors and coaches for clients – not to mention advertising these services. Onlookers at the time would have thought Noah had a better shot of slamming the handbrakes on the ark and laying some tail.

Early adopters of the advisory approach were drawn in by the promise of greater profits and a higher calling to be more than just the conduit between clients and the taxman. They proved it was ok to make more money for clients as well as their firm and made leaping over to the business side feel a little less unethical. At the same time the ‘dark arts’ of advertising started to be adopted within the profession and consideration for the firm’s brand bounced around the tables of a few partner meetings.

And why not? As it became more accepted to provide business advisory services to clients it also made sense to align the brand of the firm with these services in order to attract clients who wanted those services. It’s obvious right? An entrepreneurial small business owner looking to build their business can be expected to positively consider a firm called something like Growthwise.

As much as I use re-branding as a crude measure for the accounting industry adopting a business advisory approach, prospective (and even existing) clients of these firms are doing the same thing. Small business owners are now being approached by firms with the offer of services to grow their business, improve their cashflow, increase profitability and much more.

So the profession needs to make it easy to win the business it wants by getting the basics right. At least getting your website aligned with the new approach communicates you’re ready to offer these services. It’s not going to generate thousands of calls from clients wanting to sign up for advisory services but it will give you somewhere to point the ones who do.

Momentum is swinging in favour of the shift by the profession from compliance to advisory services. Letting clients know these services are on offer is now a key objective of these leading firms. I’ll be following up with another two blog posts to showcase firms that have adopted this new approach and the web companies they worked with to align their websites.

Update: Links to follow up blogs:

 

Read more about Accountants

 

8 comments

Gayle Buchanan
7 May 2013 #

no brown cardie and comb overs here!
It’s a big job re-branding – hat’s off to those who have

Alan Jones
7 May 2013 #

My LinkedIn profile used to read, in part, “…I can even draw an interesting story out of an accountant” in reference to my ability to capture and develop great stories. I’ve taken it out because nobody seemed to believe it was possible.

Tina Kaye
7 May 2013 #

Love the Pizza concept Wow Company!

Ian McCall
8 May 2013 #

The only comment I’ll make on GrowthWise is that I like their logo with the leaf, and my 3 & 4 year olds would be attracted by the website design.

Re. WOW, their website design is OK, and a bit different, I wouldn’t rave about it, for a truly stunning accountants website see: http://balanceonline.co.uk/index.htm, but I see WOW are still offering Xero free for 12 months. I offered Xero free for 3 months on my website, and was told by my account manager, nicely, but firmly to change that, as Xero don’t want their image to be cheapened. I completely understand and changed the wording immediately. I was told WOW had been asked to change their offer wording, but maybe its different rules for Platinum Partners compared to Silver Partners?

Mike Block CPA
8 May 2013 #

Richard Phillips, the author of this post, missed something important. I missed it too until I read this. Re-branding the accounting profession also should include having Xero let each of us rebrand our client copies of Xero with our names. I would pay an extra 10% for that.

Leonardo Rocker
8 May 2013 #

We are Grouthwise clients and we love it! After searching for along time we finally found an accountanting service aligned with our business values and principals. No more just number crunching, said…as our expectations of an accounant service were set much higher. Distance was not a problem as softwares like xero allowed us to ‘be together’. Enought of a plug I say but they deserve it!

Rod Drury
9 May 2013 #

@Mike, in Xero the accountants or bookkeepers details show up in their clients help menu’s and on management reports. We also display firm details as partner banners across Xero.com so we think we’re already gone further than any other accounting software supplier. We are working on some really exciting new ways to embed our partners into Xero solutions that you’ll see roll out later this year. Lot’s of fun things coming.

Sean O’Rourke
24 May 2013 #

@Ian. I’m on my iPad. I just checked out balanceonline.co.uk on your recommendation. I got the “Get Adobe Flash Player” warning. Enought said I think.

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