Archive for June, 2010
I was at a seminar last week called How to be a World Class Accountant, to try and understand what differentiates an excellent accountant from an average accountant. I’m not sure, however, that this is something that can be taught. I believe that the ”excellence” must come from having clients that are bowled over by the service they receive and, even more importantly, by the relationship that they have with the person that provides the services.
All (or most) accountants can do the technical stuff – sets of accounts, tax returns, cash flows, management reporting information etc are the basic level tasks that you would expect your accountant to do for you easily and smoothly. Is that enough though?
I would suggest that your accountant should be so much more than this. Many accountancy firms have now cottoned on to the fact that they must distinguish themselves from the competition in order to retain and attract more clients in this competitive world. There is a flurry of offers of value added services such as wealth management, tax strategies, strategic planning etc.
I think that it has to go further than this though. More people now trust their accountant to give them good advice than their bank manager, according to recent surveys - is anybody surprised by this? But why do they trust their accountant?
Surely an accountant has to make an effort to get to know who the client is, understand them, figure out what makes them tick and what drives them to get out of bed in the morning? It’s all very well understanding how a business works, but I think that without trying to understand the person driving that business then there will always be a piece of the puzzle missing.
I’m always hearing that we accountants are not naturally good at the personal part of our business and that we prefer to be shut in a dark room with a lot of numbers and a really complicated tax return. Well, those days are over, and accountants now have to have a personality too. Without understanding what makes people tick, how can we properly advise our clients or help them to achieve their goals?
So, for me, to be a world class accountant, I think I have to listen to my clients, to get to know them and to help them to realise their dreams. For some, this may result in extra services, such as strategic planning etc, but for many it may just be that a cup of coffee and a chat about business, life and the universe is really all that they need.