October 25, 2019
This is the fourth in a series of 5 blogs where I’m going to focus on what I consider the 5 key areas where accountants make mistakes which have a significant negative impact on their practice.
How do I know what these problems are?
Because I have faced them in my practice.
But by tackling them head on and overcoming them I’ve seen massive gains.
These problems hold accountants back, stifle development of their businesses, mean they don’t earn enough, work too many hours and don’t spend enough time doing the activities they enjoy with the people they care about.
That could be simple things like walking the dog, having lunch mid-week with their partner, picking the kids up from school, taking a day off when they ‘feel like it’.
Or bigger goals – paying the mortgage off in 5 years, taking six weeks holiday every year or buying a holiday home in the south of France.
Running your own accountancy practice means you have the perfect opportunity to achieve these goals and much more.
But first you need to get your accountancy practice running the way you want it too.
Problem number four – you aren’t providing the right services
Just as choosing to work with the right clients is vital, so is providing the right services.
You may decide that you purely want to focus on compliance work. Or it may be compliance plus some advisory in the form of management accounts, cash flow forecasts and board meetings.
Or you may decide that you want to commit to a comprehensive range of advisory services, or what I prefer to break down into business support, business advice and business development services.
What services you decide to provide will to a large extent be determined by the types of clients you will work with – and by you. What are you comfortable doing, what do you enjoy doing, what are you good at, what don’t you have the skills to deliver?
The clearer you are on this and the better you communicate it to your team, clients and prospective clients through all your marketing activities, the more of the right type of clients you will attract.
Compliance ‘or’ Advisory?
My view on this is that you must provide more than just basic compliance otherwise you will always be at risk of losing clients to those firms who provide more. Compliance work is the basics, the essentials, but to a large extent it is a price sensitive commodity.
There is a lot of bullshit spoken and written about ‘advisory’ services, a lot of which originates from software vendors trying to sell you their products and services and then from self-appointed gurus who think they know what you should be doing.
Speak to other accountants
Speak to other accountants to see what they’re doing, work out what you feel comfortable doing and what your clients want, speak to them. This could be business support and advice with queries every now and then about tax treatment of some costs, employment related issues or obtaining finance. Or it could be your client is looking to develop their business and needs a business plan, a cash flow forecast or management accounts and quarterly business review meetings.
Don’t try and shoe-horn clients into a certain ‘package’. Not every client (in fact not many) want detailed management accounts with fancy graphs and lots of irrelevant (to them) ratios and KPI’s.
Additional services (advisory) are largely value based services. It’s work that your client’s value. They don’t have to have it for a statutory need; they want it to help improve their business and personal life. So work out what it is they want and then offer a service which helps them to achieve this.
Not all of your clients need to want these additional services but they need to know that you offer them. But do make them aware of what you can do to help, in conversation, perhaps in an email but don’t try and ram ‘products’ down their throats.
And, don’t avoid services just because you lack the expertise. I’m not saying do work that you don’t have the necessary training, skills or experience to provide. Team up with specialists who can provide that service. You can then call on these specialists as and when you and your clients need them.
A great example of this is by using a tool such as Diagnostax tax planning software. This will enable you to provide a far higher level of specialist tax services.
Through having more conversations with clients I’ve been able to identify additional services those clients would benefit from. By then completing a Diagnostax review with the client and preparing a report we are able to highlight those areas when a specialist tax service may be needed.
Sometimes a full review isn’t needed, but Diagnostax as a tool provides the back up support to encourage you to have the type of conversation with clients that identify real opportunities.
Opportunities that you may otherwise run away from because you lack the specialist tax knowledge.
Recent examples of where we have been able to provide additional services to clients include; employee benefit schemes, inheritance tax planning, capital gains tax, capital allowances, property investment and trusts for paying school fees.
All areas which I would not have looked at had I not been using Diagnostax.
If the client then wants to go ahead with any of the tax saving or tax planning opportunities you identify, put them in touch with a tax specialist.
This reinforces your position as their ‘trusted advisor’. Your client will always turn to you for business advice, even if you can’t provide the service first hand, as they are confident that you will probably know someone who can.
This is a great position to be in as you can see opportunities early and help clients take advantage of them.
You will also spot problems which hopefully you can nip in the bud and prevent happening, or tackle them early to avoid the pain.
Remember – having more frequent, better conversations with your clients enables you to offer and provide a far better level of service which they will benefit from…
…and see the value of.
If you’re ready to start or are already running your own accountancy practice, here are 5 ways I can help you run the practice you want, the way you want:
1. Get in touch and arrange a free 30-minute discovery call.
2. Read my e-book about how I transformed my practice.
3. Attend one of our free Mastermind Events.
4. Join one of our Mastermind Groups.
5. Work with me on a 1-2-1 basis.