The term Accountant in the business world now means something different to what it used to. Accountant once meant trusted advisor, whereas now its been somewhat downgraded to number cruncher or tax man.
We only have ourselves to blame – the market has moved with the times and left us behind. Other professionals have successfully taken away services that used to be the domain of Accountants.
This has happened across all financial matters from investing through to borrowing money, including the facilitation of business decisions.
How other Professional Services have eroded the ‘Trusted Advisors’ concept that Accountants once owned
Other professional services have achieved this by changing their conversational language (esp. their marketing messages). eg. Financial Planners focus on building relationships and asking questions that address the deeper desires of the client. This positions them as advisors, who don’t just deal with the technical matter at hand.
I experienced this when a client looking to invest their super visited a Financial Planner. The financial planner asked questions (a statutory requirement) about not just investing money but estate planning and assets outside their business.
As their accountant, I had only ever asked questions about the business and requested information about the investments that enabled me to complete their tax return.
The client thought they were amazing, because the Financial Planner had raised the issue of a child outside the business. They prompted questions about how the child was going to be provided for, and asked how the business would survive if the child in the business had to pay out half to the sibling.
Hearing my client’s feedback, I realised I had to change my client conversations. From this, I designed the ‘Net Worth’ product – a tool designed to start discussions that lead into the ‘Family Board Meeting’ product.
Critical differences between ‘ Accountant’ and ‘Business Advisors’
A crucial step in moving from ‘Accountant’ to ‘Business Advisor’ is understanding of the two roles, and how they differ to your outlook and the Client’s perspective.
Compliance-based Accounting Focus
Traditional compliance-based Accounting is about looking backwards at what has already happened and deals with a micro field of data.
Focus and mindsets are different for Accountant & Client in the Compliance Model
|FOR ACCOUNTANTS||FOR CLIENTS|
Business Advisory (Value Add Service delivery)The compliance model means different mindsets for Accountants and their Clients. This leads to different languages and modes of operation.
Business Advisory services are more proactive as they involve looking at current data in order to forecast likely outcomes, planning and deciding actions to achieve those results.
Business Advisory Model involves a shared mindset between Advisor & Client
- What’s happening now?
- Live data that includes operational drivers matched with financial information
- Results and effects
- Smarter, faster, more effective decision-making
- What’s likely to happen in the future?
- Desires and outcomes
- Leading into:
- Value delivered
- Price for value
- Choices and options
Where the Compliance Model has an incongruency between your’s and the client’s language and mode of operation, the Value Add approach has shared perspectives.
Lessons for moving from Compliance to Business Advisor
The number one takeaway here is that Accountants wanting to become Business Advisors need to create certainty (in the form of packages and products) and evolve their language and people into solution providers that deliver value (as per the Value Add Service Delivery Model).