HOW You Are Inspirational (Part 1)

Steve Pipe
Posted by Steve Pipe on Aug 13, 2021 1:19:08 PM

In the first article in the series we saw that, apart from the medical profession, there is probably no other group making a bigger difference to the lives of so many people as accountants and bookkeepers.

How accountants change lives

The research suggests that there are four main ways that accountants are making a difference:

  • CORE SERVICES – the things that every accountant already can and must do
  • ADVANCED SERVICES – the things every accountant must now be building into their plans
  • SPECIALIST SERVICES – the things most accountants can adopt a “just-in-time” approach with
  • HUMANITARIAN SERVICES – the extra things that make life joyful and really set accountants apart

Core services

 The core services that appear to create the greatest impact include:

  • Accounting systems – to deliver up-to-date, reliable and accurate information at all times
  • Robust internal controls – to minimise the risks of things going wrong
  • Bookkeeping support – to ensure the integrity of the underlying accounting data
  • Training – so that bookkeeping and accounts systems are used properly
  • Management accounts - so the business leaders receive the information they need
  • Decision support – so that information is properly understood and used to make better decisions that lead to better results
  • Virtual Finance Director – to give them proactive high-level input when they need it
  • Acting as a sounding board for ideas, issues and challenges – to give them an independent second opinion
  • Board/Management meeting attendance and support – to keep them focused, efficient and effective
  • Business plan creation – to help clients move forward in carefully thought through ways
  • Integrated profit and loss, cashflow and balance sheet forecasting – to ensure that their plans stack up financially
  • Recommending books, software, third party experts etc – to expose them to the very best ideas, tools and support
  • Proactive tax planning – to capitalise on legitimate tax reduction opportunities
  • Defensive tax planning – to challenge excessive claims made by the tax authorities
  • Cashflow management – to ensure they don’t run out of cash
  • Receivables (debtor) collection – to prevent bad and slow paying debts derailing the business
  • Raising finance – to fund growth, investment and other plans
  • Cost and profitability analysis – to support better product, sales and marketing decisions
  • Buying and selling businesses – to help clients achieve their strategic plans
  • Exit/Succession planning – so they can get out when they want, and on the terms they want

Interestingly, what constitutes a “Core” service appears to varies from country to country. And is also likely to evolve over time. Cloud accounting is a prime example. A few years ago this would probably have been regarded as an Advanced or even Specialist service. But it has now become so important and transformationally powerful that it is now unquestionably a Core service.

In fact, one of the practitioners in the book summarises it all brilliantly this way:

“The point is that what we accountants see as fairly ordinary advice and support can often make an EXTRAORDINARY difference to the businesses, lives and happiness of our clients. The profession has so much more power to do good than it gives itself credit for. That power is at our fingertips. And thanks to new technology, such as cloud accounting and everything that goes with it, our power to make a difference is getting greater and greater by the day.”

Advanced services

Advanced services are the things that every accountant must be building into their plans. Mostly because they allow you to make much more of a difference. But also because many accountants are already delivering them, and those that don’t keep up will get left behind.

Some of the more obvious advanced services includes:

  • KPI identification, measurement and monitoring
  • Business improvement advice
  • Workflow and business process automation – which thanks to the Cloud is now an affordable and transformational reality for small businesses
  • Family finances – which includes family financial forecasting, retirement planning and other personal financial planning

We will look at specialist and humanitarian services in the next article.

But before then, to help illustrate what is at stake, we will turn our attention to…

The extraordinary rewards you will earn

Accountants who make a difference by delivering these kinds of services are rewarded extraordinarily well. For example, according to the accountants we talked to, the financial rewards included:

  • “In return we can charge higher fees, making it a win-win all round.”
  • “Earned us our largest ever fee”
  • “[Our approach] gives us a great reputation and attracts a lot of new clients” 

And on an emotional level, the rewards include:

  • “It’s so fulfilling knowing that we are part of something that is making a real difference”
  • “To have a purpose beyond our daily working life is both humbling and satisfying. To have that purpose together as a team is unifying and empowering”
  • “After all, if you don't enjoy it, what's the point?”

What next?

The next article in the serialisation will focus on the other two types of service that are making a profound difference, and give you a five step process for capitalising on them.

This is the second article in an updated abridged serialisation of Steve Pipe’s ground-breaking book ‘The world’s most inspiring accountants’

Steve Pipe FCA is a leading researcher – you can download his latest book Our time to RISE for free here.

Topics: Practice Growth


 

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