Becoming a trusted advisor in the truest sense of the word is not an easy feat to accomplish. The business owner-accountant relationship is one of the most important connections in the business world, but the nature of the work itself can easily put a strain on both parties. After all, an accountant knows the ins-and-outs of their clients’ accounts, and the numbers aren’t always pretty.
So how do you create more value for your clients and build a relationship wherein they wouldn’t think of trusting anybody but you with their most important business information? Putting them in an accounting software program that fits their needs is important, but to truly to start offering more value, it’s important to look at what companies want most out of their accountant.
When surveyed about the qualms they have with their current advisor, small, medium, and large-sized companies had similar responses. The results showed that when it comes to accounting, companies need their advisors to be proactive, timely, and guide them with advice and education.
The biggest problem companies seem to have with their advisor is that the see the advisor as being more “reactive” than “proactive.” 41 percent of small companies (11-25 employees), 47 percent of medium-sized companies (26-50 employees), and 44 percent of larger companies (51-100 employees) marked this area as their top complaint when it comes to their accountant.
What does this mean for advisors? Staying ahead of the numbers and communicating projections or concerns early on can help you gain favor and trust among your clientele. Accounting professionals who practice being proactive and assertive, even if that means over-communicating or warning against actions that could potentially harm a business’ bottom-line, will be more appreciated and trusted than professionals who simply react once a challenge has already presented itself.
Coming in second on the list is timeliness. It’s not surprise that companies value deadlines, punctuality, and efficiency, but when it comes to advisors, business owners clearly need to see a quick turn-around. 37 percent of small companies, 32 percent of medium-sized companies, and 43 percent of large companies say they don’t like their advisor’s take on timeliness.
It’s a lot of pressure, to be sure, but if being timely is a priority on your list of ways to bring more value to your clients, you can expect higher retention and even more respect from the businesses you serve. Prioritize, make feasible promises, and do good by them. Staying organized and on top of your calendar is key to improving efficiency and timeliness for your clients.
Among the other complaints companies have about their advisors is a lack of guidance, a lack of advice, and their accountant not educating them on the numbers. 32 percent of small companies, 30 percent of medium companies, and 34 percent of large companies marked guidance as their main advisor grievance.
Since advice and education are a sort of subcategory of guidance, it’s fair that the remaining grievances fell in these areas.
To offer more value and become a highly trusted advisor, it’s important not to let the day-to-day hustle get in the way of doing what you do best — provide guidance. What may seem obvious to you is not always clear as day to the person you’re advising. Great guidance must be offered with some finesse, in terms that are digestible, and with reasoning that makes sense. Speak to your clients concerns, leave ample room for questions, and guide them to the answer as best you can. If this is one of your weaker areas, focus on improving your frequency of communication, your communication style, and the tools you use to present complex information. These skills are highly sought-after by companies looking for an advisor they can lean on.
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