We all know the saying, “The one constant in the world is change.” The CPA world and especially their clients are no exception to this often-quoted rule.
As the world emerges from a global pandemic, we have learned many lessons. First, we learned flexibility is necessary for adapting to those pesky unseen changes. Secondly, we learned that we need each other’s help to be successful during calm and not-so-calm times. These lessons (and many others) have changed the way we all conduct business and what expectations we should have from company’s we do business with regularly.
Clients Know What They Want.
CEOs, small business owners, and everyone in-between are no longer are satisfied with the accountant of yesteryear. Instead, they have come to realize they are searching for a financial partner with two necessary traits; One they can trust to provide them accurate data in a way they understand and be proactive instead of reactive to the needs of their clients. No more just being a number cruncher; financial advisors are what people want and need.
“Accounting firms are quickly seeing the advantages of providing more than raw data to their client,” says Justin Hatch, CEO of Reach Reporting. “The accounting firms that don’t offer advisory services are losing their clients to firms that do or to automated online accounting apps.”
It is becoming less and less acceptable to be a reactive accountant who prepares taxes once a year, producing tedious and confusing financial reports. Your current and future clients want a forward-thinking approach to their financials.
Being proactive is the first habit mentioned in Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. While he is not speaking specifically about the accounting industry, it validates how essential being proactive can be in work and life.
Shifting your focus can be overwhelming; here are three baby steps that may help you become the financial advisor your clients want and need.
Being organized with your time, planning as best you can for the week or month ahead is the best and most effective step to becoming more forward-thinking. Next, figure out what each of your clients will need from you in the coming week.
If necessary, sit down with each of your clients and ask them what is most important to them. For example, when is a good time to send them their reports? How would they like to receive them? Learning the answers to these questions will aid you in becoming the most effective financial advisor possible.
Goal setting to increase productivity applies to your firm’s goals but also your client’s goals. Check out this article about the how and why of setting goals.
Once you are aware of your client’s goals, you have the unique ability to be their partner in reaching them. You will know what data and which KPI’s they need to understand and, in turn, be able to provide them with the exact financial reports to portray that information.
Not all tasks on your to-do list are created equal. Learning what is most important and putting it at the top of the list can be difficult. Often we default to the task we like to do or is the easiest to complete.
This practice can lead to more extended workdays, missed deadlines, and burnout. A popular system called the Eisenhower Matrix is excellent at showing how to differentiate between the level of importance of your to-do list.
Life happens. Sometimes urgent and unexpected things arise. While being proactive is the goal, sometimes we are forced to be reactive. Stay relatively calm, assess the situation, solve it, and then get back to those proactive habits!
Provide Financial Data They Understand
Listen, chances are your clients don’t have a degree in accounting or finance. That’s why they hired you to help them. If you give them their company’s financial data in a black and white spreadsheet, filled with equations and some numbers, you are doing them a disservice.
While your clients may not have time to understand all the ins and outs of their financials fully, they do have you. As a result, they rely on you to advise them with the most critical pieces of data—the information they need to make the right decisions.
Reach Reporting was created to help you help your clients understand the financials of their business. It saves you from providing unhelpful financial reports to your clients. In addition, it is faster than your current reporting process (It doesn’t matter what it is, Reach is faster).
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CPAs are full of so much knowledge to create success for their clients. By shifting focus and becoming a proactive financial advisor, you will be able to share that knowledge!! Changing to meet your client’s needs is a necessary step to both yours and their success!