If you have listened to accounting pundits in the past few years, either at conferences, on webcasts, or through writing in articles, blogs, and other social media posts, you won’t be surprised at all to hear that the accounting profession is experiencing a sea change that is leading us to a new dawn of accountants offering and being expected to provide advisory services in addition to or even in lieu of compliance and assurance services.
The compliance task is still a necessity, but as the recent changes in the tax code and the resulting postcard sized tax return illustrate, much can be done automatically. Fewer individuals will need to itemize and will consider doing their tax returns using the free online software options. Meanwhile, IBM’s Watson computer is helping us reinvent the audit process. Like it or not, we all will embrace the concept of real-time accounting offered by our software vendors who are taking over the role of write-up work.
Eighteen years ago, David Maister, the original visionary who saw the writing on the wall, wrote The Trusted Advisor, and tried to prepare us for today’s world. His missive was not so much a warning as a path to permanent job satisfaction and security, but many eschewed his philosophy and stuck to their proverbial guns, continuing to provide the services that clients require, instead of opening the windows, letting the sun shine in, and offering services that clients would really want and value.
Sure, everyone needs a tax return, everyone needs some form of a financial statement, and companies with investors need the assurance an accountant can provide to back up the reported numbers. Need, need, need.
I once had a boyfriend who posed the question, “Do you need me, or do you want me?” I thought long and hard about my answer and, not realizing that I could have said, “Both,” I finally replied with Door Number One. He left soon after that conversation. Being wanted was more important than being needed. Don’t we all yearn for that?
Our clients are no exception. The best clients aren’t the ones who take a big sigh and reluctantly meet with us once a year to finalize the financial statements or sign off on the tax return. The best ones are those clients who want to know what we think, who contact us before they make a decision about their business or their personal finances, because they trust us and they have put their faith in our willingness and ability to help them.
In one of his later books, Strategy and the Fat Smoker, Maister states that, “Many firms’ so called ‘client relationship plans’ are not really plans to build a relationship at all. They are sales plans, which is not the same thing. A sales plan is a set of activities designed to get – to generate revenues in the short run. A relationship plan is a set of activities to give – doing things that will build an asset – the relationship – that will continue to generate revenues into the future.
Give to your clients and your colleagues the benefit of your true expertise, the foundation of your education, the fruits of your ongoing learning and experience, the reasons you chose this field to begin with. Look at the compliance and assurance work as extra. It’s the advisory services, the point of view, the suggestions, the financial assistance you can provide, that will make you irreplaceable in the eyes of your clients.
See inside July 2018
Sales and Use Tax Explained: A Few Minutes With Brian Weaver
Recently, Avalara interviewed tax and technology consultant Brian Weaver, managing partner of Brian Weaver Consulting LLC, a firm serving client needs in transaction taxes, tax technology and taxation systems, and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance.
July 2018 Tax Channel
Tax & Compliance Social Media: Digital Marketing for Tax Practices. Canopy Blog.https://bit.ly/2AkjzxA SALT Tax Changes Across the U.S. for July 2018. Tax Foundation.https://bit.ly/2KnAXWL Three Tips for Diversifying Tax Workforce in Your Firm. Bloomberg Tax.https://bit.ly/2so7Yan Income Tax Effects of Inventory Distributions from an S-Corp. Fuller Tax Blog.https://bit.ly/2KpMOAG IRS to Put Audit Focus on These 5 […]