SO HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TYPE 1 & TYPE 2 ACCOUNTANT?

I had the pleasure of interviewing 1,077 business people on behalf of 129 Accounting firms. The meetings were all about what the clients (you) wanted from their Accountant. The clients overwhelmingly said they wanted their Accountant to be more proactive with them. They said they did not know what additional services their Accountant delivered and they wanted higher (and more frequent) levels of communication. Maybe you are the same?

I had a good hard look at the research and and worked out what the 1,077 business owners where telling me. They told me there key frustrations when dealing with Type 1 (Reactive) Accountants and they also told me what they wanted from Type 2 (Proactive) Accountants. 

SEE HOW YOUR CURRENT ACCOUNTANT STACKS UP WITH THIS LIST OF 20 WISHES FROM 1,077 BUSINESS OWNERS.

1) You (business owner) call them when you have an issue VS They (Accountant) call you and ‘check in’ on how you are going – at no charge!

2) You visit them only when you have to VS They visit you at no charge

3) You only see or hear from them when something bad has happened VS You hear from them frequently about all sorts of issues, ideas and new opportunities

4) They do not have a regular communication program – it’s almost a surprise when they contact you VS They have a structured communication program (that does not cost you anything)

5) They charge you for nearly every phone call, email and quick meeting – in 6 minute ‘units’ of time VS They do not charge you for these small matters because they know that it annoys you

6) They do not understand your business or situation and take little interest in you VS They do understand your business or your situation and are very interested in your welfare

7) They give you a bill after the work is done – often a big surprise VS They price the project before starting and advise how much it will be and what is involved

8 You receive surprise bills that you do not understand from the tax department VS They have advised well in advance of the forthcoming tax bill and it is no surprise to you

9) They never ask their clients what they think about their service levels VS They ask for your opinion on how they can deliver a higher quality service

10) They talk more than you do in meetings – always offering solutions before the real issue is uncovered VS They listen more than you do in meetings and always ask probing questions to get to the heart of the issue – then offer the solution

11) They tell you what to do VS They tell you what to do and how to do it

12) They do not advise you what to send in each year and in what format VS They send you checklists and work with you to get all the information needed in one go

13) They only offer you what you legally have to buy – compliance services that add minimal value VS They offer a range of business improvement and wealth / asset services that are suited to your goals

14) They let you send in your work whenever you are ready VS They advise you when you need to send in your work so it can be done in a timely manner

15) They do not ask when you need information or jobs completed – they just assume VS They have an agreed deadline with you when the information / project will be completed

16) They ‘pre-judge’ what services you need VS They ask questions to determine what you need

17) You do not have a very good relationship with them VS They make an effort to enhance the relationship with you

18) You have no idea what value they add VS They articulate the value that they add

19) They do not explain your work to you – often they just send / mail it to you with no explanation VS They sit with you and step you through what it all means, where the money went and help you interpret your situation

20) They virtually say ‘good luck, you’re on your own’ VS They really help you step-by-step to achieve your financial goals

NOW YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH THE LIST YOU NOW HAVE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

1. How does your current Accountant measure up?
2. What is missing from your current Accounting relationship?
3. What sort of relationship do you want?

If you like your current Accountant (and you see potential in them) then speak to them about improving their service levels and service offering to you. And perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt to start with – many Accountants have problems keeping up with what the government requires them to do with you.

If you would like your current Accountant to improve, they are ways they can do that. One of the most powerful ways is to refer them directly to the Proactive Accountants Network. They will see precisely how to help you more proactively with coaching, training and new tools.

If, on serious reflection (perhaps based on some of the things you’ve looked at here) you would prefer to sever your relationship with your current Accountant then make an enquiry to one of the accredited ‘proactive’ Accountants. Each firm listed has passed stringent tests to prove they are proactive.

It’s your business and your future. The selection of the right Accountant will make the world of difference to your financial future.

One of the most endemic ‘business practices’ with Type 1 (Reactive) Accountants is the way they charge for their expertise and service. They charge you on a ‘time basis’ (after the work is complete) and based on who worked on your job and how much time they took will determine the amount they charge you. It’s a really bizarre way of doing things. The assumption (to get to the price) is that the time taken was correct and the price per hour was correct – and nothing could be further from the truth

With this ‘time billing’ practice (where the price is set at the end of the work) the firm is directly rewarded for making mistakes and going slower. You pay more the more inefficient they are! I do not think that is fair on you. I would imagine that you, (like most businesses), offer an agreed price for your product or service before the customer agrees to buy. But Type 1 (Reactive) Accountants continue to charge you whatever they want and you have to pay it. And you know how that feels — it’s like a grudge purchase every time.

Against that, consider the way the Type 2 (Proactive) Accountants work with you. They give you a fixed and agreed price before the work begins. You have a chance to understand the value they are adding and the scope and price of the work before it starts. It’s a fairer (and some would say) more ethical way to do business.

Accountants have a lot to offer. They are (in the main) very smart people and many are experts in finance, profit improvement, asset protection, cashflow enhancement and tax minimisation.

It’s really simple for you to decide what sort of Accountant suits you. If you are content with your financial position then pick a Type 1 Accountant. If you are not content with your current financial position then pick a Type 2 Accountant.

When you have the right Accountant they can seriously improve your financial position. For example, in my case I switched (4 years ago) from a Type 1 (Reactive) Accountant to a Type 2 (Proactive) Accountant and my net wealth has increased dramatically – and my new Accountant played a big part in that increase. I am not an isolated case. Many of the Type 2 firms I get to deal with cite case studies of how they have helped their clients become wealthier.

In the past 17 years I have met approximately 5,000 partners of Accounting firms and tens of thousands of their employees. I have also had the opportunity to interact with thousands of their business clients through small meetings and seminars.

Over that time, some things have become abundantly clear —there are 2 types of Accountants that you can choose from.

TYPE 1: Those that wonder what happened with you. These types are recorders of history. They are reactive in nature — they only do what they have to do with you based on Government mandates. They do tax / compliance / audit work on an annual basis and they advise you on additional matters only when you initiate the request for more assistance. Reactive accountants typically charge for every communication they have with you and they believe that ‘time is money’. And they charge you as such.

TYPE 2: Those that make things happen with you. These types are history makers. They are very proactive and they work closely with you to help you become more successful. This group communicates more frequently with you and they proactively offer additional ideas and services to add value to your business. Often they do not charge for additional communication and they understand that they should be paid for the value they add – not every minute of time spent delivering things.

Sadly, the vast majority of the Accounting profession are in type 1. Even if this group have an inclination to be proactive they often are not. They talk about doing things and helping their clients but they do not follow through.

Which Accountant is yours? If you are an Accountant – which one are you?