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Becoming the real time Accountant

The vast majority of Accountants I meet are offering ‘Redundant Data’ services. Clients don’t want services that are late. They want ‘Real Time’ services that are on time, relevant and pre-emptive.

Where is the value offering advice that is late? Picture the scene. You are doing your clients annual Accounting and you spot some anomalies or issues in the previous year. You finish off the work and then write a letter to the client explaining what they should do to fix it!

What they should do! Seriously, it’s typically too late.

I know you have a duty of care to tell the client the issue – and you did that. Well done. But it’s still late.

With today’s accounting technology (on the internet) you can know what is going on all the time. You don’t need to know all the detail just enough to spot issues and opportunities. Your clients are not Accountants and you have an uncanny knack of seeing financial data and making it make sense to them.

You can even have the data consolidated into single ‘dashboards’ so you can get a summary of all your clients affairs on one page. Then the technology can alert you to the good and the bad issues only. With this sort of technology you can pre-empt issues and advise the clients accordingly. Now that’s adding value.

It’s all about becoming a Real Time Accountant not a Redundant Data Accountant. It’s all about being Proactive and not reactive. Real Time Accountants’ behave differently and they are much much more client focused.  It’s your choice to become a Real Time Accountant or remain a Redundant Data Accountant. The future of the profession is Real Time!

The nominations are in

I just judged 49 entries in each of 7 categories for excellence in Accounting firms. The nominations were exceptional. Some arrived with balloons, there were videos, pages of text, facts & figures and awesome case studies. The 7 categories are

  1. Most innovative accounting firm
  2. Service excellence
  3. Best client results
  4. Best place to work
  5. Community contribution
  6. Rising star
  7. The Accounting firm of the year!

Very tough judging. There are 2 other judges to score as well. All will be revealed in front of 500 people @ our annual conference in Bali from July 13-17. Can’t wait.

Be Proactive with new services

Most Accountants I meet believe that there are opportunities for additional business in their current client base. However, they don’t seem that active in discovering the opportunities nor promoting the services. I think it is a BIG dis-service to the client if you do not promote new ideas and new services.

We recommend that you ‘stay close to the numbers’ with your service offerings. That way you can leverage the delivery of the services to other team members. By all means offer high level consulting however typically that means that very experienced (read expensive) people need to deliver them.

One of the reasons Accountants do not offer additional services is because they are unsure what the client will say and they doubt if they have the knowledge base to deliver the solution.

You have to differentiate between coaching and consulting. Consulting is where the provider comes up with the answers, coaching is where the client is guided and the answers are coached out of the client.

Financial coaching is the way to go. We recommend that your service categories fall in 8 areas. We call it the Awesome 8! It’s what your clients are interested in – over and above compliance services.

Awesome 8

If you follow the Awesome 8 then here are a dozen new services you could create:

  1.  Revenue enhancement – product & service
  2. Cash flow analysis, forecasting & monitoring –product & service
  3. Profit improvement program – product & service
  4. Debt re-structuring
  5. Receivables management service
  6. Inventory management service
  7. Book keeping (serviced from lower cost countries)
  8. Virtual Management Accounting
  9. Cloud conversions
  10. Sort out the numbers program
  11. Planning session
  12. Monitoring & Accountability program

At the end of the day every client should be buying every product they need that helps them achieve their goals!

That should be your goal.

Finding time

I hear excuses all the time about ‘time’. ‘I didn’t have time to do it’ or ‘time got the better of me‘ or ‘I ran out of time‘ are some of the more common ones. Blah blah blah.

What a crock! We’re all granted with the same 86,400 seconds in a day and 168 hours in a week. Not one more not one less.

You can’t manage time you can only utilize time in the best possible way. So it’s not how much time we have but how we use our time. You see it’s never about ‘the time’ it is always about the priorities at the moment. Have you ever noticed that when you’re about to go on holidays you are super efficient. Stuff just get’s done. Have you noticed when you don’t have a pressing deadline you sort of meander through the day?

It’s just human nature to ‘fill the available time with what work we have to do’. The old adage if you want something done give it to a busy person is so true. I recognized many years ago I needed to develop systems to stop wasting time and be super efficient with my time. Here are my top 19 ways to be super efficient and get more done in my valuable time available.

  1. I define my top 3 things that are the highest dollar productive activities and just do those
  2. I think of my week as 14 halves and block time out for 3-4 hours at a time
  3. It’s my diary (no one else’s) so I manage it – I block time out for holidays, trips, conferences, golf etc 12 months in advance and work around that. I do not let people encroach on my time when I don’t want them to. My assistant manages my diary but there are rules
  4. I get rid of toxic relationships – massive time and energy wasters
  5. I work to feel good about myself – health, fitness, clothing – makes me more efficient
  6. I deal with emails quickly – no scroll bar and everything replied to same day
  7. I turn off all email/text/Facebook reminders – the annoying buzz or sound that tells you something has arrived. I am not going to let a device tell me when to look at it
  8. I don’t return phone calls and play telephone tag – what a waste of time
  9. I book telephone appointments with almost everyone
  10. I always always call the person at the allotted time booked – back to no. 3 – no one is good as me. Someone said to me yesterday “I could set my clock to your call”
  11. I have phone meetings before face to face meetings – I am not going to do a face to face for 1 hour when 15 mins on the phone might have done
  12. I do stand up meetings – people get too comfortable sitting down
  13. I have a meeting agenda for every meeting – typically starting with ‘what would you like to achieve out of today’s meeting
  14. I tell them (clients/team etc) what they need to know not everything I know – when the agenda is complete it’s complete. Meeting over.
  15. I qualify prospects / alliances and other relationships on the phone first before meetings
  16. I use a driver service, airport lounges (eat before getting on plane) and Dictaphone technology
  17. I do not do administration work or anything else that is not within my top 3 (point 1)
  18. I focus on one thing at a time – multitasking is a load of rubbish
  19. I have self imposed deadlines on everything. Always working towards a finite time for the task.

And in case you are wondering I write every word of this blog. I write every presentation slide and every word in a book/report/article. Leveraged marketing falls into one of my top 3 highest dollar productive activities.

The video below sums up how I feel about time.

Adding Value to what you are doing

I have been telling Accountants to Add Value since I started working with Accountant in May 1994.

If you are going to remain relevant to are going to have to add value.

Here’s the thing. If an Accountant ‘see’s’ an issue or opportunity in the client details then they obliged to tell the client.  The problem is most Accountants are ‘store blind’ and are not focused on seeing ways to really help clients.

Here are some quick thoughts on how you can add value to what you are doing:

  1. Offer free phone calls/emails and meetings all year
  2. Conduct a Business Performance Review every year with every client
  3. Conduct a ‘finding opportunities’ brainstorming exercise on every client every year
  4. Create a closed networking group on one of the social media platforms and connect your clients
  5. Visit every client 2 times per year (free) to see how you can help
  6. Call every client 4 times per year (free) to touch base and see how they are going
  7. Run client advisory boards to get feedback from clients on how you can improve
  8. Run seminars and workshops and teach the clients something new

I came up with that list in 5 minutes! Ask your team what else you can do and create your ‘adding value list’.

The reality is that if you are just going to process the minimum work (to satisfy the government departments) then in the future a computer or cheaper labour will do it.