Once upon a time, your accountancy practice was all about processes, processes, processes. But in the modern market, clients are more interested in working with people they can trust, people with real skills and above all, people with professional insight.
We already know that the market is after people who think differently. Modern businesses are more demanding, and today’s clients want more than bean counters - they are looking for a practice which is commercially minded and possesses both the mindset and the skills to add significant value to their clients.
The urgent need for accountancy practices to update their mindset is down to four key things:
- Growing business complexity.
- Expanding knowledge requirements.
- Regulatory and legal change.
- Changing client expectations.
Move away from tradition
As a result, the traditional services offered by accountancy practices and the processes that underpin them will be seen by clients as less valuable than specialist knowledge and professional insight, and as such offering only a traditional level of service will not earn your practice the fees it once did. You’ll need to demonstrate your technical skills, specialisms and knowledge rather than rest on your reputation.
“There are some clients who continue to put downward pressure on fees whilst expecting the service level to remain the same, or in some cases increase.” - Stephen Adler, Managing Partner at Shelley Stock Hutter.
Shift from calculating to consulting
By technical skills, we mean more than just traditional accounting knowledge. Clients are increasingly relying on their accountants to:
- Analyse business information.
- Support decisions.
- Provide strategic advice.
Obviously this means you’ll need to ensure your accountancy practice possesses these skills and is ready to offer them. Look into training opportunities for those employees who are more process than professional insight.
“Sage customer surveys regularly show that accountants are the most trusted source of business advice, even on topics unrelated to accountancy.” - Paul Tooth, managing director of Sage UK and Ireland’s Accountants’ Division
Reach out to prospects
As competition increases, accountancy practices need to embrace new ways to reach prospects as well as support existing clients. By relying on the traditional method of word of mouth to build your client base, your practice is letting the competition get ahead, as potential clients are looking to the internet to source accountancy providers. Look to build a strong web presence for your practice through your website, blogging and social media to build up a following and get found more easily by your prospects.
Watch the video now: How accountants should use social media
Clients’ needs are changing, and as the digital generation grow into decision makers, it’s important that accountancy practices update their approach to match their expectations. Prospective clients will increasingly expect to interact digitally with accounting professionals, which means your practice needs to look to hosted applications and private cloud storage, allowing your insight to be more readily available to your clients.
“Smartphones, tablets, notebooks and other mobile computing devices will become the main tools for managing the accounting professional’s complex choreography of work and client service.” - Intuit Future of Accountancy Report 2013
- Develop your specialisms and technical insight, as these are what sets you above traditional service offerings.
- Ensure your practice possesses the business acumen to meet prospects’ expectations.
- Reach out to your prospects digitally via blogging, social media and your website to network and hunt down prospects.
- Think about smart and flexible cloud technology to attract a modern client base who expect collaborative working.