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Accountants: Are you really listening to your clients?

December 24, 2014
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The holiday season and the close of a year tend to bring out a more pensive person in many of us. The last few weeks on the calendar become a time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going. Professionally, this is a valuable time to evaluate the strategies that were less than successful for you and your accounting practice (probably even more important than looking at those that were successful). Look back at your 2014 professional goals and examine those that you accomplished. Did you develop and execute a marketing plan to attract more A-level clients? Did you update the online branding of your firm? Did you focus on value-added services following busy season as you’d set out to?

You may have checked off some of these boxes (or improved upon your efforts from the previous year), and others may have been more challenging. One of the best things about changing the calendar is the opportunity to hit the reset button on your goals and refocus your efforts on an actionable plan.

If your 2015 plans include increasing revenue by bringing on new A-level clients and retaining those you already have, you are not alone. Many accountants also have this on the brain and are hitting the ground running for 2015 with a plan to do just that.

During a recent Sageworks webinar, Upgrade Your Practice, more than two-thirds of respondents suggested that clients see the most value in an accountant who understands their business, their life objectives and/or can offer them advice. Considerably more important than lower fees or fast service, the accountant who is a trusted advisor is now the norm, not the exception. As a result, these questions are all the more important for your future success: Are you listening to your clients? Do you know what their goals are, and can you point them in the right direction to succeed?

For business owners, in particular, advice from a trusted accountant can steer their ship away from choppy waters if that proves necessary. Many small business owners spend their days so focused on the nuances of running their businesses that they have little time to spend on deciphering their finances. Even if they do have time, most entrepreneurs lack the financial background to know a business’ strengths and weaknesses. This is where their accountant steps in to analyze the positives and negatives. By listening thoroughly to your clients, you can help determine if their goal of tripling their business in one year is a realistic and responsible one. You can provide the anchor they need in the way of sound, data-driven advice.

While each accountant interacts with their clients differently, the concept of listening to their needs and advising accordingly remains a constant. Remember that ultimately, helping them reach their goals allows you to reach yours. To learn more about seizing opportunities to upgrade your practice in 2015, watch this recorded webinar on the topic.

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