Is licensing the be all and end all in 2016?

As published by Public Accountant – the official journal of the Institute of Public Accountants

If we thought that 2015 was crunch time for public practice accountants, well the best is yet to come! It seems 2016 is the year when it all comes to a head.

In reality, the big question around licensing for each one of us is:

Am I just biting the bullet and doing what needs to be done to add yet another string to my bow along with all the extra fees and red tape?

Or, am I seeing it as an empowering step – a confirmation of my trusted advisor role?

What makes you so special?

As an accountant, you have a particular talent that sets you apart and provides a unique service – a service that helps hold society together. Your skill and passion enable you to analyse numbers, to understand them and to see the big picture they point to.

You’ve probably heard the advice to “follow your passion and the money will follow”. Well, what personality type could that fit better than yours?

What’s the problem?

Well, there’s your passion … and then there’s fear. confused team

Accountants are ruled by fear, you could say. Accounting practices have been built by necessity on the red tape of compliance and tax. Follow all the rules and you’ll be fine.

But now that line of defence is going. Now fear is driving many of us to see financial planner as a necessary suit of armour – but it’s hard and heavy, and it drags us straight into a thorny place riddled with even more red tape and strangling restrictions. Sadly, people are spending a lot of time, paying a lot of money, and exhausting themselves in the effort to qualify just to play that role.

Do I need to say this? Accountants are not financial planners. We are accountants!

It’s important to own that difference, because it’s up to us to harness the power of all the fear and quit letting it drive us.

The power in your passion

Most public practice partners love working with different types of businesses. They love the diversity that brings; the challenges of different types of work – and, yes, the time sheets. Public practice partners have chosen this life instead of getting a job in commerce where they’d be ruled by the same work and the same deadlines every single month.

The same love of diversity motivates both senior and junior staff working in public practice. They could go to commerce for the money it offers. But they don’t. They stay for the job satisfaction and the variety of clients they meet every day and every week.

I know that’s what I loved about public practice. Building relationships with our clients is fun! We love to see their business grow and change as the world changes and people grow. You don’t get that in commerce.

The solution is clear

So, let’s get back to that.

Use that licencing push to spur on your passion for helping our SME clients achieve a richer understanding of their businesses and clarity about where and how they want to steer them.

Let’s help them settle debt, draw more money for a holiday, and earn what it takes to send their kids to the school they really want.

My best advice to most accountants?

Go ahead and talk about the numbers with the people who want to hear you on them – who want to pay you for it, and who hate red tape as much as you do. Crunch those numbers and brainstorm their solutions with them. There is way more money and more satisfaction to be found there for you, and many more rewards for your clients. With that in mind…

  1. Get talking – use these early months of 2016 to speak to your clients. Ask them:happy accountant team
  • “Are you looking to grow in 2016/(2017 tax year)?”
  • “Would you like support in mapping that out, so you can see how it could look financially?”
  • “What sort of tangible goals would you like to achieve in 2016/ (2017 tax year) ? More staff? A new piece of equipment? Maybe even a holiday?”
  • Don’t be shy about taking the conversation in that direction. Let them feel the personal benefits of owning their own business. For example, a higher wage for the business owner could allow them to save for an overseas holiday. The motivation of a ski trip and the money to pay for it can open the way to a more detailed discussion and understanding of the numbers.
  1. Get equipped with technology:
  • Research software solutions that can help ease the manual number crunch.
  • Sign up for free trials, and use real client data to have some fun with analysis and review. Sure, it may not be chargeable time, but your research will certainly prove valuable for making the right choice.
  • A word of caution: just make sure you select a software solution that provides historical analysis and forecasting.
  1. Get started!
  • One of the biggest hurdles getting in the way of change is procrastination. It’s just fear. There’s no need to waste time trying for perfection, because it won’t be perfect the first time. Don’t expect your debut performance client to yield the ideal profit producing product. Everything you learn on your first client is a lesson you won’t need to repeat.

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