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Bootcamp diary: The role of the accountant is to help grow your client’s business

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The role of the accountant is to help your clients grow their businesses. That, says Coenie Middel of Middel & Partners, means you need clients to follow your advice. Secondly, the type of advice you give must be geared to assisting the client grow his business.

This can mean different things: having knowledge of funding sources, optimising the capital structure of the business, making your network available to clients.

Speaking at the Practice Management Bootcamp for accountants at the Maslow Hotel in Pretoria last week, Wuanita Moore of Boland-based Boshoff & Moore, says a problem facing all small or medium sized practices is when to say “No” to clients. “We do a Richard Branson and we say ‘yes’ to all clients. It’s very hard when you are a small practice to turn business away.

“The biggest challenge we have is finding staff willing to move to s small Boland town. We sell time, and there are just two partners in our firm, so we have to look at taking on a third partner if we are to grow.”

Ryan Smit of EpicCo, which specialises in providing outsourced solutions primarily to franchise businesses, says his firm was being called on to recommend and source certain kinds of staff for franchise clients, so the firm opened a recruitment agency to handle this and generate a new source of revenue.

When clients complain about your fees

Middel says a common complaint from clients is the size of the fees. “We answer this by saying ‘we will charge you more than our competitors for this service, but we will give you more’.”

Never be embarrassed about your fees. Turn any objection to your fees into an opportunity to brag about your services. And remember, you are not usually into a competitive horse race with other accountants so you are the one with the relationship with the client.

One of the ways to keep your client ahead of the curve is to provide them financial statements within a day or two of month end. There are some tech tools – such as Receipt Bank– to assist with this. Getting financial statements to clients at the end of the month assists them in managing their businesses and making the right decisions. Move up the value curve by providing more than just VAT compliance and other basic services. Embed yourself into your clients’ firms as the key source of intelligence and advice.