Insights from Saiba Practice Management Conference

Nicolaas van Wyk, CEO of Saiba: Accountants are problem-solvers-in-chief, so we should embrace problems. Part of our CPD is a monthly review of legal and regulatory changes and there are about 35 of them a month. You can take that and host your own webinar, and can charge for this or do it for free. We have strategic alliance with Mazars so you don’t have to say no to any client – whether you want to do audit of SA, or business rescue of VBS Bank, you can offer this service. There are other strategic alliance partners that are being signed up.

The Saiba PMC Conference – helping accountants grow their practices

Hiten Keshave, co-founder, Qalisa Hub: University doesn’t teach you practical elements of running a business. Education will help, but won’t necessarily get you to grow. It helps if you build up expertise in a sector which can then be leveraged with other clients in the same sector.

Tamryn Dicks, founder and director of Pharsyde Accounting: Focus on working better rather than harder to prevent burnout. I opened my practice to offer bookkeeping services, I ended up working far more than I agreed to. Working harder is not the answer. If you, as business owner collapse, the business collapses. Working better you will enjoy it more, and offer a better service to clients.

Hiten Keshave: Why entrepreneurs fail: they suffer from a lack of clarity of goals. It is good to have an advisor or coach as your wingman to hold you to your goals and objectives. It also helps to have someone to express your challenges and difficulties. These are the most fatal words for entrepreneurs: “I know it all.”

Nicolaas van Wyk: Being curious is a crucial quality for accountants and entrepreneurs. It keeps one interested and willing to learn.

Tamryn Dicks: we often underestimate the value of our own knowledge because we work with it every day and take it for granted.

The IFAC Guide to Practice Management for Small- and Medium-Sized Practices, which can be found here.

Adriaan Basson, founder, Wingman Accounting: Knowledge networks and discussion groups help you build your knowledge base, and your professional network. There are a range of groups you can join for professional and expert advice on specialised issues such as tax and compliance.

Willem Haarhoff, Digital Accounting Revolutionist, DoughGetters: Growth starts with the top line, you have to make a profit and turn that into well-deserved cash flow. If any elements of this formula are missing, you will not grow.

The firm of the future will be heavily focused on technology. If you’re offering bookkeeping, I would contend that is your niche and you can automate much of that service using tech. We are a bit more than 30 people, working remotely, and we rely on 10-12 apps that allow us to deliver the service we do. The downward pressure on the price of accounting services will continue into the future.

Russel Ngobeni, Shinyawani Group of Companies: There is a perception as accountants that our own houses are in order, which is not always the case. So it is vital that we get our own houses in order first.

Nestene Botha, CE, Explore ProTech Entrepreneurial Haven: We hired three accountants to help me but we hit a ceiling beyond which we could not grow. I wanted to travel, couldn’t do it. The one thing missing from my life was collaboration, community and tribe. We have smashed that ceiling, admn it’s my job now to enlighten other entrepreneurs on that path. Find a community that cares what you are doing and invite them in.

Willem Haarhoff: A good entrepreneur should be able to say “No.” Rely on your processes and your technology (to enable you to grow).

Russel Ngobeni: We were trained as junior accountants to stand in front of a mirror and, as accountants, to say “No – we don’t have money for that. No – you cannot have money for that.”

Pamella Marlowe, founder and MD, DNM Consulting: It takes time to get a new person acclimatised to the culture of the firm, but once you have trained one or two people in the firm’s values and ethos, they can take over the training of new staff. This ensures the culture becomes embedded in the organisation. But someone has to train the staff – it’s an investment we all have to make.

Grant Richardson, head of East Rand Saiba Forum: There’s standard formula of one-third of what you’re charging goes to pay accountant in your firm, one-third to cover your running expenses, and one-third to the partner in charge. I work on a model of charging five times what the accountant gets paid because of the additional costs of running the organisation. This may not work for everyone, but this is what I do.

Coenie Middel, serial entrepreneur and founder of Middel & Partners: Einstein said the fish is the last one to discover water. Accountants wonder why their practice is not growing. It’s because they are not observing trends, they are not pausing to look up. Like Ernest Hemingway said. You learn a lot from listening. Linus Pauling said the way to have a good idea is to have lots of good ideas. We had a “Raise Ideas workshop” and came up with 964 ideas, and then whittle them down to a few that will solve frictions. You can invest alone but you need to innovate together. We, as accountants, should be providing a lot more services than we do.

Your expertise can sometimes be your biggest barrier. Look at the disruption caused by Tesla to a motor market dominated by VW, Ford and others. We need to bring in expertise from other areas that opens up our horizons and offers new solutions. Our job is to solve a relevant friction. Accountants think the only thing they can sell is time, which is not true.


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