Accountants and lending specialists, while traditionally very separate professions, are increasingly recognising a raft of benefits that can come from joining forces.
For accounting firms, forming a relationship with a lending specialist is a great way to deliver a broader service offering to clients, as well as to attract new business.
But as with any commercial partnership, selecting the right partner is critical. Here we explore how accountants can go about finding the right lending partner.
Know your client
The first step for any accounting firm is to take a good look at its client base. Does the accountant specialise in catering to a particular type of client, in terms of demographics or industry specialty? Is the goal to attract a certain type of client in the future? What services could clients benefit from that are not currently on offer?
Analysing the needs of the client base will help to determine the skills and experience to look for in a lending specialist.
For example, for accounting firms who service a lot of farming businesses, a lending partner who specialises in equipment finance or agribusiness may be a sound fit. Or if the clients are generally small business owners, partnering with a commercial broker could be more beneficial.
Finding the right partner
Once the accounting firm has determined the type of partner it is seeking, it’s time to build a shortlist of lending specialists.
A good starting point is to ask networks who they work with and what kind of experiences they’ve had.
Experienced aggregators like FAST who have an intimate knowledge of lending partners’ businesses also provide a great source of introductions and can actively work with accounting firms to build out their offering.
Once a list of potential partnership candidates has been drawn up, it’s time to reach out and introduce the business and the idea of working together.
The best partnership arrangements are cultivated through genuine relationships, mutual trust and aligned business values, so getting to know each other before beginning a collaboration is a must. To that end, the accounting business must ensure that they have a deep understanding of any potential lending partners. They should be prepared to ask questions to understand any speciality, service standards and their business and personal values.
Conduct a due diligence
It is always advisable to carry out a due diligence on potential future partners to ensure they have the capability and culture of client care required.
Look into how their company is structured in terms of stakeholders, size and other referral relationships. Have they partnered with a reputable aggregator who can help and support them with their compliance, licensing and training requirements?
Delve into their experience and reputation by talking to some of their clients, conducting a social media search, checking online reviews, speaking to previous employers and checking for any complaints lodged with the Credit and Investments Ombudsman.
There are many more things to consider and act upon, but these first steps provide a good start in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship that will stand the test of time.
Brendan Wright is the CEO of FAST Aggregation Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of NAB Group. Many FAST finance brokers have successful referral relationships with accounting firms and can help accountants offer a broader range of services to their clients. To find out more about how FAST can help your business visit www.fastgroup.com.au/numbers
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