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Culture shock ‘biggest challenge’ accountants face

As the accounting and financial planning industries begin a slow merge, experts say cultural differences between the two sectors will be a major roadblock to business success.

News Miranda Brownlee 14 July 2015
— 1 minute read

Speaking at the CPA SMSF conference in Sydney last week, Licencing for Accountants chief executive Kath Bowler said differences in qualifications, personality and remuneration between accountants and advisers are why referral relationships between accounting and financial advice firms typically aren’t successful.

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“This doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you look at accountants, they’re typically degree-qualified, have a more introverted personality and are more conservative,” Ms Bowler said.

“Traditionally, accountants have [had] a very backward-looking focus, focusing on compliance, preparing the accounts – operating in a world of certainty is what accountants like.”

Financial advisers, on the other hand, have not been degree-qualified – although that’s about to change – and come from a wide variety of backgrounds, Ms Bowler said: “Their personalities tend to be more extroverted or sales-driven, their focus is very forward-looking.

“Traditionally they’ve come more from a product side, they’re looking at returns and selling you what they can make with your money in the future.”

Ms Bowler said remuneration in particular has been a “bit of a sticking point and a sore point, across the professions”.

MGD Wealth director Andrew Albury agreed, stating that in all the failed referral relationships he has seen, cultural differences have been the reason why.

“The two industries are coming together, slowly but inevitably that’s where we’re all heading,” Mr Albury said.

“We’ve got to get this cultural stuff right one way or another – it’s been the biggest problem in the past and it’s also going to be the biggest challenge in the future.”

Culture shock ‘biggest challenge’ accountants face
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