Accountants poised to become ‘quasi-CFO’ for clients

Accountants have the potential to be more proactively assisting their clients with advisory work and developing their clients' industry knowledge to become more of a CFO than just an accountant, according to one industry voice. 

Speaking to Accountants Daily, Smart Business Solutions director Shannon Smit said that most accountants are still too reactive with their advice.

“I think really, a lot of people say they're doing advisory, but it's reactive business advisory, the client comes in with a problem and asks for help and that's fine. But don’t just say you do advice, really proactively provide advice, and don’t wait for the client to ask the questions,” she said.

“Proactively have that conversation with them and offer a complimentary client review where they can come in, have a chat about their goals, where they want the business to go.”

Ms Smit suggested accountants should develop an in-depth understanding of the industry their clients operate in so that the discussion can go beyond financials.

“A lot of the small business clients out there, they are the business, they are the head person at the business, if they have a problem they have to talk to themselves so to speak,” she said.

“So what we try to be seen as is also that sounding board. Clients can come in and chat about all those other issues that are going on in their business. Some of the dialogue we have with clients isn't about financials.”

“So you really start to become that quasi-CFO that they don't have.”

Ms Smit said that this has been a recent shift, but that the investment pays off.

“If you'd asked me five years ago would I be having such a detailed discussion with a client on those types of dialogues, probably not but I think that's what clients are wanting now. They need that proactive advice,” she said.

“To realise that there's going to be an investment on your side from the firm's perspective, and the benefit comes out from the work you're doing from clients, but not only the financial benefit that you get, to be honest it's really fulfilling.”

“It's such a great feeling to see that you're working with them and they're growing and the loyalty you get back from the client makes you really feel part of that success that they're enjoying.

 

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