Speaking to Accountants Daily after winning Diversified Firm of the Year at the Australian Accounting Awards 2017, businessDEPOT managing director John Knight said that accountants need to recognise the benefit of referral partnerships.
“I have a theory that not all accountants are great at referring to other parties to provide services,” Mr Knight said.
While accountants may be their clients’ first port of call when they’re having problems, Mr Knight said that “when you don’t know what you don’t know”, the best option is to refer them elsewhere.
“At the end of the day I think our biggest strength in the industry is that we are the number one trusted adviser for many of these small-to-medium business owners,” he said.
“If we're not solving all their problems with the experts that are the best people to solve the problem then we're letting them down. If we fumble our way through it and try to provide that service ourselves when we're not that expert, then we're letting them down.”
Mr Knight said that accountants should be establishing a network of other professionals that they know, like and trust, to take care of their clients’ non-accounting needs.
“That creates a culture of collaboration rather than holding on to relationships and the silo mentality,” he said.
Financial planners in particular have been increasingly keen to establish referral relationships with accountants - but there is hesitation on the accounting side of the fence.
Traditional rivalries between financial planners and accountants are continuing to fester, according to Slipstream Coaching director Scott Charlton. He believes accountants and planners simply “view the world differently”.
“The sorts of things an accountant would say to me would be around a concern that a financial planner is doing [advice work] for the wrong motivations, for selfish reasons in terms of remuneration – that they’re gouging the client and not thinking about the total picture,” he said.
Advisers are often frustrated by the knockbacks they get from their accountant connections, Mr Charlton added.