‘Real need’ for accountants to ramp up sales expertise

Accounting practices with long-term aspirations need to ensure they have a function that is dedicated to business development, with the vast majority of firms falling into the 'too busy to grow' category.

 

Speaking to AccountantsDaily, Mike McHenry, director of Superannuation Advisors Australia, estimated that 90 to 95 per cent of accounting principals are not in tune with the fundamentals of selling and business growth.

Financial planning firms have their sales and marketing expertise down pat, which often accounts for their success and organic growth prospects, Mr McHenry suggested.

“Accountants have the skills to be steady and technical and considered, but they often don’t have the skills to lift their eyes and see their opportunities,” he said.

A fundamental contributing issue is accounting firms not dedicating time and resources to business development, particularly around key lodgement deadlines.

“Despite all this, I think accountants are in a great position; they just have to change their thinking. Their business model is born of legislation – people have to lodge a tax return, for example,” he said.

Similar arguments have been put forward by Mayflower Consulting director Sarah Penn, who told AccountantsDaily that across the industry, accountants genuinely struggle with the concept of ‘value adding’.

“The thing is, people want help and they want it from their accountant,” she said.

“By not providing the services they want, you’re doing your clients a disservice. If you think you’re well placed to help your clients with the issues they have, then tell them. Don’t stay quiet because you feel like there’s something dirty about sales,” Ms Penn said.

“I think this is a very big problem, partially born out of the fact that the accounting profession has looked very similar for a very long time. But in the last five to 10 years, the ATO is now a major provider of online tax services for end users, and there is a race to the bottom with commoditised services,” she added.

 

 

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