Small business owners and even large corporations go to their accountant for advice on running their business, but where do accountants working in public practice turn when they want advice?
In 2017, CPA Australia introduced a new service called Public Practice Concierge. Exclusive to CPAs working in public practice, Concierge is a bespoke service in which CPA Australia’s public practice engagement team provides customised advice to members that is tailored to their individual needs and the profile of their practice.
“Our teams visit the members in their own environment and work with them first-hand to understand the needs of the practice and their clients” said Bronwen Baulch, CPA Australia Public Practice Engagement Executive.
“Concierge is a complimentary service that works with the member to find out which aspects of running a business they need assistance with. We help to identify any areas of improvement and provide access to the right learning tools and resources. Our aim is to provide the right support and work with the members to help them build a sustainable practice” added Ms Baulch.
After the initial visit from CPA Australia’s team, the Concierge service offers ongoing follow-up assistance, including dedicated phone support.
“It can be a steep learning curve to go from being an employee to running your own business, particularly in the start-up phase. Many people find it difficult. We try to alleviate some of the pitfalls by providing one-on-one mentoring and support” said Ms Baulch.
“Last year we visited more than 100 practices around Australia. Many of them are sole practitioners and they all have very diverse needs.
“One business may need help setting up their website or automated systems, while another might need assistance with staffing and succession planning” added Ms Baulch.
This reflects the difference from one business to another and the variety of roles that a CPA public practitioner can be asked to perform.
In an article published on intheblack.com in September 2017, CPA public practitioner Karen Hensgen commented that her clients range from local nurseries to not-for-profits and hospitality businesses, and that each client has entirely different needs.
Meanwhile, Paul Siragusa, another CPA public practitioner, highlighted that Concierge helped him understand how to manage the varying demands of running a business.
“It’s a juggling act to be mentoring staff, making sure the work is of a high level and putting out spot fires all the time” he said.
Concierge builds on CPA Australia’s Lead the Change campaign which promoted the personal and professional benefits of becoming a public practitioner and running your own business.
It also complements the public practice media campaign that is currently airing across TV, radio, print, cinema and digital channels. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the broad range of services that CPAs offer and increase the number of people who contact them for professional services.
Concierge offers accountants working in public practice a level of practical support that can be critical in helping them grow their practice and service their clients.