Be an Accountant to your Client not a Technician

Another filing deadline has come and gone and many of us will have been anchored to our keyboards in the last month or so as we filed Return after Return to the extent that we feel almost part of the machine and maybe that the machine, well definitely our program of choice is actually in charge of us.

Now that the rush is over and we again reflect on the recent past and any Accountant in Practice today is aware of the digital agenda that’s a simple statement of fact. The fact is they would have to be operating their practice in a vacuum to not know because the wall of noise about all things digital is all pervasive and is being driven by the need to sell software, expertise, systems, techniques all apparently making your practice more profitable, more efficient, more modern and more accessible to the new generation of clients.

We all have to read the sales pitch to begin with to decide whether for our practice that which is on offer is appropriate irrespective of the fact that the budget of the seller is such that we are subjected to the message multiple times across virtually every outlet. We are being subjected to so many people telling us how to run a profitable accountancy practice using all manner of coaching type skills with all sorts of marketing angles and not one of them can tell you how to answer the simplest of tax question a client, potential or otherwise may ask because that’s beyond their remit but WE need to be able to answer those questions.

Now let’s be honest the digital agenda has brought the accounting practice so much that is good and useful and long may it continue but I worry that by devoting the acres of space to all things tech we are downgrading the actual expertise of being an accountant to almost that of a simple technician who is in fact more salesman than accountant, more technician than tax expert and more computer dependent than numerically literate.

Accountants most hold on to the core values that client’s want them for which is to ensure that they pay the correct tax at the correct time and further that every legitimate means possible has been used to keep the overall tax liability to a minimum which means investing time and expertise in understanding the tax code both corporate and personal and both direct and indirect. We need to understand the nuances of payroll legislation and of course employment law as it may effect not only our staff but also our client’s staff. We need to understand Accounts and by understand I mean not just the relationships of the numbers to the overall profit but also the relationship of the numbers to the owner’s goals and business aims. We need now more than ever to fundamentally understand our client’s goals our clients reasons for being in business or being self-employed or simply why they need our services and then we need to deliver exactly the service they need not the service the software is prompting us to provide.

Now tech can most certainly help in myriad ways but nothing absolutely nothing no matter what the investment in terms of ££s can turn a bad accountant into a good accountant it can make a bad accountant a more productive bad accountant it can make a bad accountant a more profitable bad accountant but it cannot make a bad accountant a good accountant.

What makes a good accountant is that they can cut through the noise and invest their reading and CPE time in maintaining their expertise as an Accountant. My message to all the good accountants out there is to take on board all the messages about tech and techniques but don’t do that to the detriment of your core skills those skills that made you qualify as and practice as an Accountant.

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