To be frank, they might. In a challenging and competitive market, nobody is indispensable.
If accountants don’t deliver the service clients want, then they’ll simply go elsewhere to justify their spend. Some will head to firms advertising no-frills £99 packages, while others might try to do it themselves using basic accounting software.
Client service is the biggest area where you can deliver the most value and prove beyond a doubt that you’re worth the spend, particularly during difficult times.
So what do clients need from you?
An accountant’s role and responsibilities have been shifting for a while. For one thing, accounting software has made it easier to automate labour-intensive tasks – so much so that service and expertise are what sets firms apart from the competition today, not routine work.
When we talk with Bright customers, one of our goals is to establish how they can use software to make their routine work quicker and free up time for their most valuable activities.
1. High-level forecasting
Clients need you to provide accurate and proactive forecasting and help them to plan their next steps. This is where cloud-based accounting tech is essential because it allows you to consolidate all financial data in one place and in real-time, making it easier to predict performance over the coming months. The ease with which you can provide an x-ray view of the entire ecosystem of financial performance even – or especially – as economic conditions change, will cement your position as a trusted advisor.
2. Maintaining positive cash flow
Without substantial cash reserves, it’s difficult to juggle wages, suppliers, rents and so on – even without the headache of late payments from customers.
Being able to manage a client’s accounts in real-time gives them a clear idea of income and expenditure and can highlight the risk of late or non-payment so they can act fast.
3. Navigating fiscal policy
In the latter part of 2022, we saw what has been dubbed the ‘disastrous’ mini budget (Kwasi Kwarteng’s Growth Plan – the less said about that the better!), followed by the Autumn Budget in November. In the revised budget, the government confirmed the ‘reversal of the majority of the tax measures set out in the Growth Plan.’
With so many changes, it’s hard for business owners to keep up. As their expert in regulation, they need you to help them to navigate the nuances of fiscal policy, ensuring compliance and identifying any new tax benefits and support measures.
4. Know your client’s business inside and out
A client-centric accountant knows how to enrich financial data with fresh insights and perspectives by asking questions, demonstrating their knowledge and, where appropriate, challenging a client’s ideas and preconceptions.
5. Right people, right tech
The old adage is true – people buy from people. So, no matter how meticulous you are on financials and compliance, you’ll need the soft skills to match. A calm and empathetic accountant, with good communication and problem-solving skills, can really shine in a crisis, providing reassurance and creative solutions.
With the help of technology, you’re faster and more accurate in your reporting. You’re not weighed down by admin and you have more time to spend with clients, getting a handle on their hopes and ambitions, and listening to their concerns.