Fix Your Firm, Fix the Industry

Fix Your Firm, Fix the Industry

There’s no question that the accounting industry is facing greater challenges than ever before (and, yes, we do remember the Enron scandal). We are in the eye of a perfect storm composed of three “pressure systems”:

  • The increased push to implement client advisory services (CAS) in answer to the continued automation of compliance work
  • A record number of accountants retiring as fewer students are graduating with accounting degrees
  • Clients asking for price reductions, scaling back, or canceling engagements altogether as they tighten their belts to weather the tail end of the latest economic downturn.

Blame the industry?

It’s tempting – and easy – to throw up our hands and blame “the industry.” For decades – possibly forever – “the industry” has allowed itself to be undervalued, underpaid, have no boundaries with clients, and basically operate from a fear-based mentality.

Here’s the thing:

You are the industry.

Life lessons

What do you do when there’s a problem in your life that you have caused? Do you sit around, blame yourself, and wait for someone else to fix the problem?

Of course not! You get off the sofa and go to work to fix it!

If you need to fix your life, you fix the problems you’ve created.

And if you want to fix the industry that provides your livelihood – and the livelihoods of your staff – then you must start by fixing your firm.

Fixing your firm

So, how do you address the three “pressure systems” threatening to sink the industry? How can you find the time or energy to offer advisory services when you can barely keep your office staffed because the few qualified employees out there want more money than your clients are willing to pay for services?

Let’s chunk that down piece by piece:

  1. Offering advisory services. Spoiler alert: You already offer advisory services. If you meet with your clients regularly, you offer advisory services. If you tell your clients to open a savings account for taxes, you offer advisory services. If you make software suggestions, you offer advisory services.

    In short, “finding the time/energy to offer advisory services” is a non-existent problem. You already do it. And if you don’t believe me, download our Client Advisory Services Roadmap and take the quiz to get your CAS score.

  2. Keeping your office staffed. We’re not here to pretend there isn’t a talent drought in the accounting industry. There is.

    Wanna know a secret, though? There’s a talent drought in almost every single industry in the US.

    Baby boomers are retiring. Birth rates have been declining for decades. In short, there are fewer workers to do the work that needs to be done.

    AI doesn’t look like such a scary enemy now, does it?

    But AI can’t do everything. You’re still going to need people, especially for your client advisory services.

    Those people, though? They don’t need to have accounting degrees, and we’re not the only ones who think this.

    The few folks who are graduating with accounting degrees might want more money than you are currently willing to pay, and good for them for leveraging the laws of supply and demand. Focus on your client advisory services instead, and hire people with good communication skills. Then, use the revenue generated from your CAS offerings to hire that accounting grad or licensed CPA…if you still need them.

  3. Getting clients to pay for services. This is the hardest of the three pressure systems to overcome because it requires outstanding sales skills. Something our profession lacks.

    We couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

    Getting clients to pay for your services is NOT HARD, and it DOES NOT require you to be a sales ninja. You just have to help your clients see you as an investment instead of an expense.

    Do this now:

    1. Pick a client.
    2. Pull up that client’s P&L or Expenses By Vendor Summary or any other report that shows a detailed listing of their expenses.
    3. Highlight duplicated services, excessive office supply spending, and other waste. Spoiler alert: You’re probably going to find that 10-25% of this client’s expenses are not necessary.
    4. d. Add everything up, email the client, and ask them if they want to schedule a call with you to discuss how they can save $XXX (or possibly $X,XXX) per month.

    Boom. In less than 10 minutes, you’ve shown your client how to pay for your services.

    (By the way, we teach our Profit First Professionals how to leverage this technique along with an ROI calculation to get clients to say yes to high-value advisory services.)

Fixing the industry

When enough individual firms change, the industry will follow. It’s inevitable. As we said earlier, you are the industry.

Wanna move things along faster? Cool…here are a few action steps for you:

  1. Complete steps 1-3 above. Don’t wait for the end of busy season or to have a full day to work on it. Invest 30 minutes and do it now.
  2. Measure and let us know your results.
  3. Start telling your colleagues what you’ve done. Share your successes with them. Some of them will want to follow. You’ll create a snowball that will become an avalanche.
  4. Apply to become a Profit First Professional. Yeah, we’re biased, but we believe the power and simplicity of Profit First and a Profit First Professionals membership is a keystone to changing the face of the accounting industry and small business.

Be the change you want to see. Fix your firm. Fix the accounting industry.


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