Take a page from the financial advisor’s handbook to become a better accountant

By | 30th July 2015


There’s a difference between being a run-of-the-mill accountant and going the extra mile. You want to ensure that you are not just delivering on the task at hand, but that you’re actually assisting your clients in better managing their finances, and subsequently, their business. To achieve this you need to put on the financial advisor hat. While there is a difference between doing your clients’ books and giving practical advice on how to improve and manage assets – you can greatly benefit from taking a page out of the financial advisor’s handbook. By reducing a client’s need to appoint a financial advisor on the side, you not only offer a more attractive service to potential clients but also nurture the business relationship. Here are a few ways in which you can become a one-stop-shop for your clients by taking some tips from a financial advisor.

Firstly, make it clear to your clients that you are not just the “tax” person.

There seems to be a preconceived notion that accountants are there simply to ensure that everything to do with bookkeeping and tax is being dealt with – compliance with SARS, audit reports, tax laws and the like.  But you know you can offer so much more. You should make this clear to your clients – not with your words but rather your actions.  Chances are that some of your clients running a small business might not be able to afford the services of a financial advisor – but an accountant is always a necessity. Be proactive and show interest in their business and processes instead of just coming in to go through and prepare the financial reports. Make a suggestion to help them with a review of their cash flow, budgeting and asset management.

Take initiative to deeper look into your clients’ budgets and expenses.

A financial advisor looks towards the horizon and ensures that all financial matters are aligned to help their customers achieve certain goals. They do this by fine combing a client’s expenses and using this to forecast future spending. In this way they are able to cut unnecessary costs to help increase their profits.The books never lie, and as an accountant, you have access to all of your client’s expenses and incoming cash. This makes it easy to identify where they are over or under spending. This can help you make suggestions to, for instance, buy in bulk or scale down on unnecessary stock purchases to avoid losses due to low sales.

Broaden your area of expertise to offer more than just accounting services to your clients.

The difference between you as an accountant and a financial advisor is a bit of a grey area. There are areas of your work that overlap with that of a financial advisor like working with numerical formulas and ratios. The areas that don’t overlap are where your focus should be to sharpen your skills. Numbers are not just useful for doing the books and drawing up financial reports. They serve as an indicator of what your client is doing wrong and what they can improve on to increase cash flow and general daily financial management. Educate yourself and take the time to ensure that you can give your clients insightful recommendations on investments and better managing their current and future assets. Also keep up to date with the lending and finance products available to assist your customer with their access to finance needs.

Suggest that they use smart online accounting software to simplify their (and your) job.

Smart and proactive decision-making is part of being a good financial advisor to your clients. Simplifying financial management on their end of the scale goes a long way in proving your worth and skills. Technology is one of the best tools to help you achieve this, especially online accounting software. Automating tedious tasks like compiling quotes, invoices and dealing with payroll not only saves your client time to get back to business but also ensures that all figures are accurately captured – making your job a lot easier.

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