Accounting has a history dating back tens of thousands of years, but just as ancient societies have evolved into complex civilisations so has the role of the accountant. While compliance is still a fundamental construct of accounting, the modern accountant is business savvy and forward-looking – focused on helping clients make key decisions and grow their businesses.
The recent global financial crisis, combined with the rapid evolution in accounting technology, has led to a fundamental shift in the way businesses engage with their clients and their advisors. Value has always been important but now, more than ever, it’s causing business owners to reconsider their existing affiliations and start looking for relationships that are more tightly integrated with day-to-day operations. Regular accountants usually come in and produce a beautiful set of accounts for you six months after year end. They file your tax return and provide peace of mind around compliance, but what have they actually added to the value of your business to help it grow?
All too often the term “trusted advisor” is bandied about but it’s one we believe almost feels like something a car salesman might say – it has this connotation of being external; someone that’s going to come in and cast their eye over things then leave without any longer term interest in the outcome. This is something we identified early on and is why we know that a good accountant should strive to be a savvy accountant and want to be part of the management teams of the companies they help. They should want to join you on that journey of business growth and success. We’re working with companies to help them grow, we want to see them succeed, we want to be part of that success, not just file a tax return and look at what has happened in the past.
What your accountant should be doing is looking at the business right now and looking at the journey going forward. That’s a big big part; they should be absolutely focused on where they can take your business in the future. Doing the accounting is a given – it’s an essential part of running your business and accurate accounting is fundamental to understanding what is happening in the business. But the real added value is taking that accurate, timely information and helping you make better decisions faster as they arise in the course of business – whether it be considering an acquisition or putting in the right structure to go offshore.
There are often times when the organisations we work with will give us a quick call or send a short email with some queries they want our input on like funding options or payroll issues. Often they will have had advice from their bank for example, but getting unbiased advice is essential. In the past, clients would never ring their accountant with those types of questions, but now good accountants are just part of their client’s business – they turn to us with their opinion on day-to-day things and that’s because they see us as commercially and technologically savvy. You need to have a relationship with your accountant that makes you comfortable to go to them for guidance and to run ideas past them.
It’s important to always be sure you’re getting the best assistance possible when running your business, so making sure you’ve got a savvy accountant is essential, as is getting the right mix of services and technology to propel your business forward.
Download the “3 Accounting Trends to Grow Your Business” infographic to find out how smart organisations are redesigning the way they think about accounting