In the accounting profession it is all too easy to repeat the same service year in, year out producing the same reports that are more often than not only focus on tax and accounting compliance. Maybe 2016 should be the year that you make a change and reinvent what you’re producing for your clients with the objective of “wowing” them.
Cloud accounting is one of the great enablers of this change. As I’m sure you’re all too aware there are a growing range of products to produce high quality reporting to clients direct from the client’s accounting system. Fathom (www.fathomhq.com), PANALITIX (www.panalitix.com), Crunchboards (www.crunchboards.com), Spotlight Reporting (www.spotlightreporting.com) and My Business Manager (www.mybusinessmanager.com) are just some of products that enable this type of reporting. Perhaps one of your initiatives for 2016 should be to look to incorporate these products into your client’s cloud accounting applications to help clients more fully understand how their businesses are performing. Take care, however, as often the client’s accounting system is quite tax driven so normalisation adjustments may be required to reveal the true business performance.
Some firms are looking closely at the year end reporting that they provide to clients. Using the products mentioned above or others like Cash Flow Story (www.cashflowstory.com) they are enhancing the year end reporting with simple analysis to help clients understand the financial impact of pulling the levers that drive the business. The successful firms are those that don’t make this additional reporting an optional extra. Their production becomes part of the year end compliance process and is produced for every client to ensure it doesn’t get missed with the unrelenting deadline pressure.
An often overlooked issue is the lack of any consolidated reporting for small business clients. Often for tax or risk management reasons clients run their affairs in multiple structures. Accountants will then produce the financial statements and tax returns for all these individual entities but overlook the need to bring it all together in a concise and easy to understand way. It is was for this reason that a few years ago we created our Excel based “One Page Client Report” (an example can be found at www.smithink.com/resources). This brings together the individual people, superannuation funds, personal investments and businesses all onto a single page so that clients can quickly see a snapshot of their financial position. We sell this template for $375 but it is also free for Smithink members.
Other firms are making use of technology and summarising client results into a short powerpoint presentation. This presentation is then used with a data projector to provide a structure to client meetings with a summary of the key points for a client to consider.
The objective of all of these initiatives is to provide information to clients that improves their understanding of their business performance and family financial position so that they can make better decisions. It is also a key enabler to assist you in providing additional advisory services. All of these reports are designed to create conversations with clients about what is happening in their business or personal finances. These conversations will in turn create more opportunities to assist your clients in meeting their goals or addressing the issues revealed in the reports.
And of course as your client walks away thinking...that was different...I got a lot out of that...the chances that they will talk to their friends about the wonderful service will increase significantly referral possibilities.
So perhaps it’s time to kick of this new initiative for 2016. What can you do to “wow” your clients?
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