Small business mistakes to avoid


1st October, 2021

How accountants can develop more valuable client relationships

Recent events have created opportunities for accountants to work smarter, not harder. Here’s how you can benefit.

Businesses across all sectors have faced significant challenges since the pandemic began. But there has been an unexpected upside for accounting firms: small businesses now value their accountants more than ever before.

In recent months, as Australian small and medium businesses grappled with disrupted trading conditions and complex financial-support measures, many accountants stepped into the unofficial role of trusted adviser, providing clarity and dispensing wisdom to struggling clients.

This ‘above and beyond’ support was so well received that most accountants surveyed for the Commbank Accounting Market Pulse survey last year said they would spend 2021 officially diversifying their offerings.

Expansion plans: Diversifying with advisory services

When asked to select the services they thought would be most in demand in the accounting marketplace in the coming year, survey respondents nominated business advisory services more than any other service.

Advice relating to business recovery and insolvency was the second most nominated, and wealth management and financial planning advice was fourth. Only one ‘traditional’ accounting service, tax consulting, made the top five.

The great news for accountants is that these advisory services are more lucrative than many traditional accounting services because they require expertise above and beyond bookkeeping and tax management.

Clients who opt in for advisory services are doing so because they want to benefit from your specialised knowledge. While many SME clients could look after their own bookkeeping in a pinch, far fewer understand advanced economic and taxation issues.

That means you can charge more for advisory work, safe in the knowledge that you’re providing a significant benefit to your clients.

And, depending on your background and that of your staff, there are plenty of ways to diversify. Risk management, superannuation, cybersecurity and auditing were all identified by survey respondents as services worth providing.

Working smarter, not harder

The survey results make clear that many accountants are already in the process of moving away from traditional services and towards higher-paid advisory roles. But clients still need their books kept and their tax returns filed.

How can your firm reduce the amount of bookkeeping and data entry it performs for clients and shift its focus to more advanced services? The most effective way is to transition to a cloud-based accounting platform for you and your clients.

Online tech can radically reduce the amount of data entry, coding and invoice processing that small and medium businesses and their accountants must undertake, freeing up time for bigger-picture thinking.

Transitioning to a cloud-based platform has many other benefits, too, including increased visibility over your clients’ financials, which enables you to provide more astute analysis.

Think of moving your clients across to a cloud-based platform as the first step in your firm’s diversification. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate to clients that you have their best interests at heart, and that you can provide best-practice solutions and advisory.

For both accountant and client, it’s a move that is likely to pay off handsomely.

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