How to become an accounting hero
To be an accounting superhero, you need to make sure you have the basics down. After all, even Superman had to walk before he could fly.
These days, people expect high quality work and if they don’t get it from you, they’ll go to the next person who can deliver.
In accounting, the basics expected by customers include:
- Accounts prepared as efficiently and effectively as possible
- All work delivered on or before time
- No errors. An incorrect name or address on your cover letter or accounts has potential to devalue the work you have done almost as much as an error in the actual accounts themselves
- Work charged at the expected price with basic helpful advice you are qualified to give
- No surprises — for example, if instead of a tax refund, they get a bill for $4,000
That’s just the basics.
However, to become an accounting superhero you’ll need to start going above and beyond.
To start on your path to becoming a trusted advisor or accounting superhero, consider these points:
Use technology to simplify your workflow
Get your foundation right by looking at the full range of accounting products to simplify your life and that of your client.
There are tons of MYOB solutions and third party add-ons to do this.
Streamlining manual or complex accounting processes for you and your clients will become the bedrock of your heroism.
Speak their language, not yours
Don’t just speak to your clients; listen to them. Learn about their business and industry.
As you listen, assess their level of financial understanding, and use language at that level – but don’t underestimate or patronise them.
Do they know the difference between cash flow and profitability? If not, can you explain it to them in a way they will understand and never forget?
You might become their hero because you are the only accountant they can understand and relate to.
Solve cash flow issues
Profitable businesses often live on the brink without enough reserves or financial facilities to weather a storm.
- Don’t just do the books; work with clients so they really understand cash flow
- Drill down into any cash flow issues and help solve them
- Implement cash flow management tools and systems
If your client no longer worries about when the next dollar is coming in, they can focus on improving their business, innovating and growing.
As you talk with clients, use insights gained from other industries and businesses to uncover hidden efficiencies.
- Use industry or sector statistics to identify areas of opportunity
- Stock holdings can consume a lot of cash. Too much stock drains the business of cash and costs more to store. Not enough stock causes more orders, increases shipping costs and risks disappointing customers with delays
- Do they need an overdraft facility or longer funding?
- Look at debtors and the invoicing system. MYOB’s electronic invoicing can improve collection efficiency and speed of payment
Discover where is profit made — and where losses are incurred
Ask your clients where they make their money and where they lose it. Help them find the answers.
- When was the last time they reviewed their product range?
- Perform a product profitability review
- Recommend dropping a product, or ramp-up efforts on the most profitable products and services
- Talk through how unproductive times can be used. In some businesses January is a make or break month. Every other month is profitable, but a bad January may swing the whole year
Meet with clients more often
Ask your clients to meet you more often to review business performance.
Add some non-financial measures into your reports. Structure the meeting, and call it a quarterly business review.
Discuss, inquire and plan out their next quarter or further.
Step outside your comfort zone
At first it can be uncomfortable moving from an accountant to having hero status. However, most accountants I have worked with desire to create more value.
They want to be more engaged in driving a business to success, rather than just reporting on it after the fact.
Accountants are ideally suited, but too often unprepared. It will take a transformation on your part, but it’s well worth the effort.
Like anything, to be an accounting hero, you have to plan and prepare. Find your niche.
You may be the hero who can teach clients to see the whole financial picture for the first time.
You may be an analytical hero, able to see anomalies in numbers and ratios to expose hidden issues. You may be the catalyst that spurs growth.
Whatever type of accounting hero you are, go for it.
You have nothing to lose and your clients will notice the change in you.