Does your accountant ask to meet to about your goals and the results needed to live the life you want – at least once a year, but preferably more often?
Some accountants are excellent at providing advice and some are scared of doing so. Sometimes this is because of a lack of perceived knowledge/value, or sometimes this can be because of a lack of self worth (they put themselves in the way of wanting to help you).
I believe there is little point having a business unless there is a close correlation with how you want to live your life. Your accountant needs to well understand what type of wealth you wish to have in your life.
The word ‘wealth’ is an acronym:
Without making it girly, your accountant should be able to discuss with you the type of balance you want across these various aspects – especially the time and money factors related to each of the components. They should also provide discerning advice on the action steps needed for better business results to support, rather than hinder, your personal preferred balance across the acronym ‘wealth’.
What Should I Discuss With My Accountant?
At least annually (although preferably more often) your accountant is well placed to suggest meeting with you to discuss:
- Your strategic, tactical & personal goals – and how to achieve them
- Income generation
- Expense management
- Balance sheet goals/management
- General growth steps
- Tax planning opportunities
- General financial intelligence – this means your beliefs and actions around money – and how this impacts the way you grow your business
Your accountant should also be suggesting you connect with other advisors (different fields such as marketing, sales, branding, HR, law, risk management, systems) for the benefit of growing your business.
Sometimes they refrain from providing connections, for fear of the other advisors making a mistake and it reflecting badly on them as well. Although I understand this perspective is very real and considered valid, I suggest it also:
- Indicates the accountant doesn’t know how or can be bothered to form good relationships with colleagues who they can trust
- Means they are choosing to operate from a disempowered space of fear, instead of a more constructive approach which helps to manage all risks appropriately, no matter what the issue.
What Could I Be Missing Out On?
If your accountant is not providing these type of above service to you, then I believe they are being stingy with their advice and their lack of assistance is ripping you off. You may not be achieving your goals anywhere nearly as quickly as you otherwise might. If they had more focus on helping you achieve your goals, asking you would be a standard part of their processes at some stage during the year.
They may also be hesitant in offering any specific advice, so avoid meeting with clients. This also indicates a lack of motivation to assist you, or else low self-esteem/self-worth because they are worried about not knowing how to help.
People with high self-esteem/ self-worth want to discuss issues with you and are comfortable with not knowing lots of answers – they are good at creating a conversation, which generates answers between you, so they don’t need to know all of the answers anyway. They are also resourceful, to find answers with the help of others and technology.
In our experience, we ask every client when they would like to have a year end goal setting/planning meeting at the same time we prepare their financials. Some decline our offer and that is fine. The main point is that we have offered. That choice therefore rests with you, not us.
Given the value involved in helping a client grow their business, an accountant who doesn’t want to firstly learn your goals and then assist you in achieving them, is ripping you off because they are not trying to help.
If you did have a meeting, the end result being you could be getting a lot more assistance and quicker results. If you choose to not meet for that discussion, that is your call, no problem there. At least you have been asked.
Request that your accountant diarises to meet with you reasonably regularly. Our experience is that clients get massive benefit from having a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) meeting to discuss the above issues. Annually is an absolute minimum (even if you are not trying to grow your business) but quarterly, bi monthly or monthly are all valid, relative to the level of change you want to experience in your business.
My suggestion is that you take up your accountants offer for a meeting. Or ask them for one if they are not being proactive enough.
In our experience we aim for ( and nearly always achieve ) a 5-10 times return on the investment for the meeting cost, when viewed in terms of gains achieved within a 6-12 month period. To put some numbers around this, you give me $500 and I help you achieve $2500 – $5000 per annum in return. Depends how often we have repeat meetings, as to how much overall return is generated.
Another suggested solution is to request a free meeting with your accountant on occasion. For example, we offer free meetings at 5pm and we happily provide these to any client that wants one. Clients tend to request these at most 1-2 times per year each. And many never have any.
They are designed to be for clients who really need the assistance, but are struggling with their finances at that time. I suggest a venue and the client pays for a coffee/wine/beer; that way they feel a means of exchange for me offering my time for free – it’s perceived as very fair.
So don’t let a perceived cost barrier get in your way. It is very important to discuss you next 90 day/ 12 month plan/tactics with your chartered accountant – and for them to help you create the action steps in the first place. If they don’t know how to do this, then that is a different problem. Recognise the reality either way.
I’m Not Having Regular Meetings with My Accountant?
Unless you are really happy with other aspects of your existing accountant’s service, look around for a different accountant. There is a strong chance you are selling yourself short, or you are being ripped off via what your accountant does not do. The ‘rip off’ will either be financially, or via a lack of advice, or both.
Trish Love is the founder of Love to Grow, Chartered Accountants who specialise in providing internal Chief Financial Officer (CFO) services and financial literacy education, in addition to general chartered accountancy services.
Wellington & Auckland based, nationally focused.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book your free one hour first meeting to discuss your business.
Ask us for a free copy of our full report – 5 Easy Ways to Tell if Your Accountant is Ripping You Off.