Compliance Services Are Not a Commodity, Part II

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By Alex Vuchnich, CPA, CFE - One of the things that has been a contributing factor to the perception that professional services such as audit and tax work are a commodity is our profession's aversion to 'marketing' our services. Part of this is driven by the fact that there is so much demand for our services that it obviates the need to actively seek out or market them. However, in doing so we have lost the opportunity to properly position the value or our services. The impact has been that the services we perform are perceived as having no value and are simply things that must be done in order to comply. The compliance aspect is certainly a fact, but in reality, many additional benefits are derived from the professional services we provide. How often though, do we communicate those further benefits?

In the course of a small business audit engagement, I uncovered a $5,000 charge receipt that never cleared the client's bank account. The client's reconciliation process was inadequate and did not catch the error. It turns out that the charge card had failed to process and so the client never received the funds. It actually took several attempts to convince the client that their customers payment had failed to reach their bank account but once I presented the proper support they finally got it. It was then a simple matter to communicate the value of my services to my client over and beyond the simple compliance aspects. I was also able to reinforce the importance of implementing various internal control recommendations I suggested in order to avoid future errors. Opportunities to communicate the value of our services exist in almost every engagement, we need to begin to better communicate this to our client's if we want to shift the perception away from just being another compliance service.

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