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Why Accounting Pros Should Work Together for the Client

Sep 7th 2017
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Different fields within the accounting profession – accountants, bookkeepers and consultants – should work together in helping their clients build their business, according to Clayton Oates, founder and chief solutions officer at QA Business in Australia.

In his seminar “Staying Ahead of Change: The Coexistence of Accounting, Bookkeeping and Technology” at Accountex USA in Boston, Oates said that accountants, bookkeepers and consultants should look beyond their own interests and work together for the benefit of their clients.

Oates utilizes the Johari window diagram to start understanding what each party needs, that accounting professionals can find out about their clients they would not have known before. Perhaps the simplest way to figure out what clients want is to simply ask them, he said. He suggests looking at the client’s point of view to understand what they’re doing, and in that way, it can help them build their business.

Technology can be a collaborative effort. Accounting professionals need to actively participate, work with vendors and find out what the client needs, he said.

Oates studied accounting on the premise that he would start his own business. He worked for Price Waterhouse in the 1990s but then moved to a small Australian town, where he opened a small practice.

Even if you move on to the expert level in terms of knowledge and skills in accounting, he said, “You just know that you need to learn more.”

Some of his suggestions in promoting one’s business include setting up webinars and seminars and to write blogs. Accounting is a lifelong learning profession, Oates added. “Invest in yourself.”

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By Michael Abrams
Sep 8th 2017 12:06 EDT

I totally agree that different "levels" of expertise should work synergistically.

As a non-CPA accountant I prefer to not be a "one-stop shop". I'm not interested in complex tax matters, nor am I interested in learning too much about IT issues. I know just enough to have intelligent conversations with those experts in order to "broker" those services for a client.

Also, in my personal experience, most small, local CPA & bookkeeping companies are working with smaller businesses (i.e., up to maybe $10,000,000/yr in annual revenue). I've found that most of the people that own these types of companies (at least the successful ones) are solidly in tune with the numbers part of the business, but frequently they are lacking operationally and they can use more operational/management advise than anything else - especially in the areas of HR, payroll and insurance.

My personal philosophy is to get the business running efficiently and the numbers will take care of themselves. Then, leave the financial side of things (retirement planning, tax planning, investments) etc. to those experts.

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