While many accounting firms are attempting to offer advisory services, many still aren’t hitting the nail on the head, according to a business coach.
Speaking to Accountants Daily, Businest managing director Rhondalynn Korolak said that accountants are still failing to understand what it is that their clients want. “There’s a common misconception or mistake in the industry where everyone thinks that we have to give dashboards and KPIs to our small business clients. Many simply misinterpret the definition of what advisory services really is (or means).
However, it has statistically been proven that at least 87 per cent of our small business clients are financially illiterate,” she said.
“That’s a huge stumbling block that I think a lot of accountants have to come to grips with. If their clients are financially illiterate, they can’t read their financial statements, so it doesn’t matter how good the graphs look or how beautiful the dashboards and KPIs are. If someone can’t read their financial statements, they can’t read those either.”
Because of this misconception, Ms Korolak said one of the biggest issues plaguing the accounting industry at the moment is that firms aren’t delivering on their clients’ needs.
“The biggest mistake that I see accounting firms making, and even just sole practitioners, is they’re trying to sell fruit to their customers, when what the clients really crave is chocolate,” Ms Korolak said. They attempt to sell their advisory services instead of focusing on helping their clients cure the pain points that keep them up at night worrying.
“Accountants are perfectly poised, they’re perfectly positioned to actually help small businesses, but we can’t do it if we keep trying to teach people accounting. The small businesses owners don’t want to learn it. They want us to take all the accounting jargon out and give them a clear roadmap with step-by-step instructions of how they’re going to fix their problems.”
Ms Korolak believes this comes down to a skill gap created by universities still teaching outdated skills and a lack of training opportunities.
“Advisory services aren’t about dashboards and it isn’t about giving people reports and all that kind of stuff. It’s about two things: getting leverage on the client and getting them to take action,” she said.
“The skills that most advisors would need to be able to pull that off and do it well are in many ways the exact opposite of skills that we were trained in school.”
This article originally appeared in the Accountants Daily on May 1, 2017