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The 10 Big Advisory Questions: 4 – Don’t I Have to Become An Expert?

Welcome to the fourth edition of this video series where we talk you through The 10 Big Advisory Questions.

Join Micheal as he answers Question 4 – Don’t I Have to Become An Expert?

The below is a transcript of Question 4 of the 10 Big Advisory Questions Video Series – Don’t I Have to Become An Expert?

My name is Micheal O’Neill and I’m delighted to welcome you to this video series where I answer the 10 Big Advisory Questions. These are the questions that I get asked by my clients in Ireland on a regular basis and also the questions that my colleagues in the UK, US, Canada, and Africa get asked.

So, let’s get started with today’s question.

Question 4, Don’t I Have to Become an Expert?

So, this is another question that we get on a very regular basis. And it’s understandable because so much of what we do as a profession is based on expertise. It’s based on knowledge.

And it can seem like a big step to becoming this advisor. And I think in certain ways, it’s really been built up more than it actually is necessary. But here’s the great news, no, you do not have to become an expert.

Yes, if you’re looking at getting into very specific areas of consulting, absolutely, you have to become an expert in that area. However, the true beauty of advisory is that as accountants, we already possess the majority of the skills, talents, expertise and knowledge that we need to be a highly effective advisor.

You might not recognize it, you might not think it, but from working with accountants for so long, I know it’s true.

You know, it’s all about identifying the client’s goals and plans. And the best advisors are the people who don’t jump in and tell the clients what to do and try to force their expertise on them. The best advisors sit back, let the client identify their goals, their aspirations and then facilitate them create a winning plan to achieve their goals.

Now don’t for one second think that I’m saying that your technical skills are not needed. They form an absolutely critical part of the implementation plan, but it’s not the solution itself.

And the beautiful thing is if there are specific areas where you truly are an expert, well then you have an opportunity to deliver that expertise as part of the implementation plan that you create with your client.

You see during the advisory process, the client is going to identify issues and problems. And let’s say they have a problem; it could be management accounting.

At the moment, most accountants can and do provide management accounting services for their bigger clients, now the actual interpretation of management accounts, that is a skill, that is a talent. To be able to run all the ratios and provide insights into the financial performance of the business, that is actually a skill.

Now you might deploy those skills during the overall advisory process, but that’s not where you start.

And the beautiful thing is if that’s not a core area of expertise that you possess, what you need to do is identify other providers who can provide it on your behalf or other people where you can direct your clients to.

Now to say that there’s no skill or level of expertise required, well, that’s not exactly true because one of the key skills that you need is facilitation. However, I truly believe that the vast majority of accountants already have the skills that’re needed in order to deliver advisory.

There are 10 reasons why you’re the perfect advisor. And these really play true to me every time I see them.

1. You are trusted

First of all, there’s trust.

As an accountant, as the person who has the financial acumen and a relationship on an ongoing basis with your client, it is unquestionable that your client trusts you.

A trusted relationship will help them open up more, and it will allow them be more forthcoming with and laying out exactly what’s on their mind, exactly what’s in their head, exactly what is going on in their business.

2. You care

Point two why you’re a perfect advisor, you care.

We have worked with thousands of accountants and I’ve yet to come across an accountant who didn’t genuinely care about the success of their clients.

To be honest, it’s one of the main reasons why I, and OmniPro, are so passionate about accountants.

Because it’s unquestionable, the benefits that accountants can bring to business owners.

But more than anything else, it’s the caring part.

Accountants by and large care deeply about the success of their clients.

3. You have financial acumen

Number three, you have real financial acumen.

Now I don’t want this to sound like I am taking a shot at any other group of people.

But it does deeply upset me when I see clients of accountants, accountants who truly understand the inner workings of that client’s business, who know the financial drivers, who understand exactly what’s happening behind the scenes with their client’s business.

And then those clients engage somebody else who does not necessarily have the same level of understanding and financial acumen that you have, and they’re willing to spend large amounts of money, freely, with these other people who are not as well positioned as you to deliver advisory.

This one that really gets me because I see it day in, day out.

I see the challenges and frustrations that accountants have with raising compliance bills.

When it comes to raising a bill, and you are looking at the WIP, saying – “Oh we can’t possibly charge this, we’re gonna have to knock x amount off the top.” Or “Just bill’em this amount despite what’s on the clock.”

And then the client goes to someone who is not as well positioned as you for business advisory services and is willing to hand over significant sums without any hesitation.

Why is that – well from an advisory perspective, clients truly value your input and they’re willing to pay what is asked, there is no fee haggle when it comes to advisory.

4. You can run meetings

Point four, you can run meetings.

It’s unquestionable.

You run meetings, that’s part of what you do.

It’s part of your bread and butter, day in, day out.

You know how to keep meetings efficient; you know how to keep people on track, you know about setting an agenda and moving people through it.

5. You love process

You love processes as well.

And so much of accountancy is process. And the fact is, advisory should be no different. You should have advisory processes for everything that you do.

And in following a process, that’s when I mean when I mentioned earlier, the difference between structured and unstructured advisory.

Really the difference is having processes that back up your advisory services.

6. You ask questions

Accountants, I think, are curious by nature

Part of it is the training you get. Part of it is what attracted you to the profession in the first place.

And so much of being an advisor is actually about asking the questions.

7. You have commercial acumen

You’ve commercial acumen. You know how the world works

You have been hands-on with a large number of clients, you’ve seen that number of businesses, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what works out there for businesses in the different industries.

You can bring your knowledge to bear from your experience, from all your training, from everything you’ve seen, every other client you’ve worked with.

You can bring that into the fold with each one of the clients that you provide advisory to.

8. You are a good listener

By and large, accountants are good listeners.

The real challenge is to allow yourselves to listen.

9. You are a problem solver

Because the other part, which is point nine here you are a problem solver, very often for accountants the problem solver trait kicks in too soon.

So, you hear a client say something, and immediately you snap back with the answer.

Accountants are good listeners but what they need to do is they need to contain their problem-solving ability so to give themselves an opportunity to actually listen and hear what the client is saying.

Because very often, it’s not the first, the second, third or fourth thing out of the client’s mouth which is the actual, what I would say that the core or the true truth of the circumstance.

Sometimes it takes people a while to drop down through the layers and levels and actually get their issues out of their own mind and to verbalize it concisely.

There’s no question that accountants are problem solvers but remember what I said earlier –

clients hate having problems, but they love having their problems solved.

And it’s a perfect match if you can come in once they have identified their problems and you can make them go away.

10. You like making money

Obviously, the majority of accountants are financially driven.

And advisory is unquestionably one of the best routes for a firm to become more profitable and generate higher revenues.

So that is question four of our 10 Big Advisory Questions Video Series.

In this one I have answered – Don’t I Have To Become An Expert?

If you haven’t seen the first three in the series, please do go find them and check them out now.

And make sure keep an eye out for the remaining questions that are coming later on in this series.

So, from me, thank you very much for listening, see you again soon