Ask the expert: Practice management

Dr. Chandra Bhansali, Co-founder and CEO, AccountantsWorld

Don’t just be an advisor. Be relevant.

Q. What’s the difference between being an advisor and being relevant?

A. Being relevant goes beyond being an advisor. Relevance refers to your ability and commitment to do what’s good for your clients. That requires you to ask yourself, “What can we do within our firm so we can do what’s good for our clients?”

First, identify your clients’ true needs. Next, reshape your firm to be able to satisfy those needs. Interestingly, both of these steps to making your accounting firm more relevant are inward-facing. Fortifying from the inside out contrasts to your role as an advisor, where most activities are outward-facing toward your clients. As an advisor, you make recommendations to clients regarding what they should do.

Q. What do accountants need to do to make their firms relevant?

A. First, instill a culture of relevancy in your firm. Everyone in the firm needs to consider what they can do that’s good for their clients. A critical aspect of being relevant is to critically analyze what your clients really need. It’s hard to do because clients’ perceptions of what they need are based upon their prior experience with their systems, and your firm’s capabilities in the past. But the cloud has made those notions outdated. For example, most clients don’t know that by using the right cloud solutions, their accountant can offer them full-service Client Accounting Services (CAS). Not knowing that, they can’t ask you to do all their accounting work for them, including bill payments, even though they likely hate doing accounting in their offices. That’s why you have to use your own knowledge, skills, and imagination to go beyond the past and figure out today’s possibilities.

That leads to the next point: Technology is making so many things possible that were considered impossible in the past. Unless you learn about all these new developments, you won’t be able to uncover everything you can do to make your clients’ lives easier and add greater value to their businesses. You can best serve your clients when you have stronger control over your client engagements. Unfortunately, today most accounting solution providers bypass accountants and sell their solutions directly to accountants’ clients. This weakens accountants’ control over their engagements.

Q. How can accountants gain stronger control over engagements?

A. Today, accountants can select from a new class of professional accountant-centric solutions. These solutions give accountants stronger control over their accounting engagements so they can best serve each client’s needs. These systems have the powerful analytical tools and workflow management capabilities needed to offer highly profitable CAS and outsourced CFO. These systems are not sold directly to small businesses to ensure that accountants retain full control over their client engagements.

For the past 30 years, Chandra Bhansali’s passion has been to find innovative ways for accountants to benefit from emerging technologies. This passion has provided the impetus for the development of many breakthrough cloud solutions for accountants by the AccountantsWorld team, led by AccountantsWorld co-founder Sharada Bhansali.