Stop criticising accountants – you clearly haven’t met the right one

AccountantEvery single week I see people bitch and moan about the prices accountants charge, that they are too expensive, that the individual (or business owner) is not getting value, that people don’t understand what the accountant actually does, or even worse – that accountants just push buttons that you can do yourself so really are not worth their time.

Now let me reverse this just for a minute. How would you feel if every week, someone who didn’t understand your skills, experience, industry, knowledge, qualifications and values -judged you based on their lack of skills, experience, knowledge and qualifications?

Well, I know the answer, – you simply wouldn’t stand for it.

So next time you choose to berate accountants or bookkeepers or BAS agents (*insert any service based business here*) – maybe think twice as to whether you are qualified to give that judgement.

Let me give you some examples of services based businesses that I have used – which have been an epic failure.

But do you see me writing posts about why these industries don’t offer value or are over charging?. Hell no – it is just the person I chose to use (*in hindsight) was not the right fit for my business.

1.Virtual Assistant – I have used two separate virtual assistants for different tasks and both have been fairly average. Spelling mistakes in social media posts, newsletters that took months to deliver, and branding that was not on par. Am I scarred from using a virtual assistant again? Slightly, but it just means I now have more rigorous assessment criteria to ensure we are all on the same page and understand the outcome required plus the deadlines for the tasks.

2. Graphic Designer – I have used a graphic designer for logo design, and whilst they created exactly what I asked for, in hindsight (*there is that magic word again) – the logo was utter shit – ugly, not trademarkable (no idea if that is a word but just go with me), wasn’t suitable for social media and branding purposes due to the size and really was not a reflection of the brand I was trying to create. But did the designer create what I asked for – totally. She nailed my half baked attempt because I thought I knew best. So I am in no position to bitch and moan about their service? NO NO NO. Lesson learned – ask questions, don’t assume you know better than the specialist, listen to their comments and ask for critique.

3.Template Designer – I went down the path of a designer to create some powerpoint presentation templates. I gave clear guidance, colour schemes, even where I wanted certain elements to be placed. I simply didn’t have the time to create it all. Sure, I paid the person peanuts – and surprise surprise – I got back monkeys. The template designs were embarrassingly bad, they were not even tweakable to get it to a usable state, and I wasted further time to redo the entire templates from scratch. Do I think all template designers are overcharging and useless – no – it is just this person could not take direction and clearly was not skilled enough for my high standards. I simply did not choose the right person for the job.

4.Website designer – I think I have tweaked my website about 504 times since its first inception 3.5 years ago (*and I am currently thinking of undergoing the knife again for a complete rejuvenation). Whilst my first website I loved – I mean it was the launch of my “baby” – looking back, it never fit my personality, my business, my brand – but I thought it was schmick and would generate leads in 5 seconds flat. What I realised again (*you will start to notice a common thread here) – that if you direct an expert too much, they only deliver what you asked for in fear delivering you something different (*even though different might be better). Let the expert do their thing – this is why they are an expert.

My point is this – there are several types of accountants out there. Before you start asking random people for their experiences and opinions, first work out exactly what YOU need.

If you need help with a tax return – you need a tax agent (this is by law a requirement, not just me making assumptions). Often, you see a tax agent once a year, so if you are after other help, assistance, guidance and advice – ensure you speak to them about what they can offer. Most times they don’t know you want other help as you only see them once a year.

There are also financial accountants – who focus on financial reporting and analysis – things like breakeven, ratios, graphs.

And management accountants (which is the field we specialise in) – who focus on things like pricing, strategy, budgeting, forecasting, business setup and payroll. These lists are not exhaustive – so ask ask ask.

The biggest takeaway is that no two accountants are the same.

You need to find one that suits your business, that is skilled in the areas you need help in, that understands your business and personal goals, that works in the same manner as you do (remotely, on site, in person, phone) and that you actually feel comfortable asking those silly questions to. If you are afraid to ask for their help, how can they possibly help you?

For you to get value – you need to ask for help, you need to understand what they are saying, you need to listen, and you need to be prepared to pay for that help. Accountants have years of skills, qualifications, study and understanding of tax legislation that the average business owner does not.

So yes, my job is far more than pushing buttons. We have increased customers profits, avoided the pitfalls of ATO audits, gotten extensions of time for ATO payment plans due to unforeseen circumstances, we have planned the next 24 months of business operations to predict cash flow and growth, we have provided financial reports and assumptions for business loan purposes, we have setup new employees and ensured payroll obligations are met, we have consulted on accounting software choices and corrected 12 months of mistakes that business owners didn’t know existed.

So if you call that pushing buttons – you have well and truly pushed mine and we probably won’t be the ideal fit. But if you want to grow your business and you value qualified and independent advice, maybe it is worth booking in for a financial coaching session and seeing how much value we can bring.

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