Art of Accounting: What our clients pay us for
Did you ever think about your value to your clients and what they are paying you for? I do, frequently, and I try to make sure I deliver more value than they expect.
Here are some things that I believe clients pay for and expect:
• They want us to be available.
• They do not miss out on a benefit or loophole.
• We help them avoid problems.
• They want problems solved.
• They want reliable work done on a timely basis.
• They want us to help them get financially richer.
• They want to be in full compliance with their tax and other obligations.
• They want more financial security.
• They want their business’ controls to be adequate.
• They want to learn from us.
• They want us to help them manage better and more effectively.
• They look to us to tell them things they don’t know and should.
• They look to us to be a Mr. Answerman or Ms. Answerwoman.
• They want us to be technically proficient.
• They want suggestions on how they can manage their personal assets better.
• They look to us to help them establish goals and then show a path to implementing it.
• They expect us to be a catalyst for actions, which I know we won’t necessarily get the credit, for except by their continued relationship with us.
This list can’t be complete but covers a lot of ground.
Looking over the list I don’t see anything particularly unique to any accountant. We all do this stuff. The issue is, do we do all of these all the time, or selectively, or only at the client’s urging?
I feel my role is to do everything on that list continuously. One way is to always be in touch with the client and to be available. I try and I succeed most of the time, and that works well for my clients and me.
P.S.: Being available means responding to calls and emails, precipitating actions, and listening to the client and then being proactive in initiating paths to solutions. This, to me, is the most important thing we can do for a client and what I believe matters most to a client.
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Ed is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.