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Coffee with Matt Damon

Late last week I had a coffee meeting with a new friend of mine. To protect his identity (& the innocent ) lets call him Matt, as in
Matt Damon.

Now Matt is not an accountant, but rather an engineer. Here is just a small section from his bio.

Over a career of over 20 years in systems engineering, Matt has worked in the areas of defence, building automation, industrial control, rail automation and intelligent transport systems.  He has participated at many levels in sophisticated and complex projects involving large scale software development, safety systems, distributed real time technologies as well as mobile and remote area communications.  Matt is a strong business leader having fulfilled business development and senior management roles over the last 10 years plus.    An energetic and focused individual, Matt has extensive management and engineering skills.  He has successfully secured many millions of dollars of business for companies he has worked for, dramatically improved company processes and demonstrated finesse in leading and motivating both engineering and sales staff.  His presentation skills, deep industry experience, people management skills and commercial acumen are well proven.

My experience to date with engineers has largely been that they have brains the size of small planets and as such tend to be too technical & analytical to be interested in the commercial aspects of their organisations and clients.

However, Matt was refreshingly different. He is a super smart, articulate professional interested in his clients and what his organisation is doing to better serve their market, who just happened to be an engineer.

In all my meetings with accountants, (junior & senior) and reading through many hundreds of CVs and capability statements I can count on one hand the number of accounting professionals that can be described similar to Matt the engineer.

As a keen observer of the accounting profession and a consultant trying to help firms and their staff, I would love to hear accountant’s described as energetic, focused, commercial and generating big business for their firms and adding real value to their clients and stakeholders.

That being said, I clearly have not met all accountants in Australia or around the world. Perhaps you are one of the above-described professionals. If so, please let me know!

All my best,

James E.

I expect ideas from all my advisers!

Last week I met with a CFO of an Australian retail icon and interviewed him for the “What do Accounting Clients Really Want?” book I’m working on. Due to restrictions with my Publisher I’m not permitted to release any name details until the book is out.

That being said I had a really good meeting with this chap. Lets call him Matt as in Matt Damon – I’m sure the CFO won’t mind.

We were talking about his expectations of the external accounting firm they use and he made a very interesting comment which I dare say all accountants can sometimes be guilty of when servicing clients. Please note: I don’t have the transcription of the interview back yet from the person I use so the following is a paraphrase.

You know James, the accountants we use are just great. Because of their long history working with us they really understand our business. Our operation is vertically integrated – we manufacture, wholesale, retail and export our products – so there are a lot of moving parts to our business. Our accountants have an appreciation of practically everything associated about our business and as such we have a close, open and trusting working relationship with them.

That being said, although our current accountants are excellent if I was asked for one area of improvement it would be their level pro-activity in bringing new business ideas and opportunities to the table. Our accountants are top-notch when it comes to all the compliance work they do and value-adding advisory services they provide, but they seem to still operate in the traditional “accountant’s box”

Given their deep and rich understanding of our business I want them to come to me with new ideas to help us improve the business. These ideas could be anything from new products to retail alliances to opportunities in new markets. In fact a lot of ideas I would expect wouldn’t have any link to accounting per se and that is completely ok.

In fact I want all our external advisers & consultants to be sources and generators of new ideas. Be they accounting, legal, technology, human resources, marketing, supply-chain or whatever. I want them all to help us – not just in their respective fields of expertise but, if for example,  our lawyer has a good idea to do with marketing bring it on. I expect ideas from all my advisers!

Are you generating ideas for your clients outside your area of expertise?

See you next post,

James E