The other day I was in a meeting with a CFO of a large privately owned business with an annual revenue of $120m +. We were chatting about his thoughts regarding the accounting profession. Let’s call this CFO Jackie as in Jackie Chan.
I came to a question of what can the profession do to improve its service to clients. There was a pause. Jackie paused and then his face started to look redder and redder.
“You know what frustrates me the most James?” he asks rhetorically. “I resent the fact that we hire a firm of accountants/advisors to help us with a particular issue for which they have the right expertise and I end up managing their people for them! I’ve got enough things on my plate without having to set deadlines, follow up and provide guidance when it should be the partners job to take care of their own people. I really get sick of it”
Is Jackie being unrealistic here? What do you think? To my mind I don’t think he is. If you were to hire a building company to build a house for you is it up to you to deal with the various tradespeople directly and make sure the job gets done on time and on budget? Clearly it’s not. The building company would usually have a project manager with whom you can liaise to discuss progress and work through any issues that might come along. Is accounting any different? Or perhaps should accounting be different?
What are some ways in which accountants can offer their clients better service so that CFOs like Jackie don’t get frustrated and tear their hear out! I’ll share some thoughts in the next post.