Understanding your accounting client (1 of 2)

Recently I was meeting with a partner at one of my clients over a coffee. Although I had been working with this specific accounting firm for more than 2 years it was the first time we had met. As always to protect the innocent let’s call this chap John (as in John Wayne) rather than use his real name.

During the meeting we discussed the usual things about the market, clients and the accounting profession in general. John certainly knows his stuff – he has a great mix of skill and a deep and wide pool of experience from which to draw.

I asked John what is the single most important aspect in serving clients.

John didn’t need a long time to think about the answer … he replied in an instant, ” that’s easy James – to understand the clients business – to really understand how their business operates from top to bottom.

John’s answer was solid and predictable and of course absolutely right. I’ve heard it many times before. However, what happened next was real eye opener.

I asked John how he understands how his client’s business works. What John told me next blew my socks off! In all my years in working with the accounting profession and their clients I have NEVER heard this method of really understanding how a client’s business works.

Before sharing with you this method I need to emphasise the absolute importance of investing the time, energy and resources into understanding the business of your client. Leaving aside form-based compliance services, how can anyone advise a business in the right way if they don’t possess a strong understanding of how they operate?

I heard the other day something that struck a chord with me. It was a school teacher on a radio interview  talking about a mathematics. You can’t successfully solve an equation if you start with incorrect information or assumptions. If you start off on the wrong foot, the more you work on the equation the further and further you will move away from the right answer.

Tune into the next post to find our John’s method!

All my best,

James E