What CEO’s Want from Their Accountants – Part I

An accountant talks with two clients.Whether you work for small businesses or high level corporations, it’s important to know exactly what your clients want so you can successfully cater your services to their needs. And regardless of business size, all your clients want top-notch treatment. In fact, ensuring they receive that treatment will nearly guarantee your ability to continually retain them as clients. Michael Platt is a management and marketing consultant who has worked with accounting firms for over 20 years. In an article entitled “What CEOs Want from Their CPA Firm: A Perspective from Accounting,” Platt discusses 10 things CEOs are looking for from their accountants, information he received from a panel discussion with a handful of what he likes to call “A-Level Clients.” Here’s what they had to say:

1. Practice Basic Business EtiquetteFrom answering the phone to returning emails, clients expect everyone in your firm to practice basic business etiquette. Often this requires you to hold training sessions that inform employees of your expectations and business policies.2. Customize Your ApproachNot every client expects the same treatment. Some like regular interaction with a representative from your firm. Others just want a monthly update. In order to customize your approach you must first know your clients’ preferences. That requires focused and attentive communication with each and every person for which you work.3. Be ProactiveSome accountants have the misconception that they work in a vacuum, crunching numbers and regurgitating data for their clients. That should not be the case. Accountants can change the course of a business by providing crucial information on what might be done to improve a business’s profitability. Clients want a Profit Expert. That can only occur when accountants are proactive.4. Work as a TeamEveryone on your staff should work as a team. That means you should introduce your clients to all your employees so each client appreciates their roles and responsibilities and how they might be able to assist them.5. Add ValueClients expect your prices to be competitive and your services valuable. But unless you explain just how valuable they are, they may never know. These high-level CEOs told Platt that they expect their accountants to articulate their value, to understand how their services enhance their clients’ businesses and to take the time to explain it to them. In that you must know and believe that you and your services are valuable. Practice an elevator speech that will communicate just that.

While these CEOs may not be of the same caliber as your clients, they do offer valuable advice on ensuring that your firm adequately fulfills each of your client’s needs. Take care to cater your services so they address their concerns and respond to their unique issues.Return next week when we’ll discuss the final 5 things CEOs are looking for in their accountants:

6. Recognize How Valuable Your Client’s Time Is7. Understand Your Client’s Business8. Streamline Your Communications9. Share Additional Services10.Make Their Lives Easier

ReferencePlatt, Michael T. “What CEOs Want from Their CPA Firm: A Perspective from Accounting.” RainToday.com