CPA Practice Advisor - 27

FROM THE TRENCHES
SOME THINGS NEVER change
about providing great leadership. You must have the right
vision with the right people
and the right solutions for
clients. This column is not
about teaching you about
human leadership, but about
industry/niche thought and
technology leadership. What
are you doing to stay current
in the profession? How are
you maintaining your understanding of client needs? Who
do you associate with to grow
your expertise outside of public accounting? When do you
take time to research possible
solutions? How have you innovated lately? As pointed out in
last month's column, information technology should be a
people and service enabler,
not a service inhibitor. How
are you leveraging technology
to help your team?

SO, HOW DO WE LEAD?
An obvious answer is to not follow. In the accounting
profession, we frequently play it safe and only provide a
service once other peers have been successful. While you
might review illustrations of technologies like Gartner's
Hype Cycles, technologies are simply tools to solve client
problems. Have you been asking enough clients about
their needs to solve today's problems? Many of you have
built quite successful practices with compliance services
in tax and audit/assurance. While these are important
and profitable services, client needs stretch far beyond
these two core services. Some of you have expanded into
business advisory services, client advisory services (CAS),
wealth management, litigation support, valuation, family
offices, and a myriad of other offerings. But as Sam Walton
said in the past, "What have you done for me lately?"
Gale Crosley has taught many firms to schedule
discovery meetings that have the purpose of uncovering
client needs. If you can schedule just one discovery meeting
a week with clients, with a short agenda to guide the
conversation, you will discover new needs in almost every
meeting. If you can get your whole team doing discovery
meetings, you'll have more needs brought back to the firm
that you can possibly satisfy. You will have to filter these
needs into product offerings that you can offer as a service.
Micah Solomon, in a Forbes article, points out that
"Every customer, every human, is subject to what's called
hedonic adaptation, which is just psych speak for the human
tendency to get used to any situation, whether thrilling or painful,
in a way that dulls your initial impression of it." Your firm may
be providing great client service, your technology may
be working flawlessly, but after a while, client expectations become greater. Even if you have improved your
service offering, the improvements may not outpace the
expectations.
One way to create new product offerings is to gather
the client needs that you have accumulated from discovery
meetings into a common theme of service. What is the
opportunity for this service inside your client base and
from potential new clients? Do you have the expertise, or
can you grow it? Does this service further promote your
expertise in an industry or niche? Can you narrow your
focus on these industries while expanding your service
offerings profitably? What technology tools are required
to deliver the service effectively? The greater knowledge
you have in an industry or niche, the more informed
you will be and the greater thought leadership you will
have. You will need to do research and read articles, and
attend conferences and webinars focused in these areas
to increase your expertise. You will discover that meeting
client needs with new products and services will become
easier over time as your expertise grows. You can support
these needs with technology automation. However, you

need to create formal product and service offerings, with a
business development plan to find and deliver the service
to both existing clients and to clients who have yet to
find your firm.
Let's illustrate with a product offering and service that
has become popular in the accounting profession, client
accounting services. CAS has changed from an after the
fact write-up service to a proactive, automated service
with near real-time reporting and dashboards to provide
proactive business monitoring and management. Firms
that are participating in CAS have discovered that not only
accounting and financial reporting have value to clients but
automating the business tax return from well maintained
financials has had benefit to the professional CPA firm, too.
Additional services including bill payment (AP), expense
tracking, payroll (PR), human resources (HR), sales tax
compliance, costing and many other services are desired
and appreciated by the clients. Cloud computing has enabled
many of these offerings. Firms have built hosted offerings
on Right Networks for QuickBooks desktop and added tools
like Bill.com, Expensify, Intuit Payroll or OnPay, Bamboo
HR, Avalara, and many other applications for document
management such as Hubdoc and SmartVault. Likewise,
firms have built solutions using QuickBooks Online, Xero,
Accounting Power, Sage Intacct, Thomson Accounting CS
and other third-party tools based on their knowledge and
client needs. In other columns, we have discussed how
to build the offerings, how to price the service including
automated monthly billing, and how to automate the
practice with standardized reporting and dashboards as
well as automated bank and credit card feeds.

ARE THE SERVICE OFFERINGS IT?
No, the service offerings are the start of building leadership.
One or two offerings does not make you a thought leader,
but you are ahead of many of your peers. When you look
for solutions at deeper and deeper levels, become more
involved in your clients' strategic needs as well providing
tactical solutions, then you are becoming a trusted advisor.
While many of you have built great relationships with
clients through the years based on your tax and audit
practices, new generation owners have new generation
expectations. How are you responding to the new and old
business owner needs? Can you assist these new clients in
building out the loan applications so they can win approval
with tools like Commercial Loan Success.
Do you have a presence in the online community of your
industry niche? Do you have visibility in your community
in your specialty? Are you and your firm considered the
experts in your industry niche? Why not? If you are using
the same tools, doing things the same way that you did
two or three years ago, that may be part of your answer.
"What have you done for me lately?" ■

JUNE 2019 ■

www.CPAPracticeAdvisor.com

27


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CPA Practice Advisor

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CPA Practice Advisor

2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
2019 Product Review - Tax Preparation Systems
From the Editor: Change is in the Air
The Millennial Advisor: Gone!?!
The 21st Century Accountant: The Four Stages of Robotic Process Automation
From the Trenches: Do Your Best Leadership
The Leadership Advisor: How to Adapt Our Habits to Create Stronger Connections at Work
The Staffing & HR Advisor: How to Quit Your Job Gracefully
Lean Six Sigma Advisor: 4 Steps to Ensure a Return on Your Technology Investment
Bridging the Gap: Automation is Here. How Are You Leveraging It?
Protect & Build Wealth Through Captive Insurance
How Simplification Has Complicated the Tax Office of the Future
Apps We Love: Legal Services
Can Employers Make Direct Deposit Mandatory?
Think Twice Before Not Paying Summer Interns
How to Gain Law Firm Clients With Clever Marketing
How to Set Up the Chart of Accounts for Law Firm Clients
Resources for the Law Firm Accountant
The ProAdvisor Spotlight: Next Day Funding for ACH: Powerful Payment Processing that Drives Prosperity
Don't Delay Implementing New Revenue Recognition Standard
AICPA News
How to Prepare for Summer and Not Leave Your Business Stranded
CPA Practice Advisor - 1
CPA Practice Advisor - 2
CPA Practice Advisor - 3
CPA Practice Advisor - From the Editor: Change is in the Air
CPA Practice Advisor - 5
CPA Practice Advisor - 2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting
CPA Practice Advisor - 7
CPA Practice Advisor - Protect & Build Wealth Through Captive Insurance
CPA Practice Advisor - 9
CPA Practice Advisor - 2019 Product Review - Tax Preparation Systems
CPA Practice Advisor - 11
CPA Practice Advisor - 12
CPA Practice Advisor - 13
CPA Practice Advisor - 14
CPA Practice Advisor - 15
CPA Practice Advisor - 16
CPA Practice Advisor - How Simplification Has Complicated the Tax Office of the Future
CPA Practice Advisor - Can Employers Make Direct Deposit Mandatory?
CPA Practice Advisor - Think Twice Before Not Paying Summer Interns
CPA Practice Advisor - Resources for the Law Firm Accountant
CPA Practice Advisor - 21
CPA Practice Advisor - Apps We Love: Legal Services
CPA Practice Advisor - The Millennial Advisor: Gone!?!
CPA Practice Advisor - The 21st Century Accountant: The Four Stages of Robotic Process Automation
CPA Practice Advisor - The ProAdvisor Spotlight: Next Day Funding for ACH: Powerful Payment Processing that Drives Prosperity
CPA Practice Advisor - From the Trenches: Do Your Best Leadership
CPA Practice Advisor - 27
CPA Practice Advisor - The Leadership Advisor: How to Adapt Our Habits to Create Stronger Connections at Work
CPA Practice Advisor - The Staffing & HR Advisor: How to Quit Your Job Gracefully
CPA Practice Advisor - Don't Delay Implementing New Revenue Recognition Standard
CPA Practice Advisor - AICPA News
CPA Practice Advisor - Lean Six Sigma Advisor: 4 Steps to Ensure a Return on Your Technology Investment
CPA Practice Advisor - How to Prepare for Summer and Not Leave Your Business Stranded
CPA Practice Advisor - Bridging the Gap: Automation is Here. How Are You Leveraging It?
CPA Practice Advisor - 35
CPA Practice Advisor - 36
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