The accountant acts as business advisor/consultant as well, but is he/she in a position to advise? Accountants are by their nature, financially conservative. The old adage comes to mind, “accountants know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing”.
The first person we run to is our accountant, when confronted with a tax, financial or a business problem. This is understandable and encouraged, but do THEY have all the answers?
It might sound contradictory, coming from me, a qualified accountant, but lets explore this further.
- Tax Advice: Accountants, are becoming the blue-eyed boys of tax authorities, hence, they required to register as tax practitioners, in some countries. Tax Practitioners, could soon be compelled to divulge incriminating information to tax authorities.The revenue authorities use practitioners to do most of their dirty work, and the accountant/practitioner, gladly complies. Who collects your tax checks, is it the revenue authorities or the accountant? How many accountants really maximize, legal tax deductions that you are entitled to? How many accountants, fight tooth and nail to prevent action by tax authourities? How many accountants, refuse to cooperate, when IRS insists on a tax audit of your affairs? We know, no need to answer.
- Financial advice: As said before, accountants are financially conservative. It is a proven fact, that accountants advise clients to “cut”, overheads, which importantly, revolves around retrenchments (very sad for employees), telephone and the marketing budget! Accountants are not marketers, so forget about convincing him/her otherswise.
- Business advice: Some accountants are highly qualified, with a CPA, MBA, behind some names. Theoretical knowledge in business, do not a businessperson make, more on that later.
What YOU expect from your accountant!
- Tax Advice: Wherever a loophole exists or can be created it should be explored (if its legal of course!!) Accountants should prepare information in such a way that YOU are not financially compromised from a tax perspective. “ Render unto Caesar what is due”,…. ONLY WHATS DUE, not a penny more”. He/she should deal with authorities directly, if threats of audits and enforcement action are made (not refer it to a tax attorney). No private deals to be concluded between authority and him/her. You pay his/her salary, NOT authorities! Cant be a lap dog of IRS.
Financial advice: Advise you to control expenses, expenses, however can only be “controlled”, to a certain extend. You should rather be advised on ways to boost sales! You dare not touch that marketing budget! Retrenchments, shall also be the last resort. Valuable skills and/or potential skills are lost in this process. Research has shown that highly motivated(and paid-ouch!), employees, actually generate more sales and cash flow for the business. Accountants are expensive, why can’t he/she slash his/her hours or fee?
- Business advice: Acknowledge that YOU, as the entrepreneur, did not get to where you are, easy. It’s because of YOU, that there is a business! Whether you educated or not, the accountants “book knowledge”, or MBA cannot help you much, when a business should be rescued. Your business advisor should understand that YOU need as much MOTIVATION on a daily basis, as possible. Not theories and sermons, on how your business should operate. The only person that knows and understands your business is YOU, not your business advisor.
- We learn from EXPERIENCE not KNOWLEDGE.
Please don’t get me wrong! None of the above is intended as a direct attack on accountants. There are some excellent accountants serving corporations and the broader business community.
Clients rely too much on their accountants; the business owner is ultimately responsible for all that goes wrong. Give 70% and the advisor can give 30%, not the other way around. That explains many business owners frustration with their advisors, since they expect too much, and that is the thrust of what I am attempting to highlight in this article.
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