For anyone who has had children in the last decade or so, you may well have come across the book ‘Who Sank the Boat?’. In this children’s book, all the large animals carefully climb into the boat – the horse, the cow and sheep. But it is only when the mouse climbs in at the end that the boat sinks.
Accountants have been told for years about the need to move from compliance to advice but until recently, there hasn’t been any great need or urgency to do so. However, in the last few years, I’ve noticed a significant change with accounting practices and the external issues impacting them and driving the future bottom line. In particular; outsourcing, cloud based accounting and value based pricing.
We can now add another challenge to that list: licensing. And if you haven’t addressed the licensing issue, it may well become the ‘mouse’ that sinks your boat. It doesn’t need to be this way. We know that accountants need to extend the scope of their advice. We know that their clients are seeking more holistic advice from their most trusted adviser to guide their personal and business financial affairs. We know that conditions are not ideal but this is the new reality.
When we assist accounting practices to ensure that licensing works for them, we address the most obvious items first:
• Who needs licensing?
• Who should the practice be licensed with?
• What training is required?
• How to generate a Statement of Advice?
And while we certainly address these issues, we inevitably end up addressing the following issues to ensure that licensing will work for a practice:
• Your value proposition - what services are you offering – and not offering?
• Referral partners - who are you going to partner with for the services you are not offering?
• Roles and responsibilities - who in your practice is going to do what and therefore needs to be appropriately trained and licensed?
• Systems and processes – what is your new client process? What technology do you use? What documentation is produced?
• Pricing - how are you going to charge for your services and potentially move away from time-based billing? How do you price for fact finding work that relates to both accounting and financial planning work?
• Risk management – do you have a documented risk management plan in place?
In addressing these issues, we are not only addressing the licensing issue, but also the broader issues around the advice and services the practice wants to offer and the systems, processes and personnel needed to be able to offer those services seamlessly and successfully.
There’s no doubt that accountants are facing a raft of challenges. Licensing doesn’t need to be the mouse that sinks your boat. In fact, it can keep it afloat indefinitely.