Small Businesses: Get the Most From Your Accountant – Here’s How

Accounting software programs are becoming more automated with improved invoicing, reporting and inventory management capabilities. The role of the accountant is changing to that of a business advisor, says Lauren du Plooy of Rae & Associates – a QuickBooks partner. She details how small businesses stand to benefit from this shift, including:
– How accountants are now more than just number crunchers
– Accountants’ emerging role as key business advisers
– The role of an accountant in helping to plan for a business’s future

Traditionally, bookkeepers and accountants played a largely administrative role which entailed seemingly endless filing and manual inputting of information, all whilst keeping a close eye on the clock.

In the past, bookkeepers and accountants were always helping their clients to catch up their historical work, which meant that they were always looking backwards. For example, when they would compile management reports, it was always for the previous month. There was no helping their clients to look and plan ahead.

Technology is automating all these administrative processes, freeing up accountants and bookkeepers’ time which enables them to consult rather than time keep. In doing so, they provide more value to their clients and can become a trusted advisor.

By taking on more of an advisory and planning role, I even have clients who will phone me to discuss what schools they are looking at sending their kids to

Accountants as key business advisers

With the change to a more advisory role, accountants and bookkeepers are no longer seen as just number crunchers. Now, they can make forecasts for the next financial year, help the client with the drawing up of budgets and point out where they might be overspending, amongst other value-adding services.

It is more about being a business consultant and looking at the client’s business as a whole, than simply crunching the numbers in the background.

Accountants as a source of experience and knowledge

Through having clients in a wide variety of industries, accountants and bookkeepers are on top of what is happening in these different markets and can use that knowledge to benefit their clients, as well as enable them to network with people that may be beneficial to their business.

For instance, if a client is wanting to invest in property and the accountant or bookkeeper has another client in the property industry, they can advise them of the current financial conditions within that space.

By taking on more of an advisory and planning role, I even have clients who will phone me to discuss what schools they are looking at sending their kids to.

Accounting services no longer a grudge purchase

Nowadays it is all about the relationship accountants and bookkeepers have with their clients, whereas historically having an accountant was quite a grudge purchase.

Clients frequently invite us round for coffee to share ideas about their businesses and see what we think and how we can help. They are wanting us to be more involved in their business.

Ultimately accountants and bookkeepers can empower their clients to make better business decisions going forward.

Accountants as a partner in business

Ask your bookkeeper or accountant to partner with you and tell them that you want them to be a part of your team so that when you are making any decisions going forward, they can be part of the process.

Help future-proof your business

Quite a big thing for accountants and bookkeepers will be the ability to report forward, instead of backwards. For business owners, particularly small businesses and entrepreneurs, being able to forecast the next financial year will help them to make better decisions, which is incredibly powerful.

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Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo
Lebohang Thulo is the editor of SME South Africa. She enjoys keeping up with the country’s exciting and fast developing entrepreneurship ecosystem. You can find her at @lelele3