The 'Nobody Cares' Manifesto for professional advisers

This was originated by Dennis Howlett who suggested it was only relevant to Accountants.  In fact other than the one or two points that are clearly related to Accountancy advice the list contains more than a grain of truth that is relevant to all professional advisers.

* It’s important to remember debits are on the left and credits on the right – nobody cares. Probably because the system was invented in 1494 and hasn’t changed since.

* We work hard to earn letters behind our names – nobody cares. Importance isn’t derived from academic achievement but what you do for others.

* ROI is an important concept – nobody cares. ROI calculations are something you do when you really don’t want to help your client but to demonstrate to him/her how important you are. For which read 2.

* It’s important to keep good records – nobody cares. Clients aren’t in business to be administrators. If you can’t figure out how to help clients then expect to be outsourced. Probably the day after tomorrow.

* A tidy office implies a tidy mind – nobody cares. A tidy mind is often compartmentalised to the point of tunnel vision. You don’t see tidy at the edge of innovation. Which is where you should be when your clients come up with great ideas.

* Professionals should always wear top quality suits – nobody cares. How you look may be important if your name’s Anina but it sure as heck doesn’t matter when you’re traipsing around a pig farm. You do that occasionally don’t you?

* Your professional status among the community demonstrates integrity – nobody believes you. Professional status is over-rated. Those schmuks from KPMG in court on fraud charges sorted that one out once and for all.

* Adding value is the most important thing you have to do – nobody believes you. Clients can read a 1,000 websites and see that same vacuuous statement. Stuff your website with client stories, preferably written by clients and not some PR outfit.

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The ‘Nobody Cares’ Manifesto for professional advisers

This was originated by Dennis Howlett who suggested it was only relevant to Accountants.  In fact other than the one or two points that are clearly related to Accountancy advice the list contains more than a grain of truth that is relevant to all professional advisers.

* It’s important to remember debits are on the left and credits on the right – nobody cares. Probably because the system was invented in 1494 and hasn’t changed since.

* We work hard to earn letters behind our names – nobody cares. Importance isn’t derived from academic achievement but what you do for others.

* ROI is an important concept – nobody cares. ROI calculations are something you do when you really don’t want to help your client but to demonstrate to him/her how important you are. For which read 2.

* It’s important to keep good records – nobody cares. Clients aren’t in business to be administrators. If you can’t figure out how to help clients then expect to be outsourced. Probably the day after tomorrow.

* A tidy office implies a tidy mind – nobody cares. A tidy mind is often compartmentalised to the point of tunnel vision. You don’t see tidy at the edge of innovation. Which is where you should be when your clients come up with great ideas.

* Professionals should always wear top quality suits – nobody cares. How you look may be important if your name’s Anina but it sure as heck doesn’t matter when you’re traipsing around a pig farm. You do that occasionally don’t you?

* Your professional status among the community demonstrates integrity – nobody believes you. Professional status is over-rated. Those schmuks from KPMG in court on fraud charges sorted that one out once and for all.

* Adding value is the most important thing you have to do – nobody believes you. Clients can read a 1,000 websites and see that same vacuuous statement. Stuff your website with client stories, preferably written by clients and not some PR outfit.

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How not to get sued

The December 2006 issue of Accountancy magazine contains a two page article of mine that the editor has titled: “How not to get sued.”

This article contains extracts from my talk “How to avoid professional negligence claims”. If you would like to receive a copy of the article please just ask.

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Timesheets and value pricing professional services

Taxation2 is a bi-weekly careers magazine aimed at those professionals working in a tax environment.  The lead article in the current issue concerns timesheets and the importance of these in the tax departments of most professional firms.  The article contains various practical tips.

I have copied below the penultimate paragraphs and added some clarification in square brackets:

“This brings us to the subject of ‘value pricing’.  Mark Lee is an advocate of this method of charging [in some cases], which he considers to be a more sophisticated method in that time rates vary according to the type of work, not to the person who does it. What value does the work have to the client?

Mark points out that although, via timesheets, accountants are selling time; this is not what clients want to buy. [They want solutions to their problems.] They are buying a service and he asks what other goods or services would one buy without knowing how much it was going to cost you?

Mark wrote the forward to Hugh Williams’ recently published book, Life without timesheets, which advocates the benefits of value pricing and fixed fees.

For the record: I entirely accept that timesheets have their place and that there are plenty of situations where fixed fees cannot be quoted in advance due to a lack of clarity as to the scope of the work – eg: resolving a tax investigation, litigation and other services where the work will involve dealing with a third party whose approach cannot be foreseen. In most other cases however an experienced professional adviser should be able to quote a fee and then stick to it.  It’s the way of the future although some advocates of value based billing for professional services have been saying that for many years! I don’t expect a sea-change anytime soon.

 

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