Lessons for accountants from…..personal trainers

When someone decides they want to get fit they could choose the DIY route at a gym or they can engage a personal trainer.

The trainer will ask if the client has has had a trainer before. If so, what did the client like about the exercises, the fitness regime, the advice they received and the way they were treated? The trainer will also listen to what the client wishes to achieve.

The trainer, who is a expert, will indicate what’s realistic and what is not. They will set out the pre-requisites of success and may refuse to take on the client if they have unrealistic ambitions. If the trainer feels they can work with the client there may be occasions when they push the client beyond their comfort point in pursuit of the goal. And clients are willing to pay for this because they know that they will be fitter and healthier as a result.

I wonder if there are any lessons here for accountants and their clients? How about finding out what they liked and didn’t like about their previous accountant? What does the client want to achieve through the appointment of the new accountant? What are they like in producing all of the information necessary to complete accounts and tax returns?

I rarely hear of accountants pushing their clients to provide the necessary information in good time. Actually that’s not strictly true. The accountants tell me that they do chase up. They send emails, letters and maybe phone. But they only REALLY insist when the relevant deadlines are looming. Until then they leave the client in control. They let the client stay flabby, slow and unfit – as regards their financial/tax situation.

Not everyone wants a tough personal trainer. And I’ve no doubt that some trainers crack the whip, so to speak, less than others. But if you’re paying for a personal trainer you want them to help you get fit and healthy. It’s no good turning up at the gym a week before christmas and expecting the trainer to sort you out in time for the big party or whatever.

Anyone see an analogy here? What could accountants do to be more like personal trainers? Or do you think this analogy has been over stretched already?,

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Mark Lee

Mark is a speaker, mentor, facilitator, author, blogger and debunker. Mark Lee helps professionals who want to STAND OUT and be remembered, referred and recommended using his 7 fundamental principles to create a more powerful professional impact, online and face to face.
5 replies
  1. Jane Beresford
    Jane Beresford says:

    Absolutely! I refer to it as accountants keeping their clients lazy and stupid. The same mentality allows clients to keep providing “shoebox” records which the accountant processes, moans about the quality of the information and then does nothing to educate the client. Clients deserve and in this recessionary environment need more!

  2. Emily Coltman
    Emily Coltman says:

    Wow, what a great analogy, and Mark, I wholeheartedly agree!

    I don’t have any clients as such, but I do help family and friends with their accounts, and they need plenty of TLC and chasing. And I don’t mean just sending an e-mail and then thinking “OK, I’ve done my job now, I’ve chased, it’s up to them”. If I don’t hear back, I phone, I Skype, I’m on their case. Because if I’m not then HMRC will be!


  3. Adam
    Adam says:

    I know what you mean about a trainer/accountant that works you hard! You kind of love them and hate them at the same time. After some hunting around I went with SJD contractor accountants in the UK, not just because they specialise in small accounts like mine, but because they make you get your books straight, otherwise they won’t share all their secrets to claim back all that tax. So I have to put the work in or I don’t get the reward.

    But my books have certainly been a lot healthier since!

  4. Paula Tomlinson
    Paula Tomlinson says:

    What a great comparison! I remember my personal trainer asked ‘What are your objectives?’. I also ask my clients this. It can make a big difference to how you advise your client particularly when we’re giving tax advice.

  5. Hasib
    Hasib says:

    Came across this article while doing some research for a client and the analogy made me smile – the thought of your accountant standing over you while you’re collating your receipts and shouting “now give me 10 more!”. To examine the fitness analogy, some people in reality only want a coach to help and advise rather than push, which may be more like an accountant relationship. Whatever the opinion, it’s why it’s key to get the relationship off on the right foot, so everyone knows what to expect.


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