Why can’t I just be a good accountant?

The following observation on Facebook reflects a common perception.

‘It’s a shame that nowadays it isn’t enough to just be good at what you do. You need to be good at all this other stuff (marketing etc.) otherwise you don’t get anywhere.’

My response was as follows:

It has NEVER been enough to have a skill or a dream to be successful. EVERY self employed person has always had to either:
– Learn to be good at marketing (and selling); or
– Engage someone who is good at it to do the marketing (and selling) for them.

It’s a mistake to think this is a NEW phenomenon.
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On this occasion I was commenting on the frustration expressed by a fellow member of The Magic Circle (A magician)! But I know plenty of accountants who operate as if they shared the same concern.

Maybe this is how you feel sometimes. “Why isn’t it enough to just be a good accountant?”

You do a good job. You know your stuff and clients like you. And yet you are frustrated that this isn’t enough to win you all the new clients you want as quickly as you would like.

Why isn’t it enough to just be a good accountant?

I’d suggest that part of the answer relates to confusion between being good at accounting and being a good accountant.

Being good at accounting and all the related technical skills is not enough to win good clients.

Why not?

Firstly, they won’t know you exist or what you can do for them unless you or someone else tells them.

Secondly, even if they do hear about you, good clients typically want an accountant who is more than just a good technician. They want someone they can relate to, someone who understands their needs and someone who can communicate effectively.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll realise I’m talking about someone who has, what I’ve long referenced as, essential Key Business Skills.

Being good at accounting is not enough to become a successful accountant. It’s not enough if you want better clients, nicer clients, more profitable clients or clients who need more than simple compliance services.

It’s not enough for accountants in practice; whether you work in a large firm, you run your own firm or if you currently just aspire to run your own practice.

Beyond ‘doing a good job’ you also need someone (or you) to be marketing and promoting you and the services you can provide. This marketing and promotion activity needs to be client focused and not a turn-off.

And when you speak with prospective clients you need to be able to ‘complete the sale’ – to enthuse the prospect, to help them ‘want’ you and your advice and to be willing to pay a good fee for the privilege.

Many accountants have yet to master these Key Business Skills.  They aren’t new requirements.  This has nothing to do with any recent changes in the accounting world. Successful accountants have always been more than good technicians.

When I talk with accountants who are struggling to attract and win the new clients they seek, I often have to share some home truths. And this often involves debunking the hype and misconceptions around marketing for accountants.

To be successful you will need to engage in some form of marketing activity. And your marketing needs to be effectively planned and executed. Poor marketing, half-baked marketing and unfocused marketing will invariably be a waste of time and effort.

Being good at accounting has only ever been part of the story. If you want to be successful you need to become a good accountant too.

By |2019-02-25T23:48:43+00:00February 26th, 2019|Accountants, Key Business skills, Marketing and promotion|

About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.

One Comment

  1. Tracy 26th February 2019 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    It IS enough to just be a good accountant if you are fine with modest earnings and limited advancement opportunities. What this person is REALLY saying is that he or she wants to be paid more but doesn’t want to DO more for the money. It’s part of our entitlement society.

    If you just want to be a good accountant, then do it. Realize that your market value is at a certain level, and live with it.

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