10 fallacies accountants should not buy into

May 7, 2024 | Business development, Business Strategy, Client service

Not all accountants believe all of these fallacies. And some have been part of our psyche for so long we think they must be true. Others are repeated by salespeople and consultants who want you to believe stuff so that you’ll buy what they’re selling. But a salesperson’s assertions are not proof.

Here are the 10 fallacies I recommend you do not accept at face value or repeat without first clarifying ther true position.

You might also care to consider whether you can afford to do things differently in the light of the clarification I provide below.

1 – “Accountants are all the same” – Not true. Every accountant is unique (just like all the others!). Some of the compliance work that accountants do is the same. The accounts and tax returns you produce may be the same, but your background, experiences, knowledge, values, clients and style combine to make you quite different to every other accountant.

2 – “There’s a going rate for what I do” – Rarely. In my fee comparison master classes I show how different accountants in the same area charge very different fees for what you might think are much the same services.

3 – “CPD simply means keeping up to date technically” – CPD means much more than this. Continuing PROFESSIONAL Development. This covers all the skills and experiences you need to develop your professional capabilities. Thus this goes way beyond remaining technically competent and up to date.

4 – “We have to do what the client wants” – Only if you agree it’s what they need. And only if they do what you want – in terms of getting you the data you need in sufficient time to do what they want.

5 – “The client is always right” – Nonsense. The original quote in full is: “The client is always right in matters of taste”. This makes sense in the context of clothes and other personal items. But it makes no sense when a client is looking to you for advice and is reliant on your expertise and experience to tell them when they are mistaken or unreasonable.

6 – “If our website avoids identifying myself or my colleagues, we’ll attract better clients” – It’s hard to comprehend why anyone would think it makes sense to try to mislead a prospect. They are only going to be disappointed when they find out the truth. You’ll invariably attract clients better suited to you if you let them see who YOU are. And they are more likely to get in touch than if you hide behind your firm’s name.

7 – “Linkedin is just for job seekers and recruiters” – Outdated and wrong. Over 300,000 accountants have profiles registered on Linkedin out of a total of over 35 million people in the UK. Clearly they’re not all looking for jobs or recruits. Linkedin is an online business networking site. Thousands of accountants use Linkedin to target business owners, referrers, influencers and introducers.

8 – “I need to post loads of content to get value from Linkedin” – This is absolutely not the best way for accountants to succeed on Linkedin. What is crucial is to build your profile so that it will have a positive impact on everyone you want to influence on the site. Then you can use the site to shortcut the whole business networking process. Reach out to the specific people rather than post content and hope that your targets will see it. Few will.

9 – “Clients will always supply tax return information at the last minute” – Only if you let them. Accountants who are more assertive and active in persuading clients to supply data earlier, get it earlier.

10 – “Compliance work is dying” – 15 years after some commentators first insisted this was happening there is still barely any evidence to support the prediction. However it does now seem likely that recent evolution in the sector will mean that the fees you can charge new clients for compliance-only services will fall over the next few years.

I often debunk these fallacies in my talks and mentoring sessions.

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