Most lawyers only know a world in which they have to quote fees and charge for the provision of advice.

Few solicitors have the luxury of charging recurring fees to clients who come back year after year for the same recurring compliance service. Accountants, on the other hand, tend to earn much of their fees from work related to their clients’ annual accounts and tax returns (hence the term ‘recurring compliance services’).

Lawyers and accountants are also different in another way. Most solicitors typically specialise in specific areas of law and their clients know this. If you’ve been to see a divorce lawyer you wouldn’t be surprised if they recommend a colleague or third party to resolve a commercial dispute. No one would mind if a property lawyer suggested you see someone else to help you with your will. And so on. Indeed, most people seeking legal advice would prefer to see a specialist rather than the same lawyer who dealt with some completely different matter on a previous occasion.

Following on the thoughts in recent blog posts here I believe that accountants have a choice. The best ones will, in my view, specialise and niche their practices. They will focus on a specific type of clients, industry or area of work. They will not attempt to be all things to all people. They will be happy to admit when clients have issues that require expertise that is outside of their comfort zone. They will charge higher fees when they give advice on matters that do not recur each year. And they will seek out opportunities to provide this higher value advice in their specialist niche areas.

Instead of focusing on their recurring client work each year they will operate more like lawyers and they will be more profitable, more fulfilled and more in demand.  Do you agree? Let me know what you think.

The above comments follow on from recent blog posts and are taken from the final section of my contribution to a report, ‘GRF is killing the profession‘,  recently published by Bob Harper. He says it contains contributions from “leading thinkers, advisers and consultants to the accounting profession.”  (Ron Baker, Bob Harper, Dennis Howlett, Mark Lee, Mark Lloydbottom, Michael McKerlie, Finola McManus, Steve Pipe and Paul Shrimpling)