Recently I met with a CFO. To protect the innocent let’s call this chap Tom. Tom, until about a year ago, worked with an iconic multi-national corporation in a senior finance role; he is now CFO with an Australian-based business with $100m+ revenue. One could say the organisations Tom had worked with were almost opposite ends of the business size spectrum. Tom is in his fifties and has had more than 25+ years finance experience. He has worked with a wide range of professional advisers – accountants, lawyers, technologists, management consultants and the like. You name it, Tom has worked with them. Tom is no plebe; he is an assertive senior executive who has a wealth of expertise in the finance and accounting fields. He is certainly no one’s fool and knows what he wants. Set against this background I was both surprised and delighted to hear him express his delight when working with external advisers who “get it.”
Tom gets a kick out of accountants/advisers who do the following often and well:
1. Communicate early and often. If there is a problem tell me (the client) all about it. The sooner I know about it the more options we both have to solve it. Towards the end of a project you & I have much less options to work with and I will be less happy.
2. Share new ideas freely. No idea is stupid. The more ideas the better. I want my advisers to share with me ideas they have learnt from their other clients in industries which may share common elements with ours. They actually do me (and other clients for that matter) a real disservice if they don’t share their thoughts and ideas to innovate and improve our current processes.
3. Work together to achieve a common goal. I want to know that I have the full support from my advisers. Their fee should be a by-product of the relationship they have me (and the business) to work together to make our organisation better for the owners/investors, customers, management, staff and suppliers.
This is what Tom expects and when it is delivered he is one happy CFO!
Given the above, are you an accountant who gets it? You might be thinking that the points Tom raises are all well and good in an ideal world where communication flows freely between accountant & clients and vice-versa. Well guess what – there is no such thing as an ideal world so please don’t waste valuable time waiting around for it! Be an accountant who runs against the stereotype and be proactive in your communication and doing with your clients. Perhaps this can be a resolution for the new financial year?