Everyone is telling us that as Accountants we need to become less reactive, more proactive and to start (if we’re not already) providing more ‘value’ to the client, outside of the compliance work we’re expected to churn year in and year out.
There’s no arguing this, so let’s start with one advisory space that we all know about – Tax Planning.
When I was starting my journey to becoming a proactive advisor, I realised that I needed to take charge of the client relationship and to deliberately change the conversation. To be the one to instigate and open the dialogue well before my client does. At this stage, there were a couple of things that I struggled with. They were….
- Getting consistency in the conversation
- How to frame the conversation in the beginning
I found that starting with tax planning is a great place to re-frame the client conversation. Think about it, when you look at tax planning is it typically proactive or is it reactive? In most firms, it tends to go like this: here’s who we worked with last year, here’s what we did with them, who do we have time for this year?
If you’re seriously looking to move away from this reactive behaviour and become more proactive, it firstly requires a mindset shift. You’ll also need to do things differently, and you can start with the following.
Simply contact your clients, check-in with them to see if their circumstances have changed and if they’d like to have a quick conversation around their current tax position.
Remember that the value to our clients is in the conversation itself and not necessarily in the direct tax result or savings, where we tend to think the value is.
Following are some actions you can take when doing this.
Your action plan:
- Grab a list of your ALL your tax clients
- Work through the list and start engaging with them to initiate the conversation (example script below). You can break this task down into bite size pieces, say 4-5 phone calls a week.
- Start now
Here’s a script for you:
“Hi XYZ, just checking in, to see how you are going?
Have you had any changes from the previous year’s/since we did your 20XX tax work? Is there anything you’re concerned with, particularly around your current tax position/structure etc?”
If there is: “Can we can help you with that?”
If not – “thanks and fantastic to talk with you, we will see you in….”
The goal is to have a conversation and engage with the client in a way we would not have otherwise. We want to be doing this prior to the usual tax planning process. Yes, that’s correct, you should be thinking about this first, before starting any tax work – so something to plan for next financial year.
Just think about how much more your clients will love you for doing things like this.
I hope I have helped make this a little easier for you, to start the journey to have more proactive conversations with your clients. Remember ‘one small step at a time’ is all it takes.