Give your clients a fishing rod and teach them how to fish

Posted by  Sjoerd-Jaap Westra

How is a fisherman like an accountant? Suppose you are a fisherman and you have been catching different kinds of fish for years and years. Your customers are willing to pay a fair amount for your fish so you're living a happy life. You have a great profession because you are doing exactly what you're good at and your customers appreciate they can choose whatever fish they like. Until the day they start complaining about the high price of your luxury fish. They tell you they have to spend less money and that they are not willing to pay high prices for your luxury fish anymore. They say they like herring as much as the luxury fish and...well...'fish is fish'. You could decide to start catching herring in high volumes and selling them at the lower price. It would provide a quick solution to your cash flow. You may even start asking yourself why you spent so much time catching and preparing so many different kinds of luxury fish in the past... All very well until your customers start complaining about the price of your fish again. Some of them tell you that they don't understand why herring is so expensive. Some customers even tell you they would prefer to catch their own fish, but that they don't know how to do it in a sustainable way... From fisherman to fishing enterprise What would you do? Would you continue catching fish and hope your customers will pay a fair price long term? Or would this be the moment you decide to make your boyhood dream come true and start organizing fishing expeditions and fishing lessons? If your customers want to learn to catch fish, they should learn it from you, and you already have the relationship so who else would they ask? In summary: give your customers a fishing rod and teach them how to fish. However...you are not a fisherman. You are an accountant and you have been generating annual reports for years and years and your clients have always been willing to pay high prices. Over time, customers decide they are not willing to pay a high price for something that has become a standardized commodity, like the annual report... Show them your expertise and be rewarded Of course you can continue generating commodities like the annual report at lower cost than the competition. You may be successful for a little while, but there will come a time when your clients decide not to outsource the annual reporting process anymore. It’s time to look to the future. You have expertise your clients need but they are not being exploited. Teaching clients how to control their financial processes and how to use annual reporting tools.  Offer them something they need and something you have in spades. No one knows better how to ensure the quality of financial processes, no one knows better how to verify and validate the accuracy and completeness of financial data and how to label financial data during the annual reporting process. Maybe this is the best time ever to teach your clients how to control their financial processes and how to generate annual reports using specific reporting tools. Furthermore, if your clients generate the annual report in a professional way using your best practices, the financial auditor can do his auditing activities more efficiently and effectively as well. In summary: give your customers a fishing rod and teach them how to fish...provide your clients with a proven tool and teach them how to generate the annual report! They’ll thank you for it, and at the end of the day you’ll feel satisfied that you’re utilizing your valuable skills for the benefit of everyone.

Sjoerd-Jaap Westra

Sjoerd-Jaap Westra

Within global product marketing of Unit4, Sjoerd-Jaap is responsible for the 'Office of the CFO' suite. This suite contains best-in-class solutions for financial management, planning & control management, and corporate performance management.


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