Developing technical skills or expertise is no longer enough in today’s workplace or professional services firm. Technical skills need to be augmented and supplemented by what we call by the misnomer ‘soft skills’. They enable you to liaise belter with people (employees, partners, clients, vendors), to elicit information from people who are experts in areas that you don’t have knowledge of, and to use that information in a way that will help you to do your professional work or run your firm.

In the accounting and bookkeeping sector, typically, the future firm will have a variety of skills sets. People with different experiences and different learning will have different ways of solving problems. Working in a team with a diversity of skills and experiences can have manifold benefits apart from expanding the skill base. You can learn to communicate your knowledge while putting it into a framework that can be systemised.

If you own a firm, it will pay to hire for personality and train for skill.

Monetise beyond compliance

Beyond compliance work lie services that can be readily monetised. Many accounting and bookkeeping professionals will have experienced the request by a client that needs hands-on training in, for example integrating legacy systems to a select SaaS solution. This can be simply bolted on as a fee-for-service but, for future-looking firms, it presents as an opportunity to package the service as an ‘add-on’ to the current service agreement, hence offering scalability.
Pricing can be challenging especially when it’s a fixed-price model but taking an experimental approach to pricing is not a deal-breaker.

Level of service

Automation continues to be a wrecking ball for yesterdays’ accountant or bookkeeper but presents as the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ for the customer-focused future firm. The one thing that will act as the glue between the trusted advisor and the SMB client is the level of customer service.

With a mindset of empowering small business owners, the trusted advisor will do what they need to do to go beyond delivering services that automation will render obsolete. It may be technical integration services, it may be customised reporting; whatever the service package, the change for professionals is not to let a lack of self-confident get in the way of building a firm that is future –proof. Peer groups can help but, if doubt persists, hire a business coach.