Human cannon balls and lion tamers were once part and parcel of the old-fashioned circus; alas such performing artists at Barnum & Barnum are now extinct. More conventional professions also face extinction when the pace of change is greater than the professional development activities of the incumbents.

Technology is massively altering the accounting and bookkeeping profession; it’s direct impact being to expand the entire ecosystem. This places enormous demands on professionals to take off their cannon ball helmets or tamer whips and immerse themselves into up-skilling and future-proofing their services. What does this look like?

Enhancing relationships with clients and accountants

As a bookkeeper you are in the perfect position to foster communication between your clients and their accountants. The result is an opportunity missed where bookkeepers could generate additional fees, help their clients minimise their compliance spend, and cement lasting and often lucrative relationships with accountants.

It is our view that for too long the accounting profession has laboured on with inherent inefficient work practices, For example, the taking of a business customer client’s ledger’s, creating another set of general ledgers and then (often in paper-based form) giving them back to the client or the bookkeeper. With cloud-based (a distinct from desk-top based) platforms this is nothing short of time wastage.

The journey from bookkeeping ‘technician’ to ‘trusted advisor’

As a bookkeeper you are often much closer to the business customer in real time, communications terms and hence can influence better outcomes. Be confident that you are providing your client’s accountant with everything they need to do your client’s year end work efficiently with full use of contemporary, technology-enabled solutions. You may find that your relationship improves and you may generate referrals because you are so effective at providing these essential added value services.

What should a journey a journey look like for business?

• First step: ‘getting to know you’. The owner must see that the bookkeeper is a real person – who can be trusted; in effect this is about standing in the shoes of the small business client
• Ask: What does the business do and what makes it different. Owners love to talk about this and it’s a critical part of building trust
• Find out the numbers: it’s the big picture. As an idea ask “What are the three numbers that you (the owner) want to know each week?”
• Status: how are the books currently kept; who does what and is the owner happy with this.
• Go away and think and come back with a proposal that positions you as a potential ‘trusted advisor’.