Yesterday a good friend asked me if I was worried about the trend of things becoming cloud based and so easily available online. Whilst I could see his point, I assured him I was most certainly not worried about our company, the industry or the potential that our own Cash Flow Forecaster software was going to do us out of a job. What a compliment that would be.
How lucky I am to be in a constantly changing, evolving and competitive industry. Some companies out there are developing amazing software and it keeps us on our toes and increases benchmarks in the industry, how could that be a bad thing?
My friend pressed me. “Some of this software is so easy to use you don’t even need an accountant, you can do it yourself”. Oh if only that were true. It is true that much of the software out there is becoming increasingly user friendly; indeed, we designed our CashMAX Cash Flow Forecaster for the non-accountant. However Business Owners are more time poor than ever, and they will still need professional guidance and advice, as well as all of their usual tax work done. I don’t think that norm will ever change, save a few exceptions which have always existed.
I admitted however, that with existing competitors such as MYOB which have been in the market for decades and virtually become synonymous with accounting, it can be slightly daunting to be a relatively new player to the market. But just look at Xero and the effect they have had on the market. Were they scared of a bit of competition?
I have always welcomed a challenge and competition within the industry, and the benefit of clients becoming more educated means that we can spend more time discussing real issues with them rather than explaining the nuts and bolts topics which often take up precious (and costly) consultation time.
I’d much rather clients are educated on the basics so that we can really strip the business bare and focus on the real elements that will affect their success. That’s what coaching is all about. Of course we have an accounting firm which we defer to which handles traditional aspects of Business Accounting, but the coaching essentially focuses on education rather than just solutions.
Whilst solutions are obviously important, it is vital that the client understands the reasoning behind taking certain steps to solve a problem rather than trustingly, but blindly following the advice.
There are still many people out there with traditional views that feel it’s more important they focus on the day-to-day running of the business rather than spending time on the financial aspects. “I don’t understand it, and I don’t care. That’s your job, just tell me what I need to do”. However we discovered a niece of people who are now becoming the norm who want more information. They are more ambitious and want to feel more empowered. They want to be involved in the decision and understand that to have an informed opinion they need a level of information first. Their thirst for knowledge is admirable, and they tend to be young entrepreneurs, start up’s or tech based businesses that have only been founded in the last few years.
I was glad that my friend broached this topic of conversation with me because it reminded me that the prime function of our business was not to provide the solutions to client problems, rather it is to guide, coach and teach them the rationale behind taking steps to overcome obstacles and achieve certain goals. I believe that’s the difference between what we do at David Henderson Online, and what has been done for too long in traditional accounting and consultancy firms.