Time stands still for no-one, especially administrative professionals. Just like other roles in accounting and advisory firms, the administrator’s role is changing rapidly as firms move from a predominantly compliance focus to a stronger emphasis on advice to clients. This change is being driven by both technology and changing client needs.
For people working in administration, this means a shift to managing the flow of work and taking control of client relationships at an administrative level. The administrator should be seen as a key member of the client services team. Increasingly, firms are appointing Client Services Managers and Associates to take over many of the tasks that would have otherwise been performed by graduates, accountants, managers and even partners and principals.
The following highlights 5 key trends we are seeing in administration within accounting and advisory firms. How is your administrative team tracking?
- The Workflow Manager
Technology is now enabling administrative staff to take over every aspect of workflow management from the calling in of work to the follow-up of client requests. Software is becoming increasingly sophisticated in providing a more seamless flow of information between the client and the firm. By delegating workflow management to the administrative team, the technical and advisory team is freed up to focus on client engagement strategies.
- The Online Marketing Champion
Administrators are increasingly taking over roles that may have otherwise been outsourced to external professionals or alternatively not undertaken at all. For example, savvy administrators are developing strong skills in managing online marketing and communication, including website management, social media, database management and client communications.
- The Client Advocate
It’s increasingly mandatory for people working in administration to have strong written and verbal communication skills so that they can interact readily with clients in relation to non-technical tasks. The proactive administrator should be able to keep a close eye in the quality of the client relationship. This may be reflected through turnaround times, responsiveness to client queries and the quality and consistency of client feedback.
- The Internal Bookkeeper
The development of bankfeeds and cloud accounting has allowed accounting and advisory firms to reconsider the benefit of bringing bookkeeping in-house to provide a fully integrated data management and processing service to clients. Qualified administrators with a good understanding of both bookkeeping principles and accounting software applications should be able to take on the role of internal bookkeeper to the client.
- The Super PA
The Super PA or personal assistant should be able to manage the flow of information between the client manager, their staff and their clients. This should include structuring the working week to ensure their manager is able to juggle the increasing demands of both clients and staff. The Super PA doesn’t act as a gatekeeper, but more as a facilitator to ensure that everyone is able to perform their role in an efficient and productive manner. They identify roadblocks and challenges and use their persuasive skills to make things happen.
What is your administrative team doing to provide real value to the firm? Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at roles and responsibilities as you prepare your firm for the new age of professional accounting and advisory services?
Some key actions to consider:
- Create your firm’s vision of the future. What services will you provide? What roles will people have? What can administration do to take on more non-technical tasks? Consider the skills you’d like to see in your administrative staff and review position descriptions accordingly.
- Critically review all workflow management processes, especially those relating to work-in procedures. Work with the administrative team to create stronger systems and processes around the calling in and preparation of work for the technical team.
- Communicate to your clients that you have a team approach to the client relationship. Sure, the client manager is the primary point of contact for strategic advice, but there’s a strong team supporting the client in all matters relating to administrative and compliance issues.
- Develop administrative PA roles alongside managers to support them in structuring their working week to create more capacity and time to focus on client relationships. This should include diary management and proactive contact with clients and staff as required.
- Look at what other firms are doing to develop the role of the administrative team. This is not just a consideration for larger firms. It comes down to individual professional development. You should be encouraging your administrative staff to develop their organisational and technical skills to add real value to the firm.
THE PROACTIVE ADMINISTRATOR PROGRAM FROM TRAINING BEYOND ACCOUNTING
Due to popular demand, the Proactive Administrator Online Training Program is on again in September 2015, this time over 4 comprehensive and informative online sessions.
Key areas of focus will be:
- How to make the client service role work in your firm
- How administrative teams can take control of workflow
- Move from a reactive to proactive approach to your work
- Improve the level of teamwork to achieve great results
For more information on this upcoming program, click here or visit http://www.trainingbeyondaccounting.com.au/shop/proactive-admin
Earlybird Special! Only $600 + GST for the entire firm – Offer expires this Friday the 28th of August 2015
Dale Crosby, Director, Training Beyond Accounting