It should be simple shouldn’t it? Easy in fact!
You and your team are highly skilled accountants adept at saving your clients thousands each year on tax. You troll through their income and expenses and assets and come to a number that saves them on their taxes. Past, present and future.
You then add additional services into the business such as mortgage broking and financial planning only to see the other accountants in the business (Non-directors) almost ignoring these additional services leaving the partners to do most of the heavy lifting on these.
Why is that?
After working with a lot of accounting firms and helping them get their clients referred to other services is simpler than it seems yet there are some hurdles a lot of accountants seem to create for themselves.
I have identified 3 main reasons why some accountants find it almost impossible to refer their clients to other services
- Trust issues / lack of faith in themselves:
As an accountant you have a level of trust with your clients that far exceeds other financial service providers (Mortgage brokers, financial advisors etc.) that for some reason most accountants don’t either recognize or fully understand.
Given accountants have been around for centuries and have been the “financial go to” profession for most people over this time it is no wonder that they (you) are so trusted.
As we know, differing government regulations over the last decade have removed a lot of the work most accountants did, replaced by financial advisors and mortgage brokers. Even of late accountants are discouraged to work directly with banks when referring their clients for mortgages.
But – the trust is still there. It is robust and ongoing. And it always will be.
And most of all, your clients don’t trust anyone else as much as they trust you, so it is vital to understand this, because your clients need to for more than tax. More on that later.
- Worried about coming off as salesy – comfort zone
“Sales” can be a dirty word for some people. In fact a lot of people associate sales with used car salesmen, with poorly fitting suits, bad haircuts, scuffed shoes and a propensity for ripping people off and making them feel uncomfortable.
But sales is also necessary in almost ALL industries, and done well it gives your client a feeling of appreciation and accomplishment.
With that said, different jobs attract different personality types and from my opinion there are 2 types of accountants. (Just my opinion)
- The introvert who loves numbers not people
These types accountants are generally the backbone of every accounting firm. They are super professional, reliable and hard working. You give the “hard and mundane” tasks to these people because you know they will get it done and without one solitary complaint. Head down, bums up they excel at GSD (Getting Stuff Done)
- The entrepreneur who loves numbers because it equals money
Generally, these accountants end up becoming partners or going out on their own. They love assets and will work hard to build them understanding their clients can be leveraged into other products and services. (And for the clients benefit) Compliance likely bores them but creating wealth for their clients and themselves is what they live for.
I generally find the former struggles with referring to other services mainly because they see it as being “salesy” and in their experience have equated sales with sleaze.
However, it needs to be stressed that it isn’t about selling. It is about identifying needs and filling gaps. Simply put most Aussies don’t have a conversation with a finance professional every year. However, their accountant or tax agent has to communicate with them on an annual basis at least. This gives them an opportunity to discuss other financial products and services they may not otherwise think about, saving them thousands of dollars or even more important ensuring they are properly insured and preparing for retirement.
- No set process
For anything to be successful there needs to be a process involved. Sure we could leave things to chance and have no defined process but that won’t generate what we need to be successful. Our introvert friends LOVE processes as these make their day easier and define boundaries. Our more entrepreneurial friends tend to do this more intuitively.
The success of the referral program will be in educating the accountants on why/how to refer and then implementing the process into their daily routine. An example is to have a “trigger” on the client information form, or at the appropriate stage of their interaction with your clients.
Having a defined process allows you to almost “set and forget” the referral process. It then becomes a measure of ensuring the process is adhered to, ensuring every client is referred to the next appropriate service. Success becomes what it should be….a numbers game.
If you’d like some tips and tools on how to imbed a successful process into your accountants’ process feel free to shoot me an email.
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