Accountants work with numbers, but that’s not all they do. They also work with people. For an accountant or accounting firm to truly find success in the field, it’s essential that they appreciate the importance of the accountant-client relationship. Aspiring accountants must understand what qualities make an accountant-client relationship positive and how they can develop these qualities and use them to grow these relationships.
The Keys to a Strong Accountant-Client Relationship
Communication is among the most important qualities that characterize a strong accountant-client relationship. If an accountant is not a good communicator, the accountant-client relationship falls apart. No matter how much the accountant knows about tax preparation, financial reports or business operations, that knowledge is only beneficial to the client if it is being communicated effectively. Friendliness is another important trait found in the most successful accountants, and it goes hand-in-hand with communication. An accountant doesn’t have to be best buddies with all of his or her clients, but he or she should always make an effort to be approachable to clients when they have questions.
For accounting professionals and firms, communication and friendliness can mean the difference between keeping and losing business. If a client doesn’t understand a problem or the reason for making a particular financial decision, the accountant should be both willing and able to explain the situation in more detail so that the client can grasp it. Education may not be the primary reason that the client has sought out an accountant, but it’s important to pass along knowledge that can help the individual or business make smart and appropriate financial decisions. If clients feel that an accountant is pushing them toward a move or decision they don’t understand, they may become frustrated or question the accountant’s motives and decide to find a new accountant. The same could happen if an accountant seems too busy or uninterested to talk to a client who has questions.
Building the Accountant-Client Relationship
There are plenty of ways accountants can begin building excellent professional relationships with accountants, and most of them require no bigger investment than a little time and effort. To make the most of the communication they already have with clients, accountants can prepare for meetings in advance by reviewing the client’s past files and making a list of ideas, suggestions or questions that they should discuss with the client. For example, accountants can bring up subjects like savings goals even if the client’s primary reason for meeting with them is another subject, like tax return preparation. In fact, Accounting Today calls the lack of proactive communication one of the top reasons that clients look for a new accountant. Accountants should also listen attentively to any questions, ideas or concerns their clients have.
For aspiring accountants, realizing the importance of creating and maintaining strong accountant-client relationships is an important early step toward success. Throughout classroom and internship work, accounting students can focus on communicating effectively and being approachable.