Accounting Jobs: Advisors Think Differently Than Technical Experts

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Accounting managers, supervisors and partners need training to oversee a team and manage projects, but there is even more required when they serve clients.

Unlike mastering technical procedures and processes, accountants who advance in their careers will be responsible for proactive advisory conversations with clients to support business growth and wealth preservation.

There is training, but also a mindset that goes along with providing client guidance. How do accounting advisors think differently than technical experts? Let us count the ways.

Training for Accounting Advisors

If you have the career goal of being a technical analyst, auditor, tax planner or other accounting specialist, there will be times when you need to translate the numbers for your direct supervisor or for clients.

Some of the training needed to advise clients includes what used to be called soft skills but are really client experience skills. They may include:

  • Communications – Spoken and written
  • Problem Solving – Identification and prioritization
  • Collaboration – Internal and external teams
  • Imagination – Alternative ideation
  • Context – Understanding the client’s big picture
  • Self-Assurance – Confidence to deliver information

These skills seem like personal improvement skills, and they are. To deliver trustworthy information to clients, you need to have the confidence and the right data to connect dots beyond what the numbers tell you initially.

Imagine that you are providing financials for a nonprofit real estate deal, and you notice that an approved federal grant is not figured into the final closing. You check with your technical team, and they say the original documents don’t have the grant. You call the client’s finance manager and communicate the missing data to confirm that it is not calculated into the initial transaction. You learn that the grant is intended to be part of future working capital in years two and three of the project. Your collaboration and communication on the transaction provides context for asking the right questions and ensuring accurate financials.

Firms can provide this training as part of your advancement in accounting. During your quarterly and annual performance review, ask about mentoring and skill building that you want to improve. These skills are important for technical personnel, too, but they are critical for a positive client experience.

Mindset of an Accounting Advisor

To be trained as an accounting advisor, you need to think like your clients. What challenges do they face that you can solve with knowledge and technical skills? How does your work give them better cash flow, a lowered tax impact or business growth?

Clients are focused on business growth for a different reason than finance people. Clients are building a purposeful life and a legacy. Finance people are focused on top line and bottom line growth as well as efficiency and forecasting. When the two mindsets are aligned, everyone is happy.

While it helps to have a business background in accounting, it’s not required. An entrepreneurial mindset aligns the mission and vision of the business with the back-end finance structure to make it happen.

Here are some things to talk to clients about to understand their goals for their business and their lives.

  • Why did you get into this business?
  • What do you love about it and what are your personal strengths?
  • Where do you see the business headed in five years?

These questions will help you get to know the client’s motivations and goals that support your best financial recommendations.

Accounting jobs can be technical professions and they can lead to broader consultative roles that help business owners and organizations change lives. Using your technical financial skills and an understanding of the client’s motivations and goals, you have the opportunity to make a difference in your community and also thrive with it.

See Career opportunities at LvHJ

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