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What Links Compliance to Advisory for Accountants?

Rob Brown interviews Geni Whitehouse, an accountant turned speaker, author, and trainer who helps CPAs make the transition from compliance work to becoming trusted advisors for their clients.

They discuss why technology hasn’t replaced accountants, the importance of communication skills for advisors, asking insightful questions, and overcoming the resistance many accountants have to expanding their services.

Geni emphasizes that the future of the accounting profession depends on building deeper relationships with clients by uncovering their goals and turning financial data into meaningful insights.

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology like AI will augment the work of accountants, not replace them. Accountants will be freed up to focus on more strategic insights.
  • Communication skills, especially listening, are critical for advisors. Asking thoughtful questions is key to understanding client needs.
  • Advisors don’t impose solutions. They collaborate with clients to develop custom strategies based on their goals.
  • Accountants have invaluable financial knowledge but need to learn to convey it visually for clients.
  • Firms need to help accountants find time for learning and collaboration to expand their advisory skills.

“Technology, is going to be the final liberating force in our lives that allows us to do the stuff that we really want to do.”

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Imogen Allen

Transcript
Rob Brown:

Geni Whitehouse, tech is going to be the death of accounting, isn't it? They're all going to become redundant.

Geni Whitehouse:

That's right, Rob. You got it right. That's what we've been hearing. Since I started in accounting in 1982, the Tax Act was going to make accountants obsolete. Y2K was going to make us all obsolete. And then every technology innovation that's happened since is going to be the death of accountants. And guess what? We're still here, Rob. And we also have more work than we can handle. So technology, I think, is going to be the final liberating force. in our lives that allows us to do the stuff that we really want to do. So, bring it on! automate! automate, automate!

Rob Brown:

Jeannie Whitehouse, it's lovely to have you with us. You have an international reputation. You're big on the tech, uh, you're big on the advisory side of accountants. You also consult with wineries in the Napa Valley. It sounds like a very glamorous lifestyle. Do you enjoy what you do?

Geni Whitehouse:

I love it. It's really fun, and not just because of the alcohol, Rob, it's because of the, the, unique challenges of the wine industry, because they do everything. They have manufacturing, they have multi channel selling, they have farming. They have all these different aspects of businesses that come together in one place, and they're often quite small, but many of our wineries in the Napa Valley are small, so they have high complexity and small dollars to spend to deal with it. So, it's a really fun place to be, and the people are,

Rob Brown:

If I made you the global czar of accounting, so you had control over the whole world in the accounting sphere, what would be one or two of the things on your top list of priorities?

Geni Whitehouse:

I guess, everybody can't have Basset hounds. That can't be the first thing, but that would be a great start. I think it would be that accountants would have a mandatory training curriculum that started with communication skills. And from my experience in speaking, I've been speaking over 20 years, it's the communication fear and not being comfortable in communicating things in a way that our clients can understand that holds us back as a profession. It undervalues the services we deliver. It makes us not go deep with clients in many areas. And I think that's been a problem that I've tried to solve for a long time and we're making progress because we're attracting different people. But I think it's the. It's the communication component of understanding the numbers that is where we make a difference for clients. And I believe that's why most people become accountants, so they can do something that matters and help clients achieve their goals.

Rob Brown:

Well, if You look at the DNA of an accountant, they're good at math, they're comfortable with the numbers,

Geni Whitehouse:

Yeah.

Rob Brown:

probably a bit introvert, if we were going to classify them, not known for the communication skills, their personal integration skills. So already you're on the back foot because you're recruiting a kind of person that. he's, he's not expecting to have to communicate.

Geni Whitehouse:

Well, that's the challenge, right? And all of a sudden, when we bring in this automation, now I have to do something else, which is explain the insights that are made visible by the tools that we're using. And that's where there's a bunch of discomfort. So, I mean, that's why I started a business called Even a Nerd Can Be Heard. Because, yeah, I'm nerdy, um, but I can still have a voice. And that's what I really believe about accountants. And I also believe there's magic in numbers. I think numbers are, um, the keys to what's really going on in business and so it's up to us to release the magic. So that our clients can take that information and apply it. And again, that's where technology is finally catching up. It's giving us ways to present data in visual ways, which is what our clients understand. It allows us to bridge the gap between the detailed orientation that we have and that visual orientation that a business owner typically has. A short. attention span, which is a very big difference from the way we're wired. But also, Rob, the people coming into accounting are not those back office people anymore. We're bringing in the young folks, our people that are used to using technology, that want to have conversations, that want to be entrepreneurial. So it's changing. Those of us that are old school are struggling a little bit because we're required to have different skills. But much of what holds us back is our own high level of expectation that we must be expert at everything. And So one of the one of the big things that, I talk about is helping people release that expectation. You don't have to know, you have to ask. You have to question and be curious, and that brings real value to a client.

Rob Brown:

Well, I'm a former high school math teacher, so I get the numbers. You don't have to sell me on that. But when we look at the communication of the numbers, the narrative, the story behind the numbers, that's where accountants have traditionally fallen short. Because all they've had to do is report on the numbers. here's what you did in the last 12, 24

Geni Whitehouse:

here's how bad it is.

Rob Brown:

Yeah,

Geni Whitehouse:

And then I'll come back, and that's why I did tax for 15 years. Not only that, Rob, but here's how much you owe in tax. I'll see you next year and nothing about what you did or how you can make it better or, you know, how. And then I'd have to tell you that you owed 50, 000 having seen that you had no money. So the biggest struggle I had as an accountant was the psychological burden of that. I go home and worry about, oh gosh, this client who I know, I've just told them they owe a bunch of money and I know they don't have the cash. And also, because they didn't bring me in during the year, I wasn't able to help them avoid paying 50, 000 in tax. So that's what set me on a journey to try to make that better for both us as a profession and our clients.

Rob Brown:

many accountants I speak to, I'm not sure if it's the same for you feel a little bit beleaguered insofar as there's so much being put upon them. Well, you're making me learn all the new tax regulations and keep compliant. Fine. I understand that's part of my job. You're making me do my 150 hours or whatever I do to keep that up to date. Fine. You're making me B, do leadership stuff and soft stuff. Okay, that's fine. You're making me be a presenter. Okay. you now want me to be a trusted advisor. you now want me to be a geek and a nerd and understand all the tech that's going on. Now you want me to be a chat GPT and an AI expert. It's just wave upon wave of new things that a traditional accountant has to do So what's the answer to that? Jeannie?

Geni Whitehouse:

The answer is to focus. The answer is to decide what you want to do, streamline the work, be very selective about the clients that you take on, and do more work for fewer clients. And that's, that's not something that I figured out. You know, everybody's been talking about it for a long time, but I fell into the wine industry. I, I had the opportunity to work with these clients 16 years ago. Prior to that, I built my own small business. Accounting firm, basically. I went out and did software consulting for small businesses all over Atlanta, and I was doing a different client type every single time, and I never got, you never get more efficient that way.

Rob Brown:

It's relentless, isn't

Geni Whitehouse:

into the wine industry, the beauty of that is I only have to understand a subset of the tax law. I have to understand what applies to them. a subset of the technology, what tools apply to them. And it also gives me a really unique perspective when I go to conferences, which I'm speaking at conferences all the time, I'm going there with the specific mission or solution I'm seeking for my clients. So I'd go around with this curiosity to learn what have you got and how can I apply that to this unique set of clients versus I got, you know, a hundred different clients. And they all have very different names and it, it scatters me more, you know, it makes it much more difficult for me to be really good at something and to really understand what kind of questions to ask.

Rob Brown:

it's a really good point in that you've narrowed down, you feel the vision to focus on the things that you really need. What would you say to the accountants and CPAs that perhaps not running their own firm, they don't have the luxury of choosing the clients they want to work with. They're given a book of business or a portfolio of clients and their bosses effectively say to them, right, you get on and look after those. How do we get around that?

Geni Whitehouse:

Well, I mean, I was at Deloitte. I started at Deloitte. It's been four and a half years there. They hand you something and you do it. Yeah. And, and the first time I started digging into state and local tax, I'm like, this is really interesting. I really want to and I started boning up on that. So I kind of built my own specialty within the firm. It's not that I became the leading sales tax expert or state and local tax, but you can do that in any role that you have. You can find an aspect of what you're doing that resonates. And you can, on your own, become the expert at that, and then you can leverage it across time. That's what happened. I mean, that's how I made it to TaxPartner. I became good at small business software. I went to all the conferences. I learned stuff. I started, I designed a class inside this little firm, and this was a small firm. I left Deloitte, went to corporate tax, and then ended up back in Atlanta and built a practice, which I took to a small firm and I brought in a bunch of clients because I was out there doing the computer consulting stuff. So I became that person. I bring the work back and then I would the downside was I was still the tax person. So I had to do the taxes at night after being out of clients all day. So I had so much work. That I was exhausted, but I mean, that's what you do. You find the thing that resonates with you and you build it into a specialty. You don't have to be given permission for that. And people start bringing you questions. You under, you did this thing on sales tax. Can you, yeah, here you go. So that's how it works. That's how you develop, um, a reputation as somebody who goes deep on something. But it takes that, it takes comfort with not knowing. And that's our biggest. internal battle that we face as a profession. I got to be the expert all the time. And, you know, imagine Rob, I'm, I'm from South Carolina. I moved here from Atlanta and I show up in Napa Valley. You think that people are going to go, yeah, she's a wine expert.

Rob Brown:

Yeah.

Geni Whitehouse:

And if I had to live up to that, it would have crippled me because my own internal voice would have shut me down. And so I basically said, yeah, I don't know anything, but why are you doing that? And that looks funny. And you know, what's that thing? And that's the kind of stuff.

Rob Brown:

We know that there's an element of the accounting DNA that is forensically driven. They want to solve problems. They want to get the numbers to balance. So would you say accountants are innately curious, Jeannie?

Geni Whitehouse:

I think they are if they're not under pressure to get stuff off their desk, so, so the detail, the compliance, the deadline, and to me, when I was in a taxi, I had that perspective of just get it done. I don't care. And if I finished your return, and you were my client, and you said, well, how am I doing? I don't know, but here's how much I owe because my entire focus was in getting the numbers in the right places. and getting the return done on time. So it, it takes the capacity to step back and go, wow, these people owe 50, 000. What are they doing? Are they successful? Do they have cash? What are the other issues that they're facing? And maybe I should spend five minutes and ask them. What, where do you go in your business to see if you're on track and is that information easily accessible and that opens the door to go, well, I'm running 47 spreadsheets and it takes forever. I don't know until 4 months later, whether I'm doing well or not. Well, maybe we should look at that and see if we can help you get there and also consider the tax implications of some of the decisions that you're making.

Rob Brown:

You train accountants on the advisory role, which is one that's been more and more expected by clients. It's mandated by the complex economic world that we live in, the globalization of businesses. What is the missing link between the accountant of today and the advisor of tomorrow, Jeannie, would you say?

Geni Whitehouse:

it goes back to what I started with Rob. It's the communication and it's the mindset shift. Yeah. that they have to make to not be the, to not be what you said. We're expected to be the people who swoop in with the answers. And when you do that for a client, You basically make them feel less important and less smart, less intelligent. And then what we do instead is ask them questions, and why did you do it this way, and how did you figure out that? And, you know, what does this mean? That's when you make them feel smarter. And that's how you become a valuable assistant. It's like a therapist. They don't come in and say, Well, you know. Um, You're having struggles in your marriage? Well, divorce the jerk, right? Have you ever heard of, you know, nobody's ever gone to a therapist who says that. Or just leave! Except there's a therapist, I think, on Saturday Night Live that said that the therapy solution was stop it. That's all the therapist kept

Rob Brown:

that sketch. Yeah, just

Geni Whitehouse:

and that's not what we're there to do. When we do that, we, we discount all the knowledge this owner has. Like, I come into a winery They're experts in the business. My job is to help them bring data to the insights they already have and then we do that by looking at process, asking questions, but we have this expectation that holds us back, and the advisor of tomorrow is going to leverage the tools to expose the insights. That's going to be our mission, and that's what AI is going to help us do. Give us new ways to deliver the insights that are hidden in the financials.

Rob Brown:

I want to unpack that more with you, but isn't it counterintuitive for accountants who study hard to get letters after their name, super hard to pass the CPA, are in the UK, the Chartered Accounting qualification. They are trained to be smart. They are super intelligent people, so they want to be the expert. They have to be the expert. They have to have all the answers and asking questions is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness that I don't need to ask anything. I already know everything. That's not right, is it?

Geni Whitehouse:

Think how that feels if you're a business owner. Think how that would feel. I came in. With this accent in Napa Valley, and I've got a former CEO of some Fortune 500 company who now owns a winery, and I come in and tell that person, man or woman, here's what you need to do after a 15 minute conversation that there's no value in that that it actually makes me feel bad about what I'm doing. And instead. Let's talk about what you already know. And for me, when I do a consulting engagement, the best thing I can hear from an owner is, you're not telling me anything I didn't already know. And I'm like, that's right, but I'm giving you data to back it up. And now you have confidence that you are in the right track. I interviewed all your people. I documented processes. I looked at these things and here's where you're struggling. And they go, yeah, well, but now you see it and now it's visible. And now your team understands. the connections between each of the people in your company and why they're struggling with this thing or that thing or whatever, and then we can start figuring out what to do about it.

Rob Brown:

if communication is the bridge between compliance and advisory, and I do agree that makes so much sense. Then. We've got to take what communication skills accountants have and hone those because they've got some communication skills. They're very bright people, aren't they?

Geni Whitehouse:

here's the thing, Rob. Communication is not about speaking. It's two things. And that's why the Basset Hound is my animal. The ears are the big thing.

Rob Brown:

Yeah,

Geni Whitehouse:

The skill that we need is listening, and accountants are really good at that. The introverts are much better at listening than those of us who are extroverts.

Rob Brown:

it's a great

Geni Whitehouse:

So, the listening is what we need to harness, and that's what the message. So much of my training, the first part of it is the mindset shift, which Is again, the hardest part of making a transition to anything different that? we try as accountants. But That listening skill is a huge strength that we have if we have the time to listen. But, you know, if I'm, again, I'm in production mode and I got 500 returns piled up, I don't care what you say. I don't care about spending five minutes to find out what mattered. I gotta get this done.

Rob Brown:

of it with the listening, Jeannie, is asking the right questions, because if I just listen, there might be a whole load of silence. So, accountants and good advisors are not just curious. They're not just good listeners, but they ask. Insightful questions, strategic questions, and that must be a skill that can be acquired, is it?

Geni Whitehouse:

I'm sorry, what? I was just kidding, Rob. I was just kidding. Yes! The questions we normally ask are, where is your stuff, right? Where is the thing that you owe me? And complete this checklist. And, you know, whatever. So, the questions like, Where do you go to see if your business is on track? What are the things that drive you nuts in your business? What would you like to see? What's your ideal outcome for your financials, your customers, your operations, your people, and, and what's your exit strategy? What are you trying to get to? We start solving the fire problem, the thing that's on fire. And don't go back first and say, okay, let's get the context around this thing that's on fire and figure out how to prevent future fires. Instead, we put the fire out and so we don't know where they're trying to go or what they're trying to do or what they're struggling and what they've done right already and recognize that. And that's the approach that we take and it's. Really a different way to come in when you start like that.

Rob Brown:

You've just reeled off five or six superb questions there. It's obviously very natural for you, but accountants may be thinking, well, okay. I know I need to ask some better questions now to create better conversations and better relationships. Where do I start with that? is, there a book of these? Or has Jeannie got her training and I plug into that? Where do they start?

Geni Whitehouse:

this is, the majority of what we train. It's really interesting. It's a bunch of questions. It's documents with these are some questions. Here's a discovery toolkit. Here's what you do with the questions. And one of the things that I want to do Rob is to write the book. An advisor's book of questions, that goes with the training that I have And the training was not created by me. It's training that was live training done by a woman named Edie Osborne. And I, I found the training in 04 and got certified and started bringing in technology with her training and did that for years live with accountants. And then I acquired the rights and it's online now. And so I have the rights to that, but that was the revolutionary thing is that I can just ask questions. And here's some different questions like those and like things like, you know, there's a big push on KPIs or that's advisory, create a bunch of KPI. Well, now you've got another list of stuff that nobody understands. And so the question you ask is, okay, you're doing all this measurement, what do people do based on those metrics? And that's when the owner goes, uh, because you share it with your team and you expect them to take these metrics and go back and do what? So what we do is help them break those metrics down to individual actions that connect to the financial goal. And so their question is like, you know, where's the, where's the bottleneck in the process that's causing this to happen, or do you have documented processes? Or how do you, this, the question, the most insightful question I've ever, is this, where do you go to see if your business is on track? And we think it's the financials in QuickBooks or NAB or whatever product they're in. It is never that. An owner's never going into their accounting software. First of all, because the data's old, right? By the time it gets to accounting, it's generally old. Where they're going in our industry is to the operational systems, the point of sale system, the e commerce website and checking how many sales hit. And then, then you say, how easy is it to get the insight? Well, I got to dump it down. It takes me, that's where we need to put a system in place. and we have tools that we can do to make that data immediately visible to the owner in the way they want to see it. So that's what we need to be doing.

Rob Brown:

can imagine Jeannie did. An accountant would ask these questions, where do you go to get insight on your business and to know what's happening? and a lot of times the clients say, I don't know, I don't go in. They don't have answers. So it changed them a little bit to see how well informed they are on their own business.

Geni Whitehouse:

Well, that, that, could be the case, but they go somewhere, I guarantee you, unless they totally are just running it. And we have this in some cases, if you're running it as a hobby, if you're running a business, like, if I've got some former CEO of some big company, and they have a wire, because they want to have a brand with their name on it to share with their friends. They might say, I'm not in it, but there's a GM in that business. It's going somewhere to see what's going on. And that's what you go to. Okay. Well, then how do you, what kind of reports do you get from your GM? There's always something they're looking at. It's oftentimes the bank account balance. It might be we have. I mean, and we also ask questions like, What's an indicator that you look to, to see if it's going to be a good day in your business? and we have a winery

Rob Brown:

nice.

Geni Whitehouse:

owner that said, I look at the, I drive to work, so there's a stretch of road called Highway 29 in Napa, that's a 30 mile drive, and you go through all the wineries in like, what's considered the key of Napa Valley. They're also hotels. And he said, I drive down that road and if all the hotels have a no vacancy sign, we better have a bunch of visitors come into our winery. And that's the kind of stuff you learn when you ask, but you have to ask those questions. And typically we don't ask that stuff. So it's not a big shift. It's comfort with asking and listening.

Rob Brown:

We know that accountants are smart enough to pass very difficult qualifications. I want to ask you how coachable they are. Obviously, this is the CPE they've got to do. They've got to stay on top of the technical stuff to stay relevant and current. But a lot of stuff you're talking about here is discretionary. It's above and beyond their normal requirements. So when you're coaching them and training them, how easy is it for them to take this stuff on?

Geni Whitehouse:

well. the hard part is getting them to make the time to get the training, right? They have to figure out that they're tired of doing things the way that they've been doing it. and that's what's happening in the profession right now. But I mean, I've been speaking about it for 20 years, Rob. And, you know, I haven't, I haven't sold a million seats to the training. I mean, 20 years,

Rob Brown:

that drum, Genie, haven't you?

Geni Whitehouse:

I've been banging my head against that same brick wall. But,

Rob Brown:

Why is it being so slow though? because.

Geni Whitehouse:

because.

Rob Brown:

up is still small, isn't it?

Geni Whitehouse:

It's the same thing about technology. I started, I mean, I left accounting to go into technology and that was how I was going to change the profession. Well, getting accountants to talk about technology was the same battle. And then I found tools that I went, this will help us become more better at communicating. and then I started showing it to accountants saying, well, we're not going to ask that question because I don't know what to do. So then I went and searched for the training to get them over that. But, but it's the same thing, the same reason that, um, that, that AI isn't going to put us out of business or that Y2K or whatever isn't going to put us, because we're still busy. So why should I stop? What's happening now is they're making money. They're busy, but what's happening now is they're burning out in record numbers, and they're finally going out. There's got to be a better way. So they're seeking it out. So it's taken the technology to evolve. It's taking the complexities on the compliance side to evolve, but also I think the thing that's finally going to get the profession there is the client demands for these kind of services. And right now clients don't know to ask us for this kind of help. We've trained them that we're tax people. We're the detail people and I'm not going to call you to ask you about something like what should I do about this. And so we've got to shift the perception also, and that's happening too. So, I think the time is right.

Rob Brown:

Jeannie, I'd love to have you back on the show at some point and talk about your role as president of the Tech Association and the top 100 firms, because you're deeply into that as well. As far as the, the advisory word goes, it can be a dirty word or a non word, or if we ask 100 CPAs, we'll probably get 110 different definitions. So in your dictionary of life and business, what is advisory or CASA or whatever you want to call it?

Geni Whitehouse:

Here's how I define advisory. If you're not doing this, you're not doing that. you're not doing advisory. Helping your client move the needle forward in the direction of their dreams. That's what I'm, that's what I'm here to do. And if I don't know the dream, I can't do it. Right? So,

Rob Brown:

is an advisory?

Geni Whitehouse:

just creating a bunch of measures from the top and imposing them on a client. That's what we think. We're doing ratios, so now I'm an advisor. That isn't it. Okay, you can show a bunch of ratios and create a pretty report. It means nothing to the client. It's connecting the financial goals to actions, and that means working through the organization from the top to the bottom and creating measures that start at the front lines, not with the CEO imposing measurements downward. which is much of what the KPI movement is doing. To me, that's no better than handing them a financial statement or a tax return they don't understand.

Rob Brown:

You mentioned the word action and I'm really glad that you did because many advisors think just dispensing the advice is enough. Telling them what to do, giving them some suggestions, some strategies, but then they go away, don't see them again for another 6 12 months. So how important is it to elicit that action and even hold the client accountable, Jeannie, for true advisory?

Geni Whitehouse:

we're, we're called accountants. We should be the accountability people. And, you know, and the big, the big pushback I get from accountants is my clients won't pay for that, right? I can't get them to pay for me to be an advisor. Well, because you haven't trained them and started by asking different questions and showing that you can create models for their teams where you train them in figuring out what decisions they should make to change outcomes. And then you just come back and check in. That's what we do. I mean, I have models I put in front of tasting room staff and say, these are the levers you can push to generate more sales in the wine, in the tasting room, which lever do you want to push? I don't say push this one, which one of these do you think you can do most easily? And they all come up with a million ideas then. We can get everybody to buy one more bottle by doing these things. And they have come up with all these ideas. I have no idea. I don't know how to sell wine. I don't know what to pair with what either, Rob. But when I bring it down to the level of, these are the things that determine how much revenue you generate. And you have a revenue target. Which of these do you want to do, and what can we count? And then give me some ideas and the whole room lights up thinking, this is all we got to do. Yeah. Now we're moving the needle. That's what it takes though. It takes an understanding, a communication, but it starts at the bottom where the action is, not at the top with these imposed measures that we then punish people with if they don't achieve them, even though they have no clue how to connect what they're doing to that.

Rob Brown:

don't want to make this about pricing, but what are the challenges accountants have with advisories? How do I package it How do I price It I could maybe deliver it with Jeannie's help and ask some good questions, but I don't know how to wrap all that up in a service. I do with my compliance.

Geni Whitehouse:

Well, that's the thing. If you, if you take this approach of finding out what the client really wants, it's, You figure out how to address those specific needs. You don't come in and try to match the services that you've defined to the client needs. You create custom ones that fit. That's the fit. That's the scary part. But what we do in our firm is we offer three tiers of pricing. We include multiple things, but you have to first. Shift the perception of who you are as an accountant in your initial prospect call. And from that point forward, you've already established that you offer something different, different from other accountants. And then the value conversation is far easier. But I've got to initially shift the fact that you think I'm a CPA, doing taxes, to I want to be your partner in your success. And when we start with this question set that we ask, like I told you, what is, what's working across your business? What are you struggling with? And what ideally do you want financially? We assume they want profitability and our clients want long term equity repaid. They're investing for the long haul, the land, the brand, all that other stuff. So it's asking, not assuming, and then saying this is what we want to do, help you get there. and then it, the pricing becomes a far easier thing, and then you can offer options about different things based on what you uncover about their needs, but we can't just shove a package set in, um, like we're used to doing with compliance.

Rob Brown:

What is your fear, Jeannie, for the accountants and the accounting firms that are so deeply embedded in compliance? It is the bread and butter, and we know it's not going away, but it is under price pressure. It is becoming less valued by the clients. What is your fear for the firms that don't get a handle on this?

Geni Whitehouse:

that their clients will find somebody else to help them. The CPAs think we have the market cornered on this trusted advisor thing, which we haven't earned the right to call ourselves, I don't think. Um, and there are people who don't have certifications, who can't hide behind professional standards, who are doing the services that we're not delivering. And so when we wait and allow other people to take the space over, we're going to lose the opportunity. I mean, bookkeeping community is doing all kinds of it. They're, they're coming to advisory training with me in droves. And they're doing it. They're changing the practice. And so the pressure is there. If we're not going to deliver it, if we want to keep doing the compliance stuff, and there is demand because a lot of people are getting out of compliance. So the demand is there and you can charge more, but we're not doing that. We're still doing it and giving away the compliance stuff at a too low a price and taking on too much work and being overwhelmed. So we have to stop at some point and decide, Okay. How much is it worth for us to wear ourselves out and not really get the the rewards from doing this work? Because what we do is incredibly important.

Rob Brown:

You sound very proud of the profession that you're in. A couple more questions, Jeannie. What would you say to the leaders listening? We have a lot of accounting leaders, owners of firms, employers, if you like, that are perhaps not at the sharp end of client work, but they have people that work with them and for them that are So they want to imbue a more of a culture of advisory And curiosity and communication skills, maybe coming up against some pushback and accountants falling into that box. What would you advise them?

Geni Whitehouse:

I think you have to go, and this is true of anything that we do. You know, you find the um, the people who are inclined to do it first. You find people that want to do more, that are really connected to clients. and I mean, I don't care how shy or introverted you are. When you're in there with the client and you really care about them, you will overcome that I mean, I never wanted to be a speaker. I was never, why I'm going to be a speaker. I'm going to go talk about stuff. I just wanted to make a difference for my clients. So I got into more things and I also wanted to make the profession better. So the passion overcomes the fear. And I think most of, most of the accountants really want to be able to help these clients. And they feel frustrated like I did that I don't know what to do when I see that cash flow is bad. So if I can find a way to fix that, that's going to motivate me to talk about it, to learn to do stuff, but I got to have capacity. So if I'm an employer, I've got to look at what I can do to build in breathing and thinking time between engagements. Or do a mandatory, ask two questions every time you meet with a tax client that you've never asked before. And then think about it. What does that mean? And is there something that you know that you might be able to apply? The other challenge, Rob, is that where are people going to get current on all this stuff that's changing? Because I speak at conferences, and at least in the U. S., it's the same people that go to all the conferences. We're not, enough people are not out to even know what's going on. Again, they're back cranking away. So that's a big fear too, is how are we keeping people informed about what's possible? Yeah.

Rob Brown:

Well, we're doing a big project at the moment that I'm thrilled that you are a part of in five questions for the accounting world. And we're asking over 100 influencers and experts the same five questions. And there's so much nuance and perspective there and different aspects that you're right. If you go to seven a conference and see the same people saying the same thing all the time. You're getting one or two perspectives. You don't look in the bait box or the medicine cabinet or over the garden wall of what other people are doing. You're, you're too blinkered in your approach. So your message to accountants here is widen your perspective and your horizons, get a lot more curious. In fact, just finish off for us, Jeannie, what would you say to the accountants listening to take that next step with the communication skills and become better advisors?

Geni Whitehouse:

the knowledge that you have is extremely valuable. You don't have to throw that away. What you have to do is look at different ways of applying that knowledge. And accounting is a language of business. Unfortunately, most of the people you talk to don't speak that language. So your job is to make what you know approachable, accessible, and timely, which is a big challenge we have, so that those clients of yours can really take advantage of that insight that's buried in those numbers. And the time is now. And again, we have the skills. We have the passion for those clients. What we don't have is, in many cases, the capacity to really go deeper with them and make a difference.

Rob Brown:

Jeannie Whitehouse, keep shining your light. Thank you so much, for your time today.

Geni Whitehouse:

Thank you so much, Rob.