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Accountants – it’s not about the numbers – it’s about value added advice!

Business Owners

Accountants – it’s not about the numbers – it’s about value added advice!

By , September 28, 2017

According to some of the latest research, accountants are both struggling to keep up with the level of compliance work and facing a downturn in traditional accounting and tax (compliance) work – as systems become more automated and basic bookkeeping and accounting functions are simplified thru Xero and its competitors, then the old fashioned role of the business accountant has changed substantially.

It is no longer about preparing or even reviewing the numbers but about analysing the numbers and providing advice, tools and management change to improve them and drive financial performance for clients.

The research also tells us that accountants are not immune to Business Succession and Exit planning issues with many Australian accounting practices still owned by baby boomers and many practitioners over 70 years old and still working.

Opportunities to assist clients with strategic advisory are growing – in the same way that many firms have introduced financial planning and mortgage broking to both add income streams but also to provide further services to clients (with the added benefit of “ring-fencing” the client), more progressive firms are now adding business units focused on business coaching, exit planning, corporate governance (advisory boards) , capital raising, estate planning and aged care consulting.

These value-added services add substantial value for clients – and they are always happy to pay well for real value – but can also provide interesting career pathways for younger accountants.

In my (biased) view Business Succession and Exit planning offers a great opportunity to build a valuable fee base in parallel with your compliance / tax practice, by taking advantage of the largest transfer of wealth (from the baby boomers) in history.

Craig West

Craig West

Executive Chairman | Succession Plus

Craig West is a strategic accountant with over 20 years of experience advising business owners. His background as a CPA in public practice has provided invaluable experience in the key issues of concern to business owners.

In March 2014, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of the SME Association of Australia, Australia’s largest small business organisation representing over 300,000 business owners.

In October 2014, he was awarded the Exit Planner of the Year at the Exit Planning Institute Annual Conference in Texas, USA, due to his innovative development of an exit planning process to help business owners maximise business value and achieve a successful exit.

Craig’s proprietary structure - a Peak Performance Trust - has won the Australia-wide award for the Employee Share Ownership Plan of the year twice in four years.

In November 2018, Craig launched SME Experts in partnership with Mark Bouris’ Mentored on Podcast One and quickly grew the monthly podcast audience to over 26,500 downloads; in October 2019, he released a new podcast focused on medium-sized businesses - Mid-Market Matters.

In July 2021, Craig joined the NSW Committee for STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) – focusing on advising families across generations.

Craig has also launched a SaaS platform, Capitaliz (which captures the 21-step process), to assist other advisers internationally deliver advisory services at scale.

In November 2021, Craig was appointed Executive Chairman of NSW Leaders, a business mentoring group for leading NSW businesses.

In July 2022, Craig West received the award of Doctor of Business Administration for his research thesis titled “Examination of the key factors driving business exit options in Australian Small and Medium Enterprises.”

Craig is passionate about encouraging business owners to think strategically, maximise the value of their business and achieve a successful exit.

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