Art of Accounting: Looking forward by looking forward

I’ve accomplished a lot, but my thoughts are always about what I will be doing next.

When I leave a meeting with a client, my thoughts are always what I will do next for him or her. When I finish presenting a major speech, the first thought I have is what my next topic will be. When I write an article, I draw on my experiences for something relevant that I could share, always making sure it is not only current but can push (or even nudge) the reader toward the future. I am always looking for that next WOW either for myself, my clients, staff or firm.

Long ago I discovered that no one cares what you did yesterday. They care about what you will do for them tomorrow. Tomorrow is a long way off. It starts with the day after today but is open ended and can continue for quite a while. When it comes to advising a business client, I try to scope out how many tomorrows are appropriate for my efforts and for the client’s desire for growth and execution of the plans. Here are 10 forward-looking tasks you can do for your clients to prepare them for tomorrow:

  1. Sketch out a five-year projection based on the previous five years but adjusting for unusual, nonrecurring, expected or probable items.
  2. Review your client’s internal accounting system and set it up to generate reports that the client would regularly receive with information they need to manage and control their business better going forward.
  3. Determine a benchmark value of the business and show your clients how to measure the value creation opportunities from planned actions.
  4. Assist clients in evaluating key personnel to determine if they are being utilized to the fullest extent of their abilities, desires and willingness to grow and where they will fit into tomorrow’s business.
  5. Help develop key performance indicators that could give your client instant actionable metrics.
  6. Develop key predictive indicators that could help your client identify nascent trends.
  7. Help your clients formula exit plans.
  8. Help clients develop disaster plans.
  9. Help a single owner client develop a contingency plan in the event of a sudden disability or death.
  10. If a client business has multiple owners, guide them into executing a buy-sell agreement (which is a will for the business). If they have one, review it for its current relevance.

There are plenty more, and this list is presented to provide you with a start or to prod your thoughts into what added services your clients need that you could perform for them.
I’ve done all of the above. Some were easily and quickly done, and some were performed as special engagements. These are all essential and vital high value-added services for your clients.

If you want to be your clients’ trusted advisor, then be an advisor they can trust to guide them forward!

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com With your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” He also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. He is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where he shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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