Multi-disciplinary teams are popping up everywhere these days, from hospitals to marketing firms and non-profits. Some may see them as the flavour of the month, but the reality is when they are set up well, they work. Bringing together people with different types of experience and expertise brings fresh perspectives and approaches to the team.
Small business owners will have a range of different external advisors for different things such as taxation compliance and investment planning. Many medium to large organisations have created internal multidisciplinary teams within and across departments but they may still deal with external advisors independently of each other.
This can be quite costly in many ways.
Firstly, it costs the business owner time as they have to set up separate appointments with each advisor as needed. They may also have to create different versions of accounts for each advisor. It can cost money when conflicting pieces of advice lead to poor financial outcomes. And, it can cost them in terms of lost opportunities that may have been foreseen by a financial team working together strategically.
The concept of advisory teams is not new. Kings, Queens and other rulers have had advisory councils for centuries and many forms of organisations have used them since. What is surprising is that so many businesses still use separate advisors that have little or no contact with each other. Part of the reason for that is many of them simply haven’t thought about doing things differently. That’s where you come in.
You might provide compliance services for your client, for example. You might have even considered or started offering advisory services to them. But, have you suggested helping them set up a complete multi-disciplinary team of advisors that actively work together? This may be exactly what your client needs without knowing it.
Who should be involved?
Who does your client already turn to for various forms of financial advice? You could help them compile a list that includes people like:
- You, the compliance accountant (of course)
- Their financial planner
- Their bank account manager
- Their bookkeeper
- Their e-commerce expert/web developer
- Their lawyer
- Their insurance rep.
In some cases, one person may offer two or more of these services either individually or through their firm. Others, such as the bookkeeper, may be internal employees. However, all have an important role to play in the businesses success, so it makes sense that they all operate on the same page.
Any functional team needs to have a team leader or manager. In many cases, this could be the client, but it could also be their most trusted advisor – the one who they have had the longest relationship with and who knows the business best.
Shared communication and accounts
You client could save a lot of time if they didn’t have to pass bits of information back and forward between different advisors. What if you could all communicate and share files via a shared cloud platform such as Slack, Pie, Bitrix24, or Trello? Not to mention good old Skype. Getting everyone in the same room regularly is helpful, too. These sorts of opportunities help to foster a sense of cohesion within the team.
Not everyone needs to be involved with every discussion, and, of course, there will be restrictions around who has access to what level of information and how much they can share, but the more streamlined the process, the better. This includes using different sets of accounts (if needed) that compliment rather than conflict with each other.
The client is the key
Although some business owners are happy to trust others to make decisions for them, it’s important to remember that an advisor’s role is to advise, not tell, and certainly not control. After all, it’s the client’s business and the common goal of all their advisors should always be to keep the client informed of factors that may affect them and to help keep the business growing successfully.
Look at your own client base. How many of them have a well-functioning team of financial advisors? How many could use such a team? Think of the value you could give to each of these clients by talking them through the benefits of having their own advisory board working together in every way. Are you ready to go out and ask them?
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Many of the themes in this article came from Episode 44 Working With A Client’s Advisors presented by Paul Meissner and David Boyer. Paul & David are passionate CA's who care deeply about the accounting industry.
Paul quit his accounting day job seven years ago and now owns and runs the Melbourne-based firm, 5ways Group Chartered Accountants, and his online Freedom Accounting System firm which allows him to travel and work from anywhere.
For the last 4 years, David has worked as a Virtual CFO. At the start of 2016 he co-founded the Virtual CFO Association and in December 2016 his company, Sequel VCFO began franchising to mobilise the experienced work force of accountants in industry and bring their expertise to SMEs.
Together with their impressive list of guest presenters, Paul and David are the brave souls needed to fight through the noise and give accountants in practice the support and information they deserve.
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