5 Steps to Becoming a Better CPA

All of us want to get better at what we do. We are driven by money, professional fulfillment or both. Here are 5 steps you can take to become a better CPA.

  1. Understand the business you are in and why you are in business.
    You are in the client acquisition, client service, client satisfaction, and client retention business. You are not in the accounting business although that is what you do. The lens you look through should be client-centric, not firm-centric. The reason you are in business is not to provide high quality accounting services, but to help your client define and achieve success in business and his personal life. It is about being a trusted advisor, not a technician.
  2. Create a firm brand
    The perception among the general public is that all CPAs are the same. They do the same thing so why not find the low cost provider of the services they provide? The inability to define and articulate how you are unique, how you are different from the CPA upstairs, across the street or across town is the biggest mistake most firms make. How do you market what is essentially perceived as a commodity except by competing on price? Create a brand for your firm and why prospects should do business with you.
  3. Understand your client, his business and industry better
    One of the cardinal rules of the financial services industry is to “know your client”. This should be no different for CPAs. Get to know your client on a deeper and more personal level. Ask about his other advisors and how well he is being served. Ask what trade association he belongs to and ask to be invited to a chapter meeting. Read what your client reads. Develop other contacts in your client’s industry to provide him with more specific and relevant advice. Ask your client how you can serve him better.
  4. Connect your client to others in you network
    There are two main reasons to build a network (1) is to build a pipeline of referral sources for your business and (2) to refer advisors to clients and prospects. This is the next level to understanding your client better. Become a referral source to professionals who can solve a problem for your client beyond the scope of your services. Better still, offer to collaborate with these new referred professionals to give your client the advantages of a team approach to planning or problem resolution.
  5. Take personal responsibility for your professional growth.
    When you decide that public accounting is going to be your career for life, don’t let others dictate your career path. Create a plan for professional growth. Seek a mentor within the firm. Take non-technical CE courses to improve your soft skills. Read books on leadership and management. Develop a presentation on a specialty area. Write blogs or articles for your firm’s website. Become a story teller of client successes. Learn to build a book of business

Becoming a “better CPA” involves making the transition from technician to most trusted advisor. These are important first five steps in that transition.

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