How to grow your tax advisory through thought leadership

There's a so-called old piece of wisdom that says: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

In reality, it is an old wives’ tale because it isn't true – not for relationships and not for tax advisory businesses. If you want more business, if you want more referrals and more growth, you need to up your 'visibility' in a way that is relevant to your audience.

Thought leadership is one way to achieve this goal.

The founder of the networking organisation Business Network International (BNI), Dr Ivan Misner, has what he believes is the most critical concept in networking.

“The VCP Process® – visibility, credibility, profitability – is a continuum,” he says. “Once you achieve credibility (and not before), you then need to start asking for referrals in order to achieve profitability. Profitability does not result automatically from visibility and credibility.”

What Misner is describing is true of marketing as well. While marketing – regardless of your methodology – will help you achieve visibility with your clients and potential clients, which in turn leads to credibility, you still need to do the hard work. In networking, it's asking for referrals. In your online marketing, it's about proving you are an expert, you are trustworthy, and you are good at what you do.

In this COVID-19 environment, opportunities to meet people face-to-face and interact personally to clinch new business and maintain existing business, are reduced. There is more emphasis on digital ways of working, shopping and socialising. While many accounting firms were dealing with the disruptions brought to reporting and compliance (and the rise of greater emphasis on advisory), COVID-19 is accelerating the change.

In this new climate, tax advisory businesses are advised to grow their online presence and visibility – to expand their digital footprint – in a way that establishes their credentials as expert and trustworthy.

Thought leadership can help you do that.

1. Be valuable 

We are living in an age of content shock. There is quite literally a deluge of content (list stories, how-to stories, updates and reports). For example, content about the increase in the provisional tax threshold is relatively common. It is important content, it is of value, but it is not valuable because it is common. By all means, it is the kind of content that any practice should be creating and sharing, but it won't earn you thought leadership.

Thought leadership comes from creating content – blogs, podcasts, opinion editorials, videos et cetera – that are unique, and you achieve that by applying your unique expertise and interpretation to the events (like tax developments) going on around you. Always look to understand and communicate what it means for your audience at a granular level

2. Stand for something

Your clients and potential clients want you to have an opinion. It’s why they pay you. Thought leaders have an opinion, and they are not afraid to express it. If you try to be everything to everybody, you end up being nothing to nobody. 

3. Aim for relevance

A content piece about how to improve cashflow is of value and also a common theme. Most companies, consultancies, banks and accounting firms have content about this. One way to differentiate your content and improve engagement is to add relevance by referring to the events and circumstances of the day.

For example, 'Maintaining cashflow this COVID-19 Christmas’ is current and timely. It is relevant because it refers to the issues of the day. Commentary about everyday problems and developments on the tax front should always be made in the context of the times in which we live.

In summary

It's not easy to 'stick your neck' out and establish your expertise, authority and trustworthiness through thought leadership, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. 

Whether you get more business from referrals or other marketing and sales methods, thought leadership will benefit your practice because it says that you know what you’re about.

How to find a great accountant: six qualities to look for

Thousands of independent business owners have an awful habit.

While steadily pedaling up the
mountain of expansion, new hires, building a great brand, and newfound social
media fame, these business owners attempt to juggle their tax payments and
financial accounts with their little remaining time.

“We know our business best,
so we’d may as well sort out the taxes ourselves…”

Maybe you are one of these

Perhaps you’re putting off
hiring an accountant due to the perceived expense.

Don’t delay! Your business can run more smoothly and efficiently than ever with an accountant’s help. An accountant with the right expertise will help you meet tax obligations and provide peace of mind at every stage of your business growth.

It’s time to leave the financial headaches to the professionals. We’ve compiled a list of reasons to convince you – as well as six qualities to identify in a great accountant – so you can keep the focus on nurturing and growing your business.

Should I hire an accountant?

The short answer is – YES.

A great accountant
will help with:

  • Forecasting
  • Tax
  • Managing
  • Paying
    provisional tax and assisting with IRD compliance

Unless you’re familiar with tax structures, hiring a chartered accountant is crucial to the success and longevity of your business, and is money well spent.

How do I choose the right accountant?

From start-ups to industry giants, all businesses benefit from hiring an accountant who can assist with managing risk and planning for growth. Provisional tax can be a contentious issue for small business owners, despite Inland Revenue’s 2018 introduction of payments via the accounting income method – which does not allow for tax pooling.

Your accountant can ease the impact of provisional and terminal tax dates on your business by using tax pooling. Tax pooling gives you control over your provisional payments so that you aren’t stung with use of money interest and penalties if you miss or underpay IRD.

Need to know how to find an
accountant? Do your research. Treat
your search for an accountant as seriously as you would the recruitment of a
new employee. Seek
word-of-mouth referral from peers, friends and family members. Ask them for
feedback on your short-listed accountants, you may learn
something your research wouldn’t have included.

Look for accounting firms with a similar size to your own company. As a rule, small to medium firms provide a more personalised service specialising in small business work and often have more competitive rates compared to larger accounting firms.

What questions should I ask an accountant?

In your search to find an accountant, look for these qualities:

  • Are they registered as a chartered accountant in NZ? These professionals are experts in their field and adhere to the strictest NZICA Code of Ethics.
  • How are their communication skills? Jargon is useless to you. Your accountant should be able to explain budgets and financial reporting in layman's terms for you and your team to easily understand.
  • How much experience do they have with your business type or industry?
  • What are their costs? Will they bill you hourly or monthly? Do they have a fixed fee?
  • Do they have an entrepreneurial mindset, think outside the box and embrace innovation?
  • Are they flexible and open to change? Your business will continue to grow and evolve. Your accountant needs to help you adapt to this change and manage it financially.

Once you find an accountant in New Zealand who you believe can help your business develop and grow, take the time to establish and nurture a solid, long-lasting business relationship. If you aren’t sure where to start, Tax Management NZ has a list of trusted accountants on our website.

Finding the best accountant for your business

end-of-year-reports and ever-changing laws and legislation can get complicated.
Don’t leave yourself open to penalties and interest. Find an accountant who
understands your business and is willing to work with you to meet your goals.

The six qualities listed are a guide to help you find
the best fit for your business. A good accountant may be an investment at first,
but it is one you will be very grateful for in the long term. Take your time
looking for someone who is qualified but also someone you get along well with
as the relationship is just as important along the way to success.