In my previous blog, Changing your Year End for good and for Better, I discussed the opportunities that can be created through owning the Tax Year End Process and setting deadlines that work for you.
Planning is critical in all aspects of life. It enables us to savour more time, reflection, and opportunities so we can make calm, considered choices about where we want to go next. This helps us actively change what we want as opposed to change confronting us.
All too often though, in business and in life, we do not create this opportunity for ourselves. When faced with situations that require change, immediate action, or agreement, our animal survival instinct kicks in and we either fight, fly, freeze or fawn to protect ourselves.
These instinctual reactions are created through fear and when we think or act in this manner it can create a survival loop pattern, where we feel we're lurching from one crisis to another - never getting a break. However, we can stop this pattern and prevent lasting impacts on our business and our health.
This thought process and strategy can be used when working with your business clients; in particular when meeting with them at their Annual Accounts Review. Whilst there are legal Annual Accounts requirements from HMRC/ATO/IRD… the real value for the client is in the meeting you have with them.
Your process can empower your clients.
If you’re struggling to get your clients to meet you once a year to review their business/year, there may be some process improvement opportunities.
Question 1: Are you having that meeting within 3 months of their Financial Year ending?
Question 2: Have you got a robust system in place for you to review and articulate where they are at financially – in terms they understand?
Question 3: Do you ask what they want from their business (the change they seek) and discuss the potential risks and possibilities you see?
Ultimately, if you’re delivering the Annual Accounts meeting four, five, six months, or more after the end of the financial year this reflection will lose its impact. Also, if you don’t speak in terms your clients understand or with their goals in mind – it’s unlikely they'll see value in this conversation.
Clients also respond to changes in flight or freeze mode.
Many accountants have said to me; “Oh, my client doesn't want to have an Annual Accounts Review meeting because they don't see the value and the point.”
Instinctively, they might prefer to put their head in the sand and ignore this opportunity as they are ‘too busy working.’ They are on a wheel and they don’t yet know that you can help them get off it.
If you’re having Annual Accounts review meetings 4+ months after your clients' financial year end, the horse has well and truly bolted. I encourage you to take a step back at look at this objectively as a business owner yourself.
Can you see the value in meeting to discuss actions, wins, and losses six months after the fact?
Make deadlines work for you and your clients. When talking into historical data, we want to be as close to the action and behaviours that impact these numbers as possible. Then, we can influence the direction of the business and the resulting lifestyle for your clients. The more regular and timely we make these client conversations, the less energy and effort is needed to turn negative results and challenges around.
Make it super regular!
Whether you have a client who’s struggling or growing like crazy; providing (at a cost) regular reflection and accountability meetings in addition to the Annual Accounts Review will help them resolve issues as they arise and recalibrate their plans to optimise outcomes – clawing back more time, mind and financial freedom.
How can you show the value of regular Accountability Coaching?
Focusing on the distant past makes it harder to influence the future. Discussing the risks and opportunities that lie in your client’s business, with more recent data, will help you frame new ways to support them. This opens up a value conversation that is clearly much more than satisfying the HRMC/ATO/IRD.
Not sure where to start?
Use a system that incorporates client reflection prior to the meeting, we call this pre-work. It ensures your clients are engaged in the accountability process and enables you to go much deeper in your meeting.
Then, together you’ll review their results and clarify areas of improvement, set goals and identify strategies to achieve them, and establish a timeline to ensure they realise their plans. This is a cost-effective way for your clients to get the support they need – with their trusted advisor who already knows their financial position (!) - to make incremental improvements and build better habits.
Book a demo of The Gap to discuss how you can introduce the Annual Accounts Review and Accountability Coaching services, to bring you and your clients closer and ensure they understand and value the difference you can make with them.
"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other."
- Walter Elliot