[SSB#10] Accountants, it's our time to fly (if we want!)
A newsletter from
Welcome to the 10th edition of my newsletter "Supersonic Business", a fortnightly publication by me, Laura Landmark, with a focus on business growth, value and performance management, in other words, all things that make a business better.
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Sandnes, Norway, Saturday morning, 23rd November 2019 ☀️
"Supersonic Business" is sent from me, a Management Accountant, to other Accountants, Finance Business Partners, CFO's, CEO's & those that have a leading position in business. The vision for the newsletter is to share information, tips and tricks to build healthy, thriving businesses from the 'inside out', it is written from the finance and administration perspective.
I hope you enjoy [SSB#10], write to me on email@example.com if you have any feedback or questions.
Top of the morning to you!
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the Zirius competence day.
Zirius are a Norway based ERP software developer, and they held their event in the beautiful Grand Hotel in Oslo.
It was an inspirational day, and the highlight for me was hearing Harald Blindheim talk about the five concrete ways we as finance professionals can help our businesses thrive. It was aimed at professionals in accounting practices, but actually I think the concept could fit most people in most businesses.
Rule 1 - care about the customer
Harald's absolute top tip, rule number 1 for a thriving business is to concern yourself about the customer.
"bry seg om kunden" he says, that translates to "care about the customer".
In this day and age, if we don't have that bit in place, we might as well pack our bags and give up, as customers that do not feel taken care of, will leave you. It is only a matter of time. On the other hand, customers that do feel recognized and cared for, will stay with you to the ends of the earth.
Harald shared a story of a man that owned a business that Harald himself was a customer of. Harald and this man had become very well acquainted over the years and were relatively good friends in a "supplier / customer" sort of way.
This man (the supplier) had a thriving small business, and Harald knew that in his own capacity as an accounting practice manager, that he had some software and solutions that could really benefit this man and his business.
The man point-blank refused any discussion of this nature however, as he was very satisfied with this existing accountant. Apparently his accountant had taken the time to really get to know him and his business, and that is not something that is easily replaced. The story goes to show how loyal your customers will be if they are satisfied.
Rule 2 - mix the large with the small
Harald then went on to say we should look at the size of the customers we are serving.
It is great to have a bunch of small customers, but for the practice to thrive, it is important to have a sustainable mix of businesses in terms of size and complexity.
Unless you are planning to scale massively and offer some sort of 'out of the box /standardized' service or solutions, we knowledge workers need to have an outlet for applying our expertise, and that is usually most relevant among slightly larger customers.
In today's world more and more businesses are looking to outsource their finance function, so gearing up your practice to be attractive to slightly bigger businesses is a good move.
Rule 3 - diversify your income streams
Harald also encouraged us to look at where our income is being generated. Many practices today are totally reliant on selling time. He took us on a little journey into the future and challenged us on where we thought the industry was heading.
What will it look like five years from now? There was a lot of interaction and ideas coming from the audience, as no one knows for sure, but Harald's point was that we should look at our accounting practices, or our businesses, in general, to make sure that our business model will not be outdated in a couple of years.
If we are building our entire future around selling time, then we are extremely vulnerable. Today 95% of accounting practices are operating in this way, and the balance needs to change if we are going to achieve long term longevity.
There are other alternatives, for example, software resales, selling finance packages, value pricing projects, becoming niche experts +++ The point is to look at your world and figure out how you can add more value to your customers, who incidentally, are not at all interested in purchasing an hour of your time!
Rule 4 - become more effective
Harald then discussed working methods. This included effectiveising workflows, automation and all the other good things that are available to make our lives easier today.
One can, and should use the software that is available, but how the technology is applied takes consideration and thought.
Rule 5 - Look after your people
Last but not least Harald said the best technology in the world will not help if you are not looking after your employees. The focus should be on their well being, as happy employees make happy customers.
.. and finally
He said the secret to success lies in your people, not in the technology.
There are a number of ways to engage employees, and these primarily focus around involving them, helping them to feel motivated by giving them an understanding that they make a difference.
Harald had many good points, and he finished by talking broadly about our branch which is in change, whether we like it or not. He cited a quote
"It is not the big that eat the small, it's the fast that eat the slow"
Today's newsletter is all about how we as accountants have reached the point where it is our time to fly.
We are the link between operations and finance, we have the ability to peer into the infinite pools of data, information, and numbers join the dots and tell the compelling stories which will help our businesses thrive. This is our time to shine and to make a massive positive contribution to our customers and the economy in general.
Thanks for a great day to the Zirius crew, and Harald in particular for the enlightening speech.
* * *
6 Essential Deliverables for the Finance Function of the Future
This article published by IFAC (a global org. for finance professionals) is a gift. It identifies 6 key ingredients for moving finance from being a support function to a driving force in the business.
It literally makes me excited when I read this article, as it highlights the huge potential we have as finance professionals to make a massive impact. And none of this is rocket science. Its all about looking deep into the internal workings of the organization, finding the gold, or the potential for gold. Then communicating with the wider organization to ensure that energies are spent in the appropriate way, all the while making decisions to carefully nurture and navigate the company towards success.
We can equip our business for success by providing valuable insights and succinct relevant information on performance, opportunities, and threats, we can translate the numbers into relatable stories. This is our role now.
What I love most of all about all of this, is that it is all about using our minds, creativity and emotional intelligence to become part of a winning team building a business with longevity and staying power. It's about integrity, trust and sustainability, it's not about trampling our way to the top, or building businesses that sap resources from the communities they 'serve'.
I love this sentence, they say
"Within businesses, the CFO and finance function should be powerful agents of an ethical culture"
They also have a great pdf download which can be used as a tool for measuring the effectiveness of your finance function.
This article is "good"!
Read the full article here
Accounting for Value Creation and Encouraging the Rise of the Chief Value Officer
Here is another article published by the IFAC, there is a lot of good stuff on their website!
Having spoken above about digging deep and looking for the gold, or value, within organizations, this article expands on how to preserve and communicate that value.
It talks of taking a holistic view of the business, to make decisions based on the big picture instead of operating with the siloed framework that many businesses are still steering from today.
This is what we at #Mantle are so passionate about. I always say technology is not a magic wand, as it doesn't do anything on its own. But actually, creating an integrated view of your data, and empowering leaders with appropriate tools for navigating the business minefield can actually feel like you are holding a magic wand.
Once you have had a taste of how "easy" taking the holistic view 30ft view can be, it is impossible to go back to operating out of silos. Seeing the "big picture" becomes addictive as it significantly reduces stress for the individual or team in decision making, and creates a serious competitive advantage for the business.
This article offers a framework for defining, creating, delivering & sustaining value and how to maximize long term cash flows. I am a big fan of frameworks as it helps organize thought and enhance understanding and the framework they offer is simple to understand and relate to.
"We aim to move the corporate mindset from short-term share value to long-term value creation. We intend to develop guiding questions for each dimension to guide CFOs and their finance teams as they focus on understanding and communicating value"
Read the full article here
Faster, cheaper and more accurate, should accountants fear the rise of the robot?
I wrote this article in 2017, but it is just as relevant now. I am very focused on what we as accountants can do in order to fly. We have all heard a million times now that the industry is changing, that is old news, and in this article, I give concrete tips, as Harald did about how we can use our humanness to not only remain relevant but to remain buoyant in the age of change.
I fear many accountants may be leaving their fate in the hands of their employers. I am not suggesting we all hand in our notice and battle the future on our own, but I am suggesting that we should be proactively carving out our own future path. There are lots of ways this can be done, not least are there endless online learning opportunities, a lot of which are free or very cheap. The path will be different for all, but it is a path, and we must find our way.
"In the face of this development, I question how much can we expect an employer to do for us? Should we place our future entirely in their hands? Is this reasonable and fair, they too, after all, are discovering this new world for the first time"
"As organisations reshape how comfortable are we that their plans align with ours? Should we be taking a more proactive role in our development, commanding more responsibility over our own personal growth?"
read the full article here
Accounting, Automation, and Change
The most fascinating thing about this video is the angry comments below if you read the YouTube thread. People seem irate at the suggestion that jobs will be transformed not lost, and that we should all just reskill and adapt ourselves into being a new kind of accountant.
The commenters say the video is full of a lot of cliches that we have heard many times before, ie we need to evolve, the robots will help us become trusted advisors if we ride the wave of change ++
My take on this is that I believe jobs will be lost by those who are not willing to adapt, but there is still a place for us that want to work with the technology beside us. This doesn't necessarily mean that a 65-year-old will need to start learning to code (although why not, if they have an interest), but that 65 year old with their wealth of knowledge should at least understand the modern business models, and be able to advise businesses in a way that is appropriate for 2020.
Anyone that is planning their long term future around booking debits and credits and balancing books needs to have a serious rethink. Whether the film is right, or the commenters are right, it doesn't really make a difference, as their message is the same. We, as accountants, need to do something for ourselves to make sure we have a place in the future. That will probably look different for all of us, but one thing is true to say, and that is we need to take responsibility for our own futures, don't let anyone make your decisions for you.
Did you know?
According to this article, one of the top skills for the accountants of tomorrow is interpersonal skills, ie the ability to communicate well.
" all accountants must examine and interpret complex financial data and then communicate their findings to clients in a clear and concise manner"
Words of wisdom
Books on the bedside table this week.
Still reading this book. He is reminding us that growth for the sake of growth is rarely a good idea. That focus on your key strengths creates much more value in the long run, even if you end up with a smaller company.
Top Tip -
Remain curious, ask questions, all the time!.
"You dont learn unless you question"! Warren Berger
Always end with a thanks!
🙏Thanks Lena from Zirius for organizing such a fantastic competence day in Olso last week, and to Marina from Bizview for pulling together a fabulous summit, also in Oslo this week. Lucky me that gets to travel and spend time with the wonderful people and partners in these great companies.
Something to watch
Have a peek at my latest video where I talk to Kenneth Flaglien of Visma software about the order to cash process where he explains how to ensure you get 30% of your money on time. A lifesaver for a scaling business.
Thanks for reading & see you next time
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