Accounting, Superannuation

Value of services misaligned between accountants, clients

SMSF trustees judge the value of the services they receive on a different basis than the accountants or advisers providing them, leading to a disconnect in the level of satisfaction experienced by trustees, according to a small business adviser and accountant.

Palfreyman Chartered Accountant principal Simone Palfreyman told attendees at the Accounting Business Expo in Sydney today that clients do not see nor understand many of the actions undertaken on their behalf so have no way of valuing them or assessing their usefulness.

“The client does not understand what we do and they are not advanced in their understanding of the technical matters we have to cover. Instead, they are interested in how we present ourselves and how we communicate to them in our newsletters,” Palfreyman said.

“Our clients judge our services totally different than how we do and what they see as important is not what we see as being important,” she said, adding accountants have not helped correct this view through proactive customer service.

Palfreyman pointed to a survey of the accounting sector conducted by NAB in late 2018 that found around one-quarter of accounting clients changed accountants because they only received reactive advice, instead of proactive advice.

She also highlighted that 21 per cent of those surveyed changed accountants because they felt the expertise that was required was not available or offered by their previous accountant.

“Our clients are unaware of what happens with SMSFs and the regulations, so this is an indication we need to educate our clients as to how difficult it can be and how good we are at our jobs, and we can be their trusted adviser,” she said.

Referring to the NAB survey, she said only 20 per cent of accountancy practices surveyed asked for regular feedback, with another 20 per cent having never asked for any form of client feedback.

“As accountants, we don’t do customer service well and we need to change. We have to start getting feedback and not take offence, then identify what your clients want,” she said.

“We can’t assume we know what our clients want and need to ask them what services they actually need.”

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