In the Slipstream – Episode 19 – Bold Practitioner Interview – Andrew Jago

 

 

Scott Charlton:
Hello and welcome to another episode of In the Slipstream FM. The podcast produced specifically to help accountants and financial planners in practice. The aim of this show is to help practitioners improve not so much technically but by way of impairing you to make better business decisions. My name is Scott Charlton and I’m the director of coaching here at Slipstream Coaching. Today there’s a terrific feature interview in store for you where I get to chat to someone who’s been both an accountant and a financial planner, but these days works in a field which requires him to draw upon both of those experiences. Then, after the main interview if finished, I’m going to share a few observations about the issues I’m seeing out there in practice along with some tips, which our clients have found helpful. Let’s get started.

Recording:
Now, here’s some great ideas for your firm where we’re all about success on your terms. Get the knowledge, the tools, and insights from special guests everything you need to become your very best. So come and build a business of your dreams. Settle in and listen now to In the Slipstream.

Scott Charlton:
The subject for today’s episode centres around a couple of themes. Firstly, enlisting external assistance to extend your service offering beyond what you may have been traditionally offering your clients and something that I didn’t expect, but nevertheless emerged, the power of referring your clients to complimentary practitioners. My guest today is imminently suited to speaking on these topics. Andrew Jago was an accountant. Then, a financial planner in practice, but actually spend a significant part of his career, and certainly since I’ve known him, in financial services. In particular, he specialized for a good many years in helping planners to create elegant business models based on a few core principles and strategies. These days, as you’ll learn, Andrew works more for accountants and financial planners in a manner of speaking. He gets referrals from these practitioners to work with their business clients in areas outside the referrer’s expertise.

I’ve always found Andrew a delight to work with. Not only is he quite an engaging company, Andrew just talks good business sense. So, I’ve invited him onto the show because he’s great for passing on practical ideas for practitioners. Discussion starts with accounts before moving onto financial planners, then finishes up with some remarks woven to both professions. So, there should be something for everyone in what we cover. Come and I’ll introduce you to Andrew.

Andrew, thanks so much for your time today. Welcome to the show.

Andrew Jago:
Thank you very much, Scott. It’s great to be here.

Scott Charlton: 
Andrew, you’ve had quite a varied career even just in the time that I’ve known you, so I’m sure our listeners will be interested in hearing an overview of your professional journey. Would you mind giving me a quick synopsis, please?

Andrew Jago:
Yeah. Absolutely, Scott. Someone made a comment to me that I’ve got career ADHD. I started as an accountant so I qualified as a CPA and before that, I’ve gone to Queensland University and done my commerce degree. My parents had paid for my boarding school education and put up some cash to help me get through uni and my father decided that he needed some a bit of skin back from me and invited me to join his accounting practice in our little country town and I felt that it was something I had to do. It was your typical small accounting practice, small business and fair ideal clients. It had a bit of a rural bench as well.

I realized pretty quickly that even back then that surely as accountants we could do a little bit more with our clients in terms of looking forward as in what can we do to help them grow their business and do some things, achieve retirement and all those sort of things rather than just the stuff that we traditionally think about as accountants, which is around compliance, doing a good job around that of course, financial status, tax returns, management accounting, and so forth.

So, we started doing a bit of that and we also started doing a bit of a financial planning. Scott, as you and I both know, with financial planning, it is a discipline in its own right. Now, I realized that pretty quickly an accountant … I realized very quickly I couldn’t do both, so I started specializing in financial planning in the practice. But one of the other things I did Scott, which will make you laugh and probably quite a few of your accounting listeners out there is I ponied up and made a dance at one of results accountant’s boot camps. We all know how that process works.

However, there was some amazing insights in there. Now, those insights were, and it’s stuck with me to this day, Scott, which is that our clients want more. They want us to be able to help them with their business. They want us to be able to give them some comfort around what’s my business worth and what are the things that I can do in my business to make it worthwhile and valuable so that when I’m no longer there or I want to sell it, it’s going to help me with my retirement plans. Yeah, that was very interesting.

Then I had an entrepreneurial seizure and decided that I want to go into business on my own. I got into various businesses, agricultural businesses, and then about 13 years ago, a large corporate, actually a global pinching consulting firm asked me set up their Queensland office. Always up for a challenge, I set up the Russell Investments Queensland office back in 2004 and had six years of a fantastic time working for a great organization. We had great products and solutions for financial planning firms and I really got to know the financial planning community as well and I’m very comfortable in that community.

Financial planners sort of have that good … they mix really well with accountants because accounts are really, really good on their compliance, and doing the work really well, and making sure that the clients are properly looked after, and making sure that from a year to year basis there’s that enduring ongoing relationship, and making sure that the client is kept up to date with important financial and taxation matters. Financial planners are just really, really good at that look forward bit, especially around retirement. I found that it’s that part of professional I really enjoy working with.

More recently, Scott, I’ve used those, that long list of careers, and businesses, and qualifications to getting the business advisory work and I know that that is an incredibly satisfying work in their businesses and I just think that there’s fantastic opportunities for more accountants to do this and I reckon there’s probably even financial planners can do bits of advisory work as well. I think that’s all we need today, isn’t it, Scott?

Scott Charlton:
It is indeed. Just as you’re talking there and your tortured life of swapping between accounting and financial planning worlds, I was thinking of somebody who once described accountants and planners working together as two people sitting in a boat, one is a rower and the other is a canoeist. Accountant is the rower looking back and the planner looking forward and it’s a very sort of jerky old progression.

Andrew Jago:
I’m totally with you on that one Scott. It is so true isn’t it?

Scott Charlton:
Good. Well, listen, thanks for that. Maybe it’s courtesy of the pull-down boot camp, which we both did. It sounds like there are certain similarities in the places we’ve respectively ended up in. I know that you share my interest in helping financial services, practitioners, accountants, and financial planners succeed. We’ve both sat on the other side of the desk. We’ve been practitioners and had a range of experiences, which I guess enables us to pass on lessons and tips to others.

Andrew Jago:
Absolutely, Scott.

Scott Charlton:
Yes. Look, a good day at the office for me, and it sounds like for you, is sitting across the desk from a practitioner, developing a plan to help them realize some more potential. Any comments on that?

Andrew Jago:
Absolutely. It’s really interesting. You and I, we met in 2004, Scott, and you might recall that first meeting.

Scott Charlton:
I do.

Andrew Jago:
You were there as a coach and mentor and helping financial planning firms with developing their businesses and growing them, and finding ways. I was there in some of the more practical ways in which they could have implemented that by way of some of the portfolio solutions that Russell Investments is offering. If you think about that from a financial planning perspective and you apply that from an accounting practice, coaching and the work that Slipstream does is very much around taking accountants on the journey to have a look at themselves, have a look at their practices, and what are the things that they can do in their practices to really improve inefficiencies, improve service to clients.

I really think that … well, I think I know that coaching, basically, when it’s done well, the way that you guys do it, really gets accountants and professional services people into that mindset around what’s next for our business. What are the things you’re going to grow my business and what are the things you’re going to help my clients grow their businesses and then gets them into that mindset?

I guess if we think about what I do in terms of talking to accountants, I don’t work in accountant’s businesses and there’s a bit of a reason for this. Firstly is you do that really well. The second thing is if I’m working on an accountant’s businesses from an advisory perspective, from a business perspective, I’m looking at business growth, cash flow management, at sales strategies and so on. I am then working with that accounting practice with their clients. I think there’s a little bit of a conflict of interest anyway.

So, our focus is on helping accounts through the journey, through the advisory journey and actually hands-on with their clients and that hands-on can be as much as help me do this down to we’ll do it for you and that depends on each practice and even partners in practices. You know, you’ll have some partners, there might be a guy that is a tax specialist. That’s all he does and that’s all he wants to do and he might have a code of clients. He looks at them go, “Look, I’m doing tax stuff and you really need to get this done. I’m going to refer you to this person.” Whereas suppose another younger partner who’s looking, “Geez, we really should start looking at board management or doing some CFO management, all these other things.” That path is on the path to advisory in the practice. Look, I just needed a bit of help with doing this. You do this every day. How can we implement this successfully with their clients? So, there’s a range of ways in which we help the implementation of advisory, if I can put it that way, Scott.

Scott Charlton:
Cool. Okay, all right. If we’ll explore some of those things a little bit more detailed in a moment, I guess the comment I’d make is that over quite a number of years, there’s been quite a great divide between financial planners and there’s been any number of organizations set up to help planners and they, I say, ingratiate themselves for favors. To get the favors of planners, you’ve got institutions and dealer groups, etc. Contrast that with the accountant who, other than people who sell them the text journal subscriptions, they’re really not being too many organizations showing much of an interest in accounting as it seems to be that’s quite a disparity. Anyway, perhaps we can do a little bit to redress that in our own ways.

So you’ve touched on a little bit briefly, and I guess what I’d like to do is plant the flag in terms of … one of the things I’d like to focus on today is both accountants and financial planners referring their clients to other practitioners. So, I’ll just going to let that overhang our conversation. You mentioned before that one of your core focus areas is helping accountants see that it’s pretty important that they get out of just the straight text compliance regime to deliver some additional services. Now, I guess a question for you is why do you think accountants have struggled to get advisory services going in their firms? Surely advisory would be such a natural fit for accountants.

Andrew Jago:
Look, I was thinking about this as well and I think back to own experience as well. It is a bit of a Michael Gerber thing here, which is I’m doing it, doing it, doing it. Time is something that accounting practice just don’t have. If we think about the journey that they’ve gone on in the last few years around the GST and streamlining, all these other things that come their way from the ATO, from the ASIC, and so on is that accountants are just busy. They’re really, really busy.

The other thing too is accountants, there’s a general rule, don’t leverage their time in a big way. Suburban practices really are, even the partners are pretty well on the tools most of the time, dealing with their clients, dealing with their client’s issues around compliance, financial management and so on. So, how do we find the time? Now, you and I know, and many accounts know this, advisory is a natural fit but it is not a natural way of thinking about the way that fees are going to come in into our office. Yes, accountants are moving way from being exact or straight early fee based or more project based or an annual fee which covers a full range of services and so on.

Advisory is almost entirely project based, which is I’ve got understand what the need is, what the potential or the value outcome that is going to be from an advisory activity and what that fee is going to look like. It’ sometimes a bit hard to transition a practice from where we have a billing system that’s implied to a billing system that is going to be a little bit … well, it’s not going to be a little bit, it’s going to be a lot, which is we need to understand the value. We need to put a fee around that value and that fee will be project based and in a lot of the cases, it may not necessarily be an exact accounting at the time that a partner or a manager in the firm is going to be spending during the advisory work. That’s the first thing.

I think the second thing too is that advisory work is a forward-looking thing both from the work you’re doing itself but also talking to the clients about it. So, you’ve got to do the business development. You’ve got to then go and see the clients. You then go to find the need and then you’ve got to think about what skillset do I have to apply to actually implementing the outcomes that will meet those needs, be it business development, be it sales and marketing, whatever it might be. From that perspective there, accountants are a natural fit to do it, but finding the time to do it and also, the really hard one, and I’d been through this situation myself, is you know that this client has this need.

There’s two things. The first thing is well, the client says to you or what your concern that the client will say to you, “Why didn’t you offer to help me before?” That’s the first thing. The second thing is is the concern that when you actually take the step and say, “Here’s the need and here’s how we’re going to resolve that need,” is do I have actually have the skill set or the confidence to be able to actually do the work that’s going to meet that need? So, it’s a tough journey to start and like all journeys, and I took that journey myself, you got to take the first steps and there needs to be somebody in the practice at least that is a champion for advisory.

Those steps can be a simple as let’s outsource to an external provider or a trusted provider who specializes in advisory or let’s do a combination. It’s a scale from let’s bring them in to help us start the advisory journey where we do the advisory work but these people help us with that journey. I guess we haven’t seen too many firms that are helping accountants with the actual let’s do hands-on advisory and help you do it.

There’s a lot of products out there, Scott. You and I both know. There’s all sorts of products that are going to help accountants on the advisory journey. The advisory journey is about taking a step, starting to do it, get your hands dirty, get somebody that’s going to help you with doing it. We’re all going to make mistakes doing it, but by crikey, the outcome for you and your practice, but most important, for your clients, can be quite magical.

Scott Charlton:
Wow, okay. All right, so let’s just unpack that a little bit and I’m sure that most of the accountants listening onto this recording would really relate to that issue of time. There’s always something that an accountant will be called upon to do. One of the other things that I have observed in the way that an accounting firm operates and in the coaching work that we do, we use the analogy of a factory in terms of the work that it comes in in raw material form be it in a shopping bag or an email or whatever.

Yup, and then it goes through the hopper and it comes out the other side as sort of finished report. So, we’ve very much got a factory but it’s geared up to do compliance work and then if it’s all look to introduce something else to the factory, then there’s going to be some retooling required otherwise, it just can’t progress through that factory which is geared up to do something else. So, there is that aspect of just getting reorientated to run those things in the same factory but two production lines doing different sorts of work. So, a little bit of adjustment there.

I guess a couple of other things that you mentioned, I think, one is that accountant actually is pretty astute in most instances. I had a sense that their clients could do with some more assistance and for that, they actually carry around a whole lot of guilt that gosh, if I could just find some time, there’s that word again, that we could actually be doing more of that client. Something else I think, I don’t know whether you got some thoughts on this, that there is a little bit of impostor syndrome that perhaps with professionals, just waiting for somebody to say, “Look, you’re not qualified to do that,” whereas in actual fact, we really are. Why shouldn’t we?

Andrew Jago: 
I’m sorry, I shouldn’t interrupt, but you are so right. The skill set is there. It may not be complete. The other thing is too, which you touched on as always, accountants really care about their client and that care extends to, “Oh geez, what if I stuff this up?”

Scott Charlton:
Yes, and I know a bad person by not having raised some of these things. Well, I guess what we’ll get onto in a moment is how an accountant might tackle these issues. To a certain extent, accountants could be all dressed up, no place to go, that there’s a desire to deliver these services and maybe someone’s actually bought some software or done some training, but there’s that time scarcity and/or reluctance to give it a go. So, what you’re saying, the situation an accountant finds him or herself in, that’s not actually going to change anytime soon, is it? The time scarcity and the compliance crumbs are always going to be there so that the challenge of getting started with any advisory services, it’s going to be the same today as it is tomorrow as it’s going to be in a month’s time.

Andrew Jago:
It’s not going to change. You’re right, Scott. I think we both hiked to this, which is the real concern about the client fallout. We have real relationship risk here. If we embark on a journey in an area that we haven’t explored before with our client and if that doesn’t work, then that could have a series effect on that relationships. You’re absolutely right. I think there are a lot of and very good reasons why the need or the identified desire to start the advisory journey with the clients doesn’t translate into actually that journey commencing.

Scott Charlton:
Yeah. I guess one of the things on my own accounting journey that I realized after a period of time that particularly where a proposal that has been put to one of our clients that they’re sort of running pass their primary advisor or it might be that their client has been approached by another service provider that the responses that go through your mind are A, one of being very defensive that oh gosh, perhaps I should have raised that with the client. I’m a bad person. Secondly like well, I’m not really comfortable with who this person might be. So, the easiest thing in the world for an accountant to do is to say, “No, no. Don’t do that to the client,” and just bomb any opportunity.

But there comes a time when some of these things are actually the right thing to do and accountants, if they’re armed with appropriate confidence, knowing the client’s in good hands, that it’s appropriate to actually say to the client, “Yes, I think you should do that initiative. That you should make an acquisition or that you should expand geographically or that you should do those things,” and that’s where the relationship kicks on to another level rather than just being Dr. No all the time. Yeah, just an observation from my journey. I don’t know if you got any thoughts on that.

Andrew Jago:
No, Scott. Absolutely. There is that very much and we’ve all had, in our accounting journey, where a client has gone through a seminar and comes back to say, “Have you thought of … I’ve seen this. These guys talked about I can do this and I can do that and I can do this with super fund, and I can have this structure here and so on.” Most accountants who are probably hearing this are going, “We can do that.” Not only that, we do it in a proper structure. We’re not selling something. We’re doing it in the proper structure. With our really deep understanding of your business, these are the things that we could look and doing, and this and that, and the rest of it. Oh, I didn’t realize you needed that.

Scott Charlton:
Yeah.

Andrew Jago:
That’s a thought and then just say … instead of going … whatever their response might be, which is to try and pull the client back from that, it’s all too hard. There are some more sensibly downfalls and pitfalls in that process, which is to go the other way and say, “That sounds really good. That’s really interesting that you got to say that because these are the sort of things absolutely that we can work with you and talk to you about.” I’ve had that where the client looks at you and you think, “Oh boy, what have I done?” The client is going to then say, “Why didn’t you tell me about it before? But they’re incredibly forgiving you. You will not believe how forgiving they are, which is, “Oh, finally. Hey, are you going to help me do this?”

You then take the next step, which is, okay, it’s time to butt-off a lot here, so yes, we will. Let’s take this journey. Let’s undertake the things that we’ve identified that you need to do. So, the client will set up the meeting. Sure, they’re a bit unhappy that it’s taken this long, but they’re really happy that it’s actually going to happen and that their accountant is actually going to help them with that journey. In terms of that, we can embrace change that our clients see or opportunities or we can try to boost them and as a professional, it’s quite easy to use the right … what’s the word I’m looking for? weasel words to snuff out an opportunity.

Scott Charlton:
That’s right and that may actually not be in the best interest of the client, so that’s not comfortable territory for any card-carrying accountant. So, I guess I wouldn’t mind touching on something you mentioned, that accountants sometimes might wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “Oh, gosh. Will the client point the finger and say, ‘Well, why did you raise this before?'” I think a client’s by and large, sort of like a member of the accountants’ cheer squad and that they’re wanting to use their accountant to fulfill their expectations and to help them so they want you to succeed. There’s nothing for the client to gain by being overly critical that by and large they’re thinking, “Oh, okay. I didn’t know you could do that too. Right, so I can get that done here,” which by and large, it’s a positive experience, not a negative one to go to a client and say, “We can help you in more areas that we have traditionally.”

Andrew Jago:
Absolutely, and that is so true, Scott. Even if the client says, “Well mate, why didn’t you tell me about this before?” Just be honest. The clients aren’t going to leave you. They started the journey with you. Be honest. Put your hands forward. Look, I completely agree with you, but let’s do it. Let’s move on, and let’s get it done, and let’s add some value to you. You’re a valued client of ours and we want to make this happen for you.

Scott Charlton: 
Andrew, I wouldn’t mind revisiting some of the things that you covered earlier in our conversation and I think readers will be starting to get gradual engagement in what we’re talking about and perhaps more context. So, in the situation where I’m a gun tax expert and I’m happy to be in that space or I’ve actually got L plates on, I’m looking to learn a particular area, it might, sort of advising clients on forward projects, et cetera. Is this where you and your organization come in? If I got this right, are you able to fill in the gaps where an accountant isn’t capable or confident of filling?

Andrew Jago:
That’s right. Talk about the gun tax specialist, this is what they do. They do a fantastic job. They’ll get internal referrals but every partner’s got a group of clients. They haven’t got the time, the interest, but they have the care for their clients. So, what they do want the client to have this access to these services where they might be clearly identified. But we can use that as a particular cashflow to just be outsourced in the bureau relationship and that the tax partner would identify, “Look, I’ve seen this. We’re doing this structuring and we need to do this, whatever it might be.” It couldn’t even be something like an R&D project, which is even though they know the R&D, the businesses doing it, it’s not something that’s in their remit from a tax perspective even though it is tax itself. Possibly a bad example, but let’s keep going.

I might talk to a name partner and say, “Look, I’ve got this situation here.” That NEM partner then liaisons with the client and executes a particular project or whatever it might be. However, in a practice, not everybody is the same and not every practice is the same either. Look, ultimately, we’re all here for the client. We all exist. We all get paid. You get paid because you’re helping accountants help their clients. I get paid either directly by helping SME clients and that’s what my passion is, helping them and get their business to a stage where they can achieve financial security. That’s my why.

But we’re all here for the client. What’s the best way that we can all, as a partnership, get the best outcome for the client? It’s a bit of continuum from the tax partner that might do a full outsource. He is happy with the way that Andrew Jago or any other NEM partner, there’s 45 of us around Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore, can provide advisory service to my clients and will be full outsource through to the young partner that has embraced advisory, once advisory is living advisory in the way that he or she deals with their clients and just wants somebody to help them with the process.

As a mentor, they sit down and have a coffee once a week, once a fortnight, once a month or whatever it might be. “Hey, I’ve got this situation. What do you think? What do you think I should do here? Look, I’ve got this one here. Can you come with me and let’s go through that?” Because they got this complex of two heads are better than one where it says we are helping them, we’re available, but there’s no particular commercial arrangement, anything else like that.

But what we find is that it tends to be a combination with the group practices where we help the practice on the journey, the practice does some of the journey of the advisor work. Board of management is a fantastic opportunity. If you’re not doing board of management with your top 10 clients, especially your SME clients, then write this down right now: board of management, find my top 10 SME clients, then let’s implement a board of management. Now, that’s just extraordinary the outcomes that accountants can get for their clients by simply setting that up for their clients.

However, the real opportunity is that we would love to help more accountants on their advisory journey, move down the advisory path, and getting more outcomes for their clients. There’s more than enough advisory out there that I can focus to get, Scott, than you can focus to get. There’s so many clients that need this, Scott. I can’t do it all, but if we can help accountants start doing it and doing more of it as their start of the journey, then we’ve all achieved great things or better things for our client.

So, it’s very much easier to continue, Scott, from the outsource and that happens. We’ve got a number of accounting practices that we deal with, the accountant, that sources. But the best relationship for me anyway is where we work with the accounting practices as much or as little as they want. It’s hand in glove process and that hand in glove is about getting the best outcome for the client.

The other thing too that happens, which I think we’ll talk about later, but I’ll get you thinking about this now, is that when advisory starts some accounting practice, the other fees go up. It’s as simple as that. When the business is being more successful because advisory work has happened, there’s more compliance work required. There’s a financial management and financial accounting. There needs to be more attention on that.

So, you might go from doing six months your reviews of the client of their financial account. They could become quarterly or even monthly, depending on what’s happening in the business. So, inevitably and … I shouldn’t say inevitably. Every time this happens where the accountant either themselves do advisory work or partner with somebody like me to do the advisory work, the core compliance service, their requirement increases as well.

Scott Charlton:
Wow. Okay. There’s quite a profound set of things that can flow from such an arrangement. I’ll just backtrack on a couple of things I picked up, which I think are important, that it’s a tailorable thing that you do. There might be a practitioner who is after a permanent so. I’m going to stick with this, but I want my clients to receive that or it could be a temporary situation where it’s like can you show me what to do and then I’ll take it from here?

So, either one of those roads could lead to this solution that you mentioned is really important that the board of management for the top 10 clients, if an accountant accepts that as a principle, that that’s a really great thing to do, then there are different ways to get to that outcome. So, I think that’s pretty cool. The other thing that occurred to me and I mentioned before that historically, no one’s really cared about accounts. There’s all sorts of spoon-feeding and services and resources are thrown at planners.

For the accountant, it can be a pretty lonely old road and I think one of the loneliest places that you can have is sitting across the desk from a client and perhaps it’s a conversation that you know need to be had with a client, but it’s about something that you’re not as rock solid sure on as perhaps the work that you’ve been doing for that client for a while to actually have a common arms in that meeting with you to help ease that conversation would be greatly assuring, I would think.

Andrew Jago:
Yeah. Scott, I don’t know where I heard this quote, but it came from one of our directors in the conversation I had with recently. He said to me, “Andrew, you know that the most genuine strategic partnerships endure.” I mean, the definition of a strategic partnership will vary from person to person, but when I think about the referrals, the sources that I work with, when I think about the SME clients that I work with, the ones that really endure are those strategic partnerships where we’re aligned in terms of the outcomes that we want for our clients.

Scott, if you’ve got somebody that you implicitly trust that has the outcomes of your clients at their heart, those kind of relationships or those relationships … and we’ve send them, whether accountants, there are people out there that have gotten relationships with, for example, solicitors. Those genuine relationships that are strategic and which are client-focused, they endure and everybody benefits from that process. You and I, we’ve known each other for 13 years now and that relationship has endured because our values are the same and we have gravitated to financial services, practitioners around financial planning and accounting. We’ve tried to find ways to help them help their clients.

So, very much so, it is about that journey depends on what is appropriate for the practice, its clients, and somebody like me who’s providing advisory services to SMEs. That can change over time where a great satisfaction would be for me and, we’ve said it before, is where a NEM partner is working in accounting practice and over time, that practice has embraced advisory, has taken it on, and it has become a mantra to that firm and effectively, one of the partners is the advisory specialist in the firm and we’ve helped them achieve that journey. That’s a great outcome, as far as I’m concerned.

Scott Charlton:
Sure. So, you’ve mentioned a couple of key elements that make this arrangement successful. Alignment and closely shared that is trust. That the referring accountant feels confident and I guess in that dusty drawer in your home office, there’s a certificate there that says CPA or member of the brotherhood, which is good. Any other factors, large or small, that you think helps contribute to a successful collaboration of that sort of nature?

Andrew Jago:
Yeah. Scott, one of the great things about our organization is there’s some things that we all do that NEM has codified and in particular, I spoke to you before and I’ll talk about it again, and if you want to read more about this, please visit our website. This is not a sell but this is a particular concept that everybody that steps onto this probably operates under anyway, and we call it the trilogy of trust. In the trilogy of trust, there are three parties. There’s the referral and for example, in this particular case, it could be the accountant, there’s the client and then there’s the person that gets the referral, and then partner receiving the referral.

It is actually critical that the referral paying the accountant has a complete and utter confidence that their client and they will be enhance by the referral to a NEM partner. That’s where the NEM partner is cognizant of ensuring that the accountant, that they receive value from the referral and the client receives value from their involvement. I will not, and I know all of my departments, we will not engage, we will not take on a project or an engagement unless we can clearly articulate that there will be a value provided that is not a little bit in excess at the cost, but significantly in excess of the fee or the cost that’s involved in the process.

Where I see that trilogy of trust is coming back to the accountant, especially is that there is actually some financial benefit from it because this has been my experience and the other NEM partners that worked accountants and financial planners to a lesser extent. But actually, I think about Ross, one of partners who’s got strong relationship as financial planners, what happens is that it comes back the other way, which is there is more fee work required and better-quality fee worked required from the most practice anyway. So, if you think about the way that we operate, which is we must add value to all parties in that trilogy of trust and we’re all here for the client, and if we can’t add value, then don’t engage and be honest about it.

Scott Charlton:
Yeah. That sounds like a pretty good motto or modus operandi for any of us really. Will the other parties be better off? If yes, proceed. If not, don’t do. So, I think there’ll be a lot of heads nodding to those listening to this. So, how does the accountants stay in the loop whilst you’re doing some work with their client?

Andrew Jago:
Look, Scott, as much as I want to be and the most satisfactory meetings and the most satisfying meetings are the ones where the accountant and the business advisor actually are there with the client, like within the client’s premises there. They’re the best ones because you put two really good heads together. I’d like to think I’m a good head, not an attractive one, but I’d like to think I’m a good. You put me together with an accountant who knows the client intimately, cares about the client, you put the three of us together, I’ve used this word and I’m not throwing it around here, magic really does happen if we were involved.

Look, there will be many times where we have an initial meeting and we talk through a particular, it might be a project with the client and the accountant’s there. We go through what it’s going to look like and then as the project progresses and I’m actually in there doing work because we do the work. NEM partners, we don’t have people in the office who go in and do the work. We’re not a leveraged model. NEM partners actually do the work. The project is scoped and NEM partners actually do the work. We might add sorts of bits and pieces, but that’s all our fee covers, all of the work that’s done. But what we will do is as these milestones in the particular project and things are happening, we’ll be very much in touch with the accountant. There might be in the email trail of certain series of events that are appearing and sometimes you identify things in the business and you think, “Oh, shit.”

So, you keep this to yourself but then you get an accountant, you bring the accountant. You might say, “I think it’s really important that you talk to your client about this particular thing,” because I’ve seen this. Somebody hasn’t dealt with it and if you turn up and you identify that that’s an issue, this could really help the client. It could be a financing issue, it could be whatever else.

Scott Charlton:
Sure.

Andrew Jago:
The other thing too is, for example, I had an SME client ring me recently said, “I’m getting these things that are coming in. How should I finance it and the rest of it?” He was a bit rushed and I said, “Well, what are you getting and what’s the process?” There’s two things and they add up to about $16,000 U.S., this is for two orders. I said, “Look, you better go and have a chat to Tim, your accountant, but just really quickly.” Think about a couple of things, is financing in terms of the way in which you can get access to some of these small business tax concessions are only $20,000 limit and so on.

So, I called Tim and I said, “Tim, give the client a call and make sure you remind them that the tax that you’re about to save them by them running the two items into two separate invoices and also the fact that you’re going to be doing a trailable rather than list financing, which the finance company said they should do list financing, so that they own the asset and not leasing the asset that they get access to the tax concession.” He knew it straight away. He said, if I can use a cuss word here, “My god, why didn’t they ring me?” I said to Tim, “It doesn’t matter. We’re going to get the right outcome for the client. I just happened to be there when the client had a conversation with me.”

So, I think the important thing is we’re all there for the client. I’m not a specialist in this stuff. Scott, I know it, but accountants are really good at this stuff, about thinking about the structuring and the rest of it. That’s your job and I’ll make sure that in that case, you need to talk to your accountant. It’s a continuum about how much involved or how little involved the accountants want to be as well. Some accountants just don’t want to work and, “Matt, will just do it? I know you can do it. Just get it done for me. Once you sort of finish the project, give me an idea of what I need to do next for the client.”

Scott Charlton:
Can you think of an example or two where an accountant has brought you in and a project has been undertaken and the client is obviously better off as a result? A couple of examples of the work that you do.

Andrew Jago:
Yes, Scott. Those in the NEM partnership know that I have somehow gravitated to breweries. But it’s interesting, when you set up a brewery, there’s a lot of research and development that goes on there, so that’s a specialty area for accountants and I just happen to have a lot of interest in that area. As an accountant, I understood the process and so there’s been a referral. But what I’ve done is I’ve sat down and worked through with the accountant about that process and how it works and so on. So, what that’s happened is the client understood me to be more somebody who is an assistant to the accountant in doing this project rather than actually doing the project themselves, even though I was doing all the work. I didn’t care, you know. I’ve got no ego in this. Ego is the outcome for the client. That’s the first thing.

Then in terms of what I call board of management type engagements, I keep saying to you and I’ll say it again, this is a no-brainer. Scott, you know how to do this to work with your Peloton clients on board of engagements. I’m pretty sure this is a key offering and this is a mindset and I know that you know how to help accountants with that. But a practical point of view, we sat down with the client with the accountant there and I realized really quickly that they needed this board of management. So, I set the same thought that might look like and then that accountant ran with it and set it up. It was a $5,000 a quarter board of management.

So, I can’t recall on that particular one. I think I’m going to be called back to be in future boards, but there’s a couple of examples where ultimately, we’ve had this great outcome from the client in both of those cases. Well, I think you’d agree that in both of those cases as well, there’s been a significant and perception have increased … let me start again. The client has seen and has perceived that their accountant has been far more valuable to them than might otherwise be the case. I’m delighted that I’ve been in both of those cases that we cited that I facilitated that process.

Scott Charlton:
Good stuff. Okay, well that’s great and just to maybe conclude on accountants for the time being that the way the clients are actually doing things, where they’re actually making good decisions, they’re proceeding with positive initiatives that there will be extra accounting work to be done. There’ll be a need for other entities to be set up for advice on perhaps a business is going through payroll tax threshold. There’s, as a protection, things that we need to think about. We need be talking about how we can maximize super. All these sorts of things are grist for the mill of an accountant and it’s that services that are really quite close to home. All of that can originate from the clients who are actually getting on and succeeding. So, I see that as being a bit of a win-win.

Andrew Jago:
Absolutely, Scott. Yeah.

Scott Charlton:
Cool. All right, let’s change gears now and talk about financial planning, which is field you mentioned you’re highly experienced in from different sides of the spectrum. So, would you care to then share your opinion and observation, Andrew, in how financial planners go in introducing other services to a client, particularly something outside the standard services covered by their usual retainer agreement? Are they equally reluctant as accountants or are they sort of more inclined to refer, do you think?

Andrew Jago:
If I can be blunt, financial planners, they already do this. The external process for them, I think this will probably gel with your experiences as well, Scott. This is what they do. They’re either referred to legal, risk brokers if they don’t run risk in house because you and I know that risk insurance is its own speciality within financial planning, mortgage brokers and so on to be at the outcomes for the client because financial planners are thinking about how to achieve retirement outcomes and that could be that we need to restructure your home loan such that for somebody who’s an accumulator, we might be looking at restructuring your home loan where we can have a portion of the equity available for investment purposes, for example.

So, to a large extent, financial planners already do the referral process and some actually quite confident and comfortable with that referral to external providers. That’s not to say that there aren’t many accountants that do this, but to some extent, financial planners, they do more comfortably occupy that referral process. So, if we think about now how advisory might work in a financial planning practice, and I probably am going to be answering a future question now, but walking in that discussion in terms of …

Scott Charlton:
Okay.

Andrew Jago:
Okay. So, where an advisory practice fit into a financial planning practice? Well, the answer is if the financial planning practice has SME clients, then there’s a really, really good fit available here and we’ve had some discussions with some financial planning that I mentioned and NEM partner that’s got some very close relationships. Poor old Ross, he couldn’t come to a recent our recent NEM conference because he’s got so much on. He’s getting so many referrals from the couple of financial planning practices that he’s dealing with, but right now he is under water, which is great. So, he’s adding value in helping clients and financial planners can see that.

But financial planners who got SME clients, I want you to think about this scenario, Scott, is that I know you’ll be nodding when I say this. A financial planner has a client that comes in and asked the client how much is a business worth. Remember, this is the key, the core, the guts of what their financial plan is going to rely on. So, stop smiling there Scott because we know, you and I both know the client will say it’s worth a million dollars. It’s worth two million dollars.

Scott Charlton:
A million dollars, that’s right.

Andrew Jago:
It’s worth a million dollars.

Scott Charlton:
Yup, that’s right.

Andrew Jago:
Scott, how much is it really worth?

Scott Charlton:
200, 300K if they’re lucky. In a lot of situations, the client has actually just bought themselves a job and they’re just making wages, in which case it’s arguable that business isn’t worth anything. So, there’s quite an expectation gap that they need to be confronted with.

Andrew Jago:
Yup, absolutely. The financial planner knows this but to some extent, we’ll go along with charade. We know, okay, this is what it’s worth now. What’s the expected free income that we can generate from this business? Oh, that’ll be $200,000 a year. So, there’s a fundamental disconnect between what the likely retirement outcome is going to be for this client and what that business is going to be able to do to provide these retirement outcomes. It’s the financial planners that have the confidence to say to the client, “Mate, are you sure it’s worth a million bucks? Tell me why you reckon it’s worth a million bucks,” and start that conversation with the client.

That’s where then this is how Ross work and I work as well when referrals come from financial planners, which is look, I’d really like you to just have a chat with somebody that specializes in this area because there are some opportunities. If you got a business that you reckon is worth something and you want to see it grow and you want to be able to sell it down the track, then we need to have that business doing the things that it needs to do for you to provide those retirement outcomes.

So, if we really get a referral for our business, there’s a number of ways in which you can do that referral, a financial planner can do that referral. If they want to run the softly approach, and that’s not a bad way to go, take your first step into SME advisory, he’s referred to the entrepreneur’s program. There are number of industry sectors that the entrepreneurs program, which is run by those industry, covers off and that’s a referral. It’s free. There’s no cost to you or to the client and the client gets sent the insight from the business advisor from those industry and then can decide what they want to do next. Or as is what we generally tend to do is yet we get the referral, we talk to the client, and then we determine if we can add value. Remember that trilogy of trust I talked about, Scott?

Scott Charlton:
Yeah.

Andrew Jago:
If we determine that we can add value, then we can quantify what that value looks like. That value looks like three things to us, for us helping an SME client with a financial planning purpose. Firstly, let’s quantify what the business is worth now. Let’s be honest about it and let’s get the financial planner in the conversation while we’re doing that. That’s the first thing. The second thing is let’s quantify what we can do to increase the sustainable earnings from the business such that we can provide the income to help meet long-term wealth generation and planning. Finally and most importantly, because most SME owners see the business as their superannuation, what are the things that we’re going to do to make sure that that business can be solved?

Scott, what generally tends to happen is that it’s a long journey but it’s a very satisfying one, especially from my point of view, because generally, people, they’re in their business, they’re in their business. It went from being a dream and wonderful and the rest of it, now it’s just a job and I’m hating it. I’ve got all these things I have to do and I’ve got to tell my financial planner I’ve got this money out of it. I just feel like I’m under pressure from everywhere. If we over a 6 to 12-month period can get their business to a stage where there’s sustainability of the income, there’s processes and systems in place that don’t require the business owner to be there all of the time and they can see it’s actually okay, I’ve got this business that doesn’t need me there all of the time. So, somebody else might look at this business and thinks it’s attractive.

So, you start getting this reverse loop where things are going from worse, to getting worse, to getting worse and you feel like you can’t get out of it to the opposite where you spiral and back out again and say, “Oh, my business is going really well. This is great. I’ve got more opportunities. I can do these other things. I followed this in my business. I’m getting on my business. I’m seeing more opportunity.” Then that does two things. The SME client is absolutely delighted  and the first as retirement plan is because the business is going so well.

Scott, you and I don’t even need to talk to the financial planner. What the hell is going on with the financial planning perspective here? What we’ve been able to do from a financial planning perspective. So, we’ve had a rough turn here from accounting to financial planning. But it’s funny, isn’t it? SME see their business as their superannuation and very few people really properly understand that.

If somebody like me or an accountant or whoever it is that specializes in this area is really taking that on board and helping them with quantifying what their business is worth, helping grow, get sustainable earnings, and helping the process for selling or making it sale already, then there are so many wins here. The accountant will be better off because it’s their client. The financial planner will have far more work load as a result of a growing business. If we encapsulate what an SME is to a financial planning practice, I really think it’s almost a new asset class for a financial planner to consider in the way that they approach their client base.

Scott Charlton:
That’s a very good concept, this new asset class, and just like to I guess use this as a bit of a sounding board my own thinking. Having set it in quite a number of meetings back in the day with client and financial planner that up until now, maybe this conversation, Andrew, that the plan actually hast to treat the business value as a black box and it might be the biggest part of a client’s financial situation and all their hopes and dreams rest on that and yet the planner has to work on the scraps around that. The meagre of contributions and the little bit of life insurance or income protection that’s done there and we’ve got this black box.

But really, this is a way in which the planner can be much more on the front foot and I think it starts, as you say, where you actually get a value for it and let’s put this out in the middle and then let’s see if we can increase the value. I think perhaps planners, if they allow themselves to see their own self as they too are small business owners, that perhaps that they’ve got more to offer a business client then perhaps up until now that they’ve been accustomed to providing. They’ve done business planning sessions.

They’ve had the advantage of a whole lot of institutional input in terms of their business education that they are business people in their own right and they can make a contribution and by working with the clients and involving people such as yourself. If we can actually make this business not just saleable but more valuable, then all in all, we’ve got a better, a more complete plan for the clients. So, all that I think here that term that you used, to treat it as a new asset class has been a game-changer.

Andrew Jago:
Yeah. Scott, I’ll give you two hard examples of the time I might be slipping on a little bit, however, two examples. The first one is risk insurance. Risk, for many financial planners, sometimes you feel like you’re selling it and there’s all of the issues and legacy issues around what risk insurance is and so on. When I’m going through to them, when I do a business review, we’ve got 40 pages. It looks like really, it’s quite similar to a fact find financial planner but we’re sort of doing a business fact find in our business review.

But we’ve got a page in there that’s around risk management and I’ve got now … what’s the word I’m looking for? I’m just passionate about this in terms of it’s not something that adds value to me where this is my specialty and by getting involved in this space, being risk insurance that it adds any value to me, but I’m absolutely upfront with the client and ask them about their risk insurance. Scott, they’re generally, how shall I say it, quite evasive about it and we really came to that point, which is unless this is done, and I’m happy to give them some ballpark figures that they need to think about as well, you’ll not achieve the retirement goals that you are trying to achieve.

One of the things that I say to them and generally, the bloke is that there’s the prime mover in a business but more and more, there are women being doing, which is great, but generally, and for us all the blokes, there’s more blokes that are running these businesses and their wife is involved on a part of full-time and doing some other aspects of the business. But I don’t ask that person saying, “What have you done to make sure that if anything happens to your wife that this isn’t going to get pear-shaped?” That’s actually all of their partner, whatever it might be. Generally, they say, “Well, that’s okay. She’s just the bookkeeper and you shouldn’t keep that one. She’s just a bookkeeper, we can hire somebody else.”

We’ve all got war stories about where a mother has had … where something has happened and in one case, a mother had a stroke. Her husband had huge amounts of insurance, she had none. There were three kids in the home. She was in the hospital for a week. Now, imagine if that stroke had been permanent, had left her with permanent disability. So, risk, that’s just one aspect. We’ll leave that as the example. That’s just one aspect where we identify it, and we go in, and we ask the question. We open that Pandora’s box. It’s difficult sometimes for financial planners to start talking about that because sometimes there’s a feel that we’re selling the insurance. I’ve got no interest in doing that, but you must have the insurance. We insist at them that if you’re going to deal with us, you got to put these things into place.

How to think about it is the financial planner has made a referral, a NEM partner said, “You need to do this. In order for this to work, these are the things that you need to do. When are we going to organize for you to get back and see the financial planner to get these things in place?” There’s just something where I’ve added value for the client. Sorry, let me start again. I’ve prevented future loss of value for the client, there’s no doubt. They understand that and the financial planner also knows that they’re going to get some real value out of it and it’s going to then verify their own advice in the space as well.

Scott Charlton:
Fantastic. Well, I think that’s been a really interesting journey and a lot of the things that you had talked about are I guess we are talking about in terms of the client’s business value, I’m sure every accountant listening to this conversation would have been equally engaged in what we’re talking about because a lot of accountants see the primary role they play is to assist business owners. Every bit of what we discussed in terms of helping SME clients improve their business values and have more available business. That’s just as relevant to accountants as it is to planners. So, perhaps we’ve truly got today a discussion about a middle ground where both practitioners can play a bigger role and can influence the outcomes by involving third-parties in areas where they themselves aren’t going to practice.

Andrew Jago:
Yeah, and I will stress that it’s not necessarily an outsource. It is a continuum from an accounting point of view and also from a financial planning point of view. I’ll tell you who do really good boards of management and that’s financial planners. They’re bloody good at it.

Scott Charlton:
Yeah, right.

Andrew Jago:
The other issue you might have is that if their financial planner is in a multi-disciplined firm, for example, a financial planning and an accounting practice, and that financial planner starts doing board of management, then I would suggest the incompetent accountant who may not be offering those services, there may be some risks that are involved with the financial planner in a multidisciplinary firm, implementing a board of management for that SME client. So, let’s start the journey and it doesn’t matter how you deal with your SME client but just starting the journey. Take those small steps, Scott. You and Sharon have got the capability, and the tools, and the ways to help people start their journey. But us, I guess our specialist area really is to take you the full length of that advisory journey as much or as little as you want. Somebody has to do it.

Scott Charlton:
Yes, excellent. With the business planning work that we do with our accounting clients, I wouldn’t say it’s universal but quite a number of them actually have written into their plans to roll out advisory services. This is a way of actually getting going with that at very little tooling up or expense and then that can be dialed up or down as their journey continues, which is great.

Now, keeping an eye on the time, I’d like to perhaps bring this conversation to an end, Andrew. But what I’ll do and I did make a note, I’ll put in the show notes, references to the entrepreneur’s program through those industry that you mentioned and contact details for yourself. But perhaps to bring this conversation to a close, regular listeners to this podcast will know my fascination with people in public practice being bold, so what I’d actually like you to do is delve back into the days when you were in practice, be it with your accounting hat or your financial planning hat on. What is an example where you’ve faced a decision where you’re taking deep breaths and how did that decision ultimately work out for you?

Andrew Jago:
It’s a good question. We’ve all been there and as it’s typically the case and I think many of your podcast listeners felt this themselves, client’s gone to a seminar and the seminar has outlined what they can do in terms of estate planning, investment planning, all the things that they can do in long-term to help them get to good retirement and put structures in place and the rest of it. Clients came in to me about something and said, “Look, I’m going to do this. This looks really good,” and I looked at it and I thought, “It’s not that good. I know who talk to. I know how to do this and we can do this much better. I know what you need to do. He hasn’t understood your need properly because you’ve got this particular situation here. It needs to be done that way and not that way.”

These are all going through my mind and I’m thinking, I was really wanting to walk outside and to the muddy parts and thing and whack myself in the head. My first thought was to blame the guy. How dare he sort of do this in my client and not do the job properly? Anyway, I said, “We can do that and I’ll tell you how we can do it.” I started going through that journey. I took that step, which is to say, “We can do it.” Scott, I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do it, but I said we can do that and just gave him some really strategic, high-level ideas. I was really quick on answering how it could be done. I remember he’s quite looking at me going, “You’re kidding. Why didn’t you tell me about it before?” The only thing that came to mind was, “Well, you never asked.”

Scott Charlton:
Yeah.

Andrew Jago:
I’ll give you a background. The client’s name is Jim. Jim died about five years ago and this is going back a while when we had superannuation funds where we could run unit trust. So, this is a long time ago. There’s a lot of hairs missing here, Scott, as you well know. We put in place something with an original law firm who we’ve had a lot of very deeper relationship. We implemented a process whereby they were able to buy their retirement home, it was in the unit trust. It over time followed back into the self-managed superannuation fund. We’re able to set up a way in which they could transition their business to three or four children that were interested in being involved and it was very complex.

Then I remember still sitting in a board room with the solicitor. Over about a three-hour meeting, we went right through the whole process with this and Jim, the client, said to the solicitor, “Oh, mate, well how much is this bloody all going to cost?” The solicitor said, “The fee is this.” I think the fee at the time he said was about $30,000 and he didn’t outline where the big end of town did with that fee so I’ll give you an example of one also recently which is basically that fee. By the way, their fee is just going to be $15,000.

Scott, I timed that and my time and effort involved in there was about $5,000 and I got the smack in the head again. This is the second one now, which is stop charging on your time and start charging on the value that’s been identified by the client and the client acknowledged that in this case, over the term of this new structuring, there were millions of dollars in value that will be brought both their way from just not tax savings but also the comfort of knowing that their affairs were going to be in order.

So, you’ve got to take the step and if you just take that step and take the chance, then sit down once you’ve done that and if you’re not confident doing it yourself, find somebody to help you. Somebody that you trust. Another accountant, a financial planner, a solicitor. Really, most professional practitioners who’ve been in this space and those that have done that can help you on that journey. Scott, you know how to do this. You could sit down with the accountant and help them start their journey with a particular client on a consulting basis. Sharon could do the same.

Just take the first step. If it’s scary, but that was an extraordinary result for an extraordinary outcome for that client. We don’t all get it right. We take steps and they that private. You don’t learn by not making mistakes, by just doing the same thing over and over again and if you just keep doing the same thing over and over again, just doing compliance work, tax returns, financial status, key in the shoebox every time, then somebody else is going to catch your mouse. That’s as simple as that.

Scott Charlton:
Wow. Great example to finish off with, with that extra kicker in terms of not just being bold with the service that provide but being bold with the fee that goes along with it. So, that’s a great noted to add to finish up today, Andrew, and thank you very, very much for your time. I’m sure that there’s been lots of not just nodding but some good note taking. What’s the best way of people getting a hold of you if they’d like to get in contact regarding the things that we’ve discussed today?

Andrew Jago:
Scott, well, thank you for the very small plug. My email address is ajago@nem.net.au, but if you visit our website, there’s a bit more on … I mentioned the trilogy of trust, go and find that. So, my name is Andrew Jago. LinkedIn. Love for you to connect on LinkedIn. It’s a great way too as a professional network. I think, Scott, you recommend that to your …

Scott Charlton:
Absolutely.

Andrew Jago:
Connect me with in LinkedIn and coffee. My currency. I’ve got two currencies. You probably guessed the first one already, but I’ll give you the morning currency, which is coffee. Always delighted to have a coffee with somebody. Look, if you just want to talk about something. How do I implement board of management to my clients? How could I sit down with you in a practical way? Because Scott, you give accountants tools to do it. But my other currency is beer and let me tell you, if you tap me down to Ballistic Beer at Salisbury, I’m yours. You won’t even have to pay me a fee.

Scott Charlton:
Very good. All right, Andrew, look, let’s leave it at that today and so thanks once again for your participation.

Andrew Jago:
 Scott, it’s been great. Thanks again and all the best, everybody.

Scott Charlton:
Well, that concludes my interview with Andrew Jago. We certainly covered some interesting territory. To me, this whole aspect of financial practitioners referring their clients to complimentary professionals just makes so much sense. Perhaps there’s something to be learned from the medical profession here where GPs are very happy to refer to specialists and there’s an expectation that the specialist will write back to the referrer and let them know the outcome. GPs don’t view this as a sign of weakness and nor do their patients. After all, if you require brain surgery, I bet you won’t want the GP to have a go at it. You’ll want a referral to the best brain surgeon in the land and thank the GP. You’ll even appreciate the GP for knowing the right surgeon to refer you to. The other aspect that Andrew mentioned is that referring outwork that you don’t want to do and in many cases, you get more opportunities to do the work that you do want to do. So, that sounds like a pretty good exchange to me.

Before we finish the show today, I’d like to continue the coach’s corner segment that started in the previous episode. The intention is to comment on what I’m seeing out there in action as I interact with practitioners. Last week, I had the pleasure of facilitating a two-day business planning workshop attended by a range of professional service firms. Non-competing accountants and financial planners from across the country. We had practitioners from Perth to Cairns, from Wagga to Sydney.

So often, I come across firms where each day is pretty much just like the one before. Drifting along where the tides and the currents dictate. Not so with the firms in the workshop, however. They were busy laying down how their next three to five years is going to pan out. Significant decisions were being made regarding strategies, referred clients, target average revenue per client, return to shareholders, and a lot. Everyone left that workshop with clarity about the future and a real spring in their step. It was great to see.

The other observation that I’d like to share is that it’s okay to stick up your hand and ask for help. Back in my days as a fresh, young graduate, partners of the firm were looked up to as god-like creatures who could do no wrong. How mistaken I was. If you’re a principal in a firm, you know that divine wisdom doesn’t get hand out with the business cards which say you’re in charge. Astute leaders surround themselves with colleagues, mentors, and other influencers who provide them with ideas, encouragement, and feedback. Who do you have on your support team?

Thanks so much for listening to this podcast. I’m still working through a bunch of interviews lined up with some really interesting people, so there’s lots of absorbing discussion to look forward to. Until then, onwards and upwards.