There is a huge disconnect between accounting professionals and the communication expectations of their clients. Here are 5 reasons why CPAs are often bad communicators.
1. Too Many Clients
CPA is synonymous with "tax preparer" or "tax professional" to the general public. Tax preparation is deadline driven and constrained even more by the availability of required documents. Many CPA firm owners have a business model that requires earning the majority of their income in a short three to four month window. This type of business model with a high volume of clients makes developing relationships not only challenging but almost impossible. Answering and returning the volume of phone calls in this type of business model could result in a need to file extensions or even result in late tax filings. Thankfully, the accounting industry is shifting and recognizing clients' desire for planning and strategy, not just preparation.
2. The Jargon Jungle
CPAs are experts in their field, but their proficiency often comes at a cost - the heavy use of financial jargon. While this vernacular challenge has nothing to do with picking up the phone, this language barrier can make it challenging for CPAs to effectively communicate with clients who lack a deep understanding of accounting terminology. Clients may feel overwhelmed, confused, or even intimidated when trying to decipher the complex language used by their CPAs.
3. Lack of Client-Centric Approach
One common criticism of CPAs is their tendency to focus on numbers and regulations rather than the needs and concerns of their clients. Some CPAs may prioritize the technical aspects of their work over building a strong client relationship. This can result in clients feeling unheard or undervalued, leading to frustration and miscommunication.
Finance is not just about numbers; it's also about emotions. Clients may have strong feelings tied to their financial situations, whether it's the stress of tax season, the anxiety of making investment decisions, or the excitement of a financial milestone. CPAs who overlook these emotional aspects of their clients' financial lives may miss important cues and fail to provide the support and guidance needed.
4. Failure to Simplify Complex Concepts
CPAs are often tasked with explaining intricate financial concepts to their clients. Unfortunately, many CPAs struggle to translate these complex ideas into layman's terms. This failure to simplify can lead to miscommunication, as clients may nod along without truly understanding the financial implications of their decisions. Effective communication requires the ability to break down intricate concepts into understandable, actionable information.
5. Neglecting to Actively Listen
Effective communication is a two-way street, and active listening is a critical component. Some CPAs may fall into the trap of doing most of the talking during client meetings, failing to truly hear and understand their clients' concerns and goals. This one-sided communication can lead to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and clients feeling unheard. CPAs feel validated in keeping the conversation short since many are billing by the hour or potentially not getting paid for their meeting time at all.
As you are talking with your current CPA or looking for a new one, be sure to address these five points. Not all CPAs are created equal! Find a CPA that aligns with your communication style and has a business model that meets your needs.
Dillon Business Advisorsis an accounting and advisory firm for small businesses that values relationships and education along with quality and integrity. We would love the opportunity to show you how a team approach to your business accounting, tax, and advisory is the proactive solution you have been looking for.