Many accountants are still working 70-hour weeks in order to cope with the sheer level of client work, administration and practice duties that are experienced by their firm.
But is habitually working long hours in order to manage your growing client workload actually a sign of success or failure? In the digital world of modern accounting, is there a more efficient way to get your client work done and achieve a better work/life balance?
Long hours are not a sign of efficiency
Within professional services, working long hours is sometimes seen as a ‘badge of honour’. But, in reality, long days and late nights are detrimental to both efficiency and personal wellbeing.
If you and your team are burning the midnight oil 5 or 6 days a week to keep on top of your workload, that's not an effective way to maintain the long-term success of your firm. It causes fatigue, lack of engagement/motivation and will, eventually, result in mistakes. And mistakes can lead to difficult client conversations, lost customers and reduced revenues.
So keeping your working hours to a sensible level, while also servicing your clients and promoting wellbeing amongst your employees, should be a key goal for a modern firm.
Balance your capacity against your client portfolio
Growing your firm can mean focusing on existing clients, rather than having a singular focus on bringing new client business into your existing portfolio of customers.
Winning large numbers of new clients may sound like good news, but if you can't service these new clients within the agreed timescales, it can impact on the firm’s productivity, raise stress levels within the team and have a negative impact on the relationships with these new clients.
So make sure you review your workflows, processes and client workload to understand the true capacity of your team. The more you can systemise and measure performance, the better you can balance this capacity against client numbers and workloads.
Use the time-saving and automation features of modern fintech apps
The use of technology within accounting has evolved hugely in recent times, and there are a wealth of ways that cloud software, fintech apps and online practice management solutions can help your firm to become more time-efficient.
Some key elements of software to consider will include:
- Using automation features – many fintech apps include ways to automate the basic elements of the accounting process. Automation can carry out data-entry tasks, complete bank reconciliation or even chase clients for late payment of invoices.
- Applying use of smart AI features – artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing the use of ‘smart tools’ that can review your client’s cash flow, forecast their potential profits or flag up financial issues that need your attention (increasing your value as an adviser).
- Utilising online collaboration tools – cloud-based workflow platforms make it easier for you and your clients to access their key numbers, helping to make collaboration and communication easier, safeguarding your clients’ sensitive data.
By reducing the low-level financial tasks, you cut down the time it takes to service each client – reducing the hours the team must work and readjusting that all-important work/life balance.
Only engage with the most valuable clients
The more targeted you are with your choice of new clients, the more value these 'ideal clients' will bring to the firm and the more productive the relationship will be in the long-term.
Define your firm's ideal client so you have a clear outline of the kinds of business you most want to work with. Consider the industries and business types that will be easiest to service and think about what areas of value-add service you want to upsell and provide.
80% of results will come from the top 20% of your client base according to the Pareto Principle, so it’s vital to target those valuable top-tier clients where you have the best relationships, the least time-consuming workload and the most profitable revenues.
Get the balance right!
By refining your client portfolio, improving your internal working practices and using the most productive software apps, your firm can make positive steps towards reducing the overall workload for your staff – reducing hours while also boosting client retention and revenues.
In short, it’s about applying the most time-efficient methods and being proactive about achieving a better work/life balance for the whole firm.
Use Silverfin to make your firm more productive
Silverfin is a centralised data hub designed specifically for finance professionals. We help you work, communicate and interact with clients in the digital space, making your client relationships more productive and reducing the time taken to service each business.
Find out more about Silverfin at Silverfin.com