The vast majority of my career of 40 plus years, has been spent in professional services firms. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because the notion of service is very important, but there have been times when I was tempted to leave the professional life behind, because much of what goes into a professional product is invisible to the client. I could go and sell widgets. Or cars, or food, or houses or something else. Something. Something tangible, something the customer can see and touch and evaluate with their senses.
Let’s assume for a moment that you are in the market for a new car. You’ve seen the adverts, you start to shop around, you get the glossy brochures, you talk to friends and family, and you head off to your chosen dealership. It’s exciting, it’s fun. It is probably going to be expensive too, but that’s ok, because you can always arrange finance on very attractive terms. Or what you have been told are very attractive terms. They have to be, of course, because you will be financing what is generally a rapidly depreciating asset. But that’s ok, because you are not just buying transport, you are buying prestige, or safety, or comfort, or convenience, or presence, or whatever else the marketing people have succeeded in making you think you are buying. And they are very good at shaping people’s thinking. Cars for youth, for women, for men. Rugged or sophisticated, or even both. And so it goes on.
And that’s all fine. You may have been manipulated, but you are genuinely happy about your new purchase because you see the value in what you’ve bought and you can see and feel the car of your dreams.
Professional services on the other hand are not marketed to you as something pleasurable. So whereas your new car has both real and perceived value, your tax return, estate plan, divorce settlement etc., has real value, but little added perceived value. And without that added perceived value, that pleasure element, you may view the task at hand as a chore, a necessary evil. That’s not fun for anyone and it’s our fault. Professionals for too long have relied on an element of compulsion to bring clients to them. You need to get your accounts done, you need to get your taxes sorted, etc. No problem.
Except that is changing and has been for many years. Technology increasingly takes the grunt work out of professional services and empowers people to do much of the work themselves if they want to. But if you still want your accountant’s help, that will not only still be forthcoming, but provides us with the opportunity to add more value. Less time spent on compliance, more time spent on the fun stuff that you will appreciate and enjoy.
Munro’s has certainly kept evolving and has invested heavily in its strategic thinking processes. It continues to service its clients’ needs not only through provision of traditional services but increasingly through Smart Tax and Consulting Services. An emphasis on complex issues and at times working in areas (for example, block chain/cryptocurrency) where there are few other professional firms involved. More real and perceived value. More fun.
For all of us.