By Deana Sentman, CPA
Cherry Bekaert LLP
In today’s competitive professional world it is no longer enough to be just a great technical accountant. To connect with clients we need to have a much broader understanding of the world and the environment the client operates in. To achieve this I’ve whittled it down to five key areas.
- The first layer, world events is probably the easiest to keep up with. Spend a few minutes setting up RSS feeds and news applications which can deliver relevant information to you in summary format and keep the information overload to a minimum.
- The second layer is the business environment, understanding global and local environments changes are important.
- The third layer is industry. Individual industries have a rich variety of sources. Most industries have associations representing companies in the industry. These associations are a great resource for news, many of them allow you to set up and customize RSS feeds to tailor information.
- The fourth layer is the company and their competitors. Specifics about the client’s company and their competitors’ can be found in sources such as LinkedIn or industry blogs which allow you to keep up on the opinions of industry trends, events, and companies.
- The fifth layer is technical developments. While clients can expect a level of proficiency in accounting they will also expect that you have familiarity with new technical developments to help guide them through so we can never stop learning our craft.
We must also remember to be ourselves, discuss our hobbies, and life outside the workplace. The easiest way to learn about others is to share your life and listen to theirs. You’ll build trusting relationships if you approach them as a whole person.Deana Sentman is a senior tax associate at Cherry Bekaert LLP in Roanoke.