P R O F E S S I O N A L . . C O N T R O L L E R S


CLIENT DEVELOPMENT (Advice to Colleagues)

by Adrian W. Hollander, C.P.A., CISA, CIA, CBA, CFSA,

President of COMPLUS Inc. Professional Controllers


Our objective is to work for several clients (business owners) simultaneously. This may sometimes tax our skills to be well organized. We must fight the concept of Parkinson's Law (work expanding to fill the time available) with all our might. We want a leader's role. Expect to have to earn respect, though.

o Work as an ally to the owner, and make sure that he/she knows it. (Nevertheless, we do absolutely refuse to do anything which is illegal or immoral. By contrast CPA's in traditional "independent" accountant roles must work for the interests of third parties. Our job should be to enable the owner to run his/her business without feeling blindfolded.)

o Define a meaningful role which demands regular, but just part-time, attendance. (Ideally, we will be assisting the owner by directing the performance of others to make the information system work for him/her. Most accounting work is recurring. Some of it requires skill which should be worth more than anyone is willing to pay for a bookkeeper/ clerk. There will undoubtedly be a few tasks which we will have to do, and that's OK.)

o Teach bookkeepers and clerks how to do (and understand) processes which occur at least once a week. Although we must know how to do it, we should be too valuable to be doing clerical work, long-term. I use an apprenticeship technique (1st, I do it; 2nd, the student does it while I watch; 3rd, the student does it solo. I am always available to coach and answer questions.) If we teach a student to understand concepts, he/she will be able to deal with many alternatives much more quickly than if he/she had to memorize each situation and response separately (teach them how to fish ...).

o Always leave with a plan for the next day's work. (We do try to work ourselves out of a job -- almost. If there is no reason for us to come back, though, the engagement is over. )

o Have lunch with the owner regularly. (It's no sin to enjoy what we do, and lots of "work" may be done over lunch. Politicking can be very important to our success.)

o Make the owner to feel like he/she is the only client we have, even though he/she knows better.