Business Accountant or Business Advisor/Consultant?


It is not uncommon for a business owner or leader to ask themselves that question. Do you need a Business Accountant or a Business Advisor/Consultant? Or, as successful business owners and leaders ask, do you need both?

Let’s start with a couple of simple definitions; What is a Business Accountant and what is a Business Advisor/Consultant?

Business Accountant – performs financial functions related to the collection, accuracy, recording, analysis, and presentation of a business, organization or company’s financial operations. Frequently Business Accountants are valuable resources for taxes and annual reports. As a result, their tax advice alone can save a business a significant amount of money.

Business Advisor or Consultant – provides an analysis of the existing practices of a company and make recommendations for improvements. These professionals frequently specialize in one area of business management, such as human resources or lean-six sigma. A select few are able to apply all or most aspects of a business into profitable solutions and as a result, provide a greater more significant outcome for the business.

As you can see you have two entirely different roles. Yet, both are important to the success of a business. While sometimes they have transferable skills, an accountant is able to get into the business and make business recommendations that create more profitability and a Business Advisor or Consultant can prepare financial statements and make accounting recommendations, successful businesses have both. That means those who want to be more successful than they are should have both.

Why both?

The answer is simpler than you would think. Commonly your accountant only sees the numbers of your business. Make no mistake, these numbers are important and you must pay attention to them. Numbers do not always define your business environment and are only demonstrating what has happened, not what, why, will, or could. Unless your accountant is actively with you when you are producing or providing what you do, literally on your production floor or where you operate, and this is generally not going to happen, then they are not always in a good position to help you with business operational performance, customer or marketing decisions – and many more. However, the numbers they produce are valuable in decision making.

Business Advisers and Consultants share their expertise and knowledge to help businesses attain goals and solve problems. Businesses often hire consultants to supplement their staff and save the costs of hiring a full-time employee. They often Provide information to a client, Solve a client’s problems, Make a diagnosis, which may necessitate the redefinition of the problem, Make recommendations based on the diagnosis and Assist with implementation of recommended solutions. Because they are actually working directly in the business, their delivered products and services are tied more closely to both the businesses operational outcomes and its operational decision making.

When selecting both for your business sometimes a good resource for a referral is your Accountant or Advisor/Consultant. And if you have an Accountant or Business Advisor/Consultant who can’t or won’t do that, give thought to finding a new person. When you’ve identified candidates for either role, some of the questions you should ask are:

1. How long have you been working in your profession? (you want to know how long they have been specifically working in the profession for which you are hiring them for.)
2. What are your credentials? (Academic, certifications, etc.)
3. What types of businesses do you work with? (Not only do you want to know if they have worked with businesses that are exactly or as close to exactly as yours, their working with other businesses that are different from yours could be valuable.)
4. Can you give me tangible evidence of outcomes you have specifically achieved? (you aren’t looking for names as confidentiality is important to both professions, you do want specific details such as actual dollars and cents.)
5. What are your processes (In other words, how do they work with their clients?)

While you may wish to ask other questions the 5 above will get you the most important answers. Other questions, such as references, for example, may prove challenging as many Accountants and Advisors/Consultants sign confidentiality agreements with their clients, making the divulging of client identity difficult if not possible.

Combining both of these professionals in your business will prove to be a wise and profitable investment. Their combined advice, accompanied with your active participation in using what they provide you, can be a wealth building experience for you and your business.