At a recent UK200Group event in London, I was discussing the demand that was in the marketplace for services like Financial Mentoring. The person to whom I was chatting agreed that it wasn’t strong but that was probably because clients didn’t recognise what it was. All too often we accountants get pigeon holed as “numbers people” and looked over in favour of a consultant who may be better at some of the “touchy feely” bits of the service but not necessarily those areas that include finance.
When we provide Financial Mentoring, it’s often in meetings to discuss the accounts and the discussion expands into other areas. I like to begin my accounts discussion meetings with a round-up of what is currently happening in the business. After all, the accounts are historic and it’s what happening now that is important. This discussion often raises an issue or two and hopefully our chat helps them to decide what the solution is. Often it’s the solution they felt was right but our discussion has helped them to confirm in their mind that this is the action that should be taken.
For the smaller, growing business the owners might not have too many colleagues, if any, to turn to when dealing with an issue and allowing them to tell us about it and then make a balanced decision can be helpful. It might be the first occasion that this issue has cropped up and therefore the chance to gain an external thought is helpful when considering all the options.
This is what we can offer. Unfortunately some clients don’t believe we are a business who has similar issues to them. I remember well a longstanding client of the firm telling Nigel and myself, “it’s alright for you as you don’t run a business like we do.” “Great,” I thought, “I shall use this statement to my advantage next time Irene (in the then admin office) rings me up asking about slow payment by debtors!”
In Braintree, we grew from a very low start point (called £Nil) and therefore have seen a lot of the trials and tribulations that growing a business can offer. Do we take this person on as a customer (YES!!), where do we get good staff from, what do we do now with this bad debt or that staff problem could cost a lot of time if we aren’t careful. do we move to bigger premises. All problems we faced in the early 1990’s but were lucky we had colleagues in Maldon and Chelmsford to talk to about them.
Having been through these issues ourselves, we are pretty well placed to offer Financial Mentoring. That doesn’t mean we make the decision for you. No; we don’t do that as that’s not our role. It’s your business – not ours – and the decision you finally make is yours. But if you want to discuss it first just to check that you haven’t overlooked an angle or you’re maybe not being too aggressive, then we are here to listen. More often than not, we completely concur with your thoughts, though we may provide you with a different way of delivering the message, particularly if it’s a tough one.
Most of our time spent in this area will be face to face in a meeting and often, as I set out earlier, to discuss a different topic. It doesn’t have to be this way. We take telephone calls all the time from clients who wish to talk through a tax problem or the best way to buy this asset for tax. It could be by an email – though of course GDPR may restrict what we can say (unless we reply using our portal) or to use modern speak a quick “1:1” for a coffee to cover the matter you want to discuss. If you want to set up a series of discussions to help you more long term this can also be provided.
So if you feel all alone in these turbulent times and want to seek an opinion or you may just be unsure about your next move and want someone to “tick” the box with you – give us a call or arrange a meeting. The coffee machine is new and the results good I’m told!
If we can’t help we will tell you straight away and point you in the direction of somebody else, but if we can you might be pleased with the support that we bring.
All of my Partners have the listening ear you might need from time to time though they might point you to a colleagues if they are better placed to assist. So when you hear the term ‘financial mentoring’ don’t see it as a third party telling you what to do which you will undoubtedly (and understandably) be uncomfortable with. Instead, think of it as a helping hand or a kind listening ear from someone who can help you decide which turn of the road to take.