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Not all accountants are ostriches

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According to Robert Craven, all accountants are ostriches – incapable of marketing, even for free, and only interested in cost cutting.

Actually he didn’t say “all accountants”, he posted a PS to say that a few were good. Right at the bottom of his article. I wonder who read that, apart from aggrieved accountants?

It makes me wonder whether the FT’s entrepreneurship guru actually understands what constitutes good marketing activity?

To me, rule number one is to understand your audience. There are a few accountants among the Real Business readership and I doubt any of us take kindly to being tarred with such a broad, black brush. For example, I wonder what Martin Leuw, recently retired CEO of Iris Software – and who also happens to be an accountant – thinks of being caught in this sweep?

Some of us do know about marketing, about getting the right message across, in the right way, to the right people.

At FD Solutions (a firm that is chock full of accountants, because we are FDs) we increased the number of clients won through 2009 and 2010. We did this by understanding that companies needed help in managing their business and being understood by their stakeholders in the recession and we could provide it (only one of our clients went insolvent and even that resulted in a phoenix).

We also realised that what each of us knows is useful to our colleagues and so could be useful to other FDs, so we founded the FDs’ Academy. It’s a peer mentoring group where FDs meet monthly in groups of ten or so to discuss current issues and learn how to resolve them, either from their peers or from teachers, trainers or other practitioners who will help them devise a solution.  

This isn’t just simplistic stuff like “market through a recession” or more number-crunching techniques. For example, in the last quarter, we have learned that:

  • to be understood you need first to seek to understand;
  • good communication is built on good presentation which requires C.R.A.P. (Consistency Repetition Alignment Proximity);
  • good leaders may not be good managers but organisations must have both skills; and
  • iXBRL stands for In-line Extensible Business Reporting Language. Not a lot of people know that!

Finance people understand a lot about business, business models and how they work. The FDs of the future, which I recently judged, are learning how they are changing and how to react. The Academy and the FDs’ Excellence Awards, among others, demonstrate this.

Perhaps Robert would like to join us to learn more? The only problem is he’s not an FD, so he can’t!

Malcolm Durham is chairman of FD Solutions, founder of the FDs’ Academy, and a FDs’ Excellence Awards judge. Oh, and he’s an accountant, too.

The FDs’ Excellence Awards, in association with ICAEW, will be held on May 10, 2011. Find out more information here.

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