How to Reclaim Your Finances From External Experts

Do you sometimes feel as though your business is no longer your own?

Ever get the feeling that big decisions, particularly financial ones, need to be okayed by your accountant (or at least justified by a report you need your bookkeeper to run for you)?

If that’s you:

  • You’re not alone, 
  • It’s not just you AND
  • You’re in the right place.

How did we get here? Well, that’s a long story about the interaction between the tech boom and overregulation of the accounting industry (both topics I cover from a myriad of angles here on my website). 

Suffice to say, as the laws and software became increasingly complicated, time-poor business owners looked to tech savvy accounting wizards to explain, then help, and then eventually do all the financial data management for them. The collective confidence of business owners waned; at the same time, the belief in the accounting industry that this was all beyond us and best left to the ‘experts’ grew. 

Which brings us to today. Where I see capable, intelligent business owners feeling as though they are at the mercy of what they hope their accountant will ‘let them do’. 

As both a Chartered Accountant AND a business owner myself, it’s my mission to get us all back on track:

  • Getting the business owner back to centre stage as AND
  • Getting the experts back into their supporting roles.

Ready to reclaim expert status? All you need to do is understand these 3 things:

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1. Experts are niche. Business is broad.

The best place to start is by putting the experts you collaborate with - accountants and bookkeepers - back into the context of your business as a whole. 

In a perfect scenario, this is what it should look like:

  • Bookkeepers support you with financial data management, as well as being another set of eyes on the numbers. They make sure your day-to-day figures are organised in a way that’s elegantly simple for you, the business owner. 
  • Accountants support you with their experience and insights when it comes to making bigger financial decisions to move the business forward. They also support you in navigating your tax obligations (notice how the tax stuff is second to the experience and insights!)

The piece often missing from these interactions is you - business owner - taking that support and combining it with what you know of your staff, industry, customers both potential and existing, opportunities arising in your field, etc. 

It’s the bringing together of valuable insights from niche experts in collaboration with your holistic understanding that enables prosperous decision making. 

Whilst accountants and bookkeepers understand the intricacies of a specific subject, they lack the ability to place them within the broader landscape of your unique business.

YOU are the sole expert in that niche. 

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2. Not all experts are business owners.

Closely related to 1, it’s important to keep in mind the toolkit these experts may themselves be working with. 

Unless you’re dealing with the principal accountant, the head of a bookkeeping agency or an independent financial advisor, you’re not speaking to someone who understands how your financial data relates to a business as a whole, much less yours.

They could still be giving it their all. And they likely have your best interests at heart. You don’t have to become suspicious of everyone - think of it more as healthy scepticism.

Finding your way back to expert status has a lot to do with your perception. It’s about having the courage to slow things down and ask questions like:

  • Is this necessary? To whom?
  • If this is for someone else’s benefit, is there a way I can make this to my benefit first?
  • Is there a way I can make this a process that benefits me, whilst still meeting the needs of others?
  • Does this need to be this complicated?

Reclaiming expert status is not about knowing everything. It’s about having the confidence to ask questions and keep digging until the answers broaden your understanding. 

It’s the willingness to admit there’s something you don’t know, and the dedication to filling in the gaps for your own benefit.

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3. A shift in your mindset is all it takes to start.

All of this boils down to you rediscovering the value in what you bring to the table. Business owners have strong intuition for what feels right or wrong, even if they can’t justify that feeling with data. 

Speaking as a Chartered Accountant, I can tell you that numbers aren't the whole story. They can be reframed and modified to say a variety of things, subject to the intention of whomever is handling them. They can be used to bolster confirmation bias just as much as they are used to bamboozle others. 

Your goal is to learn the difference between the fog of your own confusion vs a case of smoke & mirrors.

  • Do I need more information to gain clarity around this? OR
  • Am I being ‘statisticked’ into a corner here?

You didn’t accidentally create the business that brought you here. Give your intuition more credit and remember how many times your gut instincts have steered you onto the right path. 

Time is another important factor; we often feel like we’re being rushed into accepting truths and making decisions. Not because we’re in a hurry, but more because it’s a ‘limited time offer’ or because ‘our time is up and I have another meeting after this.’

Pause and think:

  • Who’s time is more important to you?
  • Who’s understanding is more important to you?
  • If you don’t ‘get this’ now, then when?

Be a bother. Ask for a follow up. Get an explanation. Repeat it back in your own words to make sure you’ve grasped it. Because if you don’t understand your financial data, the stakes are much higher for you than them. 

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Collaborate with your experts instead. 

I’m not here to tell you to burn the bridges and cast aside the experts that work with your business. Niche experts are invaluable, as they have the ability to analyse a specific aspect and compare it to that of many different businesses. For example, an accountant with years of experience may have developed their own suite of shortcuts and strategies that can be of huge benefit to you when it comes to your financial data. 

But in our obsession with quantitative data (that which is numbers-based, countable, or measurable) we’ve lost our respect for qualitative data (that which is interpretation-based, descriptive and relating to language). And guess who holds the most qualitative data for a business?

Yup, it’s the business owner.

You’ve got to take back control of the conversation. 

You’ve got to see your qualitative data as complementary to the quantitative data

It’s about having the inner strength to steady yourself, right at the point of bamboozlement in a conversation with an expert to ask ‘yes, but why?’

And if you’d like a second opinion as you navigate this newfound (rediscovered) leadership in your business’ finances, I’m only ever a quick Zoom call away:  

Disclaimer: These are yuck and boring but unfortunately a legal requirement for professionals in my industry. So just a reminder, the information contained here is general in nature and you should seek financial and business advice tailored to your own personal circumstances. Which, by no small coincidence, I can help you out with. Head over to my website and book a free 30 minute chat with me: 

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