Giving you the right track to run on

A fortnightly pearl of wisdom to fast track your success

Chrisism #92 - Working More Effectively with Accountants in the Risk Area

28 May 2019

Working More Effectively with Accountants in the Risk Area

Why do accountants make potentially good referrers of risk business? Firstly, because their clients are typically highly qualified referrals, since the accountants themselves tend to be highly regarded and well respected by their clients. Secondly, because there is a  logical overlap of advice, since both the accountant and the risk adviser are seeking to maximise net income for their clients in as many situations as possible.

Fifteen years ago, when I jumped out of my director of training role with a large dealer group and went back to being a risk adviser and starting my consultancy, I worked for a few years with a dealer group that was made up primarily of accountants who were also authorised as financial planners, but who did very little on the risk advice side.

I saw this as a great opportunity for referrals for the personal protection side of the business. Over a period of 2 or 3 years, I learned a few do’s and don’ts in this space. More often than not, I believe it is the initial approach where this potential referral partnership breaks down. The biggest and most common mistake I believe risk advisers make when approaching accountants for referrals is that right from the get go they are telling the accountant why they should refer their clients to you instead of asking the accountant why they haven’t been referring this type of business up until now.

Because in my experience, the two most common reasons why they haven’t been in the habit of referring their clients to a risk adviser are:-

1) They are frightened that their client will have a bad experience (negative perception/grudge purchase etc.)

2) Fear of losing control of their clients

As it happens, these two reasons are exactly why they should refer this type of business, since

1) It would be a much worse experience for their client to have something happen to them without any protection in place than it would be to sit down with a professional risk adviser and get a proper protection package in place.

2) The accountant is more likely to lose control of their client if they DON’T offer additional services, since time poor clients in this day and age are looking for the one stop shop alternative.   

There is also one little bit of terminology that can be quite helpful in motivating accountants to refer risk business. Fairly early in the piece, it is worthwhile asking the question:-

"Presumably most of your clients would have accountants’ fees insurance in place?"

This is designed to demonstrate to the accountant that, if one of their clients suffered an illness or accident that prevented them from working for a period of time and they didn’t have any Income Protection, they would still need to submit a tax return, wouldn’t they? But how are they going to pay your bill without any income?!

Lastly, if possible, you should try and take the accountant through your engagement process and ideally make them a client. This first hand experience of what their client can expect will make for the strongest possible referral.

HEADS UP – Be aware that I will be running my ever popular “Risk Workshop” in all 5 major capitals in late July/ early August. You may want to pencil in the following dates:- 23 July Brisbane, 25 July Melbourne, 30 July Adelaide, 31 July Perth & 2 August Sydney. You will receive all the other details from my website in a couple of weeks. If you would like to reserve your spot in advance, call me on 0417 281 034 or email me at [email protected]

The Risk Workshop by Chris Unwin

Are you a financial adviser who would like all of your clients to have appropriate types and levels of personal protection? But perhaps you feel you need a more structured and client friendly engagement process?