Have you ever wondered seriously about the value your client's experience of working with your accountancy firm?
You know, the payoff they get from working with you, working with your team and getting the services that you deliver to your clients?
On this Humanise The Numbers podcast interview I’m talking to Coral Tolley-Fletcher and Jonathan Vowles of JVCA - based in Cranfield, Milton Keynes - and I have a sneaking suspicion I ambushed Coral and Jonathan a little around their views of the value that they and their firm deliver to their clients.
And we have, what I believe, is a valuable conversation about the two types of value, the two aspects of value or payoff as I like to call it.
One being the functional, factual, financial payoff that your client's experience in working with your firm and the other being the emotional payoff, you know, that sense of reassurance, certainty and confidence that 'everything's all right in the world' that clients get from working with you, their accountant.
So why not join me, Coral and Jonathan on this Humanise The Numbers podcast and see what you make of those two elements of payoff or value, functional and emotional. And hopefully you'll get some value yourself and take some action on the back of making more of the opportunity to talk value in two different ways with your clients.
"One of the things I particularly like is those kind of 'wake up and smell the coffee' moments...
As accountants and as business owners, how many times are we saying - Oh, you've got to have a plan,
you've got to have a forecast and we're looking forward - when we also should be saying - let's look back, just for a moment, to recognise how far we've come!"
Connect with Jonathan and Coral
TRANSCRIPT - unedited
[00:00:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:00:00] Welcome to the humanized, the numbers podcast, series leaders, managers, and owners of ambitious accounting firms, sharing insights, successes, and issues that will challenge you and connect you and your firm to the ways and means of transforming your firms results.
[00:00:20] Jonathan Vowles: [00:00:20] One of the things that I. Particularly like doing, is those kinds of wake up and smell the coffee moments as accountants and as business owners like yourself, where business owners pool, how many times are we saying, Oh, you've got to have a plan.
[00:00:34] You've got to have a forecast and we're looking forward instead of saying, well, let's, let's look back and go the old Pat on the shoulder route. It's something that I. I consciously try to do in, you know, if I've got an annual meeting about the accounts, one of the things you do is compare one year with another.
[00:00:52] If, if it's better, then you know who else is going to give them validation? Who else is going to give them praise?
[00:01:01] [00:01:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:01:01] I have a sneaking suspicion that I ambushed. Jonathan and coral on this podcast around talking about the true value that accountants deliver to their business owners, being connected with yes, the functional, factual financial work that you do for your clients, but also the emotional payoff, the emotional impact, the emotional reaction your clients have.
[00:01:25] Because of the services you deliver for them. So have a look, listen to this and see whether you think I did ambush Jonathan and Carl, and hopefully you'll enjoy this. What I think is a very, very valuable podcast about the value that you deliver as an accountancy firm. Today, I'm joined by Jonathan vials and the coral Tali Fletcher from JVC CA guys to begin with.
[00:01:48]what we need to do is just set the scene. So can you please send us out with you, Carl, can you introduce the firm and a little bit of background, size of team number of clients and that sort of thing, just to, just to get
[00:01:57] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:01:57] the ball rolling kind of deed. so we're JVC [00:02:00] CA we've recently incorporated, As we were originally Jonathan Vols chops to accountants.
[00:02:05] So, we have, Jonathan who's, the managing partner. And I have joined him recently as a partner as well. Then we also have, there's a team of 14 of us, across, across the board. So we have a couple of people who help us with our app. Then we have a team of bookkeepers and a team of accountants.
[00:02:23] Paul Shrimpling: [00:02:23] Brilliant.
[00:02:24] Jonathan Vowles: [00:02:24] Brilliant. And then we've got some, roughly three people in India, but that's roughly, because it's an expandable resource rather than a defined person.
[00:02:33] Paul Shrimpling: [00:02:33] Okay. All right. So 14 plus three. How many customers have you got guys?
[00:02:39] Jonathan Vowles: [00:02:39] Well, how many clients, around about two weeks, 30 business clients and another hundreds private clients on top.
[00:02:46] Paul Shrimpling: [00:02:46] Okay. 40 people, three in India and, 230 business owner clients or business clients per se. brilliant. So I want to start with, I just, w I'd like to know your reaction, your thoughts, what do you [00:03:00] think? I'm I'm meaning when I go, humanize the numbers, what does that mean to you, Jonathan?
[00:03:04] You, if we can get you to kick off with that one,
[00:03:06]Jonathan Vowles: [00:03:06] I think it goes back to the fact that, everything comes back to the person you're dealing with and the situation they're in. so, as a tax specialist, that's really important circumstances drive tax treatment. but as, as, as. As an accountant, my job isn't to do a set of accounts.
[00:03:25] My job is to create a difference for the client and the client's a person. And if you don't bear in mind that there's a, you know, there's a human being, there's actually a, you know, a person and their family and maybe employees and you, you have real people that you're dealing with. If you lose track of the people, then you treat it like a commodity accounting.
[00:03:49] Isn't a commodity. Hmm. It's, it's it, you know, when, when people say to me, I'm a really good mathematician. I must be good accountant. I say no, accounting is [00:04:00] not a science. It's an art.
[00:04:03] Paul Shrimpling: [00:04:03] So in the art is very much, is that, that human element? What, what are your thoughts on it? Coral and, and, I get the, yeah, with a business owner.
[00:04:11] We've got the, there's the owner, they've got employees and they've got a family as well. And therefore it is very, you know, businesses are human thing. It's, What's w w w w what's your twist on what you think humanize the numbers
[00:04:24] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:04:24] for me? Well, I, I think, I think also being a mother as well, you've got, you've got, I've been a mother.
[00:04:30] You worry about your children, but being a business owner, you worry about your business. And so you wake up in the night worrying about it and you just want to be able to speak to somebody and say, look, I, I it's it's this. Okay. when you're a parent, you can speak to other parents, but when you're a business owner, you want to speak to other business owners or a trusted advisor, which is what, what the accountants are.
[00:04:50] W w we see it with other, with other businesses and can often say, yeah, we've seen this all will be well, or, you know, just don't worry about it. Or if we can get the numbers [00:05:00] out to you earlier, Will that help you will that make you relax? if we, if you know what your tax is going to be and you can plan for it.
[00:05:07] And it's, it's been that human in between, because you could just deal with things by email, but pick up the phone ring, somebody.
[00:05:15] Paul Shrimpling: [00:05:15] And make it . Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm just picking up on the word, relax that you used in that description because that's, you know, you want them to feel in a particular way. So as a firm and I find it interesting that, you know, you co you know, JVC, you know, the friendly account and the friendly firm, but it's just.
[00:05:35]relax. What, that's one emotion you pursuing in the way you work with your clients? What, what other emotions are you looking to pursue as a firm in terms of the way your clients respond to what you're doing?
[00:05:48] Jonathan Vowles: [00:05:48] Ooh, that's, that's kind of tricky, isn't it? I guess one of them is.
[00:05:53] Paul Shrimpling: [00:05:53] Aspiration, Jonathan, if we've got a came to it, still could about emotions.
[00:06:00] [00:06:00] Jonathan Vowles: [00:06:00] Hang on. I'll just look at my shoes. Yeah,
[00:06:03] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:06:03] I think yes, the, the developing with the technology and everything, everything as well, and being there to support people is yeah. Understanding that people think I'm working different ways. You know, you've got some people who are visual. Some people who have liked to listen to things, some people who, who quite happily will read a load of emails that come through and it's being able to work with people at the level that they want to work with.
[00:06:27] We encourage staff to pick up the phone when whenever we can and it doesn't have to be done by email it. Well, we'll talk to people. We set up zoom meetings. We've, we've set up, automated, automatic scheduling of zooms, so that we can then still be in contact with our clients, and, and be able to do it their way and that it is to help their emotions, not mold them to us, but for us to be broad and be able to work with them.
[00:06:56] Paul Shrimpling: [00:06:56] How clear is it? What emotional response you seeking coral in the [00:07:00] way you work with your clients?
[00:07:04] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:07:04] I think it's always offered. I'm not, I'm not sure if the feedback is always there. We do ask for feedback from people. it's something that we're beginning to see more and more that we're getting the responses that people say, yes, I'm happy with this. Or, or, you know, I, I've got some emails through recently, so this is great.
[00:07:21] This is fabulous that you're actually thinking forward or thank you for your help and your support. and, and for being. Developing and using the technology that we have. Yeah.
[00:07:33] Jonathan Vowles: [00:07:33] Conversely, you know, when you get that negative feedback, because I know, it, it, the usual horror story, the client rings up and says, where are my tax numbers?
[00:07:43] And you say, send your stuff in. And they say, yeah, I did that ages ago. And, and all of a sudden you've got you're on the back foot and you're thinking, okay. and you know, everyone's got disaster stories, you know, you plan not to have them, but you still end up with them. And, And, and the [00:08:00] negative emotions, you know, the, the frustration from a client that, that level of pain, that's something that we're always trying to avoid.
[00:08:07] Not just because dealing with aggravation is uncomfortable, but because actually every time that happens as a. Business we failed because our systems procedures have led us down.
[00:08:19] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:08:19] and I, I think that's then us dealing with our emotions because the way that we both naturally look is to be able to say to the team, hanging them in it, we could do better.
[00:08:27] And how can we do better? And as a team, can we work and move this forward? look at constant improvements.
[00:08:34] Paul Shrimpling: [00:08:34] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So we can. It's interesting. Isn't it. So, w we're pursuing a conversation about what emotional response do you want from your clients? And I've had two words from you. One is relaxed and one is happening.
[00:08:43] Yeah. the forgive me, but it, it is, it's a, I guess this conversation is off on the back of, a couple of, Big strategic power hours with firms in the last, you know, five or six days. Yeah. And one of the exercises we've been doing with them strategically has got a [00:09:00] lot of, if we don't get clarity on the, Emotional reaction we want from our clients.
[00:09:04] It's how do we steer the, the, the, the way we look after our clients and the things that we avoid without clients to avoid the frustration. and so I've got, I've got this beam on it at the moment. It's about, That the accountants are functional, factual, financial, but actually, like you say, Jonathan earlier, you know, this is about the person, the business owner, it's about their employees and their family, and to a degree, your team as well.
[00:09:29] And you guys, but what, what, which emotions do you think your clients value the most as a result of the work that you do with them?
[00:09:39] Jonathan Vowles: [00:09:39] That happiness has got to be a key one because you w you know, it's as, as a human being, I want to. I want to be friendly. Hence the, you know, the friendly accountants, I want to be in a, in my happy place, which everyone who's watched, I'm a celebrity is now got that ingrained on their consciousness.
[00:09:58]Paul Shrimpling: [00:09:58] that's lost on me. So I have no [00:10:00] idea what that is, but mine is, if I'm in the mountains, I mean, I might have to collapse. That's fine.
[00:10:06] Jonathan Vowles: [00:10:06] But, we want. We want our clients to have a positive reaction to have that happy emotion, because we're the ones who are helping them to have, to have to be able to relax and have peace of mind to, to, to trust in the relationship and our ability to deliver.
[00:10:29] Paul Shrimpling: [00:10:29] I said that this is,
[00:10:32] Jonathan Vowles: [00:10:32] this is a deep subject, Mr. Shrimplin no,
[00:10:36] Paul Shrimpling: [00:10:36] I've not let you off the hook very long. but it's just, it's just the week I've had and going. Yeah. Actually, if we can, as a firm, if we nail down what, let's just change it for a second. What emotional response we want from our team, because their work in your business.
[00:10:51] Jonathan Vowles: [00:10:51] Well, we want them to be relaxed and happy and, you know, same emotions we want from the, from the clients really isn't it. [00:11:00] And I guess is it, I
[00:11:03] Paul Shrimpling: [00:11:03] guess it is. Yeah. Well, I, I don't disagree with, we probably want the same emotional response from our team as we get with our clients. Maybe, you know, that there could be the same for, there might be some subtle differences, but what I find fascinating is most accountants don't, don't consider.
[00:11:21] The emotional reaction they're generating in the work they do. Yeah. w w w w when we get crystal clarity on what it is, and, and to be actually, we had our, strategic session yesterday. I had someone run a rural nurse, you know, Q and a, on me and the business and with all my team here, which is, you know, it's really uncomfortable.
[00:11:42]but we were, we were looking at, what is it, what is it that they value the most. And it, is it the fact that the accounts are done right? Or is it the, because of the way you as a firm make them feel? And the only conclusion I can reach is it's the way my clients feel about the work we do and the way your clients feel about the way you do.
[00:11:59] That's what [00:12:00] they value the most. But most of us are walking around, not knowing what, what we're aiming for, which emotions we're aiming
[00:12:05] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:12:05] for. I think you've got your range of clients. You've got some clients who just really, they don't care as long as it's done. and it's functional and you've also got some clients who basically, if it's digital and less long paper, you're the person that helps.
[00:12:20] They think you're marvelous because you can use a computer and, and that's great, but it's, it's the way you handle that rather than saying to them. No, we do everything. Digital is being able to say to them. Yes, we do everything digital and we'll help keep you compliant. But will it be the middle person and to help you and it's, it's, that's how you, how you, how we support them and make them feel happy.
[00:12:44]But they're still being compliant, but they don't have to make that leap of faith and into a world that they don't understand.
[00:12:51] Jonathan Vowles: [00:12:51] And, and thankfully, we don't have that many clients who are Luddites. It stresses the rest of the team out. Yeah,
[00:12:59] Paul Shrimpling: [00:12:59] yeah, yeah. [00:13:00] Interesting. I'm, I'm just, I guess I'm, I'm challenged by the word.
[00:13:04] D does a business owner walk around, out there going, Oh, I want to find an accountant. That's gonna make it. Yeah,
[00:13:11] Jonathan Vowles: [00:13:11] no, I don't think,
[00:13:12] Paul Shrimpling: [00:13:12] I think they are. I don't think they are. I mean, I'm a business owner. I don't give a monkey's whether my account, it makes me happy or not, but there are certain things there's certain emotions I do want to feel.
[00:13:20] Yeah. And it's not, you know, don't get me wrong. Happiness might be the outcome. Yeah, they have a successful business, but, I'm, I'm not hunting for an accountant. Who's going to make me happy. I can go to the pub for that. You know, there's, there's one, one way I can go to the mountains. I can do both, do both of my, my, children in tow then.
[00:13:39] Great. Whether we're skiing or client, I'm not bothered. but in terms of what is the, emotional. reaction that I, as a business owner, your clients, as business owners want to experience because they've got the right accountant as opposed to the wrong accountant. I just think it's a fascinating question.
[00:13:56] Yeah. So, which has got huge value [00:14:00] because that's the value part, the value equation it's yeah.
[00:14:02] Jonathan Vowles: [00:14:02] I, I mean, do all accountants provide the same, the same commodity, if you, you know, and the answer is well, In, in terms of preparing a tax return or preparing a set of accounts, as far as the client is concerned, just be, do as far as the accountant is concerned.
[00:14:22] Probably not. Cause there's, there's a huge array of differences, but is I've never seen my job as just preparing accounts. You know, for me, accounts are. Are very much a stepping stone into being able to help the business owner and whether it's helping the family. Cause we talk about personal finance, ices, and pensions, or whether it's, we're talking about looking at their business in a strategic way, or, you were doing a bit of clever tax planning.
[00:14:53] That's going to save them lots of money later. Sure. you know, you, you want them to be, [00:15:00] you want them to have. A feeling of trust and peace of mind and S and that general sense of wellbeing of, yeah. It's in a safe pair of hands, but also you want them to have the occasional moments of joy, you know, yeah.
[00:15:15] You've done that. We've achieved that. One of the things that I particularly liked doing. Is those kinds of wake up and smell the coffee moments, those moments, because as accountants and as business owners like yourself, we're business owners, Paul, and, and all our clients are obviously how many times are we saying, Oh, you've got to have a plan.
[00:15:36] You've got to have a forecast and we're looking forward instead of saying, well, let's, let's look back and go the old Pat on the shoulder route. And, it, it it's something that I, I consciously. Try to do in, you know, if I've got an, an annual meeting about the accounts, one of the things you do is compare one year with another.
[00:15:57] If, if it's better, then you [00:16:00] know, who else is going to give them validation? Who else is going to give them praise? Who else is gonna, help them to realize, you know, it, you know, 2020, the, the pandemic, the recession, as Himba said, when you're going through hell, just keep buggering on and keep on going.
[00:16:17] And, it's a technical term you use, it's one I'm familiar with and, and you do have to keep going, but also every so often you need to look back and say, well, by JoVE look what we've done.
[00:16:34] Paul Shrimpling: [00:16:34] Sure. So actually, maybe stopping a business owner in the tracks and go and just acknowledge the good things you've
[00:16:40] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:16:40] done.
[00:16:41] Yeah. And it's also something that we, we try and practice ourselves because when we were finding things difficult, early in the year, we actually had to go, hang on a minute, let's stop and look at what we've managed to achieve. And I think having that mindset as well is when we have meetings with clients, we actually, when they're like, Oh, it's all horrible, you know, w we're in lockdown.
[00:17:00] [00:17:00] It's it's being able to say, okay, things aren't great at the moment. you can't change the past. This is what has happened, but let's look at how we go forward. How, how can we change this? What can we do? What can we plan, but recognize where we are at the moment.
[00:17:16] Paul Shrimpling: [00:17:16] Yeah. Yeah. Brilliant. So it's interesting as we've expanded this conversation, I've now got, that the, the emotional reaction you're seeking from your clients is yes.
[00:17:26] We want them to relax. Let's okay. Let's run with the happiness piece for sure. peace of mind, confidence, trust, safe pair of hands that's the, that, you know, they're your words. I've just captured. The things that I think are in this emotional space, this emotional payoff space. yeah. Yup. I've presented this stuff from stage a few times and I go, do you know, actually what we want to do is deliver some effing value.
[00:17:46]when, when I say effing value, I mean, E F value, emotional and functional value payoff from the customer's perspective. Right. but I just want to dig a bit deeper on one of these, this safe pair of hands. What, what did, what, what reaction are you wanting from your [00:18:00] client's emotional reaction from the fact that they see you as a safe pair of hands?
[00:18:03] What is it there? Feeling as a consequence of being certain in their mind that you are as a firm, you and your team are a safe pair of hands coral. What do you, what, how would you respond to that?
[00:18:17] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:18:17] It is very hard. It is very hard.
[00:18:22] I think because we spend all of our days mixed up with the neuro emotions between work and, and family. You don't, you don't always think and expand it. To everybody that you meet because you just don't have time to, to do that. I, I don't know if it, I don't think trust is an emotion, but that's what you're looking for is the trust.
[00:18:41] Paul Shrimpling: [00:18:41] It's absolutely, it's an outcome, isn't it? Trust is an outcome of them feeling in a particular way. And so the question is, well, how do you want them to feel.
[00:18:50] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:18:50] Right now, right now, going through my head, I've actually got a vision of, it's it inside out the film inside out and where all the people are in your head, the [00:19:00] emotion, joy jumping up and down because of the trust, right?
[00:19:07] Jonathan Vowles: [00:19:07] Is it not a sense? a sense of care of the fact that we do care and we are caring and we're, and, and, and isn't that why, when a customer relationship goes wrong, it goes wrong big time, because it's that sense of betrayal that comes from the loss of trust and loss and loss of peace. I think it's,
[00:19:28] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:19:28] I think it's on every level.
[00:19:30] Yes. Yes. If somebody rings up and it's a small, even if it's a small thing, like, well, you know, you've, you've had my papers for so long. We're not aware that that's happened. It's because we care that we feel that we've, we're chipping away at their trust and that we've let them down. And then we actually sit back as a team and go, how can we do, how can we be better?
[00:19:53]and I think, yeah, Because that's the way our characters are. We don't actually sit and analyze it. We w
[00:20:01] [00:20:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:20:01] it's what we are. Yeah. So cared for is, is I guess a little bit like the trust thing is an outcome of doing certain things and you've just hinted there or like that. So if we get the timing of what we're doing wrong, they might not feel as cared for.
[00:20:14] Yes. So they're going to feel frustrated, disappointed, which are the emotions we want to avoid. Like the plague. Yes. If I can use that word in 2020, that's appropriate. so timing and the speed with which things are dealt with. And also I think you're hinting at as well is how you communicate with your clients around what's going on.
[00:20:34] Yeah. then results in the cared for, but actually we're still not got to, what is it? The emotions that they feel that, that may enable it enables them to say, Oh yeah, I feel really cared for. And that friendly accountancy firm called JV CA
[00:20:48] Jonathan Vowles: [00:20:48] golly, that, that it is hard because I guess it's not something that we've sat down and planned and evaluated or reviewed in the sort of way we're doing at the moment.
[00:21:00] [00:20:59] And it's. We want them to, I guess, the symptom, what we want them to do. We want them to be able to go to their friends and say, you know, we're really satisfied. We've got a great accountant. Let's tell you their name. Yeah. So we want them to feel satisfaction. We want them to feel happiness. We want them to feel cared for.
[00:21:25] Yeah. And are those the building blocks of that trust, that trusted advisor role?
[00:21:31] Paul Shrimpling: [00:21:31] Hmm. I'd say it's a great
[00:21:33] Jonathan Vowles: [00:21:33] question. Isn't it? Yeah. Try and get back. Thanks
[00:21:37] Paul Shrimpling: [00:21:37] though. I'm good at doing that, but it's, it is, you know, the, the profession talks about, you know, we are the trusted advisor of the business owner community, but trusts and outcome.
[00:21:47] People feeling in a particular way so that, so there's a feeling piece connected with trust. There's also actually the value that we, so, I drive round in, Alexis, all right. A little one, drive around a little [00:22:00] Lexus, because of the way it drives or the way it makes me feel. Yeah. Is it, you know, is it the size of the engine or the way it makes
[00:22:10] Jonathan Vowles: [00:22:10] me feel?
[00:22:10] Yeah. And it's always the way it makes you feel.
[00:22:13] Paul Shrimpling: [00:22:13] Absolutely. So that's a car, but actually in business owner, buying accountancy services sounds as though we're really in functional world, but isn't it not the same? Is it something similar?
[00:22:24] Jonathan Vowles: [00:22:24] If everything's an emotional buying decision really? Yeah,
[00:22:27] Paul Shrimpling: [00:22:27] it is. And I think it's, it may, may, may Angelou said something about, you know, people will forget everything you've done for them, but they'll remember the way you made them feel.
[00:22:34] Yes. So until we've got clarity on what it is, what, what emotional response we're expecting to deliver in our clients' hearts and minds, then we're, we haven't, we're never really going to quite nail down the way we design our service delivery. That's that's me posing a
[00:22:52] Jonathan Vowles: [00:22:52] possibility that, I think that's really true.
[00:22:55] And it's, and it's hard work. I mean, I've, I've, over the years, I've [00:23:00] looked for the. You know, the things that you do, the way that you connect with a client, the way that you connect, if you're trying to convert a potential into an actual w the way that you talk, when you're trying to, make sure that somebody a client is appreciating the work that you've done.
[00:23:20]you know, if, if you're, if you're trying to sell a fee or a fee increase, then, then yeah. You know, even if you don't realize it, I think your point is they are all emotional decisions and you have to, you know, there's a bit of logic in everything, but it's got, it's got to be that, that gut reaction that, you know, do you feel calm and happy or do you've got that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?
[00:23:46] Paul Shrimpling: [00:23:46] All right. So see, you've just used the word car now. No, no, no. I'm just getting a safe pair of hands. You know, I work with this account and makes me feel really calm and a stressed out business owner is going to be another, one's going to go, [00:24:00] what you account that helps you feel calm. All of a sudden they're engaged, aren't they?
[00:24:03] Because of the emotional connection. so I th you know, karma is an interesting state. Yes. Yeah. You know, how many business owners feel calm?
[00:24:15] Jonathan Vowles: [00:24:15] Well, if, if it's possible, it, you know, but the point is. In order to get to that state of feeling at peace with the world. Yeah. Stuff has gotta be in the right place.
[00:24:28] You know, you've got to have, you know, your business has to be firing on at least three cylinders, rather, rather than only one. And, you know, if you get it filing on all four, well happy days.
[00:24:40] Paul Shrimpling: [00:24:40] Hm. I think the, you can cause it, how many parents feel calm making that analogy between the, you know, parents and business owner.
[00:24:48] I think it's an interesting
[00:24:50] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:24:50] tell you that one.
[00:24:54] Paul Shrimpling: [00:24:54] yeah, we just got all our four slowly,
[00:24:56] Jonathan Vowles: [00:24:56] but surely hopefully making their way home.
[00:24:58]Paul Shrimpling: [00:24:58] And
[00:24:58] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:24:58] this year, I mean, as, as, [00:25:00] as parents and people working. So I've currently got a child at home in the second period of isolation. so it's, it's dealing with that as well. And so connecting with. Connecting with clients.
[00:25:13]one of the first things you say is how is it for you and what's going on? And when they say, Oh, do you know what it's really difficult? You oversee? Yep. I usually, as one walks behind me across the screen, but it's, it's having those emotional connections that it's like, yeah, we're going through the same as you.
[00:25:31] And I'm able to support. Be there for you.
[00:25:35] Paul Shrimpling: [00:25:35] Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's that, that, I mean, th th th the psychologists call it empathy, won't they wouldn't, they, they, you know, there's, you know, interesting and great question is if that's an opening line for your meetings or calls with your clients, you know, how is it for you?
[00:25:46] You, you, you're not having an accountancy conversation. You're having an emotional conversation. Yes.
[00:25:50] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:25:50] Yeah. Without even we don't sit and analyze it because that's the first thing we do is we say, look,
[00:25:58] Paul Shrimpling: [00:25:58] yeah, yeah, yeah.
[00:26:00] [00:25:59] Jonathan Vowles: [00:25:59] What was that first question? How do we humanize the process? That being an accountant, it is all about people.
[00:26:07] Paul Shrimpling: [00:26:07] It is, but that frustrates the hell out of me that Jonathan, when someone says it is all about the people quite right. Yeah. But actually we as business owners have a need to work out, a little bit more than that. If it is a people business, we just happen to be accountants or you guys happen to be accountants, but we're in the people business or, you know, there's a Peter Drucker says we're in the, whatever the industry is not we're in the look after our customer business.
[00:26:30] Yes. What does that look after me? What does it service our customer means? What makes, what makes them feel in the right way? All right. So what's the right way for an accountancy firm to make a business out in the field is the, still to some degree, an unanswered question, but it's just starting to explain, because I got, you know, Jonathan and Carle, male, female.
[00:26:54] On on a podcast at the same time, it was like, where do I go with this one then? Because it's, there's, [00:27:00] it's having those perspectives and what I, what I think, and I'd like to pursue this line of questioning. Now, what, what advantages do you think you as a firm get? Because you've got a female and a male leading the business.
[00:27:13] As opposed to just a lot of accountants where it's male
[00:27:15] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:27:15] dominated. What I think my husband would have a very interesting perspective on that because we feel that we're very much switched in our roles as I'm married to nurse. So,
[00:27:22] Paul Shrimpling: [00:27:22] well, that's, you know, this male, this isn't female nurses,
[00:27:28] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:27:28] I know, I think differently from my other, for my other, the other mums of the school, but I still have those emotions, but I don't think we're any different.
[00:27:37] We think we are more family orientated than male and female and the office, so,
[00:27:46] Paul Shrimpling: [00:27:46] right. Interesting.
[00:27:49] Jonathan Vowles: [00:27:49] It's I, I th I think, it's far easier for. man, you know, especially, you know, fat middle-aged bloke like me to be, thank [00:28:00] you, to, to be, to, to, to ignore the world and just focus on, you know, where, when, when my kids were little, I didn't do much.
[00:28:09] In terms of helping. Cause I was trying to start a business and drive a business. That was my baby, not the humans. And later in life, I regretted the, the fact that I'd been absent more than I wanted to have been here. and, and you, you know, You you, things happened to make you realize, and, and that's great, but I should have realized sooner, but the, there is, there is, there is a, you know, a genuine difference in outlook, I think between coral and myself, and I think coral is far more empathetic
[00:28:44] Paul Shrimpling: [00:28:44] than I am.
[00:28:47]Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:28:47] I would agree, definitely that there's a difference in our outlooks. But in the way that we compliment one another, we've said this many times that we work and some of the team have also said we worked well together because there [00:29:00] are some things that I'm, I'm like sometimes I'm too soft and Jonathan would go, no, but sometimes, I'll, I'll be the other way and say, well, actually, it's we both, we both are very different.
[00:29:17] Paul Shrimpling: [00:29:17] Hmm. And do you know I'll, I'll. Well, I was gonna say, you know, I'll, I'll have a, a two partner firm, both males, for example, and there, and there'll be different. And then I'll look at it, a seven partner firm with, you know, a real cross section in terms of ethnicity, male, female, and so on. And they're all different.
[00:29:37] There is a, there's a, there's a, there's an advantage to, as long as there is that blend. And the balance is if everyone's the same in terms of core personalities, there's a challenge isn't there, but I just want to pick up on that. The point you made Jonathan in terms of, you know, your, the, the, the time with the kids were in their formative years, if you will.
[00:29:54]and, and I was looking at your, your, your, your, about us page before this interview and the, [00:30:00] you know, the, the promise, the five promises you make, to your, you know, to the audience that might find that page. And it struck me that there was, th there's five elements to that, in, in short order, rather than reading the whole thing out.
[00:30:38] Jonathan Vowles: [00:30:38] It really does. I mean, something I've said in the past, and I'm sure I'll say again in the future is I've probably made. Every mistake it's possible for a business person to make. And I'm just lucky to still be here. You know, I mean, I've had, I've had a bad debt that absolutely crippled me. I've had, I've gone from, having plenty of [00:31:00] staff to within.
[00:31:02] Six months, pretty much everybody resigning. And, and now what do I do? you know, I've had all sorts of business challenges and it's the ones that I really regret are the things that affect my family. Hmm. Yeah. And, and that comes down to those five promises because they are humanizing things, you know, lots of people start a business for.
[00:31:28]the frustration of not being able to spend time with a family or, yeah, life's too filled with hassle. They want to simplify things and, and, and, or, you know, they want to start a business so they can get to a better lifestyle. And, our job isn't to add up stuff it's to help them get where they want to go.
[00:31:51] You know, you, you look at every. Every business coach in the world. The reason they're saying the sort of things they're saying is because [00:32:00] this there's real pain in real families and, and it resonates and it, and, and it resonates with me. Cause I. Bloody well went through some of that stuff. I
[00:32:10] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:32:10] think there's, I think there's also a circumstance, the second section, the situation around the time.
[00:32:15] Cause I set up my own business to be able to, work part time and to be with the family. And it's, as they got older, I then, looked for something more for myself and, and started working with Jonathan. So my, my children, The eldest is only just hit the teenagers. So I I've got one at secondary school and one at primary school where Jonathan went through that 10, 15 years before me.
[00:32:39] And it was very different times then as well. So, but the emotions are still there with you. where I'm at. I was able to say yes, I was able to do this, but I had different technology as well. do I have any regrets to what I've done? No. but yeah, Cause I was there for my kids and I, and I managed to get that balance.
[00:32:57] But if I was 10 years older, 15 years, [00:33:00] if they were 10 years older, could I've done it then I don't know if I
[00:33:03] Paul Shrimpling: [00:33:03] could. Yeah. And it's, it's, you know, the hypothetical questions and it says it's, what, what I loved about that, the, the, the promise, those five promises, was it connected to that? You know, how, how do we humanize what we're doing with our clients?
[00:33:17] Well, if we help them free up time, So they're not using time on stuff they don't really want to do, let us do that for you. You know, there's, there's a, you know, what's the sense, what's the feeling that they get from that it's that sense of release, isn't it that you're looking to give them, you know, do you really want to be doing that?
[00:33:31] So there's that, you know, sense of release, Okay. You know, the money thing was, I think, more of a, you know, a cash focus you've got, your you'd have to have the lifeblood of the, the business is the oxygen of businesses, cash, isn't it. So there's that, you know, is that being managed in the right way? Well, we've got lots of experience and expertise at that.
[00:33:47] So, you know, we can guide reassure, I think there's a reassurance piece in there in terms of that emotional payoff, who doesn't want to reduce the hassle that's really, you know, absolutely. And, you know, the more ambitious business owner is [00:34:00] going to be in pursuit of goals. And if, you know, you can build their confidence and certainty yeah.
[00:34:05] And achieving that, then, then they're likely to be, more interested in working with you. and so we can see is what, what I would challenge you to do is just, just pull up after we'd finished, pull up your website and see if you can identify words that are emotions in your website. Copy. Yeah.
[00:34:24] And I challenge every account to do that. And actually very rarely do you have an accountancy firm who's actually got anywhere near reflecting the sort of emotions that business owners are wanting from working with their accounts he felt, yeah. Yeah. Now don't get me wrong. Business owners. Aren't walking around going,
[00:34:39] Jonathan Vowles: [00:34:39] Oh, I'm in pursuit of these emotions.
[00:34:41] I can't
[00:34:42] Paul Shrimpling: [00:34:42] do that. They're not. But that's th that's not their job. That's our job to work that out and ensure that we communicate in that way, that way. So that was the, that was the challenge I wanted to pose. And then the fifth part of that promise of you. Yeah. Thanks. Neat. is that, you know, we promise, and this is my language, my interpretation of what the fifth one was, and it was a friend in need.
[00:35:01] [00:35:00] And I read that I'm like, that's just a friendly, why aren't they using that phrase, a friend in need, if this is the friendly from the friendly accountant, I just said sounds as though that will be a great line for you guys.
[00:35:11] Jonathan Vowles: [00:35:11] Well, we've always been here, you know, as it says, you know, w the capital's always on, you know, I noticed that, I thought that was a really good line.
[00:35:19] Yeah. And, and, and, and, you know, those of you who know me know, I'm also rarely more than a couple of inches away from a cup, and it's just a shame it's empty at the moment. yeah, I needed that. Jonathan. We didn't do that. You know, there have been. Quite a few times where we've said to a client, you know, just come in, have a chat.
[00:35:39] Yeah, no, nevermind. All of this Pfaff. We've had people who say, Oh, I do want to rack up a big bill now, just come have a chat, waive the fee. Let's get you sorted. And, and it, and it is. It is about those relationships. You know, I'm, I'm a human being. I struggle to see somebody else in distress when I know I can do something to help it.
[00:35:59] And, [00:36:00] and, you know, before I get loads of people coming up saying, Oh, you said you do some pro bono work, you know? Yes we do, but not a lot of it. but we're, we are here for our clients, you know, you know, clients sometimes. Go through lives, like so proper as well. They're more than any soap opera, a script writer can ever sometimes.
[00:36:20] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Anyone who's been in practice for any length of time will have come across a whole range of things. What can you do to help? How can you help somebody? You know? And sometimes it is. You just gotta be, you know, it's going to have a beer or tea and have an arm around the shoulder, have a chat.
[00:36:45] And because. venting, unloading your spleen will make you feel
[00:36:51] Paul Shrimpling: [00:36:51] better. Yeah. Yeah. And that's been that friend in need, isn't it? so Carl to finish, what, what, what are your thoughts on that? you know, that, that positioning statement, which is, you know, we [00:37:00] as a firm or a friend needs, you know, is there for a friend indeed.
[00:37:04] Is that how the phrase finishes? We can say we, you know, we're there for you. It's such a bit, it sounds a bit glib, I guess, but it is part of what. The game is isn't it that the role is as an accountant to a business? Yeah, yeah,
[00:37:15] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:37:15] absolutely. I mean, I I've, I mean, I've been in practice for, for quite some time, but also have some time out of practice work and I work for a charity and the role was, yes, I was an accountant there, but it was still a very similar thing.
[00:37:27] You're there for, for the people and people come up to you and I'll ask different questions relating to their accounts. and I think I just transpose that to wherever I am would that would there for the people that. The, the need to have those questions in the need, those help. And sometimes with just signposting you to the right direction.
[00:37:47] But other other times there's a lot more that's involved.
[00:37:49] Paul Shrimpling: [00:37:49] Yeah. Yeah. So what, tell me, what, what is it about the conversation we've had today that you're going to take away that might, contribute to the way you're thinking differently or doing different things [00:38:00] in, in, in your, from what, what is, what, what stood out for you guys today?
[00:38:04] Jonathan Vowles: [00:38:04] I guess we've been going around the edges of looking at our business from your perspective, from the humanizing icing perspective. And, but we haven't, haven't previously drawn out the emotions and, and, and as you say, you know, are they, are they part of the language on our website? Are they part of the language that we use when we speak to clients sometimes, but there's more that we can do there to reflect.
[00:38:33] The truth, the reality of what we're trying to achieve.
[00:38:36] Paul Shrimpling: [00:38:36] Brilliant. And I, I'm just, I'm just, well, I'll save my bit to the last quarter. What, what, what, what are your, what stood out for you in this conversation?
[00:38:43] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:38:43] Two minutes, like Jonathan was saying it's, it is looking at the emotions of wheat. We sit down and look at things strategically and we look at how can we improve internally?
[00:38:52] How can we make things better? But we hadn't really considered like the whole, the emotions. We know how our staff react, but it's like, [00:39:00] what's, what's driving them. What's their emotions. We want them to feel happy. we know, we know you can usually tell if your staff are happy quite often, because they're tell you because, but that also means that they're comfortable and that they feel in a comfortable place to be able to tell you that they're not happy.
[00:39:16]which is, which is a good sign. But we don't, we don't always drill down on it in, in more, more details and looking forward. And when we, when we do our strategic planning days, Maybe that's something that, that will be built in in, because, because, that's the way, the way things are at the moment that you look at you look at bright from where my child goes to school, the way the school reacts to me, trying to see am I happy as a parent that they're, they're getting what they need, even down to your local GP surgery, sending, sending those, questionnaires and feedback F it's it's.
[00:39:52] Looking at the emotions that's going to help us to, to keep current, to keep modern and to keep with the future.
[00:40:00] [00:40:00] Paul Shrimpling: [00:40:00] Well, Casey, keep modern, you know, stay relevant. I think what you're saying is how do, how do we stay relevant? Well, we stay relevant by actually having that emotional connection with our customers.
[00:40:09] Yeah. And if we don't have that emotional connection with our customers, we will not be relevant to them.
[00:40:14] Coral Tolley-Fletcher: [00:40:14] It's that simple. And that's where I don't think, I think we've, I think we do it, but without thinking about it,
[00:40:21] Paul Shrimpling: [00:40:21] And Jonathan says to me that we might not have those emotional words on our website, if you haven't, by the way.
[00:40:27]it's all right.
[00:40:27]but actually, you know, your, your comment earlier about, you know, the question you start with colleagues, you know, you know, how are you coping or, you know, how is it for you today? You know, that's w w w w we're we're naturally doing that. But actually then when we start to look at our business strategically, we go into functional land.
[00:40:43] And when we look at designing our services, we go into functional land whilst shouldn't we, if we're thinking about our business strategically go right, what emotional response we want from our clients on an ongoing basis and improve that emotional reaction. Because if value is genuinely partly functional, partly emotional, [00:41:00] we better work as hard on the emotional stuff as we do on the functional stuff.
[00:41:03] And I think it gets lost sometimes with the cancers. I think you're right. I'm good. Thank you for that. That's a good place to finish I thing given that first, right
[00:41:11] Jonathan Vowles: [00:41:11] first time at the end of 2020, and I've been right once, so that's good,
[00:41:16] Paul Shrimpling: [00:41:16] Jonathan. I really appreciate you allowing me to, you know, dig around in an area, which is rarely, rarely contemplated Valley discussed and rally, thought about.
[00:41:26]but I think one which is profoundly valuable and, and, and, and, I've really enjoyed it. So thank you very much for your time today and your honesty and openness.
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What emotional response do you want from your clients?
Looking backwards for a minute
Trust is an outcome
Do we value things based on how the function or on how they make us feel?
Advantages of having both a male and a female leading the business
A friend in need
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