FD Works: business advice that adds real value for your company

12 December 2017

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At FD Works, we believe that making money shouldn’t be the motivating factor for your accountancy practice. We work with ambitious business clients because we want to help them succeed – and we do that by delivering great business advice.

We want to be an equal partner in driving their business growth and long-term success. This core belief is there in our strapline ‘Helping with bold business decisions’, and it’s fundamental to the kind of advice we bring to our business clients each and every day.

Jonathan Gaunt, FD Works founder and MD, explains why helping businesses to embrace their numbers is central to bringing them commercial success.

You’ve got to be commercial…

If you’re going to advise a management board on how to run their business, it helps if you’ve actually had commercial experience of doing that yourself. And some accountants have all the theory, but none of the practical, commercial, hands-on experience. They’ve never run a business and they’ve only ever done the compliance.

Flipping from that compliance to commercial is quite a leap of faith. It can be a very steep learning curve and there are not many accountants who bring that expertise to the table.

I came into practice having worked overseas in industry for a number of years. I went from a well-paid, in-house accountant role to running my own advisory practice almost overnight. It’s taken five years of hard work and continued growth, but we’ve built a growing accountancy practice and a client base that I’m really proud of.

You’ve got to think differently…

In the early days, I started off by doing a few business advice favours for friends, going in and chatting to directors. And talking to one guy I had a eureka moment…

We were working on a business proposal and I’d always had the mentality of ‘You can’t do this because of X, Y and Z…’. And he said ‘I don’t want to know why I can’t do it. Tell me how I need to think differently to make this business work’.

That was the turning point for me. Now I knew where I added value: it was about helping a business owner or MD to think differently about how they ran their company.

But the problem I had at that point was explaining to clients what I did. If you say to someone ‘I’m an accountant’ their response back will be ‘Well, I’ve got an accountant!’ – by which they mean they’ve got someone who does their books and their year-end.

It’s about asking basic questions of the client to get them to open up and see where you add value. And that starts by asking what their biggest problem is. If the client says, ‘We’re not making money’ then our team will start by asking about things like the costs per hour for their people – lot of businesses forget to include things like overheads in these costs.

So we can quickly show businesses why they’re busy but aren’t making any money. It’s those quick wins that allow clients to open up and realise where FD Works is different.

Doing the right thing by your clients

Back in 2010, I did give away some advice for free, as a way to show where FD Works was coming from. And we’ve continued to do that by sharing useful business advice, cloud accounting tips and strategic ideas through our Insights blog on the FD Works website.

If you do the right thing by your clients and then push your expertise out into the marketplace, you’ll reap the benefits of it. What there’s not a shortage of in the UK is ambitious businesses. What there IS a shortage of is quality accountants who can really look after them.

Before we knew it, clients began to get what what we could do. You’ve only got to do an afternoon or a day’s work and, quite quickly, people begin to realise that you’re different.

It’s about giving businesses confidence

For a lot of businesses, they know what’s right and they know what’s wrong from a strategic perspective. What we do, as a business adviser, is give them a big element of confidence.

What we do is give clients that confidence to take on the next employee, or explain to them that next month they’re not going to make any money – and that’s because they’ve got additional overheads, but also that they don’t have the right income stream yet.

It’s about turning it into a story where the client can suddenly understand their own business.

You prepare them for that story and tell them how it’s going to feel. That’s really where FD Works adds the value. We listen, we ask questions and we get to the root of your business’s financial and strategic issues.

We help you to embrace your numbers, and put you in control of your finances so you can realise the true potential of your business.

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Jonathan Gaunt is the founder and MD of FD Works