The Accountant Conduit Effect

The chicken and the egg. A snake eating its tail. A Möbius Strip. What do all of these images have in common? They’re each an example of a continuous system that perpetually cycles in on itself. In case you’re asking yourself why The Practitioner has opened today’s entry with such a bizarre thought, the answer is simple: I’m inspired by this week’s companion guest article, entitled “Marketing Your Family Business Consultancy through the CPA Portal.”

Penned by family business consultant Lance Woodbury, the article proposes an innovative approach on how consultants can source new business by collaborating with accountants to family enterprises. Stay with me, here!…See, while accountants may be skilled tax preparers, they sometimes lack the behavioral science skills and training needed to hand-hold clients through their more interpersonal issues. Since family businesses owners frequently confide in their accountants this can make for an awkward situation, to say the least. But more importantly: these moments present opportunities for family business consultants to collaborate with the more technical advisors.

Interestingly, such consultant/accountant alliances can trigger a rather interesting chain of events. Get ready to follow the bouncing ball. Here goes. The accountant introduces the family business to a consultant, who helps the family become a happier, more efficient business operator. As the business consequently grows its accounting needs become more numerous and complex. And a more sophisticated business can mean more billable hours for the accountant. The more successful the accountant becomes, the more new clients he or she attracts. And naturally, these new clients invariably need…you guessed it: the services of a family business consultant to help them become more sophisticated higher-functioning operators of the business. You have to admit: it’s a compelling concept! The chicken and the egg…

Follow the logic with Woodbury’s article and decide for yourself, because The Practitioner has a sudden urge for an omelette and must get cracking (pun intended) on next week’s blog entry.

About the Contributor:

Lance Woodbury is a consultant to family-owned and closely-held businesses. Prior to forming his own firm, Lance Woodbury served in a number of consulting and leadership roles at the top 100 accounting firm Kennedy and Coe, LLC. He holds a Certificate in Family Business Advising from FFI. He is a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution and FFI. He can be reached at [email protected].


Be sure to look for The Practitioner: Wednesday Edition next week in your email or online, when we feature our next guest article “Second Opinions-Not Just for Medical Issues Anymore,” by Henry C. Krasnow.

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Yours in Practice,

The Practitioner