In the accounting and professional services space, practitioners are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial.

The term entrepreneurial describes the ability to see opportunities that others miss and the courage to take calculated risks to push an organisation forward. Entrepreneurs are innovative because they aren’t limited by conventional thinking.

As such, many accounting and professional services firms are not just about record keeping, transactions and tax returns anymore. They have expanded into areas like business advisory services for small-to-medium enterprises including financial analysis, government grant applications, and mergers & acquisitions.

This shift from repetitive, low value compliance-orientated tasks to higher value, strategic tax and business advice has come about because many professionals are listening and responding to changing client needs.

This ‘above and beyond’ mindset can be seen in the accounting profession’s response to COVID-19. Since the pandemic’s onset, accountants have worked tirelessly to help desperate clients understand their financial position, access government measures and pivot their businesses, all the while providing comfort, reassurance and emotional support.

As a result, the accounting profession is experiencing a renaissance.

Similarly, financial advisers need to adopt this market-driven, client-led approach.

Advisers have been conditioned to operate inside boundaries set by the industry and their Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL). Few stray beyond life insurance, superannuation and traditional investments.

They are missing opportunities to add value in related areas such as buying and selling property, estate planning and philanthropy, and business advisory.

But the idea of advisers swimming outside the flags makes some AFSLs very uncomfortable.

Under the AFSL regime, consumers benefit from higher consumer protections than many other sectors because licensees carry significant risk and responsibility. This, and the industry’s history of institutional ownership, explain why some licensees do not want advisers going off piste to meet all sorts of client demands.

The institutions wanted advisers to sell their life insurance, superannuation and investment solutions. By owning the value chain, they were able to get away with giving little consideration to the needs of their customers when developing new products and services.

However, in other industries and professions, the customer is king. Companies strive to understand their customers’ needs and preferences faster and better than the competition in order to deliver the right products and services.

They do so with appropriate risk controls and the necessary regulatory approvals but they let the customer dictate their business model because they understand that solving their customers’ problems is good for business.