Tools do not maketh the Tradie

Tools do not maketh the Tradie

A new tool like a power-saw does not have magical powers to turn a bad tradesperson into a good one, however there is an old saying that has been around centuries that says a bad worker will always blame their tools.

But it also holds true that modern equipment and power tools will enable a good tradesperson to carry out their work quicker and with less effort, than previously was the case with traditional hand powered tools, that the craftspeople of the past used. Consequently over time there has been an evolutionary shift away from traditional tools.

The difference between a good and bad tradesperson seems to be the factor that determines if the enabling tool is going to result in a real benefit.

Tradespeople must go through an apprenticeship program, where they are legally bound through indenture to a master craftsman, for a period of time, in order to learn a trade. Usually, on-the-job training is accompanied by some type of formal study. The idea is that hands-on experience gives context to the knowledge and vice versa, allowing the apprentice to learn the craft.

This is where I find it gets interesting.

Learning the craft is much different to being taught the craft, being shown the craft, or doing things by rote. Learning is something the apprentice needs to do themselves.  It follows then, that learning is the thing that differentiates the good tradespeople from the bad.

Only when the tradesperson has accumulated enough knowledge to be able to adapt and apply it to different situations, along with enough practical experience are they considered qualified.  At this point they have enough EXPERTISE to call themselves a tradesperson.  Interestingly, 6 days a week for 4 years, with a little overtime on top which most apprenticeships run for, is roughly 10,000 hours.

I am not an educator, but I take my hat off to them, because they have a tough and important job.  I have always told my kids that it is the teacher’s job to teach and the students’ job to learn. It has always fascinated me that within the same class the top half of kids say the teacher was ‘good’ whereas the bottom half say the teacher was ‘bad’.  The teacher delivers the same curriculum to the whole class, so how can the experience be so different?

Largely it comes down to attitude of both student and their family along with a false expectation that the ‘bad teacher’ was reason their child ‘didn’t learn anything’. Naturally the teacher is going to devote more attention to the kids who are trying to learn.

I was not a great student at school and unfortunately, I took that with me to university. I was however good at passing exams, so I got through my undergraduate studies without really raising a sweat ….and got my golf handicap down to 12. Once I graduated, the 12 handicap was not that useful (other than the odd corporate golf day) and I felt that it took me 10, 000 hours to be good at my job.

 I learned about learning the hard way.

Eventually, I decided that I had enough practical experience, across a range of industries and company types that I would have a go at doing an MBA. It was certainly not easy to find time and I needed to take a hiatus as life demands and house renovations took priority, but I eventually finished with a Distinction average.  I felt that the benefit of all that on-the-job experience really allowed me to validate the extent of my knowledge, but I did learn a lot of new things too.

Often, I would start a topic and get excited thinking ‘I know about this’ only to be amazed at how ‘deep’ we would ‘dig’ beneath the surface. I would learn that my on-the-job experience was often only the equivalent of 6 inches deep, but the MBA seemed to dig down to 6 feet. Nowadays, I observe the odd critic of ‘MBA’s who think they know everything’ within the broader business community, but I doubt anyone that has done an MBA would think like that. I am certainly grateful and glad I took the opportunity to do one.

How does that relate back to the power tools you are probably wondering?

It makes me cringe when I hear the current crop of tech-enabled finance business partners make comparisons to ‘bean counters’ of the past and say they aren’t ‘your stereotypical bean-counter’.  All they are really saying is ‘in 2021 I do things differently to how they did it in 1978’ Well Duh!  It is about as useful as comparing an iPad to a slide rule.

Time stands still for nobody. The tech-enabled world is evolving at a huge rate, but accounting is not developing any quicker than other industries, like medicine or communications.

Today you can drive an entry model new car off the lot in Sydney, drive to Perth and back again without so much as checking the fluids. 50 years ago, that was unimaginable. Is it because we are better drivers today? If so, why is the road toll so appallingly high?

In golf, the average pro whacks his driver 50% further than Arnold Palmer or Ben Hogan did in their day. Are the current crop of golfers better than these past gods of the game, or is it their equipment?

Without doubt technology has shifted the capability baseline of accountants over the years.

But debits are still debits and credits are still credits. Let us not forget that… it is just that today’s accountant uses an iPad, not a 14-column paper pad as a tool.  With automatic system entries, pretty much anyone can reconcile the bank account and produce a P+L, whereas to do this manually requires more skill, accuracy and tenacity.

It takes EXPERTISE to look at the information in a strategic way, then leverage it by combining financial and non-financial information to find the meaning behind the numbers.

As the ‘Master craftsperson’ in the accounting space, a ‘good’ CFO will be able to figure out what is working and what is not, regarding the strategic plan, quickly putting their companies into a position to quickly pivot and seize opportunities or mitigate whilst the business holds on, waits, and survives until the next opportunity comes along.

They must be able to communicate at a very succinct, distilled  (exec summary) level telling users what they need to focus on, (which sometimes comes as a slap in face with wet fish), and then trying to influence people to get them to co-operate and CHANGE. which is a completely different way of thinking to compliance accounting.

Accountants need to be careful not presume that new digital tools are a substitute for expertise and get swept up in comparisons to the past. If we are doing such a great job, why are so many small businesses still failing?

 

David Dillon is the President of the Virtual CFO Association.

The Virtual CFO Association is an elite peer network, advocating and promoting the emerging Virtual CFO sector within the accounting profession. Collectively the association currently has over 500 years of industry experience, with highly qualified and experienced specialists spread across more than 20 industry verticals. If you would like any more information regarding the Association of Virtual CFO’s, please visit our website www.vcfoassociation.com.au

Benefits of being a member of the Virtual CFO Association

Benefits of being a member of the Virtual CFO Association

What do I get from being a member of the Virtual CFO Association?

Aside from the core reason for belonging;  being part of the ONLY elite group with the sole focus of advancing the emerging Virtual CFO sector, there are many other benefits and features:

 Advocacy

We aim to mark out and protect out turf.

  • How do we mark it out? As pioneers in the sector we know better than anyone what it takes to be good at VCFO. Using our credibility, we are at the forefront of educating the broader business community that not all accountants are equal. Our client’s testimonials are the ultimate validation. Our brand will become the mark of quality and clients will demand their Outsourced CFO
  • Who are we protecting it from? Anyone who is offering VCFO services that doesn’t have the requisite expertise. We need the whole community to understand that done wrong, by incompetent or incapable people, VCFO can have harmful, devastating impacts on businesses and the lives of the owners and their families.

Promotion

  • The Website is our centrepiece. The committee is proposing to invest some funds into upgrading the website in the near future. The ‘find a member’ function provides clients a way look up member details and connect with them directly.
  • Blogs – our members get access to our high value content guide and we both give the opportunity to and actively encourage them to write original, relevant, authentic and engaging, thought leader articles. The purpose of this content is to attract customers. We call these our digital hooks
  • LinkedIn, – we have a dedicated VCFO page. https://www.linkedin.com/company/association-of-virtual-cfos/

We can link our Blogs to the LinkedIn page to amplify the reach. Members are expected to and encouraged to like or share other members articles. It is quite possible to have 10,000 people see the post. They say people need to see something up to 7 times before they act, so our content plan includes some repetition, but around half is original and unique, virgin content.

Articles are signed off with the following tag line, attributing the author.

XXXXXXX YYYYYY is a member of the Virtual CFO Association.The Virtual CFO Association is an elite peer network, advocating and promoting the emerging VCFO          sector within the accounting profession. Collectively the association currently has almost 500 years of industry experience, with highly qualified and experienced specialists spread across more than 20 industry verticals. If you would like any more information regarding the Association of VCFO’s, please visit our website www.vcfoassociation.com.au

  • YouTube channel – this gives us video capability. Again, we can link this back to other social media channels and run videos on the website.
  • Events – we have held several successful events in the past. In 2017 we had panel discussions in both Sydney and Melbourne. Guests included Nick Bouris (Mentored.com), Carolyn Miller (The Honeycomb effect) and QuickBooks.

As well as our own events, we are trying to use our profile to raise our profile, by securing speaking opportunities at larger accounting conferences.

  • Media – we have been quoted in the media on several occasions. Acuity Magazine has featured members and VCFO generally. It is an area that we intend to double down on in the coming months. We have made connections with Accountants Daily, AFR and Fairfax which we intend to issue press releases for significant milestones, such as member numbers, years of experience etc.

Best Practice Forum

  • Private WhatsApp group – for quick “Does anyone know…, does anyone have…has anyone used” type guidance.
  • Monthly Zoom meetings – ½ hour to 1 hour (depending on agenda – who attends etc) these give our interstate colleagues an opportunity to ‘meet’ and stay in touch. Our sub-committees
  • 1/4ly Mastermind (face to face) are held in each location. Typically, these are reasonably informal, where members meet 7.00am -8.30am at a central, convenient and comfortable location, (like a city hotel) grab a buffet breakfast and chew the fat. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and giving members the opportunity to contribute.

Typical topics that are covered are like: risk / practice management / new software / extended network (lawyers, etc)

Collaboration

We believe that being able to tell your clients and prospective clients that you are part of a much bigger collective, who has almost 500 years of experience, across over 20 industry verticals is super powerful. Being able to draw upon capabilities and capacity that you don’t have, can remove barriers to winning a client. What’s more we don’t think there is another VCFO organisation in the country that can boast that.

  • Industry specific Expertise
  • Software expertise
  • Capacity overload sharing resources
  • White label or subcontract
  • The 5 Principals
  • No Poaching

Collaborating is beneficial to each other and the client. If you are introduced to someone else’s client, you are acting as their agent. Aside from breaking every ethical and moral code known to man, it is very uncool

  • Respect

Nobody likes having their time wasted chasing people for responses etc. Show the respect you’d expect someone to show you and your time. Be upfront and honest, don’t tyre kick and dick people around.

  • Professional

If you are asking for help, be as clear and complete as you can so others don’t have to keep going back and asking for information. Package things so they can be priced and to work out the expertise fit is right.

  • Honour your commitments

Do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it, for the price you agreed. If you agree to a deadline, assume the client is expecting it.

  • What goes around

When this is working at its best, members will reciprocate when they can. There is no firm obligation as such, clients need come first and foremost, but put back in what you take out overall and everyone will share the benefit.

Honestly this is the best $40 per month you could possibly spend on your business. There aren’t any $40 per month alternatives that come close.

The Association of Virtual CFO’s gives all members a separate, credible platform to showcase their expertise and extend your own sales funnel. We offer members encouragement and coaching on how to write great content. We amplify the reach beyond individual networks by engaging with each other’s content.

Be part of a collective of elite peers to bounce things off and ask for help. Don’t waste time and resources re-inventing the wheel.

Enjoy the synergies of being part of the only elite group with extensive expertise at its’ disposal – whose sole focus is to advance the emerging Virtual CFO sector within the accounting profession. Never again walk into a client meeting as ‘only you is it?’

If you would like any more information jump on the “What is a Virtual CFO?” Page and watch the videos or if you would like to obtain a free copy of our e-book “So, you want to be a Virtual CFO

If you feel like this is for you – then jump on the “Membership” page above and fill out the ‘Apply for membership’ details. One of our guys will promptly be in touch.

Why would I join the Virtual CFO Association?

Why would I join the Virtual CFO Association?

We believe that the better question to ask is “Why wouldn’t you join the Association?”

Our vision is to go ‘all-in’ and build our brand as THE mark of quality in this exciting sector.

Being a part of this elite pool of expertise gives our members a very compelling point of difference in the market.

So, when your clients ask, “Why you aren’t a member of the Virtual CFO Assoc?”, how will you answer?

The 4 most common objections we get are: 

  • What do I get for $40 per month?
  • I don’t have any time
  • Nothing much has been happening of late

Would you please be kind enough to allow us the opportunity to address these below?

  • What do I get for $40 per month
  • Honestly this is the best $40 per month you could possibly spend on your business. Honestly there aren’t any $40 alternatives that come close.
  • This gives you all a separate credible platform to showcase your expertise and extend your own sales funnel.
  • Be part of a collective of elite peers to bounce things off and ask for help.
  • Synergies of being part of the only elite group with extensive expertise at its’ disposal – whose sole focus is to advance the emerging VCFO sector within the accounting profession.

 

  • I don’t have any time
    • We’re all busy, we all have our own businesses
      • We all have excuses and doubts
      • If you make time, you’ll find that it’s worth it.
    • It is a very modest investment of time anyway
      • Monthly Zoom meeting (½ hour – 1 hour)
      • 1/4ly breakfast (usually 7am-8.30am)
      • For every piece of content, you create, you can re-purpose and fly up you own flagpole later.
      • Sharing / Liking other content to extend reach – 5-10 min a week
    • You’ll waste more time going to a single networking “hollow-coffee catch up”
    • Tried networking groups of suburban Micro businesses before? – absolutely nothing like them!

 

  • Nothing much has been happening of late
    • Hats off to the founders, but the initial strategy stagnated.
      • We accept that
      • We tried hard, we tried different things.
      • We move on.
      • Onwards and upwards
    • In November 2019, V2 of the Association was hatched
      • Fresh strategic vision
      • Fresh talent on the committee
      • Renewed energy and focus. (we are pumped!)
    • It’s up to each and every member to make it happen
      • Everyone needs to assume responsibility to do their part to ensure we operate as a high-performance group
      • We are all grown-ups
    • If it’s not working, it’s up to us to work it.

If you would like any more information jump on the “What is a Virtual CFO?” Page and watch the videos or if you would like to obtain a free copy of our e-book “So, you want to be a Virtual CFO

If you feel like this is for you – then jump on the “Membership” page above and fill out the ‘Apply for membership’ details. One of our guys will promptly be in touch.

What is the Virtual CFO Association ?

What is the Virtual CFO Association ?

Collectively, amongst our elite peer network we have almost 500 years of industry experience spread across over 20 industry verticals.

This gives our members a very compelling point of difference in the market and we doubt there is another VCFO organisation in the country that can match our capability and capacity.

The synergies from drawing from this elite pool of expertise brings confidence to members. Confidence in knowing that when they visit a client, they have this amazing resource to tap in to. It allows members to bring in industry specific knowledge, or software familiarity to match a particular client’s needs. It allows members to quickly bring in pre-qualified capacity to larger project, or at the start of a ‘clean-up’ and on-boarding process.

It also brings comfort to clients. Comfort from knowing that there is substance backing up their Virtual CFO. Knowing their Virtual CFO won’t get swamped, or if they get run over by a bus, there will be continuity for the client.

Uptake of Virtual CFO services in the broader business community is steadily growing. Don’t just take our word for it. Virtual CFO has now also been around long enough to have client advocates and testimonials to vouch for the enormous value provided by having a Virtual CFO.  More and more business owners are wanting to engage with a Virtual CFO, whilst more professionals are seeing the huge opportunity that is unfolding and not wanting it to pass by.

The association can’t control new entrants into the sector or weed out those that don’t have the requisite expertise to be doing it properly. To avoid the risk of clients being disappointed, underwhelmed or worse, the Virtual CFO Association vision is to build our brand as the mark of quality in this exciting sector.

We believe there are powerful synergies from coming together as a collective, that are far more powerful than fighting it out alone. The Association of Virtual CFO’s is the only group with the sole focus of advancing the emerging Virtual CFO sector within the accounting profession. It means that the right sort of Virtual CFO starting out can join the Association and ‘never walk alone’, giving them the best chance of succeeding.

If you would like any more information jump on the “What is a Virtual CFO?” Page and watch the videos or if you would like to obtain a free copy of our e-book “So, you want to be a Virtual CFO

If you feel like this is for you – then jump on the “Membership” page above and fill out the ‘Apply for membership’ details. One of our guys will promptly be in touch.

A bright future for Virtual CFO’s

A bright future for Virtual CFO’s

People often ask is Virtual CFO a good industry to be in ?

The best way of dissecting this and answering is to do a Porters 5 Forces analysis.

Competitive Rivalry

The rate of industry growth in this fast growing and emerging sector of the accounting profession means there is plenty of work to go around. The Association believes that we are better to join forces and create a compelling pool of expertise, then to fight amongst ourselves.  Because we are all so individually different based on our extensive industry vertical expertise, we don’t represent threats to each other.  The Association also has the 5 principles of collaboration which includes a no poaching rule. We believe that with collective experience totalling almost 500 years, across over 20 industry verticals that the Association members offer a more comprehensive, compelling solution to non-members.

Threat of new entrants

How hard it is for someone to come in and compete for market share against a VCFO’s offering?

The set-up costs are relatively insignificant. A desk, a laptop, website and phone. What isn’t insignificant is the comprehensive educational background and average of 25 years of corporate industry experience. You can’t accelerate getting these and you can’t do without them. Bookkeepers and compliance accountants can’t do a simple course to ‘convert’ and without the requisite expertise, clients and their businesses will be disappointed or even harmed.

Buyers’ Bargaining Power

Ultimately the client chooses who they work with and who they don’t. Clients have to realise though that the best Virtual CFO for them, will have many years of experience in their industry vertical. As such, it becomes a supply and demand issue. If you want expertise and there isn’t a huge pool of people to choose from, they don’t have much bargaining power. Most Virtual CFO’s are limited to about 10 decent sized clients, so they are careful about aligning themselves with the clients success.  If clients chose on price alone, they will probably end up with a Virtual CFO that isn’t suited to their business or experienced enough to keep up with the bouncing ball.

Suppliers’ Bargaining Power

Is relatively weak. Virtual CFO’s are technology enabled, but software agnostic. That is, the software itself isn’t the ‘secret sauce’ of what we do. Whilst we do factor in clients preferences and switching costs, there are often several options we could use for out clients, meaning we aren’t beholden to any particular supplier.

Substitutes and Complements

When people start to question the value of something, they might look towards an alternative, or substitute. An example would be someone who likes going to the theatre to see live performances, but finds that the cost has become prohibitive and that for a fraction of the price they can go to the movies and still be entertained.

Given Virtual CFO’s have an average of around 25 years of industry experience, it makes it hard for someone without that experience to come up with a credible alternative, compelling reason to switch. The biggest obstacle Virtual CFO’s encounter as a substitute, is from the clients employing a full-time CFO. That said, someone with half the experience, that works twice as long isn’t the same thing.

Summary

We don’t think there has ever been a more exciting time to be starting out in this fast growing and emerging sector. Uptake of Virtual CFO services in the broader business community is steadily growing. Virtual CFO has now also been around long enough to have client advocates and testimonials to vouch for the value provided by having a VCFO.

If you look at the USA and Europe, Virtual CFO is more common. They are early adopters; Australia are the laggards.

“Australian firms have fallen behind firms at the global productivity frontier over recent years.” Treasury deputy secretary Meghan Quinn said.

Virtual CFO’s enabled by cloud accounting can offer huge efficiencies compared to the traditional model. Australia is recognising we are falling behind, we are a resourceful nation and as people look to reduce inefficiency, waste and excess, they will soon realise the value in having a VCFO.