Welcome back to our QA sessions with influential voices in the accounting sector. Today, it’s Joanne Wharam. Joanne is a people and team development Coach, SMART Support For Business. She is a speaker, author and coach who has worked for over 10 years helping accountants improve their businesses, their teams and ultimately their lives.
Did you go to university… to study what?
I went to university later on in life, studying part-time while working full-time on both occasions. My first degree was in Early Years (3-7) Education, which is less helpful now than my business management degree that I went on to do a few years later. But what that first degree did for me was build my self confidence and reignite my love of learning.
How did you get into your career?
My passion has always been around teams. I was running a team of 6 by the age of 21, but my skills evolved as the role I had and the companies I worked for changed.
I had worked in secured lending for a period of time and then decided that I wanted a change, but the thing was I didn’t know what type of role or work I wanted to do.
So I had a few different shorter term jobs in different industries and began to realise that I was a people person and so liked the customer service side of jobs and that I liked to help people.
Whether that was setting up systems, being brilliant at managing workloads or delivering a first class service.
During this period I was approached by a recruitment agency about an admin job working for a firm that worked with accountants. I didn’t know anything about accountancy at this point, but it was at a firm that had a great team culture and a clear purpose for the work they did.
So I went for interview, got the job and then my role evolved over time. I learned more about the language of accountancy, moved into more of a customer service, then account management role which helped me to develop strong coaching and mentoring skills and a knowledge of what a successful practice looks like.
This all led to me starting my own business in 2013 to make a bigger difference to accountants and the rest as they say is history.
What can accountants and finance professionals learn from you, in a nutshell?
I help accountants to make the most of the practice they have got whether that is more profit, more time or both.
There are different ways in which I can do that; from helping them identify the areas within the practice that can be made even better, enabling them to step out and work on the practice not in it, or understanding and maximising the potential of their team.
What’s on the horizon for you and the sector?
I believe that with the introduction of Making Tax Digital accountancy as a profession is going to see a big transition period.
It will no longer be about simply churning numbers out in statutory accounts, the importance of the wider business analysis reports will increase but the biggest change it that accountants are going to need to be comfortable building and nurturing business relationships with their customers.
This all means that you and the people you have already and/or recruit into your practice are going to need the necessary skills to be able to do this.
As an influential voice, what impact do you want to have on the industry this year and in the long run?
For most accountancy practices their biggest financial investment is in their people especially when you factor in recruitment, training and ongoing CPD costs.
If they invested the same amount of money in an expensive car then it is highly likely that they would regularly get it serviced, to protect it and ensure it’s efficiency.
Yet, ironicall,y there isn’t the same level of investment in ‘servicing’ or looking after the people in a practice. What I would like to change is the importance and investment practices make in nurturing and developing their teams.
What was your experience of Accountex 2018?
It was a hectic, whirlwind tour for me. But having an opportunity to speak about the human side of accountancy was a real privilege.
The best bit by far was seeing how many accountants were in the room, because that showed me that there is change happening and accountants recognise the importance of the work that I do in maximising their return on investment.