FOR CLIENTS, THE ANSWER IS SO MUCH MORE THAN COMPLIANCE WITH STANDARDS
By Rhys Madoc, CEO, UHY International
In accountancy, quality - at one level - is about making sure everything we do meets regulatory standards or legal requirements. Meeting these is the very minimum our clients expect. For example, international accountancy networks including UHY help to provide this assurance through membership of IFAC’s* Forum of Firms, conditional on meeting stringent quality standards.
But we know that quality goes beyond compliance. To help clients meet their objectives, we need to do more. Quality is also about service levels – for example, how reliable and responsive we are; how well we communicate; and how far we tailor our products to meet clients’ particular requirements.
A culture of quality
How do accountants nurture a culture of quality? We start with the basics. At its core, quality is about offering a consistently professional service, regardless of client size or spend.
Quality is caring about the total client experience, from first phone call to project handover - through prompt responses to queries, well-articulated proposals, a thoroughness in everything we do, and a determination to meet our deadlines and keep our promises. This is not a legal or statutory requirement. It is a commitment to our clients, delivered through our people.
Forging relationships is also about driving quality. When we get to know clients well, we are better able to understand their motivations and help them realise their ambitions. They turn to us for advice, and we become trusted advisors, a real mark of quality.
It is also what we do when nobody is watching
So what else does quality mean? To answer that, we need to understand that most professional services providers are now so much more than technicians.
Not only do we need to be experts in audit and assurance, tax, accounting and a host of business advisory disciplines, we also need to be highly knowledgeable about the wider globally-connected business world, and the challenges and opportunities our clients face every day.
That is why, for accountancy, the old adage is true. ‘Quality is what we do when nobody is watching’. That is what sets firms and networks apart.
For example, it is the insight we accumulate that does not just help businesses stay compliant, it helps them move forwards. It is the experience we bank through working in a variety of industry sectors. But above all, it is the client-centred cultures we work in that help us deliver value on top of expected technical expertise.
The UHY way
Our own client-centred culture has been the driving force behind the UHY global network since its foundation 35 years ago so it is not a fad or fashion, but a decades-old fundamental philosophy of how we do business together as a network across more than 100 countries.
In this sense, quality is about striving for seamless collaboration. Our firms meet regularly, share best practice and - most importantly - understand that with cross-border work the quality of one member firm reflects the reputation of the entire network. This engagement between our offices ensures we know the right person to contact in each country to meet client needs and address those needs quickly and efficiently. We pride ourselves on being cohesive, with a joined up approach to supporting all clients and cross-border initiatives. You can learn more about what quality means to UHY in our Capability Statement, where clients share their experiences of working with our member firms.
In other words, quality is an operational imperative for UHY, but we never stand still. Regulators, clients and the wider business world move on, and we move with them. We are a top 20 global accountancy network for a reason. We work hard for our clients, even when nobody is watching.
*IFAC is the International Federation of Accountants. “We are the global voice for the accountancy profession. We serve the public interest through advocacy, development, and support for our member organisations and the more than 3 million accountants who are crucial to our global economy.” Source: www.ifac.org