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How Millennial Is Your Accountancy Firm?

Jun 3, 2014

One of the things accountants are facing today is the fact that your prospects are getting younger all the time. This grouping is often called “Millennials” – those born between 1980 and 1999.

The question that affects your profits is, how well is your accountancy firm reaching this audience?

Is your accountancy firm reaching the millennial audience?

On a recent flight down to London (on my way to Accountex 2014!), I read an article in the BA Business Life magazine, called “How Millennial Are You?” . It describes the “millennials”, and asks the question of whether you’re ready and able to reach this crowd.

For accountancy firms, it’s even more critical. With the advent of Xero and other cloud-based accounting tools (as well as some incredible add-ons like Fathom and ProfitSee and ReceiptBank), accounting as you know it is not changing – it’s already changed.  And knowing the “millennials” affects your profits.

The Millennials may be young, but these are the ones you want to reach now, while they’re in the earlier years of establishing their portfolios and businesses! (Some of these are also those who will either be handed your legacy when you retire, or they’ll quietly claim the market for themselves.)

So, to help you, we’ve put together a few questions you can ask yourself, to consider how you and your accountancy firm are interacting with millennials.

1. Is your accounting firm’s website mobile-friendly?

Millennials love to be on the move. With the low cost of travel, mobile access to everything important, and even the rapid growth and transition of social media, they won’t be held back from exploring this great big world. You need your website to be mobile friendly so that they can reach you and manage their accounts whether they’re on a lunch break at work, poolside at a resort in Costa Rica, or in a hut in Africa.  If yours isn’t, check in with us about a website.

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2. Do you have room in your firm for clients whose image does not scream “professional”?

The reality is that millennials don’t care about it that much. They have more tattoos and piercings than the generation before them. They are not concerned with how crisp their suit is, but how comfortable it is. Outward appearance, to them, is not a reflection of their ability to run a business or impact the world for good. The old phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is entirely appropriate here. You might find yourself completely blown away by the size of a portfolio that a scruffy looking hipster might have, or by the advanced accounting skills displayed by someone covered in ink.

3. Do you manage your firm with a focus on opportunity rather than hierarchy?

Millennials are not interested in putting in decades of slow ladder-climbing and taking orders. And with accessible technology, they’re more apt to start their own company than they are to work for someone who won’t collaborate with them or value their opinion. If they don’t like how you operate your firm you can just forget about convincing them to be a client. But if you’re open to working with someone who has creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, you’ll see your firm catapulted forward and appealing to a whole new audience!

4. Are you intrigued, rather than confused, by the millennial way of life?

From selfies to a love of diversity, and from “YOLO” (you only live once) to their passion to make a difference, this segment of the population is easily a movement toward a new kind of world. Quickly changing trends and technologies become new and fun tools for them to explore what life has to offer, and memorialise it. You can choose to bury your nose in your comfort zone, or you can take a note from their book and have a little fun. Snap a selfie, try new things, and don’t be afraid of things that color a little bit outside the lines. The fact that you’re an accountancy firm means this will work doubly in your favour, because many of them may not be expecting a ‘solid, staid’ accountancy firm to be using “YOLO” in its tweets, or showing up to work in jeans.

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The truth is that accountants tend to like things that fit in a certain kind of box. That’s what numbers do, right? They work in certain ways and they follow certain patterns. Your chosen field is one that fits a somewhat reliable approach to life.

It wouldn’t be a surprise, then, if some of these questions were hard for you to answer. But these questions, however tough, are not just important – they’re critical.

You see, we’re not talking about a few people. This is an entire segment of the population – and it’s the future. If you miss out on them, your firm will slowly wither on the vine while the others who are embracing jeans, Facebook, Netflix, selfies, Vine, and the coolest new apps will zoom past you.

If your answers to the above 4 questions are “hmmm” or “I’m not sure” or “just plain no”, you’ve got some thinking to do.  (We might suggest you start with our Online Marketing Diagnostic, to pinpoint where you can start when it comes to online marketing!)

And let’s face it, a little diversity in your life might just feel like your own version of YOLO.