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Professional Empowerment Series - Chapter 5: Attracting Industry/ Trade

Madhukar N Hiregange , Last updated: 30 October 2020  

We started the empowerment series by setting professional goals followed by getting the knowledge edge, skilling oneself, gaining the required experience, and how to attract, train, and retain good employees.

Many professionals come to me and say all that is ok Sir, tell us how to get work. Juniors complain about seniors, seniors on juniors. Most times we are busy safeguarding our knowledge and clients.

The most common question from those in practice who have just started, now, 2 years, 10 years, and 20 years is how do I get clients? How do I get additional clients? How do I get the type of clients I wish? I want clients who respect me, pay adequately, and refer me to more clients. It is very important that all of us need to continue to be passionate about our profession and keep increasing the pride we have in the profession.

My request is to consider the few thoughts which I have found very effective.

Professional Empowerment Series - Chapter 5: Attracting Industry/ Trade

Evaluate where we stand today

It is important to know where we stand today and which are the areas we need to improve. This could be done by introspection on the following questions:

  • What is the service offering we have?
  • How many other professionals are providing the same service?
  • What is my Unique Serving Product/ Service [ USS] – in Business it is USP- Unique Selling Product.
  • The focus on improving self, with the confidence that as we are knowledgeable/skilled and focused on the client's needs, we would be able to serve very well.
  • How would it add value to the client? In today's competitive world { not considering the pandemic effect} cost control and safeguarding margins are what businesses would be more interested in. Would it save cost or time of resources, money, hassles, lead to tax optimization, avoid disputes, etc. could be the questions
  • Are we are as or more knowledgeable, more creative, more diligent, committed, experienced than those already providing similar services? [There would be areas where we would be better than the seniors – remember we would have more time per client served]

Is there any assurance to the client for our services to be continued? Have we put in place a proper office with competent people who can take responsibility. In due course do we have a few partners who can continue even if we are not there?

Self Evaluation on Client Service Readiness [ no specific order – though many could be related]

1. Do we have good domain knowledge in the subject where we are offering our services?

2. Are we able to communicate effectively orally as well as in writing in the language of our targeted clients [If large/MNC then English proficiency may be imperative]?

3. Do we know the industry/ trade we are focusing on - how it is doing globally/In India? What are the opportunities for them, challenges, threats? We need to be aware that the rapid changes in today's work means that we need to be updated and old domain knowledge may not be valid.

4. Do we know the business of the client- at least what are the common issues that plague them other than that which is common for the industry?

5. Are we analyzing the information in the public domain of any prospective client? [Financial analysis if possible]

6. Have we/are we actually listening (proactively- not assuming/ presuming) to the clients for his objective and concerns?

7. Does the client know our USS and limitation? [Advisable to be open on the present limitations with an answer on how we would be taking care of it in a couple of years]

8. Have we provided hands-on services- culminating in clients being advantaged due to our work? In case the client wishes to get other services have we networked with competent professionals to be able to refer. This could improve our credibility.

9. Do we know the client's value systems to be able to respond appropriately?

10. Do we have a system of quality review/ peer review before submitting the final work?

11. Is the client at the center of our practice?

12. Do we have a practice of taking feedback from the client after 1-2 months of provision of service?

13. Do we have a practice of keeping the client informed on a specific solution for his issues which we read/ learn [not forwarding a 10-50 pages article/ notification/ newsletter]?

Rank for each of the above between 1-5: 1 is very little, 2 -somewhat, 3- enough, 4- very well, 5- yes fully.

If the total of the above is less than 20 - Need to prepare yourself to serve better. Better listening, work skills, knowledge of business + Maybe spend some more time before starting.

If b/n 20-35 – Need to improve on those less than 4 - go ahead cautiously. Can think of starting. In the initial period, the availability of time is a major advantage. HOWEVER, TIME SPENT IN DISTRACTIONS NEED TO BE CURBED.

Put in good habits for your lifetime (like reading in the morning every day the updates, new case laws, some articles relevant to sector dealing with, exercise ( releases chemicals which ward off fear, increase energy levels and keep one fit)

If b/n 35- 50 – Go ahead confidently while polishing on aspects at 4 levels and below.

If above 50 – You are bound to get clients easily- continue updating/ improvement. Start the process of delegating with accountability. Network to add value to other professionals or their clients or your own clients in areas where you do to provide the service.

If above 55 - Coach others how to attract clients like I am doing.


Specific Ways to Attract Opportunity to Serve

Once one is providing quality service the client to client referral increases. However, the various ways in which we can increase the inflow of work (speed) could be as under:

1. Excellent & Consistent Work quality: In the initial stages one needs to spend a lot of time on quality. Do not link work to the fees. Good work attracts more work. Spend some time on what constitutes quality. See Annexure -1 below.

Once a professional is known for reliability then the possibility of serving the other needs can be seen. Today we have many group companies, the opportunity there would be automatic. This could end with a higher share of the fees from the client/ group.

2. Visibility: In today's world more and more nuclear living has started. Time available with the professional / businessman is limited. The internet has become very important.

a. Website: A website may be designed to showcase the capability. [Professional bodies have restrictions on what can be and cannot be done]. This should be having something relevant to the targeted sector, an analytical short article, news with some value. As time goes on videos, links to others can also be added. Obviously, the services offered should be clear and specific not vague.

b. Attending Seminars [preferably online/ recorded] relevant to the sector: There is a need to fast track our practical understanding. Google allows one to access the best in the world- Harvard, Stanford lectures are available for all!!

c. Writing Short Articles- sharing by contribution & videos: This helps in improving our knowledge, as well as others, come to know we know. Once you do this regularly you have moved to be 1 in 100. Graduate to booklets.

d. Writing knowledge-based/practical books - sectoral: This needs time and a lot of research. However, 1 book = 3-5 years of practice in perception. Now you are 1 in 1000. If one were to write a book on what is not available without going for cut paste then one could move to 1: 10,000.

e. Take guest lectures for professional institutes/ colleges [now possible online]: This forces one to get depth as students can ask very basic questions. It would also make a good name and those who wish to follow the same profession may be keen to join you. Attracting good students to your firm is a bonus.

f. Design some short training for the sector: You could offer some sort of training for the employees of the chosen sector. It could be accounting, software training, purchase officer, marketing team, finance teams, etc. These courses may be offered at a reasonable fee.

g. Online Replies: The net has been a boon and if not used well can also lead to loss of credibility. Taking due care and regularly answering questions in your domain can be, a knowledge accretion and good visibility exercise. Till 2011 I was the no 1 professional on the pdicai.org. I was also featured as a good contributor to caclubindia in 2010 if I am not mistaken.

3. Collaborations/Networking: Clients are becoming more and more demanding and we need to be able to serve them. It is important to be known in the industry as a diligent, knowledgeable, and committed professional. However, one cannot be master at all subjects or even claim expertise in a subject in a short period of time. Take onboard a reliable expert in your subject for validation/ support. Identify reliable quality conscious professionals in related areas of work and see if you can have a symbiotic or professional paid relationship. See Annexure-2 for how advantageous it to all. Different levels of working with others could be taking on associates for specific support, form a network with juniors in different locations.

4. Serving the Business Chambers/ Associations: This could be taken up as a contribution which would also result in work coming one way.

5. Others: One can do one's research and get other ways.



Many of us know that the above practices would help us to attract work. However, there is an old maxim- no pain no gain. As we grow in the profession, we need to see that we do not get lost in the execution and planning to keep growing means focus on the important vs. the urgent. You could Google to get more information about the concept and any other idea you may get. Some more information is available in the professional's value pack on our website. In my experience, putting a structured plan to put ideas into action is most important. Reviewing it once in a way and adjust to reach your objective can make it happen. Success is inevitable if the professional takes time to start and continue the above. All the best.

Annexure- 1 - Sample of what could be said to be a good quality legal Opinion.

  • Has the opinion understood the business and its challenges before work is undertaken?
  • Are the applicable standards and best practices (checklist) being followed? If not there then can you make a short one which can be improved with time.
  • All queries asked and implicit (consequently needed) / important answered?
  • Is the basis for the conclusion/s clear and not wishy-washy?
  • Has the opinion analyzed all relevant circular, notification, case law [ old and new]
  • The language of the opinion should be simple that even a person who does not know the subject should be able to understand (that does not mean any reference to section number and case law etc.)
  • There must be a conclusion in our recommendation and it cannot be open-ended nor merely giving options in the normal course.
  • If the conclusion is what may lead to disputes, the risk, and the safeguards to be given.
  • Value addition –highlighting the possibility of some other issues/problems (if any) even if not asked for in that opinion.
  • It should not be too long unless many matter or complications are involved.
  • It should be issued within a reasonable time. Maybe 1 week in normal. If repetitive then 2 days.

Annexure-2 - Collaboration - Opportunity to give a win-win relationship Advantage to the Client

  1. The client does not have to approach one more professional.
  2. Better quality with some accountability/ responsibility.
  3. More complete advise- no conflicting advice.

Advantages for Collaborator

  1. Adopt best practices to make a better name in professional practice
  2. To be able to serve present clients much better.
  3. Able to rapidly gain professional strength and knowledge
  4. Be able to leverage their own and acquired expertise to offer better and more services to present and future clients.
  5. To be able to serve any size of the client in India (even those in multiple locations) due to quality professionals available in multiple locations.
  6. To eventually be eligible to be an associate [associates are part of the knowledge share and have a possibility to become a branch of H&A if they are interested – which is optional on both sides]
  7. To empower all the staff to reach their potential as contributing professionals. (which you are already doing)
  8. To be thought leaders among professionals in the Country.

Advantages for You

  1. All advantages to collaborators as well as under.
  2. To be able to provide a larger number of clients a bigger basket of services of uniformly high-quality services across India efficiently.
  3. Build a large trusted professional network in niche/ related areas across India.
  4. Making a positive difference to the profession, country, and world.
  5. Increasing the work automatically

Read the next article in the series - Persuasive Communication

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Published by

Madhukar N Hiregange
(Chartered Accountant)
Category Professional Resource   Report

3 Likes   1841 Views


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