How to be an accountant of the future – an interview with Rob Nixon

Estimated reading time: 4 min

We caught up with Rob Nixon business manager turned business training extraordinaire for accountants. He trains accountants and helps firms function and transition to success in this hectic world of progress. Here are his thoughts on the current state of accounting and what it says about the future of it…

What is the most important business improvement Accounting firms today can make?

Rob started off by saying “The biggest thing accounting firms can do is actually speak to their clients…proactively”. He emphasized that “accountants around the world are awesome at waiting” and that “most accountants are history writers, not history makers”. In Rob’s mind, this is the #1 thing accountants can change today to achieve better business success.

He recommends “20 meetings per partner per month” to “find out where the client is at, what they’re doing, what their plans are”. Each meeting “starts off as a customer service meeting but ends up being a sales meeting”. It’s important to ask each client “where are you now, where do you want to go, and let’s show you how we can possible help you get there”.

What is the most detrimental business action often made by Accounting firms today?

Relating to our first question, Rob feels that “being reactive and waiting is the worst thing an accounting firm can do today”. Now this is where our interview got incredibly interesting. Rob stated that there are 3 core disruptors to the accounting industry today:

  • The internet – everyone is becoming an expert and has access to loads of information.
  • Computed accounting – pre-built accounting software is reducing the need for physical accountants.
  • And overseas business/ offshored outsourcing – cheap labour is more readily available.

These factors make many of the core offerings of the average accountant redundant, and the worst thing to do about it, is wait and react to it. The solution? Be proactive. Identify the changes, explore what opportunities your firm can take advantage of, and pursue them early!

What is the key purpose of CoachingClub(TM) and what makes it such a successful tool?

The CoachingClub is a training strategy for accountants that’s covered in 3 ways:

  • Seminars & conferences –
  • Online tools, resources software –
  • Coaching club program – 8 accounting firms in a room at any 1 time, learning and being pushed to accountability so as to take action upon what they learn. This project has served over 800 firms across the the 8 years it has been running!

Do you feel Accounting firms today adopt the digital world enough?

We think not, and Rob gladly joined us by saying “no they’re not adopting it ENOUGH!”. And there’s a reason for this. Rob laid out for us the fact that the digital world is inevitably taking over. He said “accountants can’t stop this happening so need to embrace it”. In Rob’s point of view (and rightly so) there is no real time dependency on when accountants embrace the digital world, because that day has past.

5. How do you see the future of technology and rise of the digital format affecting accounting?

Rob explained how technology is already starting to automate jobs for accountants in a big way. They’re being forced to be more innovative and forward thinking, or suffer losing customers. Accountants in the workplace will start being valued for these important traits that add value to customers as well, so it’s not just firms that are affected.

An example that Rob produced for us was project Watson, producing “Siri for business”. This project by Apple and IBM saw $2 billion pumped into it to create a super computer that takes the world’s information and processes it, then spits it out in a concise manner. They’re combining this with Siri to create “Siri for business” so that when you have a business concern, you can simply ask Siri! That’s free advice, and could trump personal accounting advice. So simple business advice and reactive solutions are not the future of accounting as far as Rob can see it. Being proactive could just be the true future of accountants.

Rob’s resources for accountants

Rob and his associated groups offer a host of free and paid services design to support and train accountants and their businesses.

  • offers free advice and resources for accountants through Rob’s own personal blog.
  • brings accountants free tools and resources, while connecting accountants accross the world.
  • is a service to help accountants “create the conversations [they] need to be conducting with clients around relevant metrics”. There’s a free trial available!

And be sure to look out for his book later in November of 2014 titled “Remaining Relevant”. His first book, “Accounting Practices Don’t Add Up” is also available via his website.

A big thanks to Rob Nixon for joining to do this interview while offering his wealth of knowledge and expertise to accountants the world over.

The Creative Agency Secrets Team


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