top of page

A client relationship is harder than a job

~ by Rowan D

I’ve recently completed a media article aimed at unpacking “The 3 A’s to becoming a trusted advisor” and in preparing the article, I spent quite a lot of time thinking about how you strengthen client relationships.

In essence, how does a CFO make themselves more competitive in the current market?

When a business or management team opts to bring in one of our CFO’s, they are immediately bringing in someone to do “a job”. This is somebody who must work with the executive leadership, board and strategy teams to optimise the business.

At the same time, this is not somebody who has the benefit of sheltered employment and their relationship with the client is paramount.

When we talk about “the 3 A’s”, these are essentially:

The 3 A's Ability, Availability, Affability

- Ability includes: technical skill, industry expertise and leadership capability to do the job

- Availability is being there for the Client, showing interest, being present and listening actively

- Affability or likeability is about culture fit and emotional intelligence

CFOs who cannot find a blend of these characteristics will struggle to become a trusted advisor to their clients.

If we use the departure point that a client relationship is materially harder than a job, then there are 2 areas we believe that our CFOs can focus on.

The first is reputation.

Warren Buffett is arguably the world’s greatest investor and each year thousands of people travel to Omaha to attend the Berkshire Hathaway Annual General Meeting (AGM). He is the epitome of a trusted advisor and after the AGM, media houses and investment commentators will spend weeks unpacking the wisdom he shares at the events.

Buffett has a very popular quote which says:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

By deliberately investing in their reputation and delivering above and beyond the expectations of the client, they will ultimately become a trusted partner.

The second is what we call “TNT” – Tiny, Noticeable Things. Ultimately, the better we know our clients, the more they will trust us with their business. This “trust” is obtained across multiple levels from knowing their birthdays or anniversaries through to being able to share an interesting news article or research report on their industry.

By regularly finding reasons to engage our clients, they keep us front of mind and know that we are constantly thinking of how we can add value to their lives and their businesses.

Ask any entrepreneur who has been both an employee and a business owner what they miss the most about being employed … there is no doubt that they will answer “the consistent salary on the 25th of the month”.

The entrepreneur mindset is that they are focused on the client relationship and how to enhance this on an ongoing basis.

The client relationship may be harder than a job but it is definitely more rewarding!

Work with Rowan D - get in touch at and we will connect you in no time!

“Solving niche challenges founders face”.

Illustrator: Lisa Williams (Instagram: @artist_llw)


bottom of page