The client-consultant relationship

On a daily basis I am reminded how fortunate I am to work with such a diverse range of personalities that comes with working in an international network – and particularly those that make up the extended RSM International network.

I recognise that many people think of accountancy as a ‘number’ industry, and while it certainly does involve having a head for figures, it takes more than a mathematician to crack the consultancy field. The very nature of ‘consultancy’ is built on the concept of relationships and trust, and to me accountancy is very much a ‘people’ business.

The economic crisis has certainly caused the public to distrust institutions – whether they are banks, businesses, regulators or government – and I wonder, has the client-consultant relationship changed at all because of it?

The Edelman Trust Barometer, which looks at credibility in business, shows that for most people values based on trust and transparency are as important as a company’s quality of products and services.

During my recent visit to China, the importance of these relationships for success in businesses became very clear. Business often occurs outside of normal working hours and isn't complete without at least one trip to a restaurant or bar.  The business and social relationship is inevitably intertwined - the more you share your personal life (including family, hobbies, political views, aspirations), the closer you are in your business relationship.  Both parties want to be sure they understand and trust one another.

All clients have needs, concerns and aspirations that reach beyond the basic accounting needs of businesses. And, at the same time, they are sharing some of their most confidential information to be analysed and assessed with outsiders. It certainly makes sense then for the client - consultant relationship to build through harmonious personalities and mutual trust.  I know that our professionals within the RSM network endeavour to offer not only high quality consulting and professional services, but they take a journey with their client on their road to success and are privileged to do so.


Jean M Stephens
Chief Executive Officer