I've been looking at accountancy websites recently (on the whole a pretty depressing task, more of which in a later post).
As part of the process I found something quite weird, and rather disturbing.
And something which really disappointed me. I'd just thought better of the profession as a whole.
About a dozen or more accountants are claiming co-authorship of a book called “Why Businesses Stop Growing And What You Can Do About It”.
You can get a partial list of them here via google:
Obviously, all these guys aren't really co-authors of the book. The real author has written the book and cooked up some scheme that gives the accountants a co-author credit for a fee or whatever in order to boost their credibility.
(Update: just to clarify, this isn't a sort of compilation book with multiple co-authors doing a chapter each. This is a book always labelled as having only two authors. It's just that one of them changes every time depending on which accountant is claiming he's the co-author).
So good for the author. He gets a bunch of money.
Good for the accountants. They get to pretend they're the co-author of a business book without actually having to bother writing one or be in the possession of the expertise needed to do so.
Good for their clients? I don't think so.
They're being fooled into thinking their accountant is more of an expert in business than he really is. And it's very deliberate. Some of these guys appear on videos saying “Hi, I'm so-and-so, co author of Why Businesses Stop Growing”.
It's not just something that's slipped into their marketing by accident. They are deliberately fooling their clients and potential clients and claiming expertise they may not have and an achievement they didn't do.
Ironically, many of them have a bio which reads “…so-and-so is the co-author of “Why Businesses Stop Growing And What You Can Do About It…” and a trusted authority on helping start up and small business owners achieve success”.
A trusted authority? A good start might be to not lie to your clients.
One of the absolutely core qualities you want in an an accountant is honesty. For heavens sake, you're trusting these guys and girls with all the details of your finances. You want them to act purely in your interests. You want their advice on things they know about, and you want them to tell you when things are out of their area of expertise.
What you don't want is them lying to you and claiming expertise they don't have.
What do you think?
Is it all just harmless? Is it “good marketing”?
In my Authority Blueprint training I teach professionals a bunch of ways to create content and get it showcased to their potential clients. But that's hard work. Much easier just to pretend you've written something when you haven't.
Would you trust these guys to do your accounts?