Is A Credential A Niche?

Jan 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Marketing Professional Services

Why is it that the legal and medical professions seem to have such a proliferation of niches and specialties, while the accounting profession in general professes it’s ability to handle everything?

I know there are dozens of credentials that branch out claiming to be specialties, such as the Certified Internal Auditor, the Certified Fraud Examiner, the Enrolled Agent, the Certified Management Accountant, to name just a few. But few, other than maybe the Enrolled Agent and the Certified Fraud Examiner seem to have gathered any real traction in the mind of buyers of services.

There are a few pet theories which I expound to those around me from time to time, and which usually get me in trouble, but I guess now that I’m an old retired coot, there isn’t a lot I have to lose by running my mouth inappropriately, so here goes.

My first pet theory is that because accounting is pretty much the only one of the three professions that a person can enter with only a four year degree (in most cases) that most accountants are basically very insecure about their practice. After all, most small business clients do not need the attest function, which is pretty much the only regulated feature of the CPA designation and why the industry fights so hard to create barriers to entry at all turns, such as regulating the use of the term “Accountant” in states where they have been able to pass such legislation.

You can see this at all turns, even where the large firms continually advertise their ability to handle any and all small business needs.

So, is practice differentiation through the addition of a new credential, something that you as an independent practitioner should do to build your practice. Or is there a better way?

Stop and consider some of the typical image enhancing techniques used by top practice builders and “Rainmakers.” Things like authoring targeted articles, reports and whitepapers, public speaking, teaching and coaching, along with excellent customer service and a program of client pruning and promotion, the typical independent practitioner can develop a practice specialty and grow their practice despite the possession of a string of alphabet credentials.

There will still be the general public awareness of the better known credentials, such as the CPA, whose 400,000 member lobby provides them with the financial and political muscle to create a positive image, even where it is not supported in actual practice.

But, despite that legal and political muscle, a well recognized individual expert in a local community has their own credential, their name.

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