AA 62 Twyla Verhelst | Becoming Irreplaceable


Despite their vast financial expertise, accountants are often regarded as seemingly untouchable figures that only talk in complicated jargon. For Twyla Verhelst, it is high time for accountants to become irreplaceable individuals within the business structure and not just mere expendable investments. Sitting down with Michelle Weinstein, she breaks down the most important factors every accountant must learn to forge a more effective and working relationship with business owners. This way, they can become not only silent guardians of cashflow but key players who can also help plan for the future. Twyla also underlines the importance of why accountants must revisit and reinvent their practices, veering away from the traditional and embracing a more progressive approach. 

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Becoming Irreplaceable In Accounting With Twyla Verhelst 

It is great to be here with you. We have a very special guest. She is recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Accounting. She is also known for leading the charge when it comes to advocacy, change and community in the industry. She is the CPA tech entrepreneur and leader of the accounting professionals program over at FreshBooks. She is working to empower accounting pros with the tools they need to thrive as well as helping them discover their most valuable asset, which is their authentic self. We’re going to talk a little bit about that. Before we welcome our guests to the show, I want to make sure that for those of you struggling, we’re already quarter one 2021. You’re frustrated still. You’re stressed. You’ve got all these referrals and clients coming to you because of the COVID mess. 

If you want to take control over who you’re working with, but you don’t believe you know how to or what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore, then head on over to TheAbundantCall.com to schedule your coaching session with myself or my colleague. To be honest, that’s not all your fault. There is nobody training you on how to fix those problems and connect the dots. We will explore together what is possible for your firm so you can create the dream practice you want, work a lot less and spend more time with your kids or maybe even kicking your feet up and watching Netflix. The only request I have is that you’ve been in business at least two years. You’ve had your own accounting firm for at least two years. Let’s welcome our special guest, Twyla. Welcome to the show.  

Thanks, Michelle. Thanks for having me here.  

For a better working relationship, accountants must start having forward-looking conversations with their clients. Share on X

Thank you so much for taking out the time to share all of your greatness with other CPAs, accountants, enrolled agents, tax planners, resolution experts, etcWe’re going to be talking about what are the benefits of being a progressive instead of reactive as an accounting professional and having a business. Many times from what I hear, we’re always behind the eight ball with our clients. How do we get ahead? How are we going to get ahead, have the thinking, re-change and reshape the thinking as an accountant? Before we start, Twyla, can you give a little brief overview of your background and what you do? It is an impressive background if you don’t know who she is 

I am a CPA. I’m a designated accountant. I live in Canada and became a CPA early in my career. I’m a nontraditional accountant. Truthfully, I never became an accountant to be an accountant. I decided to take up accounting because I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. I felt like firstly, accounting would never be a miss to understand finances. At that time, I always thought it would be my plan B that the world would always need accountants that I should never find myself out of a job. Now, the industry has changed. Potentially, that’s sometimes the threat that we hear is that technology is taking over traditional accounting. At the time, that was not in my line of vision and I thought this is job security at the very least.  

I knew I wanted to be some sort of entrepreneur. I grew up in an entrepreneurial home. My parents were business owners. I was an entrepreneur at heart. I knew that doing accounting would wrap into my career somehow. Once I got my designation, I got my first role as a financial controller inside of a manufacturing company, but then I found my career taking very meandering path. Because I wasn’t set on exactly what I wanted my career to look like or where it was going to go, I was open to what’s next, letting it evolve and shape the way it was meant to. After being a controller, I found myself in my own business for a period of time, even doing recruiting for accountants, and then got back into more of a traditional type of accounting space, which was owning and operating an advisory, accounting, bookkeeping, and tax firm with a business partner of mine.  

That brought me almost full circle back to accounting space again, and into the accounting industryInside of our firm, we then started to work with small business clients. We were using more technology, found a pain point of our own, and decided to develop a cashflow forecasting tool, which was going to be a tool that we could use with our clients as accounting professionals and then ideally market to other accounting professionals to use with their clients. In that exercise of building a cashflow forecasting tool and starting to get connected with the accounting industry, that’s when I got a taste of giving back to the industry, contributing to the industry, using my entrepreneurial experience and my accounting experience, even sometimes my recruiting experience. There’s a component of sales that comes with recruiting. All of that combined that I recognize I have something to give back and I have something that others can benefit from.  

I became passionate about that contribution to the industry and been able to take everything I know. Here it is. I’m open to sharing it. Take what works for you. If it’s even one golden nugget that contributes to your success, then I feel fulfilled. That then evolved into getting connected with FreshBooks, which is where I’m at. That opportunity presented itself and went hand in hand with what I was getting a flavor of and what I was enjoying, which was connecting with the industry and with FreshBooks being a global platform and a global company. I felt like this was the opportunity to extend my reach but still contribute to the industry and ideally contribute to the success of other accounting professionals.  

I’m excited to have you here. We’re going to focus on the technology that is taking over. I think that’s a big fear and a big thing that a lot of the readers deal with on a daily basis, What do I do with these 1040 clients? Everything’s going to be automated in the next couple of years. How do you become that progressive accountant? That one who’s thinking ten steps ahead maybe a year or two into the future, and not looking at past history but looking at even the business clients into the future saying, “Here’s what you have coming up. What could we do to make your financial situation even better?” How did you reshape your thinking as it relates to seeing the progressive side then being more on the reactive side, even when you had your own firm?  

AA 62 Twyla Verhelst | Becoming Irreplaceable

Becoming Irreplaceable: Rethink your own practice and what you’re providing to your client.


I’m fortunate in that when we stepped into our firm. My experience was entrepreneurial, operational accounting. I didn’t have a traditional tax background when I took my designation. I took my designation inside of industry, which meant operational accounting is what came second nature to what I knew best truly. I’m admitting, I don’t enjoy taxes whatsoever. That was a component of accounting that almost turned me off from even becoming an accountant. I’m like, “I don’t want this. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t want to read the Tax Act.” Nothing about it appealed to me versus getting inside of the inner workings of the business, learning about the business, how my financial knowledge could contribute to the success of the business owner and what they’re trying to achieve in their business.  

I am fortunate that my brain already was working that way. I have talked to many accounting professionals who don’t come from that experience. I do have some thinking around how to reshape that and to start to think about not just where the industry and where technology is going, but how to strengthen and deepen relationships with clients where you become irreplaceable, where you’re not just an expense line item to them, what I almost call the necessary part of accounting, which is compliance or tax work. You are partnering with them and contributing to their business in a way where you potentially are helping them earn more money. It is a proactive approach in that.  

You’re speaking my language, Twyla. Everyone reading is like, “Michelle has talked about this a million times.” It’s important to hear from an industry expert like you on, how do you reshape that thinking? How do you strengthen and deepen those relationships? I love how you said become irreplaceable because that’s how you do it and how they don’t see you as an expense. You’re on the expense line but you’re a massive investment. You’re contributing to the bottom line. You’re contributing to revenue ideas. You’re contributing to less cost of goods. There are so many facets that come with that. We had to break it down. I like the rule of three. Let’s talk about the first thing that you would recommend for someone reading to put into action.  

Everyone here likes actionable steps and something simple, “I got that. I’m going to write that down. I’m going to go tackle it. I’m going to work on that,” to reshape the thinking of coming from the more proactive approach than being reactive. You’re a total introvert and so is everyone else here. I’ve only met a handful. I could count on one hand, maybe up to five extroverted accountants. I know a lot of you are introverts. How does that make you thrive, grow and become confident in speaking to your clients in order to deepen the relationship to have the end result, which is become irreplaceable? Let’s do that one as the third thing. What would you say would be the first? If you have a personal story, you could attach to it. That’s always wonderful. We love to learn stories here on the show.  

First thing is trying to reshape your client’s thinking. I would be willing to bet that your audience is thinking, I’ve heard this before. I know I need to reshape my thinking. I know I need to work up the value chain. I know that technology is right on my heels, taking away components of my job or changing components of my job. Most people in this industry know that. We don’t need to tell them that. They know it already. Where there is a gap and where this gap needs to be filled by the accounting professional is that our clients or the business owners don’t necessarily know how fast this industry has evolved, know how quickly it’s reshaping, and know what a more progressive nontraditional clientaccountant relationship can look like. Even if they did think that they knew what that looked like, they might also think that’s so far out of reach that, I’m not there yet. Maybe they’ve had experience with a forward controller if they understand even those job titles. They’re like, “I’ve got to make X number of dollars before I’m even able to consider that type of professional on my team.”  

The first step is starting to have conversations with your client that are more forward-looking. Sometimes that’s even simple things like, “Here’s your tax return for the year. Here are your financial reports for the year or the quarter or whatever that frequency of engagement is. Let me ask you this. What’s next for you? What are your goals for 2021? What have you planned out for this year? How are you wanting to maybe reestablish yourself, rehire employees, whatever went down in 2020? What does 2021 look like?” I’ve heard a prospect of leads say that was a selling feature for them and the hook for them. When they talk to an accounting professional and they say something about the future. It’s like, Not only are you thinking about the future, you care about my business enough to know what are my goals, where am I headed, what does this mean. As a professional, it’s how can the professional contribute to what it is that the business owners are up to or trying to achieve in that year?  

Accountants must break down the walls that separate them from business owners and let them see that they’re human. Share on X

A selling feature is talking about the future, if you can think of that most. I see this also for those of you who are reading. A few of you I’ve worked with, and I worked with a select handful of accountants, and this is a big thing we normally brush over. We’re so inundated getting the old work done that we forget to even ask about the future. Some questions that you could start incorporating in your conversations immediately are those forward-looking questions, “Here’s what your tax returns and financials were. What’s next for you?” Not only what’s next, I’ve seen some people ask like, “What do you want to achieve in the next three years?” That’s too far away.  

How about in the next 6 or 12 months? We’re already a quarter into 2021. What’s your goal by October 31st, 2021? Let’s get 6-month, 5-month goals. People who also will hire you will appreciate that you’re thinking about near term goals. A lot can change in the next 6 to 12 months. It’s a great thing to talk about the future but the future can also be a short-term future, especially for those clients that want to take action on something, especially if you can find something with all the PPP, EIDL, stimulus, unemployment. The last history is a mess. How can you set them up to win? Thank you, Twyla. What’s the second thing that you would say?  

The next thing is after you’ve started to talk to your client about these conversations and get them thinking forwardthen it’s the rethinking of your own practice and what it is that you’re providing to your client. I realized that that might sound, “I should have done that first and this second.” You got your clients. You got their interest. You got them hooked. You got them curious about why you’re asking these additional questions. That’s when you want to invest the next piece of time or resources, which I believe is thinking of your services inside of your firm as a house. Sometimes I talk to accountants who say, “What do you mean tax returns and compliance is not what the future holds?” Sometimes that’s even hard to accept because I’ve spent so much time on my education, my career, I have built up my book of business all around that. Know that if you think of it like a house, tax returns and compliance work is not going away. Truly to the extent of tax returns and compliance, we’re still ways away from being automated properly. There’s one thing to have things automated. There’s another thing to have things done properly.  

I watched this documentary. Have you seen the one on Theranos with Elizabeth Holmes? Have you seen that documentary? It talked about having things being done right. It’s almost like the COVID test. How many false positives are there? We don’t want false positives on tax returns. I don’t think the governments can handle that. I don’t think they’re going to make the mistakes with money. That documentary was incredible. Her vision was to only get a finger prick of blood and get you 200 different test results to be preventative on your health. To be in compliance and to do it right was their biggest challenge. It didn’t work outThe tax returns are not going away. Compliance isn’t going away.  

Think of compliance and your tax returns still as the foundation of the house. It still needs to be there. It’s extremely important in having a secure and solid house. You can’t build a foundation in a slab of concrete and say, “There you go. There’s your house.” There is so much more to it. Next would be what you build off of that foundation, which would be some of the backend things. There are teams that are going to create the deliverables. It could be workflows, technology or other pieces that you need in marketing. Things like that that you still need inside of your firm to create a client experience. If you consider that to be the walls, the walls for each client can look different. Some walls might be built of wood or others made of steel, vinyl siding. There are so many ways to have these walls looking but they’re still straight up and down. They still have a purpose. They’re needed in order to build the house.  

If it’s workflows, white wall could be your workflow. Tech could be teal like the teal wall in your room. Your marketing wall could be mauve. We’ve got another T for team. We’ll go with turquoise. You’ve got your four walls that make up this room. I love the house analogy. I’m not going to get too much into it because I’ve talked about it before. The sales process in your business is the foundation to your firm and so is this because this is your client experience. I love it. It’s perfect. What’s the next tier to our house? We’ve got the foundation. That’s the gray part. That’s your tax returns and compliance work. It’s not going anywhere. We have our walls, which are going to hold up something if I can guess correctly.  

We have our walls to the rooms. We’ve got a few different colors that we could use for the walls. Workflow could be white. Tech could be turquoise. Team could be a teal. For marketing, it could be mauve. Those would be the walls. I think that there’s something that these walls are holding up. I’m going to guess that that’s the next part of the house, which is the client experience, rethinking their practice, and thinking about what are the areas that we need to focus on. What would be that third one?  

A house is not a house without a roof. Nobody’s going to be happy having a house with no roof. When you’re inside of the house, what you’re most thankful for is a roof over your head, what shelters you from bad weather and keeps you cool in the summer or warm in the winter. That is the valuable part of the house, just like it can be the valuable part of your client relationship. That’s your client services or your advisory. This is where things like business strategy planning, budgeting and forecasting, cashflow forecasting, HR or people advisory, all fitting to that roof.  

Also for the people that love tax, that could be tax planning, tax resolution, tax consulting, all of your high value most important things. It’s the roof over your head. This is the bread and butter of your business. One other thing for those of you that read the book, The 80/20 Principle. This is where 80% of your revenue is going to come from. It’s from that 20% of your toptier clients.  

To layer onto that is not only is it 80% of your revenue. When you think about a single client relationship, 80% of the value, 80% of the relationship. That 20% being compliance and filing your tax returns, that means next to nothing to the client, which is unfortunate to hear sometimes. They need it done. They want to make sure the governmentthe IRS or the CRA wherever you’re located, is off your back and not going to be calling you.  

AA 62 Twyla Verhelst | Becoming Irreplaceable

Becoming Irreplaceable: Think of compliance and your tax returns still as the foundation of the house.


You don’t have a bunch of mail from them. Regular people like me or people in United States get mail like bank accounts were levied. You’re like, “What is going on?” 

Getting the tax return filed, how much you make throughout this year, making sure I pay it as a business owner, that holds that 20% of the value. That 80% of the value is the part where the relationship is the deepest, the strongest and the most impactful in the eyes of the business owner. That’s where your efforts can be spent. You’re right. It can be tax advisory, tax planning. It’s beyond getting all the information and clicking file on the tax return that is in that roof for that house. That can look very different for every accountant professional. It can look different for every client inside of your business because the reality is that what matters to one of your clients won’t matter to another.  

If a client is losing money, tax planning is not on their agenda. If they’re making a lot of money, maybe they were one of the businesses that pivoted and did well in 2020. They’re being pleased with, “I’m going to be paying tax for this year. How do I plan for this for the next year so that I’m not burdened with a big billers or something else that could be doing to minimize the tax that I pay or that I owe to the IRS?” Different clients have different needs. The roof of a house can be peaked. It can be flat. It can be curved. It can have shingles. It can have clay roof. There are so many things that can go into that advisory. That’s the evolution of the industry because the tech, the workflows, the team and the marketing has all enabled us to be able to spend more time on that roof, in that value added service area.  

I’m going to add one other little icing on the cake. Every roof needs a chimney. Your chimney should be your premium most top dollar service that you could possibly think of. When you’re rethinking your own practice, which is item number two on your to-do list, what could you put on your chimney? What is the only available to your top 1% of clients? If you have 100 clients, what is 1 person going to get that all the other 99 won’t even receive your time for? Having your chimney line item, that’s the proactive type of work. There are a bunch of businesses that were able to pivot. Now they have different kinds of problems they’ve never experienced before. Twyla, what is the third thing?  

I’m glad you love it. I love your house analogy. I thought of the chimney. If you have a roof on your head and you live where you live, I’m in San Diego. I don’t need a chimney but I have one. I have a fake fireplace with a little switch on it. It’s turning on a light switch and I get heat coming out of it. It’s more of a visual thing. There are people like you who need a real chimney and they have a real fireplace because that’s what keeps you warm. If you think about it in the analogy we’re giving, which is a beautiful one and something that you can think about, you need to take your house apart in four. You’ve got your foundation. You’ve got four walls that’s going to be your mid-level stuff. You’ve got your roof. You’ve got that one premium thing that you could focus on, that could turn into the huge pieces of your revenue from one client.  

I’m not saying put all your eggs in one basket with one client. What is that premium service that only your ideal person can have their hands on? Twyla, let’s go into the third thing. Everyone here is introverted. I’m an opposite. I’m not. The whole 2020 was a rough year for me because I didn’t get to see my friends and clients. I didn’t get to see all of you at all the events. For me, that energizes me. Being at home all the time is a drainer on my batteries. I need to be put in a lot of different chargers to recharge in 2021. What would you say is the third most important thing? We have reshaping your client’s thinking and rethinking our own practice.  

The third would be speaking to that introverted personality. There might be some people who are out there thinking, I am an introvert. Based off of all of these changes in the industry and what you’re suggesting with talking more to your clients, building these deeper relationships, being proactive and having these conversations, sometimes I hear people saying, “That’s not what I signed up for. I took the career quiz. It came back that I’m an introvert and accountant was one of the types of professions that I should be or I should pursue as an introvert.” I completely get it. I am an introvert. 2020 was a hard year even for introverts. I can appreciate what you went through, Michelle, and how tough that was.  

I’m comfortable sitting behind my desk too. I used to even remember the days where I was so excited that I could be like, “I’m going to be heads down all day. I’m going to get so much done. The next day I’m going to rinse and repeat and do it again. That’s not what this profession looks like especially now. Our Uncle Joe, the accountant that we all remember, that was his career but it’s not ours. How do you get out of this mindset of, “This isn’t what I signed up for? You’re asking me to talk to people.” Getting to a comfortable place where it’s not draining. It’s fulfilling. It can be a comfortable place and an exciting place to be as an accounting professional that isn’t introvert.  

What did you do? Let’s hear those things.  

There are a few things that I did. I’ll start with saying this. The sooner you recognize that being an accountant that’s going to provide these types of services doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop being an introvert, the better off you’re going to be. It doesn’t mean you have to turn into an extrovert. We’re not asking you to change your makeup and who you are. Think of it as now you need to be human. I love using the word human because everyone can relate saying, “Of course, I’m human.” Let your clients see you‘re human instead of your clients thinking of you of this persona of this polished, professional person that talks numbers and jargon that they don’t always understand. Break down those walls a little bit and let them see that you’re human. Start with asking questions. Sometimes there’s a confidence gap even though accountants were so smart. I put a feather in my own cap there.  

You are the most intelligent group of people I’ve ever worked with. That’s why I love this. My contribution piece is this show. It’s not my main revenue generator but I’m grateful for all of our sponsors to help keep this going and be here for all of you. You have to ask those questions and let people see your humanity like you’re saying. You are all geniuses. There are so many of you with CPAs. How long did it take you to get a CPA? How much time did you invest? What about those reading who have MBAs and Masterdegrees? That’s another couple of years to study. How about all the CPEs and CE Credits you have to get every single year? For those of you that do tax, what about all the research you have to do and all the laws that change every couple of months basis?  

Use technology to make your work easier and more efficient, but always remain the human that you are in conversations. Share on X

You are the smartest bunch of people and I love it. That’s why I do this. You should put feathers in your hats because that’s how you remind yourself also what you’re worth, which we’re not talking about. Maybe we could have another discussion on that. It’s asking the questions to your clients to have them see your humanity. What are some good ones that you’ve come up with that we could give to our readers so they can write these down? I know you have a yellow notepad in front of you, so jot these down. You can practice asking all your clients that are calling you.  

In 2020 being COVID, these questions and conversations came up almost a forced way because of what we all went into and the stress to have these conversations with clients. Going back to that forward thinking, what are your goals for the next short period of time? Even you can go so short as 90 days. What are you looking at over the next 90 days? My favorite question is, what are the top three things that keep you up at night?  

That’s my favorite question. I don’t ask top three. I just say, “What’s that one thing that keeps you up at night? What is itching at you at night?” I was talking to my boyfriend and he’s like, “It’s like you have a boxing match in your head going on.” He’s like, “No. It’s like I have a royal kingdom who can’t get on the same page.” He’s got many voices in his head. What is that one thing that you get asked about in your head every single day that keeps you up at night?  

What’s the thing that as a business owner is stressing you the most? The reason I like to say three things is because if your client comes back and says, “I’m struggling with this. I don’t know if I should choose this vendor or that vendor for my products.” The accountant is going to say, “I don’t have any contribution there.” If you can get three things out of their client, there will be at least one thing that has a dollar sign attached to it. It lets you have something to build the conversation off of. Typically the thing that’s stressing them the most is the thing that they’re going to pay to have a solution on that or have some support on that.  

That might be the chimney in the house.  

That is why every chimney could be different because what keeps one business owner up won’t be what keeps another business up. The other thing to think about inside of that introverted personality, actually I’ve got two other things. The next one is be mindful of your time. To spend eight hours a day in conversations like this when you’re an introvert, you will be exhausted and not be able to do the foundational work and the walls of the work inside of our house. You’re stressed. You’re no longer running with the energy that you should be running at in order to do that high-level thinking that’s still required inside of your role as their accountant.  

Managing your day and trying to be selfish with your time and time budgeting become extremely important when you’re an introvert. These things can be a bit thrilling but also draining. When I say a bit thrilling, it’s like when you do something uncomfortable, you’re bound to have this little bit of serotonin or some endorphins that go off. When you can leave that client conversation having some level of fulfillment, then you’ll get those hits of dopamine or whatever hormones go off for you inside of that conversation. If you do that all day long and you’re an introvert at heart, you’ll burn yourself.  

You’d be like a piece of bread in the toaster. It comes out black because they put it in there too long. That happened to me. I was making a tuna salad sandwich. I put the butt of the bread in there and it came out like a biscuit. It was like a burnt biscuit. If you spend eight hours talking to people, clients and sales meetings, you will be like a burnt biscuit. What was the other thing you wanted to add? I know you said you had two left.  

When you start to have these conversations with clients where you don’t necessarily know where the dialogue is going to head, versus when you’ve done your tax return, you’re like, “It’s time to talk about here are your numbers last year. Here’s how much you made. Here’s how much you owe to the government. I’ve filed your return and make sure you pay by this time.” That’s scripted. You know that at the back of your hand, versus conversations where you’re asking questions, you’re opening up dialogue. You don’t know where it’s going to go. The reality is there’s going to be inside of those conversations some parts of the conversations, and they’re difficult to have.  

A great example of this is around cashflow, where you start to dive in deeper to your client’s cashflow and you’re like, “You don’t have enough money for rent at the end of the month. That’s an extremely difficult conversation to have with somebody. As an introvert, I was like, “I’m able to push myself to have good conversations with people all day long. How do I talk about these difficult conversations?” It gets me through those difficult conversations with clients where I’m like, “I’m struggling to call them. I’m struggling to talk to them about this.” My tip is I think about, what if I don’t tell them? That’s what pushes me through every time. What if I don’t tell them that I realized that they’re not going to have enough money for rent? What does that do to their business? That helps me push through so many different conversations if I go into head space of, what if I don’t?  

That’s massive because here’s what I tell all of the accountants, and TwylaI know this is your first time on the show. I need to have you back again for some other topics. If you don’t tell them this, you’re doing them a disservice. I’ve had a business that’s gone under. I’ve had that thing where we couldn’t make rent and we couldn’t make payroll. I’ve been there. I’ve been that person. I did not have an accountant that told me that. We did not have a cashflow budgeting conversation or our expenses were too high. There were a whole slew of things. What if you don’t tell them? What is their alternative? You’re setting them up to fail if you keep your mouth shut. It’s almost like going to the dentist and the dentist is telling you, “You don’t have a cavity.” They know that you don’t have any money to pay for that cavity so I’m not going to tell them what I see on the X-ray. You’re looking at their cashflow like a doctor looking at X-rays. Why would you not tell them that they can’t make rent next month like they have a tumor and they’re about to die?  

That’s where my head was going at. I’ve used and heard the analogy too of it being a cancer patient. This is where you can sometimes think, “Technology is hot on my heels. Am I going to be out of a job?” If you think about that, you can think of, “Maybe they’re going to get smart with diagnosing or picking up on these things. That technology inside of medicine and healthcare exists.” Do you want a piece of software telling you that you have cancer? If you think about that in the accounting professional, it’s like use the technology to make your work easier, make it more efficient, have more depth and be more intelligent, but be the human that you are to have the conversations with your client. The technology will never do that. It will never do it in a way that is valuable to the client, which is talking natural language. This is where sometimes you have to lower your smarts down a little bit.  

AA 62 Twyla Verhelst | Becoming Irreplaceable

Becoming Irreplaceable: 80% of the tax value is where the relationship is the deepest, the strongest, and the most impactful in the business owner’s eyes.


You’ve got to talk third grade to us. We don’t need to know what 910 Form B is. We don’t need to know about anything like that. We’ve got to use simple terminology for people like me because I am your ideal client and I am not a CPA and accountant. When you think about going to the doctor, they don’t tell you which pulmonary artery they’re going to cut or pull to get through. They don’t talk to you in scientific terms. We can’t talk to our clients in techie terms.  

That’s when you become intimidating. Any human relationship that you’ve built got destroyed because they started to get into that spot of, “This person is human and I trust them. I can talk to them and not feel nervous to tell them that maybe I haven’t done something right or I’m not performing the way I wanted to inside of my business.” As soon as you talk jargon, they’re like, “I don’t feel comfortable talking to this person anymore. You become intimidating even though you’re an introvert accountant and you would not think of yourself as intimidating.  

Twyla, thank you so much for being here with us on the show. This was awesome. You had to reshape your thinking. You have so many things. I hope you took notes for all of you reading. Strengthen and deepen those relationships because that’s where the meat is of your house on top of that roof and become irreplaceable. Wrap it up in a bow and think about every single move you make in your business with your clients. How do I make myself irreplaceable? Twyla, before we go, for those that want a sample FreshBooks and check it out, I know we didn’t even talk about any of that, can you give a quick plug?  

We have an accounting professionals program here at FreshBooks where we are supporting accounting professionals using FreshBooks in collaboration with our clients. If anyone is curious to check it out, they can go to FreshBooks.com/accountants 

Thank you so much for being here with us. It was an honor to have you.  

It was so much fun. Thanks, Michelle.  

Thank you all so much for joining Twyla and me on the show. What an awesome episode. She’s good at this. We’re going to have another conversation coming up in the latter part of 2021. I’m not sure on the topic yet but keep your eyes tuned. Make sure to hit the subscribe button. Also if you haven’t yet, I would be grateful if you would leave a written review on Apple Podcasts. It helps it spread like an octopus. I watched this documentary on an octopus. It is phenomenal, the filmography was beautiful and the story about the octopus. Every day, this guy was going out to meet the octopus. Think about the review that you leave for me like an octopus. That’s like the little tentacles going out and spreading and helping this message. These episodes help other colleagues of yours who might be struggling. I would be grateful if you could leave that written review.  

Thank you all so much for joining us here on the show, talking a conversation about reshaping your thinking, thinking about the future. Not that technology is on your heels and how do you keep that as the foundation of your house, but how do you work on your chimney. Let’s work on those walls in your house and let’s work on the chimney. Your homework is to write out your walls. Put on there what services you provide for all the walls in your house and then what is going to be that service that you provide as your chimney. Let the technology take over the work you don’t even want to do. My ask is that you hit the subscribe button, maybe share it with a colleague. You could hit share on Spotify, Google Play and Apple Podcasts. Let’s help spread the word in 2021 and have more people be able to grow their businesses, which in turn is helping more business owners thrive in the world that we’re in. Thank you so much for being here and have a great day. I’ll see you in the next episode.  

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About Twyla Verhelst

AA 62 Twyla Verhelst | Becoming IrreplaceableRecognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Accounting, Twyla is known for leading the charge when it comes to advocacy, change, and community in her industry.

As a CPA, tech entrepreneur, and leader of the Accounting Professionals Program at FreshBooks, she’s working to empower accounting pros with the tools they need to thrive, as well as helping them discover their most valuable asset — their authentic self.


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