There have been many articles that I have read and poll results I've seen through the years that place the accountant and/or CPA at the top of the "most trusted advisor" ladder over other such notable professionals as the banker, financial advisor, and even attorney. Why is this, you ask? It comes down to a simple matter of TRUST. That's it - so why are the other professionals not trying to do something about raising their trust factors higher in the eyes of their clients?
I believe that the recent events in the banking industry hamper the overall perception of the banker and their former place as a trusted advisor from the early U.S.A. business growth days. Banks have been perceived by many in the public eye (some unfairly mind you) as greedy and unnecessary risk-takers - something business owners and savvy financial types want no part of at all. Since a lack of regulations allowed a gunslinger mentality to run rampant in the banking system (not just here mind you, but worldwide), trust seems harder to come by in this profession.
Likewise, attorneys have also gotten a bad rap these days (some unfairly mind you) due to our sue-happy society in the United States. Attorneys can often be at the center of many important financial issues facing business owners, families, and individuals - helping to resolve them as needed. The cost of an attorney can often be a detriment also to those who may desperately need the legal advice that only they can truly provide. With many lawyers who are average at best, how can you be sure that you can trust their advice... is it the best possible advice, and is it worth it?
Financial advisors, much like bankers, have faced much more scrutiny (some unfairly mind you) over the past decade-plus with 2 bear markets that have wiped out a lot of accumulated wealth. With the glut of advisors who are average at best, and those who may not want to deal with or be competent in financial matters that they don't get paid for due to traditional pay structures (debt payoff strategies, credit issues, etc.), people often are disillusioned as to why the financial advisor is only truly focused on the investments when they have other financial needs that need tending to. A fiduciary with proper training and adherence to matters in financial planning, investment advice, and wealth management is a better choice than a financial "advisor" who is a broker and acts under the suitability standard is interested in selling you the latest flavor of the day to make a commission. With all of the advisors who've been caught ripping off client funds, they make it harder for the honest ethical practitioners to been seen in a more trusted light.
The CPA/accountant seems to be held in greater esteem by those they serve simply because their clients feel that the CPA's/accountant's advice is straightforward and in their best interests. The clients feel that there is no hidden agenda or question as to why this or that was recommended - they simply follow the advice given to them. Now, whether that is true of most CPAs/accountants is hard to say, but repeated polls and surveys surely have some validity. Not all accountants/CPAs are as ethical (they have been some here who have steered clients in the wrong direction) but the perception is that you can trust an accountant/CPA more than any other advisor. Finding a worthwhile CPA who is very knowledgeable in investment matters, business matters, and tax matters and knows when to refer business to other avenues when it falls outside of his/her specialties is priceless - you can take that type of trust and build a successful business with it.
For all professionals out there - raise the value level you provide to your clients, communicate it clearly, and the trust (and business) you desire will find its way to you... deservedly so.