Should your accountancy firm be offering more advisory services? With more and more firms offering ‘value-add services’, it’s a question that many practices will have asked themselves in recent times.
Business advisory work is all about going beyond basic compliance, getting closer to clients and helping them do more to build and grow their business. But is your firm ready to expand on its advisory offering? And what are the core benefits of stepping into the advisory arena?
Why is advisory work so important?
The accounting industry has been through plenty of changes in the past few decades – with developments in technology and service offerings helping accountancy firms to evolve their business strategy and become 21st century, digital-savvy businesses.
But it’s not just the technology that’s changed. Client expectations of your services have changed too, with modern business owners expecting your firm to bring a far higher level of value, advice and insight to bear on the existing client/accountant relationship.
And this is why ‘advisory services’ have come to the fore. Clients want a trusted adviser, someone who understands their business, knows their goals and can help them to take the financial, strategic and planning steps required to move forward.
How can advisory help an accountancy firm grow?
42% of clients expect their accountant to provide business advice, according to recent research by Sage in its Practice of Now Report 2018.
If clients see business advice as such a key need, and such a central part of your firm’s value, it’s clear to see why you need to meet that expectation. If you’re stuck in a compliance rut, eventually your clients are likely to vote with their feet and look elsewhere for advice.
Advisory is the key to remaining relevant and profitable, as the results of Xero’s latest Accounting & Bookkeeping Industry Performance Report shows:
- Online firms grow faster and grow revenue with more clients – becoming a digital firm is the key step for any firms looking to expand their advisory service. It adds efficiency, provides granular client data and builds the foundations for growth.
- Offering advisory services increases practice revenue per client – so the firm can become more profitable without increasing the number of clients on the books. Instead, you create bigger revenues from a stable group of valued clients.
- The key pillars of growth are set – with the right team of experienced advisors, supported by the best possible software and technology, you can quickly evolve the services you offer to take advantage of the advisory opportunity.
What will the firm gain by expanding into advisory?
If you seize the opportunity and expand your business advisory services, what are the long-term benefits?
For many firms, offering business advice is nothing new. As part of your regular client meetings and interactions, you’ve no doubt been offering advice, suggesting new ideas and helping owners, boards and their management teams to get more return from their business.
But by formalising this advice into specific services, and proactively pushing these offerings as part of an extended value package, the whole firm can benefit.
By expanding into advisory, the firm gets:
- Deeper relationships with your client base – by spending more time with clients, getting to know their business better and offering the advice they need to move forward.
- More value-add work and more revenue – by becoming your client’s go-to adviser and bringing in more work, higher fees, and a significantly increased revenue pipeline.
- An easier route to upselling of services – with project work, value pieces and additional scope all more likely when you’re more involved in a client’s business.
- Satisfied clients who trust your judgement – positioning you as a true business adviser, keeping clients happy and helping you attract and retain your ideal customers.
- A stable and successful future – where your strategy, talent and technology are all working together for the long-term success of the business.
The benefits of offering cashflow advisory
Helping clients to improve their financial performance is central to the advisory conversation. If you can drill down into their financial model, you can highlight and track the important metrics and quickly help them fine tune the financial health of the whole company.
Key ways to do this include:
- Providing detailed cashflow statements and forecasts – so the company understands what’s driving its cash pipeline and can see the opportunities and threats.
- Helping clients manage cashflow and working capital – by using tools like Fluidly to track and monitor their cash numbers over time, helping them stay in control of liquidity.
- Using forecasting to aid scenario-planning – so clients can see further down the financial road, can plan different scenarios and will make the most informed decisions.
- Making it easier to access the right funding – by giving banks, lenders and investors the drilled down cash breakdowns they will require.
Helping clients achieve their goals
As a broad-service accountancy and business advisory practice, you become the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of all things business and financial. Whatever issue, challenge or query your clients face, they can be confident that your team are on hand to help them find a resolution.
By improving clients’ financial health, getting access to funding and helping them draw up the most robust business plans, you firm becomes an integral part of each company’s success.
If you want to truly help your clients plan, track and achieve their goals, now’s the time to evolve and take your first step into expanding those key advisory services.