Are Advisory Services in the Future for Accounting Firms?

Can advisory services provide your accounting firm a competitive advantage?Can advisory services provide your accounting firm a competitive advantage?

What is the future of accounting? How will accounting practices keep their seat at the table in times of digital disruption? Should you consider adding advisory services to help take your client relationship to the next level? Can advisory services help ensure long term profitable growth for both you and your best clients?

Last week, I was given an opportunity to see the future of accounting services at Accountex USA. In the spirit of full disclosure, I saw what my partner Sage and Jennifer Warara sees the future of accounting being. She is Executive Vice President Partners, Accountants, and Alliances for Sage. I can say that I was pleasantly amazed at what she shared at the event.

I will share several key ideas from her keynote last week and then return to this topic over the coming weeks and months. This is one of the key reasons I partner with Sage as a Global Business Expert. They are focused on helping you grow your practice and business! They help you become trusted partners to your clients.

Emerging technologies are changing how we run our accounting and advisory services businesses. Every industry is being disrupted. My accounting clients and partners see a brighter future by providing advisory services to their clients. My SME clients are expecting their accountants and financial advisors to help them make better sense of what is happening in their businesses and in their markets.

For accountants, it’s no longer enough to make sure their clients financials are ready and are in good order. Accountants and advisors must be ready and able to provide insights and strategies that help support their clients’ growth. Successful accountants need to bring insights and ideas to retain their key clients today and in the future. Successful advisors need to become better at consulting with their clients on critical business challenges and opportunities.

How do can you do this? Advisory services can provide accountants the opportunity to expand their influence with their best clients. It sounds easy, and it is. What isn’t so easy is deciding where to invest your time creating new advisory services. What do your clients want and what are they willing to pay for these new services? Last week at Accountex USA we heard a roadmap that can help put you on your way.

Jennifer Warara Executive Vice President Partners, Accountants, and Alliances at Sage shared an overview of what you should consider in putting together your advisory services offerings. The response at the Accountex event was very positive!  She shared 8 Pillars to building successful advisory services capabilities.  We won’t have time to go into much detail today, we will over the coming weeks and months.

This 8 Pillars framework provides you a great way to get started today. I will be working with Jennifer and her partners to help you see how to implement these ideas in your accounting and advisory services practices.

I will also be sharing my ideas as well and providing you with resources to get started today. I’ve helped many of my accounting and financial services clients build successful advisory practices over the years from small regional firms to large corporate practices with household names.

The 8 Pillars to a Successful Client Advisory Services include:

  • Industry Verticals
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Packaging and Pricing
  • Talent Recruitment & Development
  • Client Engagement
  • Business Development
  • Service Agreements
  • Business Planning

All these pieces go together to create a cohesive practice building process. Don’t be overwhelmed. It’s even easier than it looks. There are several things that stuck out to me as a business development expert. The first is you already have clients you can share this with. Your clients are already looking for this from you.

Over 42% of your clients expect accountants to provide them with business advice. In many cases, you already are. By creating a structure around what you do, your business becomes more profitable and scalable. This begins to create a stronger partnership between you and your clients.

Adding these new capabilities to your accounting practice helps you attract younger and young at heart team members to your organization. From my experience, advisory services energize your current team members by helping them build new skills and capabilities to their current roles.

Hopefully you’re as excited as I am by what I learned at Accountex USA.  I can’t wait to share more with you over the coming weeks. The opportunities are endless. See you next week.

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