Your clients need you more than ever!

Why business advisory services are critical to your firm and clients’ success

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As accountants, we’ve been told time and time again that we’re not good enough, that we need to change, that we’re not doing enough for our clients and that our firms and livelihoods are under threat’.

We’ve also been told that ‘compliance is dead’ and that we need to move from compliance to advisory.

None of that is true.

As you know, the demand for compliance services is as strong as ever. And, if the last two and a half years has taught us anything, it’s that compliance is vital for our small business clients and is here to stay.

But as we also know, continuing to deliver compliance only (or mainly compliance) will impact our margins, our ability to recruit and retain great talent, and our ability to retain and service our ideal clients

If you don’t exist to make a client’s life better, I don’t think as a business you have a legitimate reason to exist!’ Fred Reichheld 

Potential realised

As accountants, we all know that potential ought to be realised. That’s true whether it’s in ourselves, our team or indeed in our clients.

You and I both know so many accountants who are emphatic in their belief and desire to make a difference to the lives of their clients. Many of us are already doing so, combining compliance AND advisory.

Maybe we’re not doing it in a structured way. Maybe we’re not getting paid (enough) for doing so. And maybe we’re not empowering our team to get involved.

Why business advisory has failed in the past

And we’ve all heard the excuses: ‘Only our top clients are availing of these services.’ ‘It’s almost impossible to scale.’

And we might even find ourselves believing the myth that (with time constraints in dealing with existing workloads, regulations and legislation) 'our senior team have little time to deliver even more advisory’.

Here’s the real truth — the reality. The industry, vendors and we ourselves have over-complicated business advisory.

I know this from experience. In my accounting firm, I created a monster! I took a Big4 consulting methodology and tried to deliver that to small business owners. It was complex, involved, time-intensive and heavily reliant on senior team members to deliver. It was necessarily expensive and tough to resource. I knew there had to be a better way.

Repeatable advisory

And interestingly, a study by Xero in 2020 showed that repeatable advisory services are more cost-effective, generate a higher average fee per client and are faster growing than complex advisory services. 

If you find yourself using time as an excuse and are saying things like ‘we don’t have the resources’, ‘our team doesn’t have the confidence’, and ‘clients don’t get it’ … it’s likely that you don’t have a structured approach to deliver business advisory. You don’t have the processes and systems to ensure that your team know how to deliver those consistently and time effectively.

It’s also likely that you have overcomplicated the process, aren’t talking the right language to your clients and fail to show them clearly the value you can create.

Selling or sending reports isn’t advisory

Professional services are bought, not sold. Everyone hates to be sold to, but they love to buy.

The challenge in selling management accounts, cashflow projections and budgets is that small business owners don’t get their numbers. That’s why they have you! They don’t understand what budgets, forecasts and management accounts are, what they could do for them, or why they’d want them, so they don’t value them. And they certainly don’t want to pay for them.

Small business owners are looking for more money, time or freedom. You will struggle if you’re not talking to them about one or all three of these and how you can help them achieve their goals.

Management accounts, projections and budgets are immensely valuable if they are part of an ongoing business/strategic planning service or come with regular meetings, but are worthless in isolation.

If you can’t sell or your clients aren’t buying – it’s likely because you’re selling things they don’t understand, want or value. You’re not speaking their language, nor talking about the things they want. You know what they need to improve, but they don’t.

Speak their language, discuss their goals, and show them what they need and, hence, the value.

If clients can see the value you bring, you won’t have to sell; they will want to buy.

Here to help

All the studies show that small business owners are looking for more from their accountants: help with growing their business profitably and sustainably; and help with making the right business decisions.

As accountants, we have the inherent ability, knowledge and training to help small business owners solve their biggest challenges. We just need to put the structure, systems and processes in place to ensure that we can deliver repeatable advisory, that our clients want and can afford.

We need to speak the same language as our clients. Talk to them about their goals and show them the value we can deliver!

If you’d like to learn more, download my eBook, The 7 Reasons Why Business Advisory isn’t working.

Aynsley Damery ACCA, CEO, Clarity

Aynsley is the founder and CEO of Clarity, a complete end-to-end business advisory engine for accountants, that can help firms introduce and create a profitable, repeatable and scalable business advisory service. Using Clarity adds significant value to small business clients. Value they clearly understand and want to pay for. Book a strategy session to create a customised implementation plan.

ACCA is delighted to welcome Aynsley to our ACCA family. He has joined us through our  ‘Direct membership from other bodies’ route.