Deputy Editor AccountingWEB
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Advisory Services: How Do You Actually Implement Them?

A panel at QBConnect 2019 offers real, actionable tips on how to actually implement the advisory services accounting professionals have been hearing so much about.

Nov 7th 2019
Deputy Editor AccountingWEB
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QBConnect 2019 is filled with experts speaking on a variety of topics, and one of the biggest ones this year is the subject of advisory services. Accounting professionals are often being told to break into this area, and yet so far, little guidance has come on how to do so.

A panel on the conference's first full day aimed to change that. Entitled "Advisory: How Do I Actually Do It?! Key Implementation Tips from People Who Have Done It," it surveyed and heard from four experts who have been instrumental in implementing advisory services in their firms. 

First, the moderator asked the all important question: What does "advisory" mean? The answers were simple. It doesn't mean helping a client close their books; rather, it focuses on what comes after the financial paperwork has been completed. In short, it means helping clients plan for their future proactively rather than reactively.

"It's about asking clients, 'What are you doing with your cash? Where is it going?'" one panelist noted. Advisory services begin after compliance work and involve detailed knowledge of helping clients drive revenue and understanding the nuances of their operations.

This discussion was followed by another vital question: So, do you still need to do the compliance work first?

The answer: A resounding "yes." Advisory services come afer bookkeeping and compliance work have been completed. One panelist recommended keeping theree keys of advisory services in mind: automation, strategy, and insight. It's crucial for both you and your clients to automate your processes; anything outdated must be brought up to speed to avoid wasting time and valuable labor. You also need to focus on helping your clients strategize for success and using your expertise to offer them insights into how they can grow their businesses and make them more profitable.

One recommendation? Have specific team members lead each offering. Now, especially for smaller firms, it might not be possible to go out and hire the most qualified person in each area, but that doesn't mean you need to fall behind. Repurpose your own team and send them for extra training so they can provide more services to your firm and your clients.

Another suggestion: Offer a hybrid version of both value and fixed pricing. Some services, like labor and technology offerings, ought to be fixed, while others should be value priced. This way, clients won't feel like they are being taken advantage of, and they won't always be so worried about a big bill they avoid hiring you entirely. Offer a spreadsheet so your pricing is transparent and well understood by clients and team members alike.

Finally, remember implementing these processes will take some time and will be complex, especially if you're just getting started. It might be hard for everyone to remember everything. With that in mind, have someone shadow your meetings and act as a second set of ears. They can take notes and help you write out new standard operations that are clear to everyone, especially yourself.

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