These days it has become difficult for accountants to discuss the topic of advisory work without first mentioning client accounting services (CAS).
For many CPAs client accounting is nothing new, but having a plan to make money at it, especially given the combination of evolving business needs and technology offering real-time data, is something else altogether.
In fact, the idea of formally offering CAS, planning for it, pricing it out and marketing it causes much consternation among accounting professionals, to the point of them not doing much with CAS at all. Sage and Boomer Consulting would like to change that perception.
For those unaware, Sage is offering a new CAS program to help accounting professionals navigate the waters of offering these services with confidence, with learning developed in conjunction with Boomer Consulting. It’s a free program based on eight pillars ranging from business development and pricing through to client engagement and developing talent.
Our discussion with Gary Boomer and Sage’s Senior Accountant Advocate Thomas Casey about all of these points should help get you on the right path. During the fourth part, we focused on essential skills for a CAS practice and how to find them.
Here is an excerpt from that conversation:
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AW: What do you see as the “core” skills need to deliver on CAS?
Boomer: There are three things that add value. Number one is leadership, because that provides direction. Number two is relationships because they provide confidence and that’s one thing that this [CAS] Program does. The last is creativity. You have to be innovative, you have to be willing to go explore because there’s going to be new technology next year, the following year and you’re not going to use the same processes.
Casey: I’ll focus on the relationships part, most of us are really hesitant when it comes to networking. We’ll have this short, awkward conversation and then exchange business cards and it’s a one-time thing. Relationship building is going deep and client advisory services will allow you to actually get much closer to your clients. You’re going to be able to ask them about their goals, their dreams, their aspirations and how that fits in with why they do what they do. That skillset around really being a good communicator and making sure you fully understand the client.
AW: Are these skills something you can groom or how do you find it in the market?
Boomer: If you find people with the right mindset the answer is ‘yes.’ If you find people with a fixed mindset I’d say you’re wasting your time and energy to try to convince them. We’re finding a lot of young people coming into the workforce and this [CAS] excites them because they see the growth opportunity here and they see it’s not working crazy hours. It’s using technology and good processes.
Casey: I’ve talked to a managing partner that actually brings in his younger staff to be part of the conversation when they’re providing advisory services. They’re asked to be the ‘note taker’ and they’re given time to put those notes together to present back to the managing partner, so [internally] that’s a great way to build your future leaders, your rainmakers, your future partners.
See more of the discussion below and stay tuned for Parts 5 and 6, where we wrap up our series by addressing packaging and pricing of CAS services.