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Mark Holton Dext Blog

Strategies for Creating Business Advisory Success


The time for advisory is now, and if you already aren’t embarking in this area, this is just a quick reminder of why you should be looking to expand your firm’s advisory services.  But for many accountants and bookkeepers, the value of advisory service is often left on the table because of the industry’s current attitude towards these services.

Aug 18th 2021
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For modern accountants and bookkeepers, it’s time to reevaluate the position you’re taking when it comes to ensuring your client’s success.

Here are the traps that you must avoid to get your advisory service up and running:

1. Doing advisory services when asked by the client or a third party like a Bank

Advisory is something that is only offered when deemed necessary for many businesses. That doesn’t leave the opportunity for it to be seen as a natural evolution or continuation of the accounting and bookkeeping relationship you’ve already established.

2. Not tracking it separately on our profit and loss or using job codes

What gets measured gets done and gets support. Being able to relate the success of your advisory work with relevant job codes allows you to assess the effort’s success. If you’re able to see the success of your advisory work, you may be more inclined to expand your service structure.

3. Not promoting it proactively to clients

Getting your clients excited about your products is an essential first step that many firms are missing in their transition to advisory services. Focus on transitioning your most robust current relationships first to allow you to gain a cohort of happy clients to began building a referral base.

4. Exclusively linking it with compliance services

As you expand your client base, you will encounter different types of clients, and serving them is a priority. Not all clients will be a smooth lateral shift from compliance to reliance, so you have to be willing to allow specific clients to work differently, as long as you’re confident in the books you are receiving.

5. We tend to give it away for very little or nothing

Pricing is always a consideration when expanding your service portfolio, and it’s often a difficult question to answer. Most firms undervalue their advisory services, which leads them not to see the uptick in value and overall makes the client not know the value of the service as they think it is part of the compliance system.

Avoiding these above mistakes can help you get ready to transition from compliance to reliance in a meaningful way. Moving from compliance to reliance allows you to position your firm to become a value-adding asset to your clients.

After successfully navigating the pitfalls mentioned above, most firms then ask a critical question. How do you discern which clients would make the most sense to onboard for your pilot group from your current compliance portfolio?

The answer to this is somewhat simple; you should start with your “A” class clients. The top-tier clients you think have a desire to understand their finances better to make their businesses poised for growth. This exercise will allow you to look through your current client pool and evaluate which clients could be a good fit.

Starting off your client advisory practice takes effort, and it takes a willingness to experiment, but the potential upsides on your business are unmatched. Start the challenge today and discover ways to grow your practice without expanding your compliance practice.

A Little Word of Assurance

1. Why making the switch is worth it

Compliance to reliance is all about maximizing the opportunity for you as well as your clients to gain value. Business is done in a data-driven and responsive way these days. More than ever, businesses need accountants to help them understand their financials and position themselves to grow.

The process of going from Compliance to Reliance is about turning clients who are once-a-year and tax-focused into continuing relationships with numerous upsell opportunities.

2. Get into the right mindset

A good first step for anyone seeking to change client accounting services and move toward a more advisory-based approach is to ensure that you are updating your business model to match. By offering recurring costs for the value you provide to your clients, you are establishing a long-term relationship.

Before you get too far, it's time to remember that the focus is shifting, and, because of that, your measures of success should also change. New business models bring new targets, new KPIs, and new success stories. If you want this process to work for your firm, you have to be open and willing to change.

To achieve success at this stage, it is imperative to put in the resources necessary to develop the necessary frameworks and plans. No matter how you proceed, we encourage you to come up with a plan to accomplish the goal.

When getting into the mindset to switch to advisory, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What systems do I currently use to do business?
  • How is my staff currently set up, and what are their workloads?
  • How many clients do I currently service?
  • Do I currently have the in-house expertise to offer advisory services?

The answers to these questions will help you decide if switching to advisory services is the right move for you!

The Dext Academy seeks to equip every accountant and bookkeeper with the skills they need to meet the future needs of businesses. Bringing together industry experts from across North America, Dext Academy provides you with the practical and strategic guidance you need to take your company to the next level. The Dext Academy, designed for forward-looking leaders of firms of all sizes, offers content written by industry trailblazers including Mark Holton, Ron Banker, Kellie Parks, and Ryan Lazanis. Check back frequently as articles will be added regularly!

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