We’re on a mission to demystify advisory services for accounting professionals who are looking to find out more and move into the space. The word ‘advisory’ has been a buzzword for a while now, but what does it really mean and how do you get started? This guide to advisory will help you get on board with this new way of working.
A business advisor, as the name suggests, provides timely advice to their clients. There’s a lot more to it, though, as it’s not simply accountants telling businesses what to do.
To look to Business Dictionary, they describe advisory as:
A range of consulting services provided by Certified Public Accountants (CPA) and other financial advisors to businesses and high net worth individuals who require specialised advice on capital formation, cashflow and wealth management. Advisory clients pay fees based on services provided or as a percent of assets under management.
But, actually, we think there’s much more to it.
To us, and our community of accounting professionals, advisory is a much broader term than that. The crux of it is to help businesses. Be it in growth, cashflow management, futureproofing, or a wide selection of other practices.
Advisors are hybrids of mentors, business coaches, CPAs and even friends to their clients. These are being sought out by business owners globally. For some markets, it’s transform or be left behind. In others, advisory is just starting to pick up. Wherever you are in the world, educating yourself and colleagues further on the matter is certainly wise.
So, where you should start?
Get your team on the same page before you get started with your move to advisory. In our experience, it’s much better to start with a small group heading up the charge, feeding back to the rest of the firm as they go. Doing this makes the entire process a lot more manageable and less threatening to the more apprehensive, change-phobic members of the team.
We believe in the power of education. So much so that we launched Futrli Advisory Certification, our very own online CPD-accredited curriculum, to help you close (or refresh) any gaps in your knowledge. This should always be step one, as you’ll know for sure your advisory services are standardised across the firm. Next, you’re ready to implement.
This is one of the areas of transitioning to advisory that some firms find tricky. There are many ways this can be set up, from a monthly subscription fee to service bundles. Whichever way suits you best, make sure it’s not hourly billing. With advisory, you’re likely to miss out on revenue if you use a traditional pricing structure, as your focus has changed from compliance. Once you’ve decided, remember that consistency is key.
Speak to your entire team about what’s about to happen. Especially if you’re planning on committing to advisory firm-wide. The sooner you can get your team thinking about advisory, the better. Next, assign a small group of your team to lead the charge. Task them with determining what will and won’t work and trialling it with a cherry-picked pool of existing clients.
Segment the clients you think will benefit the most from advisory services. Think about what the power of forecasting, live reporting and budgeting can do for businesses, then work backwards to spot potential candidates. Look for tell-tale signs like a growing startup, or perhaps a business which could be running out of cash.
Key performance indicators help you measure parts of a business in a more manageable way, making them the perfect tool for advisors. Seeing each part of their business broken down is going to help you explain problem areas and solutions to your clients. Regular reviewing means you can help clients navigate the often murky waters of business.
Once you and your clients are happy with the way things are going and you’re definitely helping add value to your clients, it’s time to approach the next segment. Use tried and tested processes to grip your new batch of clients and get them excited about your new way of working. It’s massively to their benefit, so don’t be afraid to shout about it!