Business owners know they need insights to move their company forward. But, with so many balls in the air, crunching numbers and analysing data can seem like a daunting task. This effort is then multiplied by manual processes and lack of automation – making that to-do list seem longer than ever.
This is where advisory services come into play. Not only are you lifting a burden from your clients, but you’re providing them with the tools to grow, scale and thrive.
However, the real value lies in your ability to help them understand why X has impacted Y and what actions they can take to secure their tomorrow. With the right technology, small businesses can feel empowered to make decisions that impact their bottom line. And you can use these tools as stepping stones towards better interactions with your clients.
This is confirmed by Peter Timothy, Co-Founder and Director of Bloom Accounts, a digital finance team for SMEs, who offered this nugget of advice:
It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of being reactive to client situations. Make the time to start a conversation with your client, be proactive and understand what they want to achieve as individuals and as a team by putting yourself in their shoes. You have the knowledge, skills and you should have the empathy to make a real difference to their outlook and opportunities. Numbers are important but the key is striking up meaningful conversations.
Advisory services strengthen businesses, so follow these tips for effectively and efficiently kick-starting advisory in your firm.
1. You may have a team of accountants, but do you have a team of advisors?
Accountants are crucial to business, but advisors will take your clients’ businesses to the next level. Trust and confidence are two crucial elements when considering the growth and reputation of your practice.
Take steps to embrace a culture of learning. This could be through courses and training, or even a monthly ideas session where everyone can bring something new to the table. By encouraging your team to grow and learn, you empower them to take initiative and consider the 360° benefits being an advisor has. Futrli’s Advisory Certification course is a great place to start.
2. Go beyond the numbers
You’re bringing more than just knowledge of accounting to the table. You see market trends across a range of businesses, talk to people across industries and more. So leverage this experience: you’ve seen it all before, so learn from past clients mistakes to help clients in future.
By having, and continually increasing, your knowledge of a particular market, you’re bringing fresh thinking to a business. This is really going to add value to your clients, as this is the kind of support they can’t just Google. Off the back of data analysis, you’re in a great place to advise your clients’ next steps.
3. Show the difference you can make
By gaining a clear idea of your client’s ambitions, opportunities and even barriers, you can establish where you can add the most value. Information like this, alongside their data, is crucial to helping them roadmap their journey to success.
In Futrli, you can connect your clients’ forecasts (you can create this just based on last year’s actuals) and trust that the data is automatically updated. The client gets the benefit of seeing two years compared against one another, on a quarterly basis. They’ll see insight into the areas that are performing well (or not), rather than with the standard P&L and balance sheet. Remember, knowing their ‘WHY’ inside out will provide you with a huge advantage in reaffirming their confidence in you and your team.
4. Effective communications
Building a strong rapport and trust with your clients is one of the most essential parts of kick-starting your advisory offering. And even though they’re crucial, it’s not just about regular meetings and phone calls.
Putting some effort into communications like blogs, emails and social media. This invites your clients into your world and shows your expertise. This is important for existing and new clients, and will prove useful for answering questions without needing to meet or chat to your clients.
5. Keep everything consistent
Familiarity and good relationships can go a long way in maintaining clients. By ensuring regular, proactive contact with your clients, you’re saying, “I’m available and I am here to help.” Set up a weekly call to make sure you’re always on-hand in case your clients come across any problems.
For many startups or small businesses, it can be a lonely time – particularly if they’ve left the comfort and security of a large firm or business to pursue their dream. By keeping a regular channel open with your client, you begin to establish yourself as more than just an advisor.