To help you prepare, here are the top four roadblocks you’re likely to come across when implementing the transition of your firm from compliance and tax to business advisors.
Your clients still work offline
Firstly, don’t wrongly assume that the movement to the cloud was all about having your files backed up if disaster struck. When data is online you can transform it into genuine insights. The chances are your clients are constantly looking ahead at what might happen next in their business, so this shift in focus shouldn’t be much of an adjustment.
Once their figures are in Futrli, make them a forecast and start the conversation – are they ending the month, quarter or year where they’d expect to? What strategy is presenting itself for further growth?
Sometimes, just seeing the dates and figures and being able to play ‘what-if’ is enough to really snowball how you work with them. Trust us, with this alone you’ll be a hero in their eyes. Having somewhat of a crystal ball in business is incredibly sought-after.
There’s a skill shortage in your team
If your firm is a mixed bag of senior and junior accountants, you’re going to have a wide range of skill sets. Perhaps the Partners have decades of experience under their belts but they’ve focused on a more traditional style of accounting during that time.
Juniors may be fresh from their studies, but they probably still studied the older methods of accounting. You need to unite the team and drill into them how crucial it is to embrace change and a focus on the future – lead by example.
Make sure you’re working with a provider who can genuinely deliver results for your firm in the long-term. For example, our industry-approved CPD course, Futrli Advisory Certification, is focused on the strategy of why and how to be advisors. It isn’t about training you in a product, it is about making sure your team have the soft-skills they need to diagnose business problems and offer advice that clients will happily pay you for.
There aren’t enough hours in the day
If your team are pushing back and telling you there aren’t enough hours in the day to train up to advisory level, tell them the time spent will equate to your clients receiving better services. If they ‘don’t have time’, they won’t be doing their clients justice.
This is a massive upheaval from the way your team are used to working, so you’re going to have to review the structure of your working day. If you aim to roll out advisory services across your entire firm, it’s advisable to do so bit by bit. Select a time frame, say six months, and take a handful of staff through the course at a time.
The most successful way to implement advisory services, from our research, goes a little like this:
Month #1: Introduction to advisory. Meet with the team and explain how it’ll benefit them. Get everyone on the same page and start the first employees off with the training course.
Month #2: Establish your firm’s KPIs and where you want the practice to stand in the near future. The time frame is, of course, up to you. Start drawing up plans as to your new pricing and service structure.
Month #3: Review the results you’ve obtained so far, ensuring your KPIs are throwing out positive results. Start contacting your clients to book in their first advisory meetings.
Month #4: Conduct face-to-face meetings with clients, implementing business health checks and really digging down into client figures. These meetings need follow-ups, so book these in now for next month.
Month #5: Obtain as much feedback as possible from clients who’ve had meetings and follow-ups. By now most of your firm will have completed the advisory course so this shouldn’t be too time-consuming.
Month #6: Your team should all be qualified by now, and you should have plenty of constructive criticism from clients so you can perfect your offerings. Keep it up!
You’re not an “industry” expert
It’s near-impossible to be an expert in every single industry likely to crop up in your work. You do, however, need at least a basic understanding of what the financial drivers are in each of your clients’ businesses. Best practice for advisors is to implement KPIs for clients, as they’re a simple way to measure and track progress in a company.
You don’t need to be able to list off KPIs for each industry at a moment’s notice, don’t worry, but understanding what makes a business tick is a fundamental part of your role.
Identifying the core KPIs of a business is the best way to get started with your strategy. You need to work out what to measure and use the results to plan what your client should do next.