How to prepare year-end accounts clients want and need
Year-end can be one of the most stressful times, but it doesn’t have to be. If advisory feels like a stretch for your firm, think about what you’re already doing – do your services fall under the advisor umbrella?
The great thing about thinking differently about these services is it opens up new conversations with clients. This is the process of creating fantastic, customised reports for your clients which will really make a difference to their working lives.
This strategy for preparing year-end reports has been tried and tested by our in-house Senior Strategic Advisor, Josie Attard. Previously at Morrows, a prominent Australian firm, she’s streamlined this process to the point it only takes around 10 minutes – not much when you consider the value it adds to client meetings.
“It will open up a brand-new service that you can offer your clients. I saw a positive result on revenue and my team were really excited about offering this operational reporting for clients too.”
You have to do these year-end reports anyway, so give your clients something they will care about. Look at which KPIs they should be tracking and managing, review a forecast for next year and look at seasonality trends. It won’t take much longer than usual but will add a lot of value to your services.
Step 1: Preparation
We’re going to assume your clients are already signed up with a cloud-based accounting package, say Xero or QuickBooks Online, for example.
Futrli automatically syncs with Xero, QBO and MYOB. It sucks in all of your transactions so you know the data you’re seeing is in real-time. You can plug in this health check template for your clients, to really help them understand what’s going on in their business. Once it’s set up it’s ready to go. Futrli offers forecasts, reports, and alerts in an all-in-one platform, but for this exercise, we’ll be focusing on our printed reports.
Grouping gives you more insights and makes it all easier to handle, as there won’t be massive lists for the chart of accounts (eg wages), and it looks a lot neater. For example, 20 lines of revenue, might provide more insights if they are grouped, and it’s far less likely to overwhelm your client.
Step 2: Creation
Make a quick forecast to show what the future could look like for a given company.
- Navigate to the Forecasting tab within the platform
- Select Quick create, set the length to 12 months. This forecast is accessible across the whole application
- Navigate back to Printed Reports. Your template can be used again and again so once it’s built, this process will become quicker.
- From here, you’ll be asked to choose between a Blank PDF (where you can create your own bespoke reports), or Import board into PDF (to streamline the experience, your pre-built dashboard will appear here. Of course you can choose a template if you’d prefer)
- When you’re happy with your layout, hit Print and your PDF will be saved and will print out.
How you see your data laid out on your screen is exactly how you’ll see it on the page once you’ve printed it out. Clients are starting to expect this level of work now, so it’s crucial to adopt this process for your client accounts. The PDF you’ve put together can be sent straight to your clients.
And it only took 10 minutes – probably even less!
Step 3: Customise
The pages are fully customisable. Try placing your year on year comparisons next to each other to make it easy to drill down into the data. It shows the efficiencies and growth, meaning you can easily start conversations with clients.
Add notes/annotations to the card if anything needs extra explanations, and don’t forget you can go more in-depth with your notes using a text card. Bring your report to life by using images to articulate your comments too.
Your client reports will look stronger with your own branding on them, it’s all about you and your firm after all. White labelling the platform is going to portray your logo across the application, so your branding is reinforced to clients constantly.
Step 4: Learn
Positioning this right is key. We hear, how do I have that first meeting? What questions do I ask? There’s certainly a gap to be bridged in terms of knowledge for many accountants, and because there’s a lot to learn, we created Futrli Advisory Certification. Our CPD-accredited, online course will take you from the basics of forecasting, what-if scenarios, internal roll outs and scaling Futrli externally.
Position these printed year-end reports as a sample of what you can do. It’s like when you’re in a deli or similar, and there are free samples of a nice food product. Try a sample and you’re more likely to buy the product.
Attach this PDF to your year-end reports and make sure it’s at the front of that report pack. Sitting down and having a conversation with your client about it, even if it’s on the phone, and tell them ‘I’ve noticed X, so let’s talk about Y.’ It’s all about changing the conversation.
This can also be adopted beyond their year-end accounts too, after all this about successfully starting new conversations with clients, even with those who you might currently only see once or twice a year.