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How to Pick Your Advisory Dream Team

Posted on 31st August 2017 in Advisory

Written by Freya Hughes

In the fight against evil, you need to pick your team wisely. Fortunately, we’re not actually fighting baddies, instead fighting for clients and revenue in a new way. When forging your own path into advisory, do as Marvel do and choose your ‘A team’. It’s a big job which not every employee will excel with. Your advisory dream team will need to provide value, not solely mitigate risk, so you’ll need to carefully consider who will make the cut. Look out for the following qualities in your advisory dream team, and the process will be a whole lot easier.

When changing the direction of your accounting firm, it is important to make sure you have the right resource in place to allow you to effectively scale. You can make some mistakes along your advisory journey but this is one area you want to nail from the start. Our community of CIMAs and CPAs who have implemented FUTRLI have repeatedly told us that one person “going solo” won’t lead to the best results. You need a mini team, even if it is just two people, to get the ball rolling and make some noise internally. When the workload is shared it is less of a battle and you’ll set the firm up for greater chances of success. Here are the qualities you want in your team…

They have a broad industry knowledge

Being an advisor requires a fair amount of knowledge, of course, but you’ll find knowing about a broad range of industries is key. Key performance indicators break down areas of a given company into granular, digestible chunks, so are a really important concept to get your head around, and to implement. Because we understand the importance of KPIs, we’ve got a whole library for you to enjoy, and a whole host of industry-specific KPI lists.

Brad Golchin, Owner of Wise Advice based in New Zealand, tells us that since he transformed his firm into an advisory practice he’s noticed an uptick in client retention. Previously offering traditional compliance, his firm have embraced advisory and lead their client meetings with KPI measurement. Read the full case study here. Brad has always had his finger on the pulse when it comes to tech, and has been really positive about the way his firm has developed in recent months. The whole team are overjoyed at how happy his clients have been:

“We’ve set up the majority of our clients to track their KPIs, which FUTRLI software allows us to do. Our clients feel more in control of their cash, and understand far more about their accounts than ever before.”

Advisory services are underpinned by the skills of the accountant. You must get it right, for the sake of your clients. If you’re meeting with an owner of a retail business and have previously only dealt with farmers, there will be a notable disparity between you and your clients knowledge. Approaching the change to advisory, your team must obtain or grow their knowledge of a broad range of industries, or they won’t be much help to their clients. Brush up on your KPIs, and undertake FUTRLI Advisory Certification to ensure you’ll hit the mark.

They’re eager to learn

Delving into an upheaval of practice means you need people with ambition to make sure it all happens to a high standard. If your staff are content to plod away doing the same thing day in, day out then they’re probably not the people to help you on this mission. Ask yourself the difficult questions: is this change viable with the existing team? Do the staff need training or replacing? Only you know your team, so you need to make these difficult decisions pragmatically. You might need to hire new employees if you don’t think your existing team are up to the challenge. This is too important to get wrong.

Dan McCarthy from Compass East

We spoke to Dan McCarthy (left) at Compass EAST, based in Nashville USA, a little while back, who told us that advisory has allowed juniors to develop their skillsets. Read the full case study here. This, in turn, has impacted the entire company, as Dan is now able to make his whole team upsell and add value to their work.

“Our younger team members are developing their skills and understanding of advisory services, which means our entire firm is able to perform better.”

Ambitious staff are the ones who will see you through this transition. If you have team members who aren’t so experienced, but really eager to help and learn, then try buddying them up with more experienced staff and see how they can help one another.

They’re personable

While it may be tempting to force the entire team into advisory, some more introverted staff may be scared or anxious to get going. It’s a much more front-facing role, so will turn off certain personality types.

If your team are showing willing and drive to conquer the new advisory path, then definitely take advantage! You need a strong team to get your firm through this, so testing their individual knowledge will alert you to how each individual may perform. If you can gauge who is likely to perform and adapt the best, use those individuals to lead the programme. Having two or three people heading up the advisory change is a great way to free up your own time so you can get back to managing the day to day. In the FUTRLI Advisory Certification course, we’ll show you the benefits of the front-facing members of staff. So many accountants are missing out on revenue because they’re not speaking to clients directly, so aren’t finding out what makes them tick and where they need to focus their attention.

Andrew Van De Beek from illumin8

While it might be obvious, it’s crucial to sit down with clients. Choose members of staff that are quite outgoing to start this process off, and you’ll notice a big change in which services are being bought into. When we spoke to Andrew Van De Beek (above), Owner of Australian firm Illumin8, he told us transparency is crucial with clients.

“They trust me more as they’re my numbers and I’m not afraid to show them. It’s always a really easy conversation. I can even show them a decision I had made three months back to hire someone and can show clients how that affected everything via the reports.”

Andrew sits his clients down and really gets involved in the firm’s operations and pain. Showing clients how FUTRLI, and cloud accounting in general, makes such a difference to his own revenue allows clients to make an informed decision about working in this way, and his success rate is something to behold! Read the full case study here.

They have a strategic mind

You’d hope that your staff all have fairly strategic minds anyway, but when adopting advisory, you need to put your best foot forward from the off. You’re expected to become a hybrid of a management accountant, friend and advisor, and will do well to understand and implement or combat the following…

  • Risk – mitigating risk and improving the internal control program of an organisation can be achieved by training staff and implementing certain standards. Assisting leaders in considering the risks before key decisions are made.
  • Reports – help business owners and managers to monitor the company’s performance periodically. These include budget reports (to analyse your company’s performance), accounts receivable aging (a critical tool for managing cash flow for companies that extend credit to their customers), and job cost reports (show expenses for a specific project).
  • Strategy – strategic techniques are implemented to support the overall competitive strategy of the organisation by using the cloud to develop more refined product and service costs.
  • Forecasting – use forecasting to plan for your clients business future. It plots a path for the future, instead of looking back at where you have been, so you can make informed decisions which will eventually put your clients in a position to grow sustainably.
  • Scenario planning – this element of accounting makes business owners broaden their minds and ask ‘what if X happens?’. It’s a process designed to make you consider the myriad things that could go wrong, leading to you coming together and creating a back up strategy for different eventualities.

When your team are up to scratch, you’ll find you’re able to add a whole load of additional value to your services.

Sam Wood from Blu Sky Chartered Accountants

When we spoke to Sam Wood (above), Lead Client Manager at Blu Sky Chartered Accountants, he told us they’ve noticed a welcome uptick in their bottom line. You can read the full case study here, and find out how they’ve managed this:

“The whole team are now so eager to sell forecasting to clients because they understand the value of it for businesses across the board, not just larger companies.”

So you can see our community have ensured they’ve put their best team members forward. It’s not all down to them, of course, so make sure you’re leading by example from the top. Delegation is a great art and you need to learn it if you haven’t already. Free up your time and make your team more engaged – they’ll feel responsible and the more confidence you have in them, the more they’ll have in you.


Now you’ve picked your dream team…

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