How to Prepare Year-End Accounts Clients Want and Need
Posted on 19th December 2017 in Advisory
Written by Freya Hughes
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. As you’ll have noticed, some clients are unlikely to even look at financial statements, as they don’t really give much away to the untrained eye. So, we’re going to go through 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.
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.
Aside from taking mere minutes, Josie says:
“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 etc. 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.
It’s like a cookie cutter in that it can be used again and again; 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.
Everything is in one place in FUTRLI. Your actual data that’s coming in from your accounts package (Xero/QBO) will feed into your scenarios, all of that information will be available through the dashboards, and these boards can be sucked through into the printed reports.
Step 2: Creation
Step 2 is to 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
You’ll notice that 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.
Doing this for clients will show the professional focus of your firm, and they’ll be none the wiser you didn’t create the product yourself!
The above example is from Blu Sky, a reputable firm in the north of England. We’ve got a full case study with them that you can read here, which takes you through their journey into advisory and what they think about white labelling as a marketing technique.
Step 4: Learn
Positioning this right is key. We hear, how do I have that first meeting? What questions do I ask? What are the main growth drivers? And more from our community of accountants that are keen to learn more about becoming advisors.
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 comprehensive course will take you from the basics of forecasting, what-if scenarios, internal roll outs and scaling FUTRLI externally.
We’re big believers of education in the workplace, so created this course to ensure that everyone is getting the most out of our platform.
Some accountants making the leap into advisory are asking how to price these services. It’s a big question, which is mostly covered in Certification.
For the year end reports, however, again there’s no one answer to this question – but we’ve got an idea…
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.