The Most Annoying Roadblocks You’ll Encounter When Moving to Advisory

Posted on 27th July 2017 in Advisory

Written by Freya Hughes

The worst thing about roadblocks is they’re unexpected. They’re a complete pain the majority of the time, and that’s no different in the professional sphere. But at least at work, you have some idea of when your ideas will be resisted against. Winning over a team comfortable with the way they’re currently operating will almost always be met with a struggle. Before you get started, here are the main four reasons you’ll experience resistance to change, so you can introduce advisory fully prepared for your team’s reactions.

It’s not so much that people are scared to embrace something new, rather they’re fearful of giving up something tried, tested and trusted. It’s in our nature not to embrace a new club manager of our favourite team, because we don’t want to say goodbye to the old way of doing things.

Some people get so angry about updates to the layout of something pretty trivial, like Facebook comments. So much so, the Express saw fit to write an entire article on users’ distaste. Fortunately, there are a few of us in this world who champion change. Take CIO, Mike Keller, of Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, who states, “people hate change, but love progress.” It’s a refreshing take on it, which essentially highlights the fact that change and progress go hand in hand. We suggest you lead with the progressive side of change, and let the rest fall in line.

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.

If you’re noticing some disinterest in the cloud, follow Andrew Van De Beek’s lead. His firm, Illumin8, are thoroughly invested in advisory services. In his initial client meetings, he shows his clients his own dashboards. They can see exactly how his business runs, which builds trust. While he says it can be ‘a little bit scary at times’, it displays exactly how dependable his firm finds online working.

Start with the cloud and work towards advisory services. Remember, transparency is key.

Read the Illumin8 case study in full

As Xero put it, “cloud accounting software lets you work from anywhere at any time. You can use a laptop, tablet or smartphone to access accounts data securely – and all the IT support is handled remotely.” Traditional software shackles you to your desk, but with the cloud you – and your clients – are able to work remotely. Perhaps your next meeting should be over a nice spot of lunch in the sunshine!

There’s a serious 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.

If this is the case, you’ll need to bring the entire team together to meet. Discuss with them success stories and the benefits to the firm, and their working days, that advisory services will bring. They’ll become excited to add value to what they’re doing and feel an increase in job satisfaction. If you need to retrain and upskill staff members, invest in doing it properly.

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.

Contact us today about signing your firm up for certification.

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 followups. 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.

Advisory services open your firm up to a range of clients all wanting to progress. Have a look through our industry-specific KPI lists for some inspiration. These include: HR, construction, retail, automotive, commercial real estate, property landlords, dairy farming, technology, higher education, healthcare, manufacturing, bakery, winery, creative agency, and recruitment.

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.

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