Shift Your Firm to Advisory Services
For the accounting profession, the future is in advisory services. However, many firms have yet to add advisory to the services they offer for many reasons. They could lack resources, their staff may be undertrained for the move, they may fear how to get started, or they may not know what is involved in providing advisory services.
Add to this that the scope of advisory services has grown in the last few years to include both virtual controllership and virtual CFO services, and the path to advisory seems even more unclear. If your firm has yet to add advisory services, it is falling behind. The mundane, low-skill tasks in accounting are quickly being replaced by automation so staff can focus on high-value advisory tasks.
But the good news is that the steps into the advisory role are well-defined and follow a logical progression. By following them, your firm can move from accounting’s past to its future.
Steps to the Advisory Role
The following four steps will take your firm from one that only provides traditional accounting services like bookkeeping to being a larger part of your client’s businesses.
1. Automate Current Services
If you have yet to provide advisory services to your clients, your firm is probably still in traditional mode. You and your team mainly do bookkeeping tasks for your clients, like GL and trial balance, cash reconciliation, financial statements, and tax preparation. And you might do much of it manually. In the past, there was plenty of this work available, but more and more, this type of work has become a commodity. Most firms have realized that it is too expensive to have a person do this work manually.
The first step to advisory is automating much of this work with a tool like PathQuest SCALE. Automation will not only give you the time you need to focus on advisory services, but it will also result in more accurate work, free from human error. And the numbers and reports will always be up-to-date since automation tools work fast and 24/7. Automation is a win-win for your firm and its clients.
2. Provide Cloud Accounting Services
Once your firm has accounting automation in place and has reduced manual data entry and human error, it is now in the position to act as the virtual accounting department for your clients. With cloud accounting software, you can expand the services you provide for them to include AP and bill payment, AR and collections, payroll, debt management, credit card and bank transaction processing, and more.
This move will make you more valuable to your clients. They will now be able to focus more fully on their business. They can count on better business operations now that their accounting processes have been streamlined and their data is being handled securely by professionals whose focus is on the success of their business.
3. Add Virtual Controllership Services
After your firm has become the virtual accounting department for your clients, the next logical step is to add virtual controllership services. This is especially beneficial for smaller businesses who can’t afford to hire a full-time controllership but can gain access to your experienced staff for a fraction of the cost.
The services you will give clients as a virtual controller include fixed asset management, software recommendation and implementation, month-end close, budgeting, cash flow forecasting, comparative reporting, and more. The insights, forecasting, and goal-setting that a controller can provide to a business that has never had one will make you an even more important part of your client’s company.
4. Add Virtual CFO Services
The final step in your firm’s advisory journey is providing virtual CFO services. This may seem like a strange role in the traditional business where a CFO has to have intimate knowledge of the interworking of the business to make the right decisions. But in a modern digitized business, this business information is available in the form of data. Market information, profitability, financial statements, budgets, and more can be collected in real-time with automation tools and can be modelled, planned, and forecasted in business intelligence tools like PathQuest BI.
Preparing Your Firm for the Shift
Expanding your firm’s advisory services involves more than following the steps above. You and your team also have to prepare. You will have to serve clients in new ways that will require more soft skills as well as more technological skills. And if you go as far as adding virtual controllership and virtual CFO services, you will need senior leaders.
Let your current client list help you decide where your firm will do best in advisory and consider specializing if the move seems right. It could give your firm a competitive edge and bring more clients from that particular market. The tax returns you currently prepare for your clients will help you figure out which clients can benefit from advisory services and what those services should be.
To shift your focus to your firm’s new advisory responsibilities, you must reduce the time your team spends on time-consuming, low-value tasks. If your staff is spending their time on data entry, administrative, and bookkeeping tasks, they won’t have the time to do the analysis required to develop the insights for your clients.
PathQuest SCALE can help reduce the time you and your staff spend on these day-to-day tasks. PathQuest’s accounting automation solution will help you with your first step into advisory by automating a lot of your current workload. SCALE will also be there for you to help with the remaining steps because it comes with PathQuest BI and PathQuest Reporting, giving your clients customized financial dashboards that are always up-to-date and always available in the cloud. And finally, SCALE comes with an accounting team dedicated to your company and its success to help you with capacity issues.
To learn more about how PathQuest can help you provide more advisory services, connect with us for a free demo!