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Structure, systems key to advisory services

Accountants looking to create and add advisory services must put the right structure and systems in place to achieve long-term success.

“If you put your hand up and say you want to do more advisory services – budgets, cash flows, dashboards, turning numbers into knowledge, succession planning, retirement planning, call it what you will – you’ve got to have a plan, you’ve got to have systems and you’ve got to hold someone accountable to it,” Smithink director Mark Holton told the Institute of Public Accountants 2016 National Congress in Melbourne.

“We’ve got to think more ‘big picture’ about what this is all about.

“When I work with firms, the first thing I do is look at their structure, because if their structure isn’t right, advisory services won’t work long term.”

Holton added the accounting firm’s infrastructure would also need to be assessed.

“In other words, who’s going to do what, when, how and in what manner, which comes back to, do I have the right people, the right software, do I have the right systems?” he explained.

“Because when it comes to compliance we are systemised, are we not? We are process-driven.

“But you can’t deliver advisory laissez-faire and expect it to continue, if it’s not structured properly.”

While the opportunity for accountants to move into the advisory space had been a key discussion point – particularly since the announcement of the end of the exemption that allowed accountants to provide financial advice to SMSFs – many were not acting.

“Automation is affecting compliance, technology is affecting compliance,” Holton said.

“There hasn’t been any great change – compliance is still profitable and many firms that I talk to say they understand that it’s going to be under threat in the future and that it will change, but it hasn’t happened yet.

“It comes back to how badly you want to do this.”

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