Accountants looking to expand beyond compliance work into business advisory should not attempt to service all clients instantaneously, but rather start small in order to create a strong, recurrent offering.
“You can’t flick the light switch and all of a sudden you’ve got advisory in your firm,” Smithink and Blueprint HQ director Mark Holton told the Institute of Public Accountants 2018 Victoria Congress in Lorne last week.
“Pick your good-quality clients and offer them services that they’re going to value, but I’m not talking about getting a whole stack of them, I’m only talking about finding one because you have to start somewhere.
“So you’ve just got to think of one client. If you want to be adventurous, think of three clients.”
Holton said business advisory services spanned financial health checks, business value indications and quarterly board of advice meetings, which then led to developing higher-end lucrative services such as financial planning, estate planning and succession planning.
“My definition is that it’s anything other than compliance,” he noted.
“So what’s the most obvious advisory service that you can link to compliance and make it easy to kick it off?
“Tax planning is done once a year, yet you do BAS (business activity statements) quarterly, so why aren’t you doing tax planning quarterly?”
He also warned accountants about software investment.
“One of the mistakes accounting groups make is that they think software is going to immediately introduce advisory services,” he said.
“But all it does it impress the client on day one, but by day two and three they’re not that impressed because advisory is not about buying software and looking backwards.
“Advisory is forward-looking, so you need budget and cash flow, and an action plan, meet quarterly to be accountable, and what you’re also offering is reassurance to your client.
“Essentially, advisory is gap management.”