What is the Role of an Accountant Today?
Accounting has been a steady, constant force at the heart of businesses and economies for thousands of years. But times are rapidly changing. Accounting strong-holds such as audit, bookkeeping, and tax review are slowly being automated.
Even though accountants may not be totally replaced, their relevance is declining. Accounting businesses can only go so far by offering this finite set of services.
In addition to automation and stagnation, the economic hardship being faced on a global scale is another reason why accounting firms are struggling. It has become harder for accounting forms to attract clients.
The few clients who are capable of affording their services are also scrambling to find cheaper options or involve accountants as little as possible to save increasingly scarce finances.
It is obvious that accounting firms now need to find new ways to survive and thrive. The good news is it is not as hard as it may seem.
Advisory Services at a Global Scale: An Accounting Firm’s Key to Survival
Seventy-nine percent of accounting firms report that clients expect much more from them than basic accounting services. In particular, clients want more advisory services meaning they need adept financial advice in addition to accounting services.
Advisory Services Definition
Advisory services are consulting services in which a CPA develops findings, conclusions, and recommendations that are presented to the client. These presentations are given to influence the client’s decision-making process to create favorable outcomes.
This shift makes perfect sense if you consider the economic turmoil we discussed in the previous section. There is a massive gap in the financial advisory sector because many people have never lived through such economic strife.
Even fewer people have enough skill to steer their companies through the storm. If an accounting firm wants to thrive, this is its golden chance.
However, 87% of accountants report that clients want extra services and flexibility without an increase in rates. So, diversifying services alone will not guarantee that an accounting firm will survive because workers may become overworked.
Accounting firms must also expand their target market to get the perfect formula. Here is where the globalization of services comes in.
Globalizing Services in an Accounting Firm
Globalizing simply means making services accessible to people all around the world. It may sound like an over-ambitious goal, but it really isn’t. Going global does not need extreme amounts of money, nor combing through labyrinthine international laws.
The free flow of information from all corners of the world and readily available translation services have made globalization easier. Navigating international laws is no longer an impossible endeavor.
The hard work only comes in researching the needs of the specific markets you want to expand to. However, establishing yourself in far-away markets is a long-term plan. But one you need to always keep at the back of your mind when going into advisory services.
So, how goes an accounting firm establish itself as a financial advisory service provider?
Growing Your Advisory Services Network in an Accounting Firm
Changing from a pure accounting services provider to a consultancy is a delicate process. You need to know where to start, how to implement it, and most importantly, how to position yourself for success.
The accounting industry is currently in a precarious position. You cannot afford to dive into financial advisory services without a clear plan or a high potential for success. You also need to brace yourself for the institutional changes that are an inevitable part of the process.
Here is how to start the implementation of an advisory service:
Ensure You Have the Required Expertise
Before you start giving out advice, review what you know. A clever strategy is to find out what area your company has the most experience and expertise in. Then, do research into other areas companies are lacking in and master them enough to give advice.
The reason for this is to give you initial confidence to break into the market. However, you must not stop there. If you only focus on advisory services in a certain area, you put your company in a box. So, to become the go-to expert for your clients, you need to be a master in the field.
Establish an Advisory Team
Successfully growing an advisory practice requires a team dedicated to the task. It can’t be a side project for any other department. The main reason is that you must be careful to perform the transition correctly, market your new services effectively and ensure the service is profitable.
This way, you’ll see results and profits much faster. You also ensure that nobody at the workplace gets strained.
Upgrade to Relevant Technology
Fifty-seven percent of accounting firms agree that technology is the leading additional skill accountants need today. To understand the needs of a modern client, you need to know what environments they are working in and how these environments affect their financial decisions.
As an advisory service provider, you must have quick access to your client’s financial records and reports so that you can keep track of any important metrics. You can only achieve this if you use the necessary technology to automate client documents.
This automation will allow you to guide your clients as they advance toward their objectives and monitor them as needed. Cloud-based systems make this much easier by streamlining the process and making your services handier for your clients, making them even more valuable.
Prepare Your Team to Learn New Tools and Skills
Advisory services contracts will require you to use different tech tools and workflows than you’re used to in order to fulfill them. You’re delivering a very different type of service, and your team may need a little training to get used to the transition.
The process may seem challenging at first, and that’s why you need to be prepared for it. Be aware that you will not earn thousands of dollars when you start. And that challenges will abound. So, let your team know what to expect.
Create a Plan to Get Advisory Service Clients
Finally, be intentional and proactive about getting clients who need your services. The best place to start is with your current clients. Offer them advisory service packages and get testimonials from them. Share these testimonials as part of your marketing efforts.
In addition to that, accounting companies may want to go against the norm and edit their criteria for choosing clients. As an adviser, clients with more financial transaction volumes are the best because they will have more issues.
Types of Advisory Services and Business Advisory Services Examples
There are different types of advisory services to consider for your accounting company:
- Apps advisory
- Compliance/Forensic advisory
- Financial advisory
- Process advisory
- Successor advisory
Your firm can start with one area as you plan to expand into others.
Here are some examples of business advisory services examples to give you a better idea:
- Business Advisory Board Assistance
- Budgeting & Projection
- Lender Financing
- Portfolio Management
- Trend Analysis & Benchmarking
Go Global, or Go Home; Give Advice, or Pay the Price
Modern accounting firms are faced with unique challenges that threaten their survival. However, they also have a unique solution with global advisory services.
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