For an accounting firm to have a successful business advisory platform, you need more than a couple of software tools and some interested clients. Are you getting sufficient leverage to develop your business services platform in the new financial year?
In working closely with accounting firms to develop their business services platform, we’ve identified the following roadblocks to effective implementation of business advisory services. How many of these can you relate to?
- The firm is still to compliance-focused, with not enough time spent talking with clients
- Formal systems and processes are not in place to support business services
- There is no system in place to track opportunities and leads
- Managers do not believe that their clients are interested in the services
- Managers do not believe that their clients will pay for the services
- There is significant variation in the quality and consistency of management reporting
Outlined below are key elements of a successful business advisory platform.
A strong service proposition
- Managers are able to describe to clients what we do in relation to business services.
- Case studies are provided to explain how we can help clients achieve positive outcomes.
- Ongoing communication to clients reinforces our capabilities in this area.
- A formal annual financial and strategic review of every business client takes place.
- Results of the review are communicated by the manager to the client.
- At every opportunity, managers engage with their clients to better understand them.
Lead development process
- Discussions between manager and client help to identify client needs.
- The manager is able to explain to the client how the firm can help address the need.
- The client is engaged and believes that the manager is indeed a trusted advisor.
Proposal development process
- The firm has a consistent ‘service menu’ approach to business services proposals.
- The scope of work is clearly outlined to the client and to the firm.
- The value proposition associated with the work is clearly described to the client.
Data collection and analysis
- Where possible, the firm has direct access to client financial information.
- The firm assists the client to ensure that financial information is accurate.
- A process exists to collect data in a timely and efficient manner from the client.
- A selection of reporting templates has been developed for business advisory services.
- A process exists to provide relevant reports on a regular basis.
- Where possible, these reports are standardized across the firm.
- The firm places high emphasis on client meetings.
- Client meetings are structured, with a clear agenda and minutes.
- Purpose of meetings is to present information, share ideas, get consensus and identify actions
Advisory skills and behaviour
- A high level of communication with clients is regarded as essential for a strong relationship.
- The firm retains a core group of internal and external business services specialists who are available to assist managers in providing specific advice as required.
- Progress versus agreed actions and KPIs is reviewed on a regular basis.
- On an annual basis, the scope of work is reviewed by the manager and the client.
- On a regular basis, WIP versus fee is reviewed to ensure that work performed is ‘within scope’
With your firm, consider how you perform in relation to these elements … what is working well, what needs to be developed.
Are you struggling to MAKE IT HAPPEN with business advisory services?
If you’d like to know more about how you can develop a stronger business advisory services platform, register for your 1 month free trial of Training Beyond Accounting’s MAKE IT HAPPEN online coaching program for accounting firms. This structured 12 month program provides you with all the resources and 1:1 coaching that you’ll need to kick start your business advisory platform. And you can register now for a 1 month free trial.
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