Getting started – have a discussion with 1 or 2 clients.
Andrew Geddes, Joint Founder of Financial Management Research Cent (FRMC) at New England University and Australian Accounting Industry Guru suggested that you should visit your selected clients with the SME Needs Analysis. Utilise the questionnaire to facilitate a conversation with your client about what concerns they have that worries them at night.
Read the SME Needs Analysis beforehand and select the questions to ask. Listen, take notes and try to identify what help the client needs.
SMEs are receptive to this approach – it’s just about asking questions and listening to the answers!
You don’t have to have all the answers to your clients’ questions. What you may be able to do is to organise other people to answer specific questions.
Your role is to identify the issues and then help the client identify people with the skills and knowledge to assist them in a particular area.
This is what happens in a public company. Whilst the CFO might be the focal person for a lot of these general matters, the CFO’s role is to assist if they can., If not, to find someone with the expertise who can solve a particular problem. The key outcome is that the problem has been identified and that someone has been allocated, hired or appointed to fix that problem for your client.
Learning from the USA experience
The concept of accountants offering a broader range of professional services is now well-established in the USA, where accountants found that some of the work that they had traditionally performed was no longer required due to the ever improving updates to technology and software.
The pioneer of this concept in the USA, Summit CPA, discovered that when they approached their clients to ask them if they were receptive to the accountants providing additional services, they were welcomed with comments like, “Why has it taken you so long to ask?”
Summit CPA offers three (3) levels of service:
- Predictive Accounting: utilising Plan Guru Predictive Software which we use and endorse at ESS BIZTOOLS – budgets – key drivers – projected balance sheet – key performance indicators and metrics
- Back Office Services: including payroll, payment of creditors, debtors ledger, general ledger
- Tax Return Preparation
Summit CPA have decided that the Predictive Accounting Process is compulsory for clients. Their client can elect whether Summit CPA will be involved in back-office and tax return preparation. We understand that 94% of their clients have elected that Summit CPA will be appointed for all three professional components.
You need to understand the business
For most of us, a different level of knowledge on the clients’ affairs is required, if you are going to perform the virtual CFO role, as compared to the preparation of an annual set of accounts and the income tax return.
Summit CPA have identified this knowledge requirement as having a knowledge of the client’s business that is “an inch wide and a mile deep”, NOT “a mile wide and only an inch deep”!
ESS BIZTOOLS offers Product Packages, Training and Support to assist Accountants to offer financial services to SMEs to improve their businesses whilst your firm will benefit from offering interesting and challenging work for your accounting team.