Advisory Services is all about the people.
You may be a CPA, but you’re in the people business now!
Nowadays, it’s easy to lose sight of what is important when you consult with clients all the time. But at the heart and core of your business engagement is people working together for a better end result.
How you manage yourself and your clients is important and must be the driving force for the success of the relationship.
In this article, we’ll explore how providing Advisory Services is really a “people business” and some of the traits you’ll need to succeed in this area.
Let’s get started.
It’s clear that CPA firm leaders are exploring consulting services like never before. And unfortunately, for many firms, this may be a premature endeavour because so many accountants have yet to master the art of actually advising their clients.
Before pursuing advisory services, your firm’s staff and partners need to know what advisory really entails, and this type of service needs to be second nature throughout your organization. Even if you already offer consulting services, once an advisory culture is adopted, these services will grow like never before if all your firm members are on board and capable of providing this level of customer service.
What’s the difference between advisory and consulting?
Advisory services are more of a mindset and a nuanced practice that comes with learning the ins and outs of accounting and of industry-specific businesses. It involves years of practice and the technical know-how that leads to the confidence of recommending a business pursue a certain course of action. Advisory is about relationships, asking questions, and providing a solutions-oriented approach along with your finance and accounting knowledge.
In this vein then, consulting is a more technical approach and is very results-oriented. What actions can be taken to achieve a specific “scientific” result? Basically, consulting is “Advisory” without people skills.
As a result, many accounting firms believe that they can simply hire consultants to provide their advisory services. While this is one approach it is a very “consultative” approach. It’s a band-aid fix for firms that believe they should offer advisory services but don’t truly understand the nature of these services.
If your firm truly wants to provide a value-added service like advisory, it needs to come from a culture that wants to help its clients and believes that providing value should be the number one priority. By identifying areas for your current clients to improve their businesses you are not only keeping them up and running but you are creating “clients for life” because they will truly understand the value that your firm provides.
Providing real solutions to clients requires that the firm develop an advisory mindset internally as well as teach advisory skills to its service providers. Luckily, this type of training (along with the technical know-how of the program) is included in the Dryrun Partner program.
Traits you should look to adopt as an advisor are:
- Caring demeanor
- A curious nature
- Selfless operation
- Relevant experience
- Courageous to go above and beyond
Let’s take a closer look at each of these attributes.
Making a difference with your clients isn’t hard when you genuinely care about their business. Of course, when you’re seeing such a high volume of clients it can be difficult to have this quality shine through. Make it a point to express how much you care about your client’s business and mutual trust and respect will be formed. This goes beyond simple rapport-building chit-chat.
By expressing care and adopting advisory services with existing clients you will be able to stretch the value of that client as you improve their operations. You’ll have more meaningful relationships with fewer clients but will be able to earn the same amount, and that’s pretty great.
A curious nature
Here’s an example of where curiosity didn’t kill the cat. You need to be curious in order to explore new solutions your clients may not have considered as a way to solve their problems. Part of adopting an advisory mindset is about exploring new solutions.
Using the forecasting and “what if” analysis features of Dryrun allows you to be curious without risking your client’s livelihood. They will appreciate the forecasting capabilities of the program, along with the live dashboard.
This one is hard to teach. You need to really care about your clients’ businesses. Take off your sales hat and put on your solution hat. If you demonstrate your value to a client by solving a problem for them, you have earned a client for life. This only comes when you truly care about your clients as human beings and as business owners and respect them for that. Operate for their reasons and understand their goals, not your own.
Great advisors require experience in relevant fields to best service their clients. Maybe you have experience with a particular industry, like automobiles or real estate. That’s great. Become the CPA advisor for the automotive industry. You can always learn on the job by accepting projects that are outside your relevant “niche” but you must be committed to educating yourself on the industry. Never stop learning!
Courageous to go above and beyond
To keep your clients, provide them with expert-level customer service in addition to your CPA expertise and advisory services. If you anticipate they will have a question about a certain part of your recommendation, answer the question before they have a chance to ask. Use your intuition to ask about precarious situations that may impact your client’s business and more often than not, your courage will be welcomed and appreciated. Understanding your client’s challenges and approaching them as if they were your own is not easy to do, and your clients will recognize that.
Making your business people-centric is a different kind of growth strategy. It’s one that will create a positive and caring atmosphere for everyone involved and will help implement an advisory mindset throughout your firm. Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. There is a lot of work and learning involved. Take matters into your own hands and join Dryrun Partners to start the learning process today.