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Transforming your practice to advisory services? Participate in pro community forums

It would be easy to jump right with a few stellar examples of communities for tax professionals, but before we do, it’s critical to set the table for what’s going on in the profession and why it’s so important to get plugged into a professional support group.

The days of building a thriving practice around compliance-driven, tax return “see you next year” client deliverables are over. Yet, while we know that’s not exactly true and this isn’t one of those robots-are-coming articles, the traditional work performed by tax, accounting and bookkeeping professionals has evolved to “real” tax planning and advisory services. It’s “real” in the sense that the planning involves holistic strategies to lower your client’s tax burden.

Businesses need more than just an invoice stapled to a tax return. Even if you spend all your time cleaning books to produce financial statements, the client’s perceived value for services that can now be completely automated is super low. They expect more. They need much more.

Mobile access to data, real-time expense management, workflow automation, cash flow assistance, key performance indicators and benchmarking are quickly becoming the new normal, and you are in the unique position to bundle those services and provide them in ways clients never dreamed. So, here we are on the road to transformation, but wait; how are you going to take your firm through such a massive paradigm shift?

Businessman reviewing client advisory services on his laptop.

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Have you considered what tax planning and advisory services to offer? Which internal workflows, measures and controls need to change to support your advisory services? What new skills does your staff need to acquire? What do new hires need to possess?

You’ve probably thought about these questions and have many more – but you’re certainly not alone. That’s why I recommend getting plugged into one or more community forums, the single best way, I believe, to find mentors who have traveled the path before you. Simply put, they’ve already figured it out and are standing by to help.

Let’s take a look at a few of those community examples.

Accounting firm influencers on Facebook

Created and moderated by Jackie Meyer, CPA, CTC, CEO, of Meyer Tax Consulting, this is the place to learn how to increase client satisfaction and revenue while reducing your workload. Please take a moment and read that statement again – your peers have learned how to increase revenue while creating capacity in their firm! The best news it that the group is willing to share their strategies with you so you don’t have to go it alone. The feedback I get from pros active on the forum is that everyone appears kind and willing to help each other out. Check out this short video about Jackie Meyer.

5 minute boookkeeping with QuickBooks Online on Facebook

According to founder Veronica Wasek, a QuickBooks ProAdvisor® and CEO of VM Wasek, this group considers itself to be a positive and helpful community of bookkeepers, accountants and small businesses, and according to Veronica, there are no dumb questions. I found the group to be approachable and knowledgeable about cloud accounting and business growth. They even have app specialists available to answers your questions.

Business workflow and management on Facebook

This group is moderated by Stacy Kildal with help from Richard Roppa and Woody Adams; together, the three are essentially the Jedi Knights using the force for the good of all things accounting-related. The group comes together to create a place for discussing, supporting and helping each other achieve work/life integration. Whether you want to know more about workflows, management tools or even apps, it’s worth spending some time getting to know everyone in this group.

The successful bookkeeper on Facebook

According to host Michael Palmer, this group, supported by the Successful Bookkeeper Podcast, has a record of helping bookkeepers across the world push through their fears and exponentially grow their businesses to achieve the quality of life they’ve always wanted. So, buckle up, dive in and take a look around. You just might find the answers to questions you didn’t know to ask. Here’s an introduction to the group.

These represent just a handful of online communities to help transform your practice. If you have a favorite community, I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below, or find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Best of luck on your journey to becoming a tax practice of the future!

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on the Intuit® Tax Pro Center.


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