How to Shift Your Accounting Practice to Client Advisory Services

How to Shift Your Accounting Practice to Client Advisory Services

Accountants everywhere should be reading the writing on the wall of their computer screen: Bookkeeping is dead!!! Automation is in!!! Clients want strategic advisors and not compliance experts.

Bookkeeping is all about data entry, and digital automation replaces that. POS systems, or the swipe of a credit card or apple pay/google wallet, generate the sales invoice and/or the cash receipt. Digital estimates on a tablet can be generated into sales invoices or sales orders by the click of a button, and a journal entry and posting to the general ledger are simultaneous. It is not about the accounting platform, but rather, the ecosystem or tools around it that make accounting invisible.

My clients are coming to me to be more profitable, liquid and solvent. This means that one must shift from compiling the books to helping them understand what they should be doing to drive and grow their businesses. They want to pay me for value instead of commodity services. Surveys show that 80% of small businesses feel unsuccessful using an accountant for compliance and taxes only.

This all points to a shift to Client Advisory Services, rather than Client Accounting Services, as the way to grow your business and your clients.

While Client Advisory Services includes providing accounting services as part of the package, it is much more inclusive.

Start off by offering consulting services to your clients. For example, show them how to set up their accounting system without requiring accounting or bookkeeping personnel on site. An SMB does not generally need an on-site bookkeeper or accountant with today’s technology.

They need access to the accountant, and that is where technology comes in. It is all about educating your clients on how to be efficient. Let’s examine some of the ecosystem apps or plug-ins to the accounting platform to make this happen.

When you obtain a client, you should have a turnkey system in place for how you are going to make accounting invisible to them, with information and consulting readily available. While I am just going to list a few examples of plug-ins from the ecosystem, I firmly believe that all accountants need to become familiar with the tools to help their clients run their businesses, and not just the core accounting system.

Does your client need to track time for hourly employees? In most cases, the answer is yes, so I would say to recommend TSheets, which would eliminate manual processing save time and reduce payroll costs by tying into payroll digitally.

Does your client need to pay invoices? The answer is always yes, so I would say to use Bill.Com, which slashes bill approval and payment time by 50%. In order to pay bills, a client needs to collect money. The old-fashioned way of entering orders and then printing out invoices to mail is fading away, as automation has replaced the need for a bookkeeper to perform these functions. A sale is made, and then a card is swiped into a square card reader or via the GoPayment app by Intuit®.

There are many other ecosystem apps that I can discuss, but for now, I will add in one that is crucial to making your client’s paperwork and bookkeeping functions disappear. That is Hubdoc.

No data entry and no filing necessary, meaning no need for a great personal assistant. Hubdoc does it for you. Our software automatically converts receipts, bills and statement into data you can use.

I can talk about many more tools and apps that are available in the ecosystem, but you should be getting the point by now; the tools are available to automate the process, and they exist in a mobile environment, which means your client can utilize tablets and smart phones most of the time and not be pinned to a desktop. The key to success is understanding how to help your clients become certified as a ProAdvisor® in the tools you use. Educating yourself will give you better understanding and knowledge in how to provide value.

My next blog post will discuss the use of automating reporting, planning and dashboards to sell advisory services. Check out LivePlan and Spotlight Reporting if you want to get a leg up on me!