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How a trusted advisor can save a client time

The traditional accountant-client relationship revolves around tax season. If you want your firm to stand out, strive to become your clients’ trusted advisor by delivering value throughout the year, says Firm of the Future finalist Steven M. Ellard CPA.

Here are five ways you can become a trusted advisor to your clients

#1: Teach them to use cloud-based integrations

Using traditional methods, businesses waste many valuable hours of labor manually entering data for functions, such as sales transactions, inventory management and expense reporting. With today’s cloud-based accounting tools and app integrations, businesses have the technological capability to dramatically decrease their data entry time.

They can integrate programs, such as QuickBooks® Online, with other apps that automate bookkeeping-related business functions. For instance, businesses can cut expense reporting expenditures up to 40 percent by implementing mobile solutions, according to Aberdeen Group.

Cloud-based integrations can also save your clients time on other bookkeeping-related administrative tasks, such as calculating payroll taxes or sending out invoices. Showing your client how to use cloud-based tools to reduce their labor on these kinds of tasks will save them time and win trust.

#2: Create valuable financial reports

Some small businesses that use financial software may only be using the most basic functions, without realizing the full value that today’s tools can provide. While your client may only be using their accounting app as an electronic bookkeeping tool, your firm’s more detailed knowledge of accounting software’s full capability can enable you to produce valuable financial reports for your client.

You can easily support your clients throughout the year by providing standard reports, such as income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements. You can also use business intelligence tools to create customized financial reports geared toward the information that’s most important to your clients. This will save your clients time, while also building their appreciation for you.

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#3: Provide proactive financial planning tips

By using business intelligence tools, you can help your clients take control of their financial future. Provide a report that shows where their business is spending the most. This can help them identify places where they might save time and money through automation and outsourcing.

Show them how to apply business intelligence tools to past sales transaction data to anticipate holiday sales surges and better manage their inventory and employee scheduling. Areas where accountants’ expertise can assist clients include enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and IT governance, says MGI P&P Asociados Contadores Públicos partner Ricardo Ruiz Betancourt.

#4: Notify clients in advance of impending issues

By keeping in touch with your clients about their books throughout the year, you may notice emerging issues they may have overlooked. For instance, if their business expenses are starting to outstrip their revenue, you may be the first one to notice a problem. Similarly, you might see a cash flow crisis coming months before they become engulfed in a financial crunch. By alerting your clients early to potential problems, you can save them time and headaches down the road.

#5: Go beyond tax preparation to tax planning

By taking a more proactive role with clients, your firm can go beyond being a last-minute recourse for clients at tax time to becoming a trusted tax planning resource throughout the year. By paying close attention to your clients’ expense reports, your firm can identify ways clients can manage and categorize their business expenses in order to minimize tax payments, both in the current tax cycle and in future tax cycles. This will save your clients time during the tax season, as well as save them money throughout the year.

By taking these types of proactive steps, your firm can save your clients both time and money in areas such as data entry, administrative tasks, financial management and tax preparation. Positioning yourself as your clients’ trusted advisor positions your firm for success.

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