It’s easier than ever to offer advisory services. Here’s why

Shifting an accounting and bookkeeping services offering towards advisory is a journey that’s traditionally full of roadblocks. But those are starting to lessen thanks to new tech.

There are two main reasons why the journey to advisory is difficult:

  • Putting together rich insights that can help your client succeed is difficult
  • Clients will often view your attempt to do so as you basically trying to wring more cash from them

Accountech Live explored different perspectives from different tech vendors on how to solve this chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to building out advisory capabilities.

Traditionally, putting together a suite of advisory services required time and effort without really knowing whether your client will end up paying for them or not.

It’s frustrating. As a practice owner, you know you could be turning data into rich insights to grow your clients’ businesses – but how do you know whether your effort is going to be a waste of time or not?

Well, what if those insights could be generated easily with the help of clever tech solutions like MYOB Advisor, without the need for hours of manual data analysis?

READ: How AI will make your practice more human

Of course, MYOB isn’t the only company exploring how to use tech to open up the world of advisory services.

Companies such as Futrli (which integrates with MYOB) has come up with ways to generate easy-to-understand cash flow projection reporting.

“[SMEs are] looking at scenario planning, looking at how they can pivot things in their business, so we see that as a massive opportunity,” Senior Strategic Adviser at Futrli, Stuart Hunter, told an audience at Accountech Live.

In fact, he said 30 percent of the 40,000 businesses have already used Futrli’s business forecast feature.

“If there are that many businesses out there looking to do it for themselves, if you can be that person to introduce that service to their client…that’s where your opportunity lies as a practice to transition into a more advisory relationship,” said Hunter.

But having the tech to quickly generate insights is one thing, aligning them to your clients’ pain points is quite another.


Why cash (flow) is King


According to Illion data [PDF], the average SME waits 43 days to get their invoices paid.

Although this figure is trending downward, the amount of time SMEs are waiting to be paid is creating cash flow headaches, with the issue consistently near the top of pain points felt by SMEs.

The natural solution is to generate a cash flow projection for your client and use that to discuss ways to push the figure down, and to cover any cash flow gaps that may be on the horizon.

Once upon a time that may have been a difficult process that wasn’t scalable for smaller clients – but now it is.

“If you can use automation and new technology, you might be able to shortcut that process and give your clients something tangible that they can see, which they can action – then that will be the start of a new relationship with them,” said Hunter.

But it’s not just the insights generated from data within the clients’ business that can open advisory services, but legislative changes as well.


When Canberra is useful


On any given day, there are all sorts of arcane changes in laws and regulations, both tax and otherwise, which may have an impact on your clients’ businesses.

For example, Chartered Accountants’ Senior Tax Advocate, Susan Franks, previously told The Pulse that the $20,000 tax write-off led to more advisory opportunities for the organisation’s members.

Each change to law or ATO ruling has the potential to impact your clients, but again, preparing documents that identify which of your clients are affected by what – and how to talk to them about – it can be difficult.

It’s why outfits like Wolters Kluwer have been busy coming up with tech tools to help you do just that.

Senior Writer at CCH IQ, Ben Miller said that showing your clients you’re ahead of changes in legislation was vital in opening the advisory conversation.

“As an accountant and tax advisor, you need to be in front of those situations,” he said.

“This is what people pay us extra for – it’s not just the compliance work, it’s also about giving them a strategy.

“To leverage and provide an opportunity so that when they think about their accountant, they trust them and believe that you add value to them.”

The only difference now is, thanks to tech, this work is now scalable to more clients – rather than just the big ones.

Want to talk about how tech can help your practice move into advisory? Joining MYOB’s Partner Program is not only FREE, but it’s also the ideal first step in getting the support, advice and tools you need to get it done.