Your customers are changing. Your employees are changing. Your company is changing. Is it time for your firm to offer advisory services to better respond to change?
This is a question that an increasing number of companies should consider as increased customer demand, a complex regulatory environment, and technological advances continue to reshape the profession.
This change that is affecting the accounting profession is causing many companies to rethink their business model and say goodbye to compliance-based services. Rear-view mirror accounting is being pushed aside to make way for more forward-looking strategic services, more commonly known as advisory services. And for good reason.
According to a Thomson Reuters Institute study, 95 percent of tax professionals believe their clients want business advisory services. This is significant.
What exactly are advisory services? Advisory services focus on the future and provide clients with proactive strategic guidance. Services include a variety of engagements to help clients increase profitability and make more informed strategic business decisions. This differs from traditional compliance work, which is based on what has already happened.
While not all companies offer advisory services, there are several signs that a company should make the switch. Let’s take a closer look at three key signs.
- Clients are requesting advisory services.
- Your company has specialized knowledge and experience.
- Your company seeks to expand and grow
#1: Clients Request Consulting Services
Clients seek more strategic guidance as they seek to navigate today’s challenging business environment and keep up with the revolving door of regulatory and legislative changes.
This increased demand for business advice became apparent during the pandemic, as clients turned to their accountants for advice on everything from applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans to managing their finances to keep their businesses afloat. As a trusted advisor, accounting professionals answered the call. Today, the momentum shows no signs of slowing down.
It is important to note that clients may want advisory services, but are not quite sure how to request the strategic guidance they need and want. That’s why listening to your customers and asking questions is especially important. It provides valuable information about the needs and desires of customers.
Perhaps a client is asking for advice beyond their tax return. Perhaps they are seeking advice on recent tax legislation. Or maybe they are looking for guidance on business processes. These inquiries are counseling opportunities knocking on your door.
Being able to effectively meet customer needs and expectations allows companies to strengthen customer relationships and ultimately drive higher profitability.
#2: Your company has specialized knowledge or experience
In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, offering consulting services is a smart and effective way to stay ahead. By leveraging your company’s specialized knowledge or experience, you can provide valuable guidance and support to customers, employees, and your company as it navigates these changes.
For example, if your business specializes in cybersecurity, you might offer advisory services that help clients protect their sensitive data and prevent cyberattacks. Similarly, if your company has a background in human resources, it can provide guidance on hiring, training, and retention strategies to help clients build a strong and motivated workforce.
Companies that have a deeper understanding of the audience they serve are better able to identify the needs and pain points of those customers. Possessing specialized knowledge or experience gives you a greater understanding of the advisory services you can and should provide to clients.
When your company is known as a subject matter expert, it can differentiate itself from other companies and better compete on price. The reality is that clients will pay a premium for consulting services when they clearly understand your expertise and the value your company offers.
#3: Your business is looking to grow and expand
Offering counseling services can be an effective way to grow and expand your practice.
In fact, companies with the right tools and resources have seen a 150% increase in monthly billing from existing customers and a 200% increase in billing from new customers. Advisory services present one of the most important growth opportunities for companies.
One of the key benefits of providing advisory services is that it provides companies with multiple points of contact. Instead of contacting clients once or twice a year during tax season and tax planning, for example, accountants communicate frequently with their consulting clients. This strengthens customer relationships and allows companies to identify additional areas of opportunity.
Firms that provide consulting services are likely to eliminate hourly billing in favor of value-based pricing. Services are often bundled into tiered packages and customers pay monthly. This approach helps ensure that professionals are adequately compensated for the value they provide to clients, and provides businesses with a year-round revenue stream. Clients also appreciate the transparency of this pricing strategy.
However, don’t underestimate the importance of planning. Before you jump into consulting, make sure your business has the right roadmap, tools, and resources.
Businesses today are faced with a series of changes. Providing consulting services is a great way to better respond to the transformation that is sweeping the profession. Does your business have the right strategies to keep up?