If you’re part of a small or medium-sized tax and accounting firm, you know that differentiating yourself from the competition is always top of mind. Your long-term success hinges on capturing opportunities that cultivate deeper and more meaningful client relationships—and that’s where advisory services come in.
But what are advisory services all about and how do you know if your clients will respond to them? And if your firm currently offers advisory services, how do you know if you’re billing clients appropriately?
To answer these questions and much more, let’s begin our journey with the basics and introduce a market-proven advisory roadmap that can help you better serve clients, enjoy more engaging work, and increase your bottom line.
What are advisory services?
In the world of tax and accounting, advisory services include providing insights and strategies that help your clients build their business strategy, enhance decision-making, and successfully achieve their financial goals.
Advisory services include but are not limited to:
- Business advising
- Tax planning
- Income strategies
- Tax efficiency analysis
- Succession planning
- Fringe benefit planning
By examining trends and forecasting advisory opportunities, you can become a trusted partner to your clients, guiding them through complex business issues, helping them navigate risks, and working with them to achieve their business goals. All this, alongside the more traditional tax preparation, payroll, and accounting/bookkeeping services that your clients have come to know and trust.
Why make the shift to advisory?
By using technology to automate traditional tax compliance work, forward-thinking accounting firms are engaging clients based on the value and experience they bring to the table. By shifting from billable hours to a value pricing model, you can strengthen your firm’s value proposition and open the door to year-round client relationships (instead of just once-a-year tax return preparation).
In addition, many accountants are overloaded with tedious work and have lost the passion that once drew them into accounting. The power of shifting to an advisory-based model is that it will enable you to do what you started out in this profession to do—help others in a meaningful way.
Advisory engagements are centered around your client’s business goals and strategy (in addition to traditional tax compliance, of course) and are built into your client relationships from the get-go.
From developing personalized tax strategies to helping mitigate tax consequences, firms who have made the move to advisory have:
- 150% increase in existing client monthly billings
- 200% increase in new client billings
*Averages of data provided from existing Practice Forward firms who have completed their implementation
Fundamental to this shift in mindset is recognizing that your knowledge is valuable—and it shouldn’t be given away for free. In short, making the move to an advisory business model enables your firm to use your unique knowledge and experience to your advantage.
“Hands down, [Practice Forward] has been the largest single contributing factor to the success of my practice since I started my practice”
– Ashton Ferrin Owner, Big Mountain CPA
By using Practice Forward, you can move beyond transactional tasks and strengthen your advisory relationships, enabling you to reap the rewards of your knowledge and expertise.
Capturing advisory opportunities
Think about your interactions with clients. If they’ve come to you with a question that goes beyond the scope of their tax return, therein lies the opportunity to offer advisory services.
As you decide whether accounting advisory is right for your firm, consider these questions:
- Are your clients asking for counsel on tax-related legislation, business decisions, or strategic planning?
- Are you ready to move beyond tax returns and provide more meaningful support?
- Do you have unique knowledge and experience that can become part of your value proposition to clients?
- Are you passionate about protecting your client’s assets and helping them grow their businesses?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to capture the advisory opportunity. By shifting to an advisory-based business model, your firm can build a trusted brand, price your services appropriately, and stop giving away your valuable knowledge for free.
At the end of the day, a client looking for tax advice is an opening into a new revenue stream that your firm can’t afford to overlook. But where do you start?
How to start your firm’s advisory journey
With trusted methodology, guidance, and content solutions, Thomson Reuters® Practice Forward can help your firm shift from a compliance-focused model to an advisory services approach that engages and sustains clients.
Through your Practice Forward implementation, you have access to over 160 tools, including proposal templates, pricing calculators, and checklists, paired with personalized consulting to help you:
- Implement and execute a proven sales process
- Identify and package your firm’s services
- Develop a pricing strategy
- Standardize business best practice advisory delivery
- Transition existing clients to advisory relationships
- Uncover client advisory opportunities
Each Practice Forward consultant is experienced in successfully guiding firms through the Practice Forward process. They dedicate themselves to helping your firm implement in a way that best serves your firm and your goals.
With your unique knowledge baked into every client engagement, advisory services ensure a mutually beneficial experience for your firm and your clients. Meaningful insight for them—and long-term growth and revenue opportunities for you.