Your clients want a lot more than just tax services from your accounting firm. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) need your tax expertise, of course. But they’re also in desperate need of broad-based accounting advisory services.
The value-added services your firm provides address problems your clients must solve to run their businesses effectively. And for your firm, advisory services can transform the way you do business for the better.
Demand for accounting advisory services is high
Are your clients crying out for help running their businesses? They may very well be. In one recent survey, 95% of tax professionals said they believe their clients want advisory services. Clients mostly know what they need, and it goes way beyond help with taxes. Clients don’t have the time, resources or expertise to manage developing growth strategies, controlling cash flow or minimizing overhead, among many other issues.
Your firm is in an excellent position to benefit from client demand. Firms that offer strategic advisory services can increase monthly revenues by up to 50%, one study showed. But developing value-added services isn’t just about making more money. It’s about your firm becoming a more strategic, and therefore indispensable, partner for your clients. And it’s about changing your own business model for the better.
The more services you provide to a client, both in number and breadth, the more your client will come to rely on you as an essential partner in their operation. You’ll be far more than just a tax preparer. You’ll be a driving force for the success of your clients. They won’t be able to run their businesses without you. That’s good news for you—not only because your clients won’t look for services elsewhere, but because you can change the way you do business, too.
Your firm can move away from relying on tax season
Entering into strong, multifaceted partnerships with your clients enables your firm to rely less on tax seasons for revenue. This is one of the basic tenets of Smart Client Management, a concept that modern accounting firms need to embrace. When you become a year-round trusted advisor for your clients, you don’t have to work as much during tax season to drive revenue. You can even fire or turn down tax clients that are slow to pay or difficult to work with for whatever reason.
Moving to a year-round revenue model means putting less pressure on yourself and your employees to work an insane number of hours during tax season. You can achieve a new level of work-life balance and more easily attract and retain staff. You can even change your entire revenue model, moving from charging for hourly services to billing clients by packages that include services that go well beyond tax preparation.
In fact, according to a CPA.com study, only about 27% of accounting firms still bill on an hourly basis. A greater number, almost 32%, charge a fixed monthly fee for a suite of services. Moving from hourly to monthly billing also lets your firm introduce a tiered pricing model, which can help you literally make more money without doing more work. Modern firms are already moving in this direction. If yours isn’t, you’re falling behind.
Consider offering a nontraditional accounting advisory service
The list of advisory services clients need most isn’t terribly surprising. Tax preparation and bookkeeping are still near the top, but consulting, financial reporting, payroll and accounts payable aren’t far behind, according to the CPA.com study. The services clients ask for most are generally right in the sweet spot for most small and midsize accounting firms.
But there’s one service most firms might not have on their radar: technology. The CPA.com survey says that about 14% of clients demand technology services. That’s not a terribly high number, but it might be a matter of clients not knowing what they need. Clients like technology services when they invest in them. In fact, the survey lists the five services clients find most valuable, and one of them is technology. (The others are accounts payable/bill pay, forensic accounting and data analytics.)
The fact is, just as most of your clients need your help with financial advisory services, they also need help with cybersecurity and productivity. The CPA.com survey shows that clients love automating financial processes, for instance. Firms are nearly 3.5 times more likely to successfully increase prices once clients understand the benefit of automation. And most businesses of all kinds need all the help with cybersecurity they can get.
It’s easy to provide technology services to clients
If you’re not running your firm in the cloud, you should be. The cybersecurity and efficiency benefits are essential. But more to the point, if you’re running your firm in the cloud, you’re already well-positioned to offer technology services to clients. It’s really as simple as extending your cloud services to your clients.
This might be some of the simplest consulting you’ll ever do. If you’re in the cloud, you already know its benefits. Employees and clients have a single, secure access point for information and communication, and automating processes saves time and frees up resources. Managing monthly payments for cloud service is easy. If you’re running managed security services with a cloud provider, you know that having a team of experts who continually back up and protect your data lets you sleep well at night.
Your clients would love to have the same benefits, and you can provide them without having to do much of anything other than sell your cloud provider’s offerings. You can add technology to your list of high-value services and become even more essential to your clients. And technology fits nicely into a bundle of advisory services. It doesn’t have to be a separate line item if you don’t want it to be.
Accounting advisory services move your firm and your clients into the future
Technology isn’t yet a common service offered by accounting firms. You could provide value to clients that many of your competitors don’t even know exists. Perhaps more importantly, technology services fit right into a broader package of value-added offerings your firm can use to meet your clients’ needs and transform your own business for the better at the same time.
Ready to start offering technology services to clients? Get started today.