Stuart Coulthard CA, is a Director of Rubiix Accountants, and with over 20 years in the accounting industry, is similar to many accountants who have a career based primarily in tax compliance accounting.
Business was going well but Stuart’s personal desire to have an impact on clients wasn’t being fulfilled through the usual tax return and compliance services. He’d been considering what his career in accounting would look like in the future for a number of years. He wanted to further his professional development so he had the ability to make an impact with clients over the next 20 years in his career.
The commentary in the industry about the need for accounting firms to do more advisory work and achieve growth with advisory captured his interest. Stuart attended numerous advisory training sessions held by accounting bodies, but felt he still didn’t have the practical steps for how to build up advisory in their firm.
With no clear direction on what advisory services he needed to deliver to clients combined with a lack of structure and process for advisory, it felt like reaching a roadblock with nowhere to turn except to stick with what he’d always known, tax and compliance.When you’ve earnt the trust of your clients over many years the last thing you want is to be in a position where you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing and risk client confidence.
The Problem Of Advisory As We Know It
Advisory services in the accounting industry are not new services. Accountants have always provided advisory services in addition to tax returns and compliance services. Cash flows, budgets and services that clients might need when required by a third party such as a bank, are always available on request. As such, advisory services are additional services provided on an ad-hoc basis for many accounting firms.
Based on specific needs, requests for ad-hoc advisory services are inconsistent and it’s therefore very challenging to create a consistent process for delivering advisory services effectively and efficiently.
“We position ourselves with an advisory service, but because there wasn’t any meat behind the bones it was hard to push along. Yes, we’ve got advisory as a service, but we’re not doing anything with it to grow our business”Stuart Coulthard CA, Director Rubiix Accountants
The timing of ad-hoc advisory services is difficult to predict and this makes it impossible to budget and plan growth in advisory services for the firm.
Unlike compliance workflows, advisory work usually has no structure or consistent process around how it is introduced and delivered to clients.
As a result, it’s extremely difficult to train staff with advisory and due to the unpredictable nature of ad-hoc advisory accountants don’t know what they’ll be required to provide until a client makes the request.
This is a scenario many accounting firms experience and it has always been this way.
The problem arises when firms decide they want to turn ad-hoc advisory work into a consistent and predictable revenue stream but the lack of process and structure around advisory work makes it impossible to achieve tangible results.
The lack of structure and process for advisory is the reason why accounting firms write off thousands of dollars in WIP from ad-hoc advisory work each year and never see consistent, predictable revenue from advisory work.
To compound the problem, the industry dialogue around advisory points to increasing demand from business owners for advisory services, but the truth is business owners don’t know how to access ongoing advisory services from accountants so the ‘increasing demand’ doesn’t translate into more advisory work for accountants.
Making the transition from ad-hoc advisory to consistent advisory revenue
Stuart came across Lynda’s book Accounting Revolution and found practical tips for achieving growth with advisory by turning advisory into a consistent revenue stream with a predictable and repeatable process specifically for advisory work.
Previous advisory training that Stuart attended explained why accountants need to focus on advisory services but left a big question mark around how to do more advisory work and increase business revenue from the extra advisory services. After reading Accounting Revolution, Stuart discovered the practical steps and process to predictably monetise advisory services in their business, and develop the firm’s advisory offering beyond delivering ad-hoc advisory.
The detailed process for advisory in Accounting Revolution revealed the framework Stuart needed to reposition the firm’s advisory services as regular and ongoing accounting solutions.
The step-by-step Advisor Method removes the guesswork and provides the process and structure to engage clients in a regular and consistent advisory relationship focused on helping clients improve their business outcomes.
While Stuart understood the value of employing the step-by-step process for advisory, he found that when he tried to implement the process on his own the results were slow.
He decided he needed support and feedback to be consistent with implementing the steps in a practical manner with clients, and maintain momentum so results were predictable and achievable.
Stuart enrolled in the 12-week Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training which gave him online access to industry leading advisory training content and weekly live coaching calls with Lynda Steffens FCPA.
The benefits of participating in the weekly Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training quickly elevated Stuart’s confidence,
- Weekly feedback and coaching on how to connect with clients easily
- How to use the process to support him while he learnt the steps in the Business Metamorphosis® Advisor Method
- How to invite and guide clients into an advisory relationship that also means clients understand the value of receiving a regular advisory package and timely insights into their business performance.
- Having access to Lynda Steffens, FCPA who could provide insight into the best practices and methods to implement the advisory process seamlessly into the firm’s daily workflows.
Meeting clients where they are
The Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training has equipped Stuart with a step-by-step framework to demonstrate the value of ongoing accounting advisory solutions for clients.
One of the best outcomes Stuart has described is the reaction clients have had after being introduced to the possibility of receiving more support from Stuart and his firm in their advisory sessions.
“Clients told me how much they enjoyed and valued the advisory sessions. You don’t get that with tax. And some of them said, I’ve never done anything like this before.”Stuart Coulthard CA, Director Rubiix Accountants
Many business owners are in business because they’re good at a skill or providing a service but they’ve rarely discussed or even documented a business plan.
Stuart now has a process to engage business clients in discussions about their business goals, provide them with clarity about the financials of their business and lay a firm foundation for continuing to give clients value through regular paid upfront advisory solutions.
Meeting clients where they’re at is a big shift in the way accountants work with clients. The business environment changes quickly these days and business owners need timely data-driven insights they can understand, and they need accessible support to make decisions that protect business viability.
From zero to $10k monthly recurring advisory revenue within 12 weeks
Stuart has been an active participant in the weekly group training and taken action early in the training to implement the advisory process while he was in the Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training program.
This gave him the opportunity to get immediate feedback while working with the process, fine-tune planning for client sessions and quickly build confidence and capability facilitating advisory conversations with clients.
To be effective with advisory work and achieve growth with advisory takes time and the commitment to follow a process that is unlike a compliance process. Advisory is more fluid because every client is different. Every client has different challenges because every business is different.
However, without a process around advisory it is difficult to demonstrate clear tangible value to clients and therefore monetise advisory as additional services clients are willing to pay for above compliance obligations.
One of the biggest challenges Stuart has learnt to overcome is letting go of the expectation on himself to have the answers for clients. That providing value doesn’t mean he has to come up with the answers for his clients.
Stuart understands he is adding value by facilitating effective advisory sessions so clients have clarity to plan well and make strategic decisions with the support of Stuart’s accounting knowledge and financial insights into their business.
This is great for Stuart because now he has a process to achieve growth with advisory and this enables him to help businesses get to where they want to go. He has the accounting skills and with the system and procedures to do more than tax with clients, he’s meeting clients where they are with accounting advisory solutions they need.
With regular weekly support and accountability through the Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training, Stuart successfully implemented the Business Metamorphosis® advisory process to generate an additional $10k in monthly recurring revenue from four (4) clients.
What would it take for your firm to generate an additional $10k in revenue right now?
What Makes The Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training Different?
The advisory training Stuart completed in the past lacked the practical steps and systems to make it possible to walk away and easily achieve tangible gains for the firm and for clients with advisory.
Transitioning into delivering more advisory services as a recurring revenue stream doesn’t happen overnight. It involves a mindset shift as much as a shift in embracing the practical process for advisory work.
It’s very easy to be pulled into the demands of compliance and be kept ‘busy’ while your clients do their best in business, wishing they had more clarity, but continue to be completely unaware of how they could readily access your knowledge and accounting solutions to improve their business outcomes through your advisory services.
The 4-Step Business Metamorphosis® Advisor Method
Step 1 INVITE of the Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training solves the problem of how to demonstrate the value of advisory and teaches accountants how to start simple advisory conversations and quickly discover if clients are ready for a regular advisory solution.
Step 2 EXPLORE positions accountants to facilitate a short initial advisory session that qualifies the client for a detailed paid upfront advisory session.
Step 3 GATHER provides the framework to facilitate a detailed advisory session with clients and gather information about their business. This detailed session gives the client an opportunity to share their business goals and challenges and provides the foundation for their accounting advisory solution.
Step 4 MAINTAIN outlines how to deliver regular and structured advisory services with continuity of client accountability.
Delivered online with weekly content videos and downloadable resources and supported with weekly live coaching calls the content gives accountants a number of ways to absorb the information and make progress with weekly tasks and practical assessments without disrupting work commitments.
The practical nature of the Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training enabled Stuart to learn while working with clients gradually through the steps in the advisor process. He received regular and timely live feedback to refine his technique and build capability gradually as he progressed weekly through the Business Metamorphosis® Advisory Training modules.
If you would like more information about the 4-Step Advisory Process for accountants and accounting teams watch this free CPD Advisor Masterclass for Accountants in public practice,
Or for more information on developing regular advisory work for your firm visit The Small Business Project at www.thesmallbusinessproject.com.au