Over-reliance on compliance
Some accountants and bookkeepers still believe that the opportunities to be gained from offering advisory services is overblown. But the data, and those accountants and bookkeepers who have successfully added advisory to their service offering, say otherwise.
First, the data. Xero’s industry performance report shows that the opportunity is huge: Basic compliance services bring in average income per client of only £4,200, but offering full bookkeeping, payroll, Virtual CFO and other business advisory services increases revenue to over £6,500 per client. The opportunity scales with the number of clients firms have online. Pacesetting cloud accounting practices in the UK are bringing in £382,700 a year on average in advisory revenue alone.
Build an advisory plan
The rewards of offering advisory services – or completely transforming a practice – are worth the effort. Accounting software lends itself to advisory services, as it provides a day-to-day snapshot of how client businesses are performing.
Take the time to draw up a plan with senior stakeholders, then phase in advisory services with current and new clients who will benefit most. Once you’ve started small, you can add to what works, and introduce proven revenue-building practices like monthly billing or subscription accounting.
Using multiple online accounting systems and letting clients choose
It’s a fact: The more accounting software or approaches your firm supports, the more inefficient and costly things might be. Many systems means paying for two, three, or more different subscriptions. And you’ll need staff who will have to split their focus amongst multiple platforms, instead of being an expert in just one. Sure, there are bridging apps and other methods for working with more than one system, but they’re no substitute for the efficiency you can get using fewer software platforms.
Use a maximum of three accounting platforms – and, ideally, just one
Of course you might automatically say, “What about my clients?” Many clients are attached to the accounting system they’re familiar with, and trying to force them off it might just make them leave.
The best way to deal with this situation, according to accountants who’ve been through it, is to know your clients as well as possible.
According to a Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey 2017, accountants and bookkeepers are the most trusted financial professionals of all – well ahead of bankers, lawyers, and business executives – and most clients will be happy to be moved to the cloud, as long as the accountant makes it clear that their practice knows and trusts it. More reticent clients will respond well to a request for a trial period – and if they’re not happy afterwards, they can always switch back.