How to deliver advisory services for maximum success

Jul 18, 2023 | Business Strategy, Client service, Key Business skills, Sole practitioners

‘How to deliver advisory services for maximum success’ is the sub-title of a superb new book for accountants that I read recently. I’ll share the author and title later in this post. Let’s just say that I wish I had written this book, as I am already recommending it to accountants, without reservation.

In her introduction, the author asks if, like her, you are sick of hearing “compliance is dead” and that all accountants should move into advisory work?

“What if compliance is all you know and all that really interests you? Well, this book will give you an idea of whether you want to make the move into advisory or not.”

“Whilst I believe that the future of accountancy lies in helping clients to change their numbers rather than just recording them, compliance isn’t dead yet”

By way of background, I first publicly debunked the ‘compliance is dead, long live advisory’ hype back in 2011. Many of the firms who have embraced advisory work in recent years, have thrived, but typically only where they also continued to provide compliance services.

Even the recent advent of AI and the speed of adoption and evolution of AI driven services do NOT mean that clients will stop wanting accountants to provide compliance related services in the near future. In 5-10 years though? Who knows? All previous predictions of the speed of change for accountants have proven woefully over-pessimistic or overly-optimistic – depending on your point of view.

Some of the most strident predictors of change still start with naive misconceptions about the accountancy marketplace. Others are keen to sell you their services to ‘help’ you to evolve your practice faster than might really be necessary or comfortable.

As James Ashford says in his guest Foreword to this new book:

“Compliance isn’t dead, and neither does advisory have all the answers”
“This book gets you to stop and look at advisory services in a very different way, and it forces you to ask those important questions: What is it? Is it right for me? Is it right for my clients? Is it right for us now? And, if it is, what’s the best way to move forwards with this”

This new book is written in two parts.

Part one is a great example of thought leadership as it contains a simple but innovative how-to guide for those wishing to get started or to become more committed to delivering value for money advisory work. The author has based her advice here on how she introduced and integrated advisory services into her own practice.

Part two is all about what to speak to clients about in the context of advisory services and how these can all be focused around helping clients to change their numbers going forwards.

The book contains links to loads of resources too – all of which the author has used and recommends throughout the book.

Here are a few more quotes from the author that give you a flavour of her style and why I am so happy to endorse her advice and this book. In summary she is echoing views I have shared for years in my talks, blog posts and articles:

“The reason so many firms already offer an element of advisory is because every business wants and needs it. The real-world problem is that not every business can afford it, so we need to decide what services we’ll offer to which clients in order to maximise our income.”

“For me, advisory work is about helping business owners to achieve the dreams they had when they first set up their business”

“Presenting clients with numbers in pretty formats is great for their understanding, but the numbers alone aren’t advisory.” Advisory is about changing those number and, most importantly about how to change the numbers.”

“The skills needed to deliver advisory services may not be the same as those required to prepare historical accounts and tax returns”.

“Make your business your first advisory client and….ensure that you’re a good advertisement for your services.”

“We need to combine hard numbers, skills and facts with soft skills, so as to consider the personal impact [of the advice we are giving to clients]”

Chapter 7 focuses on selling profitable advisory services – both to existing and to new clients. And Chapter 10 addresses marketing advisory services. NB: Just to manage your expectations the author echoes my advice that there are no magic wands or easy answers but you will get the benefit of the author’s first-hand advice on both of these topics – as you do on everything else covered by the book.

I am happy to recommend this book to all accountants keen to move into advisory work as it is the most practical, honest and independent guide I have ever seen.

“Changing the numbers” is written by Della Hudson FCA, and was first published by Compass Publishing in 2022.

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