As the advancements of Financial Technology (Fintech) continue to reshape the finance sector, advisory services are becoming increasingly relevant for finance firms seeking to adapt and thrive. This modern shift from compliance positions to active advisory has been presenting new opportunities for accountants and financial advisors who are looking to bring added value to their services and client engagements.

Moving forward, we’ll delve into this transformation, focusing on how to effectively transition into an advisory role. We’ll start by identifying potential clients and then discuss the key processes that can facilitate a successful shift to offering advisory services.

Identifying Potential Clients

Any entrepreneur who has a service to offer should know the importance of keeping their clients happy. The saying – “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all” – will always be relevant to business, and is why understanding which clients would benefit the most from advisory services will be key to obtaining, keeping, and then growing your clientele list. An ideal place to start would be assessing your client roster, and taking the time to figure out who has the best promise for growth, as well as those who might be facing business challenges that go beyond basic compliance issues. You could also focus on indicators like clients who are trying to expand their operations or enter new markets, and typically anything else that signals to you a need for strategic guidance.

With that said, profiling clients effectively still goes beyond just a surface level examination, and finance professionals should be willing to delve deep into their clients’ business structures. By learning about their industry trends and past financial performances, accountants can understand the goals of their clients and any past obstacles they have faced. This nuanced comprehension will enable you to customise your approach by suggesting services that align with specific business objectives and growth prospects.

Educating Clients About Advisory Services

Once an accountant has educated themselves on their clients, they can shift their attention to explaining the value of advisory services to them. It should be seen as a process of evolving from being a bookkeeper to a trust advisor, and will bring value both to your services and the relationships you develop through them. To achieve this, suggesting a mixture of communication channels through which you can demonstrate your advisory abilities would be a great place to start. You might want to use social media to share articles that highlight the strategic benefits of advisory services, or offer newsletters that spotlight success stories that your client base has had. Effectively, anything that can promote your abilities while maintaining a line of positive communication.

Having different streams of communication to educate your clients with will also be beneficial, however the most impactful method to convince them will always remain personalised conversations, whereby you engage with your clients directly. Using examples from their own business to demonstrate how you can help them grow will quickly assert how your advisory services could address and solve their problems. By taking a personalised approach, you can both educate and build stronger client relationships.

Implementing a Sales Framework

A sales framework is a plan through which you practise different methods of approaching or interacting with prospective customers. It should guide you while you interact with clients and improve how you present your services, ideally leading to new work projects. You will find that introducing a structured sales framework from the start will help a lot when transitioning into an advisory role, this is because it can be continually referenced as you approach clients with the services you offer, and with that systematic approach, hopefully improve your chances of success.

The six phase process begins with sparking interest by asking questions to uncover the prospective client’s current challenges and objectives. It then progresses to empowerment, where you provide customised insights that showcase your understanding and ability to address their requirements. Each phase, from establishing trust and evaluating whether the partnership will be beneficial to both sides, to discussing strategies and ultimately leading to closure, should be designed with a clear path and both parties in mind. This structured approach should ideally ensure that every interaction adds value and moves towards a commitment that is well informed, transparent and aligned with your client’s goals.

Conducting Effective Diagnostics

Effective diagnostics will play a critical role when you are trying to get to grips with a client’s specific needs and formulating a tailored advisory plan for them. To achieve this, there are a number of steps you can follow which we hope will help you along your way:

  • Comprehensive Assessment: You can start by conducting a thorough review of the prospective client’s business operations and strategic goals. Through this you can gain a good idea of their financial health, as well as gather all the necessary information for a deep analysis.
  • Prioritisation: Use the insights that you gain to then determine which areas of their business require immediate attention, basing your strategy on its potential impact and the client’s readiness to implement your suggestions.
  • Analytical Tools: By utilising analytical techniques like SWOT (analysing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), or using Fintech tools like Pulse for financial ratio analysis, you can turn the data into actionable insights for your clients to improve their cash flow.
  • Strategic Roadmap: With a strategic roadmap you can develop and clear route that outlines how your advisory services will address issues you have identified, and how you will guide your client towards achieving their business objectives.
  • Engagement and Commitment: This roadmap should not only help with the advisory engagement you offer, but also help your client understand and commit to the advised strategic path.

You will find that having an effective diagnostic strategy is essential for tailoring your advisory services to meet the unique needs of each of your clients, and by methodically assessing and prioritising, you can ensure that your efforts are rewarded, and both you and your clients achieve the results you want.

Leveraging Case Studies and Testimonials

A final point to mention is the power of using real life success stories and customer feedback to build trust with current and yet unsigned clients, using them to demonstrate the benefits that your advisory services can bring. We mentioned earlier using social media and other sources to achieve this, however actively working with your clients to get that customer feedback and any favourable testimonials will be important if you want a healthy selection of case studies to show off. Most happy customers will be more than happy to oblige!

Parting Thoughts

Filling out your client list might seem like an uphill challenge for starters, but by putting in the effort to develop your sales framework strategies, and learning how to develop real rapport with your clients will end out being a rewarding experience. For accountants and other finance professionals, incorporating the methods we have discussed today can actually elevate your profession and bring in new and rewarding challenges, so embrace the transformation from traditional bookkeeper to trust advisor, and start steering your clients towards lasting prosperity.

Pulse Can Enhance Your Advisory Services!

Pulse is a tool for accountants and other finance professionals, it aggregates financial data from Open Accounting and Open Banking software sources, producing valuable small business financial insights for SMEs across numerous vital KPIs, helping you to keep a finger on the pulse of your business’s health. Sign up with Pulse, and monitor your client’s debtors and creditors ratio, gross margin over time, and turnover trends to deliver advice that will help them outgrow their competition.