By Sandi Leyva
The Complete Guide to Marketing for Tax & Accounting Firms
When we think about the word “advisory,” we accountants might think of financial ratios. Advisory is so much more than that. It’s, in effect, everything we do for our clients that is not compliance work – work required because of government regulations and deadlines.
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Here is a comprehensive list of advisory services to consider adding to the compliance services and other services you already offer. Each one represents a potential new revenue stream for your business.
You can use this list in a couple of ways. Take a quick look through the list to see where your skills and interests match your own so you can add even more value to your clients. Or use this list as a reference that you can refer to often whenever you want to develop a new revenue stream for yourself.
- Budgeting: One of the simplest ways to get started with advisory services is to help clients prepare a budget for their business or even personal use. On an ongoing basis, you can generate new budget to actual reports and conduct review sessions with your client to go over the numbers.
- Cash flow help: More businesses need cash flow help than almost any other advisory services. There are even dozens of cash flow apps to help accountants deliver this service.
- Industry expertise: Knowing the ins and outs of a specific industry allows accountants to provide clients with deeper insights and a faster success trajectory. There are dozens of industries to specialize in, such as dentists or medical practices in general, legal, food manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, field service, retail, e-commerce, construction, real estate and property management, family office, cannabis, and so many more.
- Advanced reporting: Generating reports beyond the traditional monthly financial report package is a form of advisory services.
- Financial dashboards: Providing financial dashboards to your client is a popular advisory add-on. There are several apps that integrate with the accounting system and automate the process.
- Debt consulting: Similar to cash flow advisory work, debt consulting is useful if the client needs capital or is trying to reduce their debt. This could also include monitoring bank-required debt covenants.
- Loan package preparation: If a client is applying for a loan, the accountant can work with the client to prepare a package for the bank or lending authority. While there is some audit and compliance work involved, there is an advisory aspect to it.
- Revenue growth: If the client wants to grow, accountants can help the client identify opportunities as well as analyze the effectiveness of marketing methods with analytics and metrics.
- Accounting workflow: Many accountants are also technology-savvy and can help a client save money in their accounting department by redesigning and automating processes. There are hundreds of apps to automate data entry, reporting, A/P and A/R processing, payroll, and much more.
- Fraud consulting: An accountant is the first person a client turns to when they suspect fraud.
- Accounting system selection and installation: Accountants can help clients get on the right accounting system for their business.
- Accounting system customization: While there are many areas to customize when first installing an accounting system, accountants should not overlook the opportunity to create a custom Chart of Accounts, classes or tracking codes, and geographical categories for clients so they can see their data in a more meaningful way.
- Job costing: Job costing is a specialty area needed by many different industries.
- Inventory: Helping a client manage their inventory better is a huge area that’s in demand.
- Business valuation: When a client wants to sell their business, this advisory service will come in handy.
- Cost segregation: This advisory service has sprung up entire companies that do this one thing.
- Social Security: Fairly new, this advisory service helps clients maximize their payout. The field is quite complex, a perfect opportunity for tax professionals to step in and educate clients in this area.
- Mergers and acquisitions work: With so many baby boomers in their retirement years, mergers and acquisitions are booming.
- KPIs: Helping business owners determine and track KPIs – key performance indicators – is perfect for accountants. Dashboard apps can help to automate the process.
- Medical billing: There are companies that offer this one service for clients in the medical industry.
- Staffing: Some accounting firms have been asked by clients to facilitate or vet candidates for accounting positions.
- Financial planners: A huge field of advisors focus on financial planning for clients.
- Technology consulting: Tech-savvy accountants are offering help to clients in their IT departments. There is even a certification for it offered by the AICPA: CITP – Certified Information Technology Professional.
- Tax planning: Enough said.
- SALT advisory: While SALT – state and local taxes – is mostly compliance work, there can be an advisory aspect to it when it comes to proactive planning and risk management.
- Financial literacy training: A number of accountants provide clients with financial education to boost their skills in simple tasks such as reading and understanding their monthly reports.
- Profitability: While there should be an underlying thread of profitability in every advisory service, I still wanted to list it separately to emphasize it. Profitability consulting at its simplest is helping a client reduce costs, increase revenue and/or improve margins.
- Pricing: Many clients need additional help understanding their pricing decisions.
- Benefits consulting: Many accountants, especially financial planners, have expertise in helping clients select and set up employee benefits.
- HR: A few accountants have developed skills in human resources and provide services to clients to improve their HR departments.
- Elder care: Elder care financial services is a specialized niche with complex issues. Accountants can combine compliance work with advisory services to serve this segment of the population best.
- Nonprofit: Advising nonprofits is another specialized area in which advisory services can come in a multitude of shapes and sizes.
- Big data: Some accountants, especially those in industry, are providing advisory services related to big data aggregation, mining and analysis.
- Data security: Although somewhat tied to IT, information security is a large enough specialty advisory area to mention, especially in fields such as banking.
- Disaster recovery: Many accountants have pitched in to help clients through the many storms, floods and catastrophes we’ve experienced in recent years.
- Profiles: A few accountants and consultants in the accounting space offer profile testing and assessments to help with performance review, hiring and leadership development.
- Business consulting: This one is general, but it should be listed for the sake of completeness.
- Six Sigma: Some accountants have become certified in this area and provide it and other certifications that businesses seek.
- Project management: Many accountants are great project managers, and this is an advisory field in and of itself.
That’s the list.
Did I miss any? What’s your favorite? Which ones do you like best for your clients?