Practice Management

How Can You Make the SHIFT to Trusted Advisor?

Focus

As you move from accountant/bookkeeper to coach and then trusted advisor, the number of issues that you choose to highlight to your client will dramatically decrease. That’s because the amount of focus/clarity you provide is directly proportionate to the amount of value you add.

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No doubt your clients have a list of 30 things on their to-do list, and when they meet with you there are many issues competing for priority or attention. The truth is, however, that only one or two of them are critical to the survival of the business. Your mission is to sift through all the noise and focus your client on the things that are urgent and important. If your client leaves your office (or a meeting with you) and still has 30 items on their to-do list, you can safely conclude that you are still in the accountant/advisor dimension.

Because focus is essential to your role as a trusted advisor, you also need to become crystal clear on what you need to do to grow revenues from advisory services this year. That’s why it’s essential to specify in writing your targets for growing the advisory services of your practice. These targets must be written down and laser-focused in order to be effective, compelling, and measurable. Rather than adopting a broad, shotgun approach, start by identifying one or two specific niches of clients that you will focus on this year to achieve those targets.

Think of this process as laying the groundwork for your shift to a new way of doing business. If you are unable to articulate a succinct and clear plan for yourself, you will struggle to assist your clients to obtain the required level of clarity.

Time Is Your Enemy

In the old days, you could get away with pricing your services using time-based billing. That practice has already become redundant for two reasons:

  • The first has to do with the automation of data processing and analysis of WHAT transpired in the past.
  • The second has to do with the evolution of the client’s needs — they have come to expect and demand more of us and they also have access to more choice regarding who they can consult to get insights and answers (coaches, consultants, add-on app partners, roboadvisors, Google).

Accountants/bookkeepers sell time, but a trusted advisor sells insights and THE solution to the problems that are keeping his/her clients up at night.

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Instead of merely charging based on the time involved, you now have the option — as you move into the realms of coaching and becoming the trusted advisor — to take into account the potential value you can deliver. Some refer to this as “value pricing,” but at its essence you are shifting to a pricing strategy that takes into account your long-term business relationship and the insights you can deliver based on your knowledge, skills, focus, and mindset.

In most cases, as you move from providing compliance services to coaching and strategic advice, your stable of offerings/services will expand dramatically in breadth and depth. You start delivering significant opportunities to earn passive revenue streams due to your association with various software suppliers. However, the upside potential in your remuneration will primarily be tied to the insights you deliver, which underscores the importance of investing in continuous improvement and training for yourself and all team members who are client-facing.

In the next article we will explore in depth the new focus, skills, and mindset you must obtain in order to successfully execute the transition.


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About the author

Rhondalynn Korolak

Rhondalynn Korolak is the founder of businest®. businest® was selected as The App You Should Be Using at Accountex in 2016 and was also named one of the Top 10 apps in 2016 by Intuit QuickBooks. Dashboards only diagnose pain... businest® fixes it.

Rhondalynn is a lawyer, chartered (public) accountant, business coach, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and expert on business improvement. She has distilled the secrets to business success that she learned working with some of the world’s most successful brands, and produced a simple step-by-step process that any small business or accounting practice can apply to attract more high-value customers, close more sales, and boost the bottom line and cash flow.

Rhondalynn is the author of On The Shoulders of Giants, Financial Foreplay, and Sales Seduction. Rhondalynn can help you put strategies in place to grow your business and ensure that your customers would never think of going elsewhere.

6 Comments

  • This article is so wrong. It clearly does not understand the current roles and responsibilities of bookkeepers or accountants in the Australian context.

    Maybe the issue is that these positions means something very different in America.

    In Australia it is the bookkeepers who are taking he best tools and the best techniques into business and increasing their efficiency.

    Our basic laws around doing business, employing people, gst and accounts record keeping only begin to create the ongoing role for bookkeepers well into the future.

    Business people don’t want to understand how to interpret the way the business operates in the context of gst, implementing the best software etc etc. they engage experts (the bookkeeper ) to do sohttp://adminpanel.ceda.com.au/FOLDERS/Service/Files/Documents/26792~Futureworkforce_June2015.pdf

    • Regardless of whether you look at Australian, North American or British research, these same stats keep coming up:
      – adoption of cloud software still only 20-25%
      – compliance revenue continuing to rise (average revenue per client is down and we are delivering more value for the same price or less)
      – while 90% believe they need to evolve and make the shift to advisory services today, only 10% have done so
      – only 8-9% believe profession is future-ready today

      The app ecosystem is growing exponentially (Accountex predicts it to double — 800+ in 2017) and demanding more and more of our practitioners’ time and effort to learn, review, and evangelize these apps with their clients. Both accountants and bookkeepers are struggling to find the time.

      If bookkeepers in Australia are leading the global industry by taking the best tools and the best techniques into business and increasing their efficiency, that is groundbreaking indeed and worthy of exploration in a follow up, stand-alone article. Would you be willing to share your research on this topic so we can highlight the visionary role of our bookkeepers?

      There can be no doubt that accountants and bookkeepers have very different roles – if they didn’t, they would not have different job titles. That being said, the intelligence behind these apps and cloud software is automating a wide-variety of tasks which offers both the accountant and bookkeeper the unique opportunity to get paid primarily for the value that they bring to the table. Regardless of the specific work or advice for each profession, the shift will still necessitate new skills, focus and mindset being taken on by each to excel at these new roles in the realm of WHY and HOW.

      Where it was once touted that the jobs of the future would be in coding… most have now come to the realization that the most valued positions/professions will actually be in the managing of big [bad] data, interpretation of insights and explaining those to the key stakeholders. With the right strategy, skills and implementation, both accountants and bookkeepers are uniquely positioned to excel in this new environment.

      • Hi Rhondalynn Thanks, very happy to keep up the dialogue. We at Institute of Certified Bookkeepers are very much of the view that Professional Certified Bookkeepers need to know and implement the best tools that are being brought to us.

        I think we are saying the same thing, with the same perspective that all such professionals need to be very much in tune with what is happening in technology and that to be a professional service provider (Bookkeeper or Accountant or other) that they have a responsibility to Know, Inform, consult, implement and improve the way each business uses technology.

        This is a concept and position of our current conference series where I present the current state of A.I (which although I acknowledge Artificial Intelligence, today I believe we only have Automated Intelligence and I am very much looking forward to Augmented intelligence).

        The Professional Bookkeeper needs to know what is being developed around them, which absolutely will have the impact on how they do what they do. No longer will our entire time and budget be exhausted on creating data, we will use the benefits of technology improvement including what is being called “Cloud” (internet connectivity of data and apps with a few other elements of technology) to provide better certainty and better understanding.

        Bookkeepers are the experts who understand the business and implement the improvements and automation to business process. If that’s what the term “Trusted Advisor” relates to then I think we are well down the journey.

        Your article from yesterday “What got you here wont get you there” published in Accountants Daily has some great strategies. Very similar thinking to what we are presenting.

        • Glad to hear we are on the same page with respect to our thoughts and strategies on this important issue. I look forward to having the opportunity to collaborate with you and ICB. I am interested to hear your views on a. i. (in particular the evolution from automation to artificial and then augmented).

          I understand 86% of your members are women. Nothing would make me happier than to see Australian women at the forefront of our industry globally – leading the charge with visionary strategies, commitment to continuous learning/improvement and inspiring SME clients to step up and take purposeful action that boosts results.

          This is such a pivotal moment in the history of our industry… the likes of which we have not seen since personal computers and desktop accounting software were introduced back in the 80’s. I forsee that this time we are better prepared and will have much more control over our own professional destinies.

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