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The 10 Big Advisory Questions: 7 – This Feels Like A Big Change, Is It?

Welcome to the seventh edition of this video series where we talk you through The 10 Big Advisory Questions.

Join Micheal as he answers Question 7 – This Feels Like A Big Change, Is It?

The below is a transcript of Question 7 of the 10 Big Advisory Questions Video Series – This Feels Like A Big Change, Is It?

My name is Micheal O’Neill and, I’m delighted to welcome you to this video series where I answer the 10 big questions about advisory services. These are the questions that I get asked by my clients in Ireland on a regular basis, as well as the questions that my colleagues in the UK, US, Canada and Africa get asked.

So let’s get started with today’s question.

Question seven, This Feels Like a Big Change, Is It?

Well, there certainly is a lot of apprehension within the profession. There certainly is a lot of “oh I don’t know if I’m ready to get into advisory” and there are a lot of misconceptions, and a lot of misinformation out there. But is it a big change? No, not really.

I would see it as a logical extension of the services that accountants have always provided. For me, I would actually see the provision of Advisory as accountants realising their full potential and fulfilling a role that I would argue they should have been operating in for years.

You already care deeply about your clients and the delivery of structured advisory services to help your clients grow successful and rewarding businesses is just a natural progression.

And for us, this really is an evolution, not a revolution. You don’t need to become the world’s greatest advisor overnight. You control the speed of the change. You set your path.

Think about what I’ve been talking through this whole series about how you help your clients. It’s all about creating a plan; it’s all about connecting with what your big drivers are. Think about this from your perspective.

What are your big drivers? What is the most important thing to you about being an accountant? What’s the most important thing to you about running your firm? How can you have the biggest impact on your clients’ businesses? From there, you will want to set your goals.

You want to set your goals. You want to set, clearly map out what your ambitions, what your aspirations are. Once you have your goals, then you can create your plan.

And this plan can be spaced over however long you want. The most important thing is that you control the speed of change; you’re in control of your destiny.

I’m not suggesting that you need to rush this. This isn’t something that your firm is suddenly going to fall off a cliff next month if you’re not providing advisory services. But we need to just get started, and we need to start bringing it into the conversations we’re having with the clients. We need to start on a small, micro-level doing little things. Getting our confidence and then keep moving forward.

Compliance services are going nowhere. They’re just going to get ever more efficient and competitively priced over time. There is no question that they are going to become fully digital in the near future. But let’s for a second just look at what we think the future holds:

A – Traditional Accountant

This is our traditional accountant. So in this model, we simply meet with our clients on an annual basis. We look after their traditional compliance needs from a tax and accounting perspective. Even though the client may come back year after year, we have very limited recurring revenues on a monthly basis and we have a huge amount of WIP and Lockup.

B – Strategic Advisor

Here we have our strategic advisor. So this is where you’re meeting with clients quarterly. You have your annual strategic business and/or wealth review followed by quarterly meetings. So this is where you are operating in a strategic advisor role. This gives you at a minimum recurring advisory fees, however, what I love about this is that you can also start moving these clients  compliance fees onto a monthly payment basis as you already have the precedent with them.

C – Non-Executive Director

Then we look at the next level up, which is essentially a non-executive financial director role for your clients. This is a fully-fledged, non-executive financial role at board meetings. At this level there will be a monthly retainer fee and there may even be a performance based fee also.

Now the fact is that within these roles, the goal isn’t to pick a specific level to get to with all of your clients. You’ll need to look at who your clients are and how you can best serve them. For some that will be solely on a compliance level and that is fine. Others will require and will be open to higher, more integrated service delivery. What you have to assess is where you can add the most value and how you can structure relationships to get the greatest return on your time investment.

I would strongly urge that even the clients that are in your “traditional accountants” role, where you simply meet them on annual basis, for account sign off at the end of the year, there is an opportunity in that to bring advisory to that level.

And naturally, through doing even very simple advisory processes during the closing meeting, you can start to move people from the group “A type” service delivery into “group B” strategic advisor roles and above. In fact, taking an advisory approach to your year-end meetings can very often lead to additional compliance and consulting assignments.

But you know, this isn’t going to happen overnight. The most important thing is that you identify what you want your role to be and the role that you want your firm to play in your clients business. And then to create your plan and start taking action over time moving towards your goals.

So that’s question seven of our 10 Big Advisory Questions.

“This Feels Like A Big Change, Is It?”

If you haven’t seen the first videos in the series, please do go find them and check them out now.

Make sure to keep an eye out for the remaining series where I deal with some of the other big questions in relation to advisory.

And from me, good luck, goodbye. Thank you for listening and I’ll talk to you soon.