The annual facilitated strategic review is key to providing truly client centric structured advisory services.
When we get right down to grass roots, there are essentially five types of advisory services that match my recommended advisory process and these can be explained as:
- Facilitated Discovery – short meetings of under one hour, that are structured and provide copies of the meeting as a deliverable. These are exploratory discovery meetings to establish what matters to the clients and they are essentially high level reviews and typically delivered free by accountants, because so much potential advisory work derives from such meetings.
- Facilitated Annual Strategic Reviews – delivered annually in 3 to 4 hour meetings, either over one, two or three sessions and definitely chargeable and at an accountants’ highest premium charging rate.
- Implementation Support – probably quarterly one-hour meetings to support clients with the implementation of their plans and encourage them to maintain momentum and keep on track.
- Facilitated Drill-Down Planning – when specific areas of performance are identified, you can drill-down to plan for improvement in focused areas.
- Technical Consulting – fee paying advisory projects or instructions, very often highlighted by the planning process, but not always. The sort of technical advisory services you offer, will depend upon the resources and capabilities within your firm.
The key is that you have one client facing advisory process that you can articulate to the market, but that is also consistent with how you actually deliver advisory services and of course operate internally.
The value in advisory services is not just on fees from B, but from all of B to E (A is usually free) and often the fees from E can be very significant.
It’s for this reason that your advisory services need to be structured and not ad hoc and to support this I recommend you have an articulated Business Advisory Process which has to be client facing, not just a list of technical services.
A Business Advisory Process enables you to leverage best practice and maintain quality control in this developing area of your firm.
To support these new services, you need a practice culture that recognises the fundamental importance of client-centric advice, rather than the now well worn, ‘Added value, cream on the cake’ message.