Accounting firms striving to grow in value and revenue are prioritizing advisory services. This is a natural step for firms, as many businesses are seeking out financial guidance from professionals.
However, launching into FP&A (financial planning and analysis) services is not quite as simple as posting some new language on your website. In this post, we’ll walk through the steps to defining and delivering FP&A services so your firm increases profit, and your clients get what they want.
Three mistakes accountants make when launching FP&A
Before getting into the FP&A deliverables, it’s important to first look at the mistakes firms make that prevent success.
1. Doubting Yourself
Yes, launching FP&A services requires some thought and strategy. At the same time, it’s important not to overcomplicate things.
Don’t be afraid to get started in FP&A. If you’ve already been running a profitable accounting firm, you have an understanding of your clients’ business through their historical data. Now, the next step is to model that historical information into the future.
You can start small, and immediately have a major impact because your clients are hungry for this vision
2. Failing to Define the Services
You can get started with FP&A immediately, but you have to first set aside time to create guardrails for your deliverables. More on this later.
For now, it’s important to remember that you are the one in control of your services. FP&A does not mean reacting to all of your clients’ requests. Just like in your compliance work, your advisory work should have a clear definition.
3. Underpricing FP&A Services
The third mistake is the inevitable result of the first two. When you doubt yourself, you are hesitant to charge a premium. And when you don’t create a clear definition of services, you’ll give away so much time that CAS isn’t worth it.
Defining services with value-based pricing allows you to avoid these mistakes, providing an excellent service that increases your firm’s profitability.
How to Define Your FP&A Deliverables
The key to success in FP&A is definition. When you create specific expectations for what you’ll provide, you can create a pricing structure that makes sense and predictable profit in your firm.
Know your niche
The process of defining your service packages begins with deeply knowing your clients. If you have a specific niche you serve, you’ll cater to the KPIs, data, and communication around their business model.
For example, if you work with a lot of venture-backed startups, you’ll want to provide a view of their burn rate and runway.
On the other hand, if you work with a service-based client, your reporting will focus more on AR and revenue per employee.
FP&A services work best when they are in the context of what your clients really care about. So you need to know them and build out KPIs that are most crucial to the success of their company.
Simplify as much as you can
While FP&A is going a layer deeper into your accounting services, it doesn’t have to be complicated. The greatest value you can provide for a client is to help them better understand their business.
This often means simplifying. If your client has a sea of numbers, it’s your job to clarify and highlight which of these numbers matters the most.
Keep in mind the goal of making forecasts and projections is to give a guideline for where the business is going. It’s important to understand the difference between precision and accuracy.
When creating a financial model, you don’t have to get everything perfectly right. Your goal is to create a vision of the company’s targets and a model to adjust when comparing the actuals to projections.
It’s better to simplify, so you can move faster and start collecting data.
Consider a three-tiered pricing strategy
Pricing and packages are the most effective way to ensure success in FP&A services. A strategy many firms are using is to create three packages with small, medium, and large options for clients to choose from.
With those packages, you can create parameters so you and your clients have the proper expectations in the relationship.
Your packages should include the meeting cadence, reporting, and analysis to be included. Then create pricing that provides ensures you are paid for the value provided and time spent.
A good example of a three-tiered pricing package is at GrowthLabFinancial.
Remember, FP&A is a dialogue
Lastly, make sure as you launch FP&A you continue to learn as you go. At its core, advisory services are more relational than transactional. This means that with each passing month, quarter, and year, you should be learning more about your clients and picking up patterns.
This knowledge is invaluable and will help you continue to elevate your services as time goes on.