As we enter a new year, one thing is clear. Business leaders need accounting services more than ever. Tighter margins, higher wages, and historic borrowing costs are driving them to the brink.
You know you have the answers they need, but the problem is, the accounting firm down the street does too.
It’s a competitive field and your service listings aren’t enough to set your firm apart and catch the eyes of prospective clients. You have to find another way to position your firm as the best solution.
Differentiate your firm with FP&A.
But what does that look like?
Same Services, Different Approach
One of the best ways to differentiate your firm with FP&A (Financial Planning & Analysis) is by offering comprehensive, robust services to meet all of your client's needs.
Think about it.
Some financial services, like accounting and compilations, revolve around accuracy and due diligence. Most accounting firms are, more or less, going to do the same job for a client—at least as far as the client knows.
However, this approach leaves gold on the table. Combine your current services with FP&A, and you can showcase your higher-level analytical and strategic skills. Even more so, you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your FP&A because your clients' successes become proof of your financial prowess.
Ask yourself: How can I show future clients and current ones our firm gets the results they want to pay for?
A Deeper Dive into Budgeting
Use your budgeting strategy to differentiate your firm.
Do you see budgets as something that rolls over each year? I.e., "Our client spent this much last year. Sounds like a good starting point for this year's budget."
You can count on one thing when budgeting based on last year's spending. The budget will be off on the next budget vs. actual report and your CPA will be forced to explain why.
So rethink the process. Differentiate yourself from the competitors by rethinking your budgeting strategy.
Take a more proactive approach. Instead of using last year’s stale numbers, base it on next year's projected business activity.
- The market
- Raw material cost trends
Get to know your client's growth goals to develop a workable budget that doesn't leave your client scrambling to make payroll during the off-season.
Enhanced Reporting and Dashboards
Your approach to reporting and dashboards is another effective way to differentiate your firm.
Reports allow your firm and the client to dig deeper into the numbers behind the numbers. So, develop a dashboard that communicates the most relevant and critical financial information at a glance. Relevance is based on your client's industry, so use customizable, industry-specific templates as a starting point to build useful dashboards. These should be accessible to the client at any time so they can make timely, data-informed decisions.
Neither you nor the clients should have to build these reports from scratch. Rely on tech tools, like Jirav, to build customer reports from industry templates and run or automate them with the touch of a button.
Forecast From Every Angle
Next, differentiate your firm by how you forecast. Regardless of what your client's business goals are for the upcoming year, there are variables over which your client has no control.
However, forecasts can give them the edge they need to respond quickly when the “unexpected” happens.
Business tech tools allow you to build forecasts that consider cause-and-effect scenarios from operational data. For example, you can see a cash flow forecast from every angle, one, 12, and even 60 months out to enable agile decision-making.
Provide multiple forecasts and you’re setting your firm apart from the competition.
Planning for Success
How do you want clients to see your firm—attentive, aware, and proactive? Generating this perception comes down to how you plan. Prioritize business processes that add the most value so clients can see that what you're doing works.
It's important to think and plan short- and long-term with clients. If you're only offering pay-off 24 or 60 months down the road, they struggle to stay invested—or worse—switch to a firm that gives them more.
With tools like Jirav, you can identify business and value drivers that determine both short- and long-term success, and track the key performance indicators (KPIs) related to these drivers.
You can then show your client how the plan is unfolding—building trust and a solid client-firm relationship.
Leverage Tools to Differentiate Your Firm with FP&A
Tools help develop future-facing budgets, create and generate handy dashboards and reports with the touch of a button, build forecasts that consider every angle, and plan for success.
But what's more, they help you show clients the true value of the all-encompassing financial services you offer and how those services work together to achieve client success. When you do this successfully, you set your firm apart from others.
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