Many accountants are seeing their roles evolve far beyond crunching numbers and generating financial reports. Clients are seeking more than just balance sheets and income statements; they're looking for a trusted advisor who can help them navigate the ever-changing landscape of their business operations and align them with their overarching goals.
In this article, we'll cover the shift in client expectations and how accountants can deliver value by:
- Focusing on understanding clients' business goals
- Addressing operational challenges
- Utilizing tools to bridge the gap between strategy and execution
Understanding Clients and the Services They Are Searching For
Over the last several years, one of the largest shifts in the accounting profession is that clients want more than just transactional relationships. A transfer of numbers on a monthly basis isn’t sufficient anymore.
Business owners are searching for partners who take the time to get to know their businesses, their goals, and their challenges — a partner who understands their needs as an entrepreneur.
Meeting these expectations is the standard for accountants who provide advisory services.
When an accountant builds partnerships like this with their clients, the following are required:
- Build Strong Relationships: Meaningful connections with clients will set your services apart. Do this by actively listening and demonstrating empathy. Show you care about their success, and you’ll position yourself well.
- Understand Business Goals: Spend time getting to know clients' long-term objectives and vision. What are their growth plans, financial targets, and industry-specific challenges? This information will position you to provide the services they are searching for.
- Communicate Effectively: Ensure that communication is clear, transparent, and tailored to the client's level of financial literacy. Avoid clunky accounting terms and focus on practical advice they understand.
- Bridge the Gap: Focus on helping your clients interpret data to get from point A to point B. We’ll discuss this further in the next section, but it’s important to note that your role is to connect the dots for your clients. They value your knowledge and insights.
Operational Insight Over Reports
While financial reports are crucial, what keeps your clients up at night are day-to-day operational challenges. This is the area they need guidance and support.
As an accountant, do your best to shift your perspective from seeing things in black and white to addressing the operational issues that clients truly care about:
- Operational efficiency
- Data-driven decision-making
Clients want to know how to streamline their daily processes to save time and resources. They will seek advice on optimizing workflows and automating tasks.
While the numbers you provide offer this information, most business owners need help deciphering and applying it to their business.
Accountants should actively identify and address operational pain points. Clients value solutions and outside insight for things like:
- Inventory management
- Cash flow issues
- Staffing concerns
Position yourself as the person who can help solve their toughest problems.
Emphasize the power of data analysis in guiding operational improvements. You know the numbers tell a story; do your best to convey that story to your clients so they can harness the data to make informed choices.
There are a variety of tools that can help you provide your clients with the services they need to run their businesses successfully. When used correctly, they’ll connect your client's day-to-day actions with their long-term goals.
Provide the Advisory Services Your Clients Are Searching For
Clients today want more than financial reports; they seek advisors who understand their business goals and can help them tackle operational challenges.
By fostering deep client relationships, addressing day-to-day issues, and leveraging tools like Thryv, accountants can position themselves as invaluable advisors in an ever-evolving business landscape.
Remember, it's not just about the numbers; it's about understanding the client's unique journey to success and providing the guidance and support they need to achieve it.