As accountants, how often do you step back from doing your regular compliance work, and actually spend time with your client looking at the future? Probably not as often as you’d like! This guest blog from GearShift’s Lauren O’Hare explores how to add real value to your client relationships, facilitating their success, while also growing your practice.
We all know accountants provide important compliance services for their clients, but have you thought about the added value services you could be offering? This article will explain how you can hold the key to future success for your client, and differentiate your practice at the same time.
Let’s take for example the issue of cashflow management. With the slow payment culture in a number of UK business sectors, this is a key issue for a number of businesses. SMEs in the third quarter of 2014 stated cashflow and late payment to be one of the most significant obstacles to business growth.
With the growth in availability and uptake of cloud software, it’s now easier than ever for you to identify cashflow issues with your client and help them put a plan in place to address any issues. This enables you to identify problems in advance and provide the solutions your clients need – when they need them.
So, how can you do this? Let’s work with the example of integrating your KashFlow cloud accounting software, with GearShift – our forecasting and cashflow planning software. Using these software packages in tandem, you can integrate your client’s historical data in Kashflow with the forecast data held in GearShift, giving you a rich data set to better inform your forecasting. Armed with this information you can quickly and easily identify areas where your client could benefit from your financial expertise.
The GearShift dashboard provides a snapshot of all key business indicators of your client’s business. The dashboard will clearly show detailed cashflow projections for monthly, weekly or even daily reporting periods.
The visual element of the dashboard means you can ensure even the least financially aware of your clients have an understanding of what you are trying to do for them. This opens the door to more collaborative work with your client, strengthening your relationship and putting yourself at the centre of their business.
Working with your client on cashflow management alone spins off a number of potential services where you can add value. For example, you could offer training to give them an understanding of the key principles of cashflow management – helping them to help themselves – or review and implement improvements to their credit control processes and procedures – 46% of businesses in a poll stated they felt powerless to negotiate supplier terms.
Another way you can add value for your clients is by providing help and consultation around funding applications. It can be overwhelming to go through the application process for business lending. By using GearShift with your client, you can dramatically reduce the time spent on data preparation. You can pull reports requested by the lender in seconds, helping you to produce an application for your clients that will strengthen their chances of successfully getting funding.
Finally, it can be a great help to clients if you can easily model solutions for their clients around cashflow. GearShift’s powerful ‘what if’ modelling tool allows accountants to show their clients the impact of business decisions on cashflow, and help them make more measured and informed decisions to alleviate any cashflow issues.
So cashflow management is one area that accountants can help clients with, but there are a range of other complimentary services including business planning, profit improvement and finance director services – to name a few – that you can offer to add value to the client relationship.
It’s now possible to have a suite of cloud software tools at your disposal to work more closely with your client and in a very effective way. Ultimately, you’ve got the chance to cut time on data preparation and increase the time spent helping your client make their business a success.
It’s worth noting that a recent survey showed that, when offered, 90% of clients take up advisory services from their accountant. That goes to show, there is a real opportunity out there for accountants to grow and differentiate their practice – you just need to grab it before someone else does.
Lauren O’Hare is the Marketing Manager at GearShift – straightforward business forecasting and cashflow management software. Start a 14 day free trial today.