Actually becoming a ‘trusted advisor’ is easier said than done.
For example, here’s a request that came in from a fellow bookkeeper recently…
“I was wondering if you have ever considered doing a topic on how to provide the value data from the financial statements.
I struggle with that and would like to be able to do that. I’m going to look into Finagraph but was just wondering if you would have any more ideas to share.”
She’s not alone. Maybe you’ve felt the same way! There’s definitely a difference between knowing how to prepare financial statements for our clients and analyzing what the numbers mean. In fact, that’s the same struggle our clients have… and why they often ignore the financial reports altogether!
Yet all our efforts to keep the books clean should not solely be so that the client has what they need to submit tax returns after the close of the year. We can provide so much more value to our clients…
- Assess the financial health of their business…
- Help identify positive or negative trends…
- Forecast what demands there will be on cash flow…
… and MUCH more!
The best part is, providing analytical and strategic services for our clients, based on the information contained in the bookkeeping records and financial reports is not difficult, and can be extremely valuable from our clients’ perspective.
So how do you bridge the gap between compliance and advisory for a win-win result?
For one, we can use the tools that are readily available to us. As our colleague mentioned above, there are online analytical tools, such as Finagraph and a host of others, that can be useful in producing graphical information to our clients. Many of the software providers also include some training on how to use these tools effectively.
But not all clients will readily recognize the value of even colorful graphs and charts that show improvement or danger signs from their historical information. This is especially true of very small businesses. Financial discussions of KPIs and cost to equity ratios are too far over their heads to be useful.
To make it a truly valuable, win-win service, we need to meet our clients where they are and speak about what matters to them most. So what do clients care about? In my experience, they perk up quickly when I mention that I can help them improve their results in three key areas…
1. Increase Cash Flow
2. Increase Profits
3. Reduce Taxes
From a marketing standpoint, the most motivating one is the one that removes pain. One of the biggest pains for nearly all businesses is TAXES. If you can help reduce your clients’ tax burden by showing them simple ways to (1) know what their current tax liability is so they can plan and not be blindsided come March or April, and (2) show them how to significantly save on the taxes they owe, they will feel you are an indispensable member of their business success team.
But we are bookkeepers and most of us don’t prepare taxes for our clients. Doesn’t that mean we are not qualified to help our clients save on taxes? In a word: No.
In fact, I think if you don’t prepare taxes it can actually give you an advantage because it helps to protect your client by having two different professionals looking at their situation. You look for savings, and the preparer makes sure it’s accurate. That also helps you to build a complementary professional network and collaborate with your clients’ tax professionals and build mutually beneficial strategic relationships!
Still feeling nervous about this idea? Don’t.
There’s now a tool that makes it very simple to give you the confidence and the professional look to advise your clients easily and add simple yet valuable advisory services to your fee schedule.
Just join me and my special guest, Christopher G. Ragain, CPA, PFS on Thursday, July 28 at 2:00 PM EDT (New York) for a 90-minute webinar “Next Generation Bookkeeping: How to Simplify the Transition from Compliance to Advisory” and we’ll pull out the stops for you.
We’ll discuss how now it’s possible for us bookkeepers to have a major, positive impact on our clients, expand our service offerings to include simple tax advisory services (whether you prepare taxes or not), and use proven software that literally makes it push-button simple. Chris will give us a complete live demonstration on exactly how to do it!
Hope you can join us. This is a major step in the right direction so we can finally become that ‘Trusted Advisor’ to our bookkeeping clients!