Compliance to Advisory – Making the Switch

switchActually 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!

Save Your Spot Here


Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and build true win-win relationships.

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4 Responses to “Compliance to Advisory – Making the Switch”

  • Demos Loizides on August 11, 2016

    I never wing any info put into my clients’ books. When I update their previous month’s data, usually from bank and credit card statements, if there are checks with no detailed info or other transactions I can’t tell how to code, I send an email to the client. I attach a report from QuickBooks (QB) with a list of Uncategorized Expenses or Ask Client transactions and I ask them to tell me how to code or tell me what the expenses are for. Once I update QB with the correct info, I will send them their financial reports for the last month, Qtr and YTD through the last month. I shouldn’t need to ask the client about similar expenses in the future unless it’s for purchases from a store like Wal-Mart, which can be any of a number of items (personal and business).

    • Gabrielle on August 18, 2016

      Thanks for sharing your process, Demos. What you’ve described is an example of how we, as bookkeepers, can keep the numbers accurate in our clients’ books. Making the switch to advisory services goes beyond just the basic bookkeeping through. As much as we know how important it is to adhere to accurate methods as you’ve described, from the client’s standpoint, they don’t necessarily understand how important this is until we can work with them to reveal what the numbers can do for them to help them manage their business more profitably. So while it means adding additional services to our checklist of things we do for our clients, it is much more lucrative work for us, and higher value to the client.

  • Shanon on September 22, 2016

    Hi Gabrielle,

    Part of my business plan is to offer more information and consultation to my clients… and I’m so disappointed that I missed your webinar… is it possible to watch a recorded version?

    • Gabrielle on September 27, 2016

      Shanon – Sorry you couldn’t join us too! We will be coming out with a full training class on this topic of how to provide consultative services to clients soon, so as long as you are on the TFB notifications list, you’ll hear about it. It will include the info covered in this webinar (and a lot more!) So watch your email inbox in the coming weeks.

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