Business owners and leaders need trusted advisors now more than they ever have before. If you haven’t been exposed to the current mindset that accounting firms need to become more advisory-based in order to best serve their clients, then you have been living under a rock. Although no one is arguing with the fact that clients are seeking this, some are still grappling with how to make the switch from mostly compliance or traditional work to that of advisory work. Many others, however, have been serving as most trusted advisors to their top clients for years.
It is always fascinating to me how many professionals raise their hands when I ask them the question, “How many of you work with clients who will not make a move without consulting with you on their decisions?” We are in the business of advising our clients to make the best decisions, based not only on historical financial data and rules and regulations, but also on projected trends, challenges and opportunities. This is what being a consultant is all about. These are the things that make our relationships so incredibly valuable. Our best CPAs, CAs, attorneys and consultants are busy finding ways to uncover needs and challenges with top clients – which is critical. This is what they need to be doing. The problem, however, is that many are not looking at their own business with the same intention. The cobbler’s children have no shoes.
When it comes to planning and strategy in accounting, law and consulting firms, I am no longer as shocked as I used to be on the number of firms who do not invest their time and energy in planning for the future or creating strategies to take them to the next level. When asked if a firm has a strategic plan and initiatives, a common response is, “Well, sort of; it’s in our heads.” Sound familiar? It is time for a change, folks.
I have been scratching my head over this phenomenon for my entire career, and I think I am finally beginning to understand some of the barriers. The bottom line is that It is easier to peel back the onion and offer advice in other organizations, such as our clients’ businesses, than it is to do it for your own. There are several reasons for this, and they include in no specific order:
- Lack of process
- Lack of knowledge on how to set strategy
- Lack of connection of compensation to success factors
I’m sure there are many more. The truth is we need to start in our own firms if we are going to be respected as trusted advisors to our clients. We need to look at trends in our own businesses and industry. We need to explore and utilize available resources for our clients and for our own firms.
An example of this is the use of Comparative Analytics with an organization like Peerview Data. When we evaluate the data, we are then equipped for conversations with our clients that can change the way we interact, set us up for strategic conversations and drive additional revenue in consulting. We are not guessing, but evaluating real data and trends. The tools are out there. We need to be studying the competition, examining our offerings and pricing and determining how to better equip our team members.
If your business is hurting because you are not spending the time and energy on making it a priority, you are not alone. What better way to equip your partners and team members with the knowledge and tools necessary to become trusted advisors to their clients than to view your firm as a client and use the tools that you may use on your clients’ businesses on your own firm?
Some examples include using a GAP Analysis to uncover the current reality and future reality of your firm, your service lines, your client mix, your industry niches, your geographic locations, etc; sending out a questionnaire to firm leadership and team members with a goal to uncover their ideas, goals, barriers and working on empowering them in your planning; using a Fishbone Diagram or a Forcefield Analysis to solve problems and create workable strategies in your firm. There are several tools out there to help you.
I believe that the more you work with these tools, the better you will become at using them in your firm and with your clients. When you decide as a leadership group to be growth-oriented, vulnerable and open to changing the way you do things, you are ready to launch. Don’t be the cobbler whose children have no shoes. Now is the time to start acting as responsible advisors, and there is no better place to start than in your own firm.
To learn more about strategic planning and how to position your professionals as Trusted Advisors, please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your Firm, Grow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.