Receipt Bank Blog>Advice>How to Communicate Your Value as a Business Advisor

How to Communicate Your Value as a Business Advisor

27/07/2020

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An interview with Sian Kelly, Managing Director at Inform Accounting

We’ve seen that the traditional services like bookkeeping, VAT and Statutory Accounts aren’t as important to clients anymore – they can get them from any practice. What clients are after is the ‘extra’ that you can provide – the value-add stuff.

It’s the advisory work like budgets, cash flows and KPI reporting that clients are gravitating towards. Whilst you can learn a lot from the past, clients are more and more wanting to look forward and plan for the future. This is ever more true in the current climate, as clients need to be able to carefully plan cash and have much tighter budgets to work with.

We’ve extended our advisory branch, taking on an SME Business Partner to provide that Financial Director service clients wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford internally.”

In an interview with Receipt Bank, Sian Kelly, Managing Director at Inform Accounting, shares how her client needs have evolved and the role real-time, accurate financial information plays in offering meaningful advice that enable businesses to plan for the future.

1. How do you communicate your value as an advisor to your clients? How do you position yourself as an advisor?

All our conversations with clients are targeted at understanding their business as much as possible. This gives us a better base from which to offer services that we think would be beneficial to a client. We only suggest services if we think the client will see a benefit and value in them.

We communicate with clients frequently, particularly throughout this pandemic. Clients rely on us not just to perform the services they pay us for, but to keep them informed of any financial changes that may affect them.

We often share free resources such as educational webinars with leading industry apps and free content like ebooks.

2. How do you demonstrate the value of real-time financial data as part of your advisory services?

Clients often come to us because of our cloud expertise and experience – we’ve been 100% cloud-based since practice inception. The team is used to working with real-time information, and it means that we can quickly answer client questions over the phone or email with relative ease – e.g. what’s the current VAT estimate for the quarter, so the client can start putting money aside for the payment.

We’ve also been using Xavier to tidy up client data, so cash flows and other reports are even more accurate than before. There’s no point analysing data if your starting point is inaccurate. The key to adding value for clients is focussing on producing higher quality outputs, rather simply inputting data.

4. What are your clients asking for? How have their needs changed in the last year and in the last few months?

We’ve seen that the traditional services like bookkeeping, VAT and Statutory Accounts aren’t as important to clients anymore – they can get them from any practice. What clients are after is the ‘extra’ that you can provide – the value-add stuff.

It’s the advisory work like budgets, cash flows and KPI reporting that clients are gravitating towards. Whilst you can learn a lot from the past, clients are more and more wanting to look forward and plan for the future. This is ever more true in the current climate, as clients need to be able to carefully plan cash and have much tighter budgets to work with.

5. What new services have you developed to meet new client needs? How do you position and package these services?

We’ve extended our advisory branch, taking on an SME Business Partner to provide that Financial Director service clients wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford internally.

We’re always looking at ways we can package and reposition our advisory services. For example, some clients have swapped out their usual management accounts packs for a managed cash flow service in the short term, as forward-looking information is currently more important to them than historic performance.

6. How do tools like Xavier and Receipt Bank underpin advisory services?

We’ve implemented a number of applications that provide us with the insight needed to proactively advise our clients. Applications like Xavier allow us to see:

  • when clients might be struggling with their bookkeeping (health score)
  • whether they are heading towards a cash flow issue

It’s this ability to identify potential issues before they do in fact become issues that’s the real benefit from apps like this. The value you provide doesn’t have to come from being able to solve an issue for a client; it can also come from preventing issues for clients in the first place.

Receipt Bank is absolutely essential in allowing us to perform advisory services. Without up-to-date information, you can’t make any informed decisions, meaning you can’t give meaningful advice. Receipt Bank ensures that clients are uploading invoices, so we can keep on top of their bookkeeping and their accounts are up to date. This gives both ourselves and the client visibility of current performance and cash position, so we can help them plan for the future.

7. Have you seen a shift in clients’ attitude towards digitisation and automation during the lockdown period?

Most clients that come to us have already either made the conscious decision to make the digital switch, or are already using online software and have a positive attitude towards digital.

Where clients may not have previously understood the true value of cloud accounting and operating online, working remotely by necessity has certainly shone a light on those benefits.

For us, it’s always been about the cloud, and we’ll continue to encourage clients to make the migration wherever possible. COVID has forced a lot of businesses to embrace a digital transformation and way of working, and we hope they begin to see the true value that working digitally and having access to quality, real-time financial data can offer.

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