Think your clients aren’t interested in engaging with you with client advisory services (CAS)? Think again.
“They want to see you, they want solutions, and they’re not afraid to pay for it,” said Mary Kay Prasco, CPA, Prasco & Associates.
They just need you to show up.
Here are three key areas of service where CPAs, including many INCPAS members, are seeing the biggest demands and finding the most success:
The Business Basics
Service types include: Bookkeeping, payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash flow management
Tax preparation and planning services aren’t heading anywhere yet, but if your practice is primarily focused on tax and nothing else, you’re likely not ready to make the leap to extensive client advisory services.
The best place to dip your toes into expanding services is with classic business financial support. Two of the most common requests? Bookkeeping and payroll services. The problem is that most small firms don’t think to offer them and only wait until a client brings it up. Be proactive!
Working with clients to cover these basic business needs is also a key way to gain insight into their operations and set you up for success for more robust CAS offerings.
Service types include: Forecasting, industry benchmarking, market analysis, and more
While CPAs are well-skilled to take on financial challenges from a variety of fields, there’s something special about finding a niche—especially since clients are looking to add experts to their advisory team who are well-versed in their industry.
For a CPA, becoming an industry expert means understanding the trends, key risks and common challenges, outlooks, standard processes and operations, compliance needs, and more about that sector.
Learning the language and ups and downs of an industry will take time. Chances are, though, you already have a few industries that make sense based on your current clients. Are there any trending industries or some that seem the most appealing to you?
If you’re going to make the leap into a niche, it should be an area in which you have a genuine interest. You’ll be spending a lot of time learning about it and interacting with its stakeholders, after all.
Service types include: Virtual CFO, remote controllership, financial strategy and modeling
You likely already know that small to medium-sized businesses don’t have the luxury of an extensive in-house financial team (if they have one at all). Even businesses that do often find merit in outside help.
Being an outsourced financial leader, particularly through Virtual CFO and remote controllership roles, is one of the most in-demand CAS areas for CPAs to expand.
John Seale, CPA, CITP, of RBSK Partners, PC, says offering controllership alongside his firm’s CAS has by far been the most impactful. He also reminds CPAs that these are skills they are already using to accomplish similar services.
“You just don’t know how to sell them, and package them, and price them,” he says.
Offering this level of service requires extensive legwork to know the ins and outs of your client’s business. But if you’ve already been working with them awhile on tax preparation and planning or other traditional business services, chances are you’re well on your way.
How Do I Know for Sure What My Clients Want?
If you’re nervous about what your specific clients want, there’s a simple solution.
“Stay in touch,” said Prasco. “They will tell you what’s bothering them.”
Picking up the phone to stay in touch is a powerful way to get the inside scoop on their business and allow you to step in with a solution. Even if it’s not the right time for them to extend their engagement, you’ve started the conversation and they’re going to remember you’ve taken time to care.
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