As technology advances, automation is used for financial and accounting processes traditionally done manually. In response, accounting professionals are shifting roles—transitioning from task-oriented, compliance work to comprehensive strategic advising.

An Accountants Today report says accounting professionals should skill upwards as technology becomes more sophisticated. By leveraging process automation for tasks like data entry and bookkeeping, you can become a trusted advisor. By becoming a trusted advisor, you can benefit financially and intrinsically. On the financial side, trusted advisors tend to receive repeat business and new business via referrals. On the intrinsic side, you can spend your time doing high-level, value-add work.

Assess How You Can Add Advisory Services

Since many accounting professionals feel they don’t have time to add advisory services, the first step is to analyze your own operations and recognize the efficiency afforded to you by new technology. You can do this by assessing how technology affects your billable hours. For instance, how much time does cloud accounting software save you each month?

The goal is to consider how you can shift from a technical advisor to a trusted advisor. As outlined in a book called The Trusted Advisor, “The trusted advisor is the person the client turns to when an issue first arises, often in times of great urgency: a crisis, a change, a triumph, or a defeat” (Maister, Green & Galford, 2000).

By using new technology to complete repetitive work in less time, you can add performance advisory services like business intelligence and growth profitability, and strategic advisory services like succession planning and risk management. After you analyze your operations and discover ways to increase efficiency and revenue, here is a five-step process for integrating advisory services into your practice.

  1. Understand the pain points of your current clients. Talk with clients and assess their needs. During these conversations, you may be able to determine which clients can benefit from advisory services.
  2. Brainstorm a list of potential advisory services. Given your clients’ pain points, consider how you can expand your services to meet their needs.
  3. Develop and price services based on value (not time). Clearly define each new advisory service you want to provide. You may choose to offer tiered pricing packages based on the needs of your clients.
  4. Transform your relationships. After you understand the needs of clients and the advisory services you can offer, intentionally position yourself as an advisor. When you provide recommendations, discuss your rationale and explain why the decision makes sense based on the client’s unique needs.
  5. Pitch relevant services to current clients. While your advisory services may not be appropriate for every client, you can pitch relevant services to clients who may benefit. As you introduce higher value services, maintain the task-oriented services that are popular with existing clients.

As automation impacts the accounting industry, firms are shifting from compliance offerings to advisory services. To remain relevant and attract better, higher paying clients, accountants must become trusted advisors. “There is no greater source of distrust than advisors who appear to be more interested in themselves than in trying to be of service to the client” (Maister, Green & Galford, 2000). Listen to your clients without distractions and add value after you understand the problem.

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