Strategy, Legal & Operations

Accountants, how to become a trusted adviser

Becoming a trusted adviser will benefit your practice and your clients

Becoming a trusted adviser to your accountancy clients can lead to positive outcomes both for them and your practice.  In this article, we take a look at what it means to be a trusted adviser, how being one can benefit your practice and the steps you need to take to become one.

The Practice of Now

The 2018 edition of the annual Sage Practice of Now report provides an insight into the current trends seen within accountancy practices, from the perspective of 3,000 accountants around the globe. This research report has helped us to take a glimpse into the future and explain the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what’s happening in the accountancy profession.

It goes without saying that it is important for clients to trust their accountants – who can serve a dual purpose as their advisers. They should trust in you to make decisions to benefit and improve their business.

Why? Professional relationships built on trust and loyalty result in greater workplace efficiency, due to the common sense of purpose and respect for each other.

What it means to be a trusted adviser?

A trusted adviser is a person who can prove they are all about their clients – putting clients at the heart of every decision.

It’s about being an accountant who is ready to listen to their clients’ ever changing and increasing needs. The ultimate practice is run by trusted advisers embracing the shifting digital tide, staying ahead of the curve and evolving with the times.

“Accountants who are prepared to embrace new ways of working and evolve their business are reaping the benefits,” says Jennifer Warawa, EVP of Partners, Accountants and Alliances at Sage.

How being a trusted adviser can benefit your practice?

  1. Gaining more clients due to positive word of mouth and referrals from existing clients about the great work you’ve done to become a trusted adviser for their business.
  2. Understanding your clients’ pain points and problems in depth and tackling them together as a team.
  3. Identifying a common thread of problems across your client database and creating a new product or service to satisfy client needs. In turn you will have generated an additional revenue source.

Why being a trusted adviser is a priority and how AI and automation can help

Survival and success for any business is about staying ahead of the competition, delighting customers and constantly evolving to increase efficiency. It is no different for accountants. With competition at an all-time high, you need to acknowledge the importance of keeping your clients at the heart of everything you do, while increasing practice offerings and making better use of technology in the process.

The Practice of Now report reveals 67% of accountants worldwide feel the profession is more competitive than ever. That means as an accountant, you need to stay on top of your game and provide the best possible service.

But with 83% of clients expecting more of you and your practice, what can you do to meet their expectations? AI and automation could help you to deal with your routine admin, freeing up your time to become the trusted adviser your clients need as they work to grow their businesses.

Kriti Sharma, VP of AI at Sage, says: “It’s not about AI working in isolation and gaining human level accuracy, or an accountant trying to do everything by themselves. It’s about combining the two together. AI can flag the anomalies, saving time and resources, making the accountant more productive. Man and machine working together.”

From this year’s research, one key message is clear – smart accountants are turning to technology to drive productivity and improve their practices. Accountants are ready to create the space needed for them to become time-efficient business advisers for their clients.

4 tips on how to become a trusted adviser

So now you know why you should become a trusted adviser to your clients, here are four points that detail what you need to do to make this become a reality.

1. Ask questions to understand why

Sometimes, the best answer to a question from a client is a better question. It is important to ensure you understand what your client is asking and why they need to know. This helps you to give them informative, aligned answers.

2. Ensure communication is two-way

Communication is an important part of being a trusted adviser – just make sure it goes in both directions. You don’t want to just be barking orders at your clients, it needs to be a dialogue where you work together on challenges and how to solve them. Be it face-to-face client meetings, phone calls, email or social media.

Cantelowes is an accountancy firm based in London. Here, they share why professional, friendly and corporate interactions are important to their business: “We have interaction both ways to ensure we get the best out of the clients and the clients get the best out of us.”

3. Identify your clients’ pain points

Accountex Report says: “Every client will have pain points, the things that causes them to lose sleep.” Identifying them and offering a solution will really help your business to be viewed as a trustworthy adviser.

4. Get a real-time view of client data

Having a real-time view of your clients’ data can help you in your bid to offer solutions or spot issues before they occur. Cloud technology will enable you to be connected to your clients 24/7.

As a result, if any problems do arise, you don’t have to wait for your next client meeting to relay the information, you can do it straight away – with a solution in hand.

Learn from the past, act in the present and gain in the future.

Why is becoming a Practice of Now important to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

The Practice of Now

Discover how accountants and bookkeepers are preparing for the future and learn what you can do now to keep your practice successful.

Download the report